Tonya Cross of Accented Glory On How To Use Social Media To Grow Your Ecommerce Business
An Interview With Rachel Kline
Video Shorts — Video is Queen! People enjoy short and concise content. Many would rather watch than read which makes video shorts ideal. The best part about it all is that you can create these videos directly on the social media platforms for free!
Maintaining and growing a successful eCommerce business is hard work. Social media is an essential piece of promoting an eCommerce business. How can someone use social media to grow their eCommerce business? In this interview series, we are talking to founders, CEOs, or principals of eCommerce businesses about “How To Use Social Media To Grow Your eCommerce Business.” As a part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Tonya Cross of Accented Glory.
Tonya Cross is the accessory designer of handcrafted women’s fashion accessory brand Accented Glory. Her specialty is cowrie shell and African print fashion. Tonya’s work includes natural hair accessory, jewelry, handbag, and hat designs. Her designs have been featured on Essence, Refinery29, and Good Housekeeping.
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you’re super busy. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
A Need! When I first started wearing my hair natural (without chemical alterations) in 2001, I could not find textured hair friendly accessories. The designs were created with fabrics and materials that dry out and cause breakage to kinky, coily, and curly hair. The hair accessories in retail at the time also catered to primarily young girls and not adult women. I shared my struggle to a friend and she suggested that I make my own, so I did!
Can you share the most exciting story that has happened to you since you began at your company?
Being featured on major platforms like Essence, Refinery29, and Good Housekeeping. These features validated me as a creative and artist. Not only were people willing to buy my designs, but my designs were also publication worthy. The Essence feature meant the most because I was a part of a guide that listed Etsy jewelry finds created by Black Women Designers. It was an honor to be featured in a national publication that has always championed Black Women.
It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
One of my biggest lessons learned was the importance of being the face of my brand! I hid behind my logo until my oldest daughter who’s one of my biggest cheerleaders strongly encouraged me to start doing live videos. I had this notion that I had to present myself in a certain way, but my daughter told me to just be my genuine self. So, I embraced my North Carolina southern accent and no makeup authentic me. I haven’t looked back since and my customers and followers love engaging with me!
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
I’m currently working on a few collaborations with other women business owners. One of my collabs is with wig company Coils To Locs. They recently launched a business to consumer wig line and featured my necklace designs on their wig mannequins’ necks. This partnership has increased brand visibility for both of us. I’ve also collaborated with a few business coaches to share about my journey as a handcrafter and implementing a marketing strategy through video tutorials. These videos will help other creative entrepreneurs develop a successful marketing plan.
You’re a successful business leader. What are three traits about yourself that you feel helped fuel your success? Can you share a story or example for each?
Authenticity — Staying true to myself enables me to the do the same with my brand. This is what helps me stand out and be unique.
Giver — I’m always willing to share my journey as an entrepreneur, the ups and downs. My hopes are to encourage and inspire.
Flexible — I simply go with the flow. I don’t try to force relationships or opportunities and embrace them as they come my way.
Excellent, thanks so much for sharing that. I want to shift gears and talk about eCommerce. What was your original vision for your eCommerce business? What pain point(s) were you trying to solve for your customers?
My vision was to provide unique accessory designs for women who love styling with cowrie shell and African print fashion. I started out with hair accessories for women created with fabric and materials that minimized damage to kinky, coily, and curly hair. My designs allow my customers to express their African heritage with fun, bold, and stylish designs. I use authentic cowrie shells and African fabrics which also add value to my work. The cowrie shells also give my designs a beach and boho vibe which broadens my audience.
How did social media help you grow your business? What were your strategic objectives — brand building, top-of-funnel marketing, lead generation, sales, etc. — and how did you implement your social media plan?
I believe regularly going live on social media is helping to grow my brand! My audience gets an opportunity to connect and engage with me. Many of them see themselves in me and want to support my brand. I always have a call to action and let my audience know what to do next, whether it’s to visit my online shop or join my email list. This is the beginning of their customer journey and they become a part of the Accented Glory Family.
I also optimize short form video. People have short attention spans, so my message is clear and straight forward. I also highlight what I call my business “sweet spot”; that thing that makes me stand out and unique. Normally it’s a problem that my products solve or makes life easier for my ideal customer.
Which social media platforms have you found most beneficial for eCommerce specifically?
Facebook and Instagram! I love how they are integrated and you can share across both platforms.
What social commerce trends are you most closely paying attention to, and how are you preparing to leverage them for growth?
Groups is where I’m looking to leverage! Facebook is adding some new features that allows group admins to engage on a more personal level with members. For many people groups are safe spaces and they’re turning to them for products and content their interested in. My brand has had a Facebook Group named Accented Glory Naturals for a few years now and I’ve developed a good rapport with my members. I believe they can provide valuable insight on my products and how to market them.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen when companies try to use social media to promote eCommerce? What can be done to avoid those mistakes?
No CTA’s — Not having CTA’s (Call To Actions) in their post. It’s important to let your ideal customer know what to do next. All roads should eventually lead to your online shops.
Ease To Find — It’s important to make it easy for people to find and support you! When possible, ALWAYS include links in your social media bio that directs people to where you want them to go.
Ok super. Here is the central question of our interview. Based on your experience and success, what are your “Top 5 Ways To Use Social Media To Grow Your eCommerce Business?” Please share a story or an example for each.
1 . Live Streaming — As shared earlier this is the best way to connect and engage with your audience in real time. When I stopped hiding behind my logo and became the face of my brand, that’s when I started seeing an increase in engagement and sales.
2 . Video Shorts — Video is Queen! People enjoy short and concise content. Many would rather watch than read which makes video shorts ideal. The best part about it all is that you can create these videos directly on the social media platforms for free!
3 . Facebook Groups — My Facebook groups have been very instrumental in collecting information and data from people who enjoy my products or services. They have invested in my vision and want to be a part of my brand’s growth and what happens next!
4 . Profile Bio — This is your social media billboard! Here is where you tell people who you are, who you serve, and how you serve them. Here is also where you add the link that begins their customer journey with your brand. Once again, all roads should eventually lead to your online shops.
5 . Great Content — There are people on social media actively looking for people to collaborate and partner with! The thing that’s going to make you stand out from the rest is great content. They’re looking for brands that their customers will resonate with.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
A community for creative women entrepreneurs who have decided to turn their hobby of expertise into a business while still working their 9–5 (day job)! This is me and a community I wish I had when I started my business. As an entrepreneur, often times you feel like you’re on this journey alone. It’s nice to have a community to share ideas or concerns with like minded people. The greatest thing of all, I’ve already created this community as a Facebook Group called Digital Marketing On A Budget!
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Social Media Handle: @AccentedGlory
I want to thank you so much for your time and for sharing your expertise with us. I wish you continued success!