Welcome to Later’s SelfMade range, where we introduce small business owners, their trips and tips for aspiring entrepreneurs.
We spoke to Marissa Grootes, Founder of STYLE, A purpose-driven company that sells organizational products and planners.
Marissa shares the inspiration behind the brand, why consistency is important and how her team built an Instagram community of over 30,000 followers.
Inspired by the Dutch word for style, STIL stands for a minimal and refined way of life.
If you take a quick look at STIL’s organizational product line, you’ll see modern colors with golden highlights – a reflection of the dreamy aesthetics in STIL’s social media feed.
And that’s not a coincidence.
A self-proclaimed pen-to-paper person with a background in design, Marissa was looking for “a planner that looked professional, matched my style, and was highly functional”.
Their search was unsuccessful, however, when one planner after another failed to meet their needs: “I started looking for the highest level of planning available, at various prices, and found that young, professional women were underserved in this area were.”
Many planners targeted mothers and their busy schedules – something she couldn’t relate to as a millennial in her 20s.
With everything she had learned, she made a hand-bound planner and gave it to a couple of friends for Christmas. You loved it.
“One thing led to another, I quit my full-time job and created STYLE.”
Six years later, Marissa has built a thriving business featured in publications such as Fast Company and US Magazine and has a dedicated digital community.
Later: What tactics helped you grow your community on Instagram?
Marissa: Consistency is key. We are very active in terms of social networks and usage Instagram stories to communicate our story.
We also use them to connect with our community and collect feedback through surveys and questions.
When we are working on a new planner we will ask: what colors would you like? How can we improve our products?
This year we also started hosting one Instagram Live every two weeks on Saturday morning. I either do it alone or I am accompanied by a co-organizer – usually another founder.
When I go live, I can engage with our community in real time and share the stories of other business owners.
L.Would you like to organize yourself? Later’s free desktop app lets you schedule your social media posts months in advance. Plan now!
Later: How far in advance do you plan and plan your social media content?
Marissa: While we plan our marketing strategies much further in advance, we usually plan our social media calendar within 1-2 weeks.
This allows us to plan and publish original, organic content that resonates with our audiences and is always up to date.
Later: How was an enrichment for your team and your company later?
Marissa: Later, it’s easy to stand out in the social arena. By using one platform for all shared social content and assets, we can create and Manage our calendar in a collaborative way.
The Analytics tool helps us create better content for our community and reach new audiences, while the Media Library and Preview tools ensure our Instagram feed is cohesive, consistent, and branded.
We use that a lot First comment and Automatic publication Tools too – can I just say we all love?
Later: What are your social media goals this year?
Marissa: To keep growing. Last year our goal was to get 30,000 followers and we achieved it!
Our new growth strategy is to host or include a monthly giveaway, usually in partnership with other women-owned companies.
An important goal for me personally is to still be present with our customers via our live streams. I want to have monthly touchpoints asking how they use the planner, giving productivity tips, and answering questions.
Later: What’s your # 1 tip for small business owners looking to get started on social media?
Marissa: Remember, you are the number one champion for your brand.
When I started, I didn’t want my brand to be tied to me – because I feared that if people got tired of me, people would be fed up with my brand.
But the two don’t work without each other.
I created the brand so that I would be the best person to talk to and sell. When you first start out on social media you need to be the biggest seller for your business.
Later: Which podcast would you recommend to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Marissa: If you’re looking for ecommerce tips and topics this is the Shopify Podcast is an amazing resource.
Another favorite is the WorkParty Podcast by Create and cultivate – It’s full of inspiring women entrepreneurs.
Later: Can you ever really “switch off” when running a business? How do you juggle work-life balance?
Marissa: Building a business takes a lot of time, energy and money. So work-life balance is fundamentally impossible [laughs].
But the only thing I’ve learned (and that’s what makes me a living): When I have a bad day, I know I won’t be productive. So I take the day off and charge it up.
If that means going outside, taking me to lunch, or watching Netflix all day, then I’ll do it.
It usually just takes a good night’s sleep and I’m good to go. Give yourself time to rest!
* Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
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Monique is a content marketer at Later who loves helping brands define their language and content strategy. She can usually be found sipping matcha or adding another book to her ever-growing TBR list. Say hello on Instagram – @wordsbymonique