Editor’s note: Social Side Effect is an ongoing profile series that identifies the intersection between social influencing and entrepreneurship
When customers care, business is better and social media proves it, said Kilee Nickels.
“Having Instagram, having Facebook, having a blog, definitely got our business started and kept us going for so long,” added Nickels, CEO of Nickel & Suede, noting social tools are an invaluable arsenal for B2C entrepreneurs — especially makers.
“My blog [One Little Momma] ended up morphing from something helping our Etsy shop [grow] to being more of its own business for me,” Nickels said of how One Little Momma became an unexpected side hustle that later evolved into her personal brand.
“[My blog] was now providing services, styling, teaching and creating community,” she added.
Launched in 2011, One Little Momma predated societal shifts in social shopping and influencing. As such online networks as Instagram and Facebook became more established, Nickels worked to find ways to integrate the platforms into her blog and her business, she recalled.
At the same time, Nickel & Suede was ready to launch — with no better way to engage potential customers than through their Instagram feeds, Nickels said.
“That is how we got our start at Nickel & Suede. I already had an audience that was ready to listen to what I had to say and believed in things that I recommended,” she said. ‘I had this great kind of history with this group of people on the internet all over the country and they allowed us to put our product out there and instantly have customers and feedback.”
Click here to read more about Nickel & Suede.
Showcasing the brand’s now-iconic, teardrop-shaped earrings on social media generated buzz for the growing brand and created intrigue, Nickels added. As business boomed, she found her own brand was also rising — now boasting 92,000 followers on Instagram.
“I think it’s really important to have a person, a face, a feeling — that people element to businesses and brands,” she said.
“[Elements of] social media and electronics have allowed us to de-personalize things, interactions,” she said. “I think its made us crave and really latch onto things when we see that they’re personal, that there’s a family or a person behind them.”
Such reasoning is why Nickels doubles down on One Little Momma, as opposed to shuttering the blog when many bloggers made shifts to a single social media presence, she said.
“I see so much value in having that personal side of the brand and we try to weave that into Nickel & Suede — but there’s only so many times you can post in a day and only so much content you can share,” she explained of drawbacks to traditional social media and upsides to blogging.
“I’ve kept the blog going because I know that I can still add value to the world and in good ways,” Nickels added. “I really want people to know who our family is and what we’re about and what we care about. It connects the brand to something good.”
When people fall in love with the stories of the family behind Nickel & Suede, they’re more likely to become customers — a huge benefit for the brand, born out of a genuine desire to connect with people, Nickels noted.
“I think we gain a lot by having me as a person and our family out there,” she said. “We really enjoy the ability to interact so closely with customers where its instant, like you’re basically texting with anyone in the world who decides that they’re interested or they like what we’re doing.”
Hearing customers’ stories and seeing how they use Nickel & Suede products has also been a fun, upside to such a strong social media presence for the company.
“I’m not sure if we can track what it does for us financially, but I know that it builds good will and community with our customers,” Nickels said.
Click here to connect with Nickels on Instagram.
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.