Hitting $1 million: two founders describe what it took
Every business remembers their firsts. The first sale, the first media appearance, the first time that something that was once a dream started to feel like a tangible reality.
Hitting the first million dollars is one of those precious memories. And with it often comes a bundle of lessons learned along the way.
We spoke to two Wix merchants—Love Her and Vivi et Margot—who know all about what it takes to build a million-dollar eCommerce business. We picked their brains for their top tips. Read on for their stories and reflections on surpassing the million-dollar mark.
Read Also: How to start a business
The birth of million-dollar brands
Adreana Alvarez, of Sacramento, California started Love Her out of frustration with expensive, poor quality, name-brand exercise leggings. After a year of researching materials and design, she created the perfect pair: flattering, endurance-ready, and at a price point of just $35.
Adreana began her venture as a side hustle, maintaining her corporate job while she sold leggings at local pop-up shops. Encouraged by her growing customer base, she opened her online store with Wix eCommerce in 2019.
“I had no idea what was to come,” said Adreana, “…from pop-up shops and selling in-person, to a full-blown eCommerce business.”
Like Adreana, Charlotte Reiss was working full-time when she launched her high-quality, utterly Instagrammable French homeware brand, Vivi et Margot—which was named after her daughters, Vivian and Margot.
“I was working in corporate fashion but my dream was to have my own business—my own online store—even though I knew nothing about it,” said Charlotte.
For the first two years, Charlotte’s product catalog consisted of a few beautiful items. She would fulfill orders from 9 p.m. to midnight, in the hours after her daughters had gone to bed. Charlotte, echoing Adreana’s sentiment about the uncertainty of starting a business, said “I think it's fair to say when I started the company, I didn't really know what my end goal was going to be.”
The affirming power of early sales
As it goes for many small businesses, Vivi et Margot's sales didn’t flood in from the start. “In the beginning,” Charlotte said, “I would definitely say it was a slow burn.”
In her first year of business, Charlotte estimates that she saw ‘maybe’ $20,000 in sales. But, even with the incredible growth her business has since experienced, those early sales still carry special significance.
“Like any small business owner will tell you,” Charlotte reflected, “those initial sales mean everything, they give you the drive to keep going.”
The impact of early sales on the psyche of an entrepreneur is not lost on Adreana (see how to become an entrepreneur), who shared the story of seeing her first online sale happen in real time. “I remember sitting in front of my computer and opening [Wix] Analytics. Analytics was like ‘There are two people on your site!’ And I was just sitting there like ‘please, please, one of those two people just...do my very first sale.’”
Within a few minutes, Adreana’s first online order had been placed. Love Her currently fulfills hundreds of orders a day—but the magic of the first sale has never disappeared.
Overcoming early fears
At the beginning of the pandemic, Adreana was one of more than 500 employees laid off from her job at a Fortune 500 company. Now, she looks back at this moment with gratitude.
“I think if that hadn't happened, I wouldn't have given my all to this business,” she said.
The hardest part of making the leap?
“I think in the beginning, there’s a lot of doubt when you're a new business owner,” she said, “...and I think getting over the fear of going full force 100%, and investing 100% in myself, was the biggest challenge.”
For Charlotte, learning how to operate a business online was a formidable task.
“It was really a fear,” Charlotte said, reflecting on her early resistance against any eCommerce platform—even Wix—and the learning curve that may come with it. But at around the two-year mark, she took her fear of technology head-on and learned how to master her Wix Store and its integrated tools.
“What I learned when I really delved into it,” said Charlotte, “was that Wix [is accessible] for new business owners like me: people who aren't particularly tech-savvy.”
Targeting the right audience
Of course, the success of every brand depends on reaching the right audience. And easy as it may seem, it often takes lots of experimentation and exploration to get the messaging just right.
For Vivi et Margot, social media has always played an important role; their Instagram is a beautiful look book of product photography and lifestyle photos that bring the brand to life for more than 139,000 followers.
Charlotte cites connecting her Wix Store to Vivi et Margot’s Instagram as a pivotal turning point for her business. By connecting the two platforms she was able to launch a multichannel selling strategy, and grow her audience across a diverse set of channels.
It was also around this time Charlotte started using Facebook Ads by Wix, which allowed her to experiment with targeted campaigns.
“I started my Facebook ads through Wix, very tentatively on a $500 a month budget,” said Charlotte. "I can tell you, my sales more than quadrupled."
For Adreana, a major turning point was realizing who her audience really was. Initially, it was assumed that most shoppers were buying from desktop, and—since Love Her is a California-based brand—that most shoppers were coming from California.
To her surprise, Wix’s built-in analytics revealed that the majority of Love Her shoppers were engaging on mobile—and further, from the Midwest and Texas. This new information helped to reshape the company’s approach to marketing and even the models that they hired to better reflect their true customers.
Making space for growth
Love Her and Vivi et Margot began in the birthplace of so many great businesses: the living room. And for both business owners, moving the business out of their homes and into a larger, dedicated space was a critical decision that ultimately enabled their growth.
When Love Her into a warehouse, the much-needed space allowed the company to hold more inventory and fulfill orders quicker. The move also allowed Love Her to fulfill another important goal: support women.
The company now employs a growing team of mothers who keep warehouse operations moving smoothly. Each quarter, a portion of proceeds are donated to a local charity that benefits women.
In Spring 2021, Vivi et Margot similarly teamed up with an eCommerce fulfillment service in Texas, whose central location would help expedite shipping times. They further integrated their fulfillment service with Wix in order to streamline inventory management, order routing, and other critical tasks. This, combined with automations like Wix’s tool for sending back-in-stock alerts has helped to support a steady stream of sales over the years.
Feels like a million bucks
Charlotte can still recall the exhilaration of hitting the million-dollar mark.
“When you surpass the million dollar in sales mark, I think it gives you an absolute sense of a feeling of accomplishment,” said Charlotte. “It gives you the drive to keep going. I think for me, it's shown me the possibilities of eCommerce. ”
As for Love Her, there’s one priceless reward worth mentioning.
“I measure [success] based on the amount of happiness that I have in my life in my world,” said Adreana. “And I feel really blessed and successful right now.”
A look inside their Wix eCommerce toolbox
Throughout their journeys, Vivi et Margot and Love Her have leveraged a variety of Wix tools. Below are a few honorable mentions, as shared by the two founders.
“I started my Facebook ads through Wix, very tentatively on a $500 a month budget, and I saw a 1400% return on my money every single month without fail for a year and a half” - Charlotte Reiss, Founder, Vivi et Margot
“What I love about the Facebook and Instagram ads is that I'm able to customize for the audience that I know is my target clientele...I've seen a 1,000% return on investment with my Facebook and Instagram ads by Wix” - Adreana Alvarez, Founder, Love Her
“It's so simple. In fact, you don't have to do anything, it's one click of a button...It has been the number one best tool on Wix that has increased my sales.” - Charlotte Reiss, Founder, Vivi et Margot
“The percentage of people that actually come back and recover their abandoned carts is pretty insane…the abandoned cart option is something that has helped my sales, especially with brand new customers.” - Adreana Alvarez, Founder, Love Her
“The Wix Dashboard for me is my daily check-in. It's my office space. [That’s where I’m going for my] email marketing. I'm checking on my advertising. I'm checking on my sales, my returns. I'm able to speak directly with my customers as well—it’s a lifeline.” - Charlotte Reiss, Founder, Vivi et Margot
Brielle Gordon Marketing Writer, Wix eCommerce
Brielle is a Colorado native with a passion for innovation and helping to mobilize entrepreneurs. Brielle is a marketing writer for Wix eCommerce, which powers over 700k online stores worldwide.