Candice Galek | Crain's Miami

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Candice Galek

Background:  

Bikini Luxe is an online retailer of specialty swimwear carrying the third-largest selection of luxury swimwear in the world. Building a following entirely through social media, Bikini Luxe grew from a staff of two to 40 in under two years.

The Mistake:

As a new business owner, you're really focused on figuring out exactly what you need to know. You’re just starting out, you’re fresh and you have nothing to compare your progress to. You have no idea what you’re going to sell. You have goals and hopefully you’ll meet them, but you're not really planning for what happens when you exceed those goals.

That's exactly what happened to me – I like to call it the "great short" of 2014. When we started to build our social platform, things just kind of happened and started trending like wildfire. Suddenly we had thousands of orders to fill, and we weren't really prepared. We had to move over to a new address. We had to get more product and figure out how long it would take, all while managing a steep learning curve.

At the same time, we were trying to figure out how to keep developing stories on social media, keeping things trending, while also learning how to control the market.

Experiencing success early on can be completely unmanageable because you've never done this before. You have no frame of reference, and you're worried that a damaging experience may cost you a customer. While it was definitely amazing to be able to bust open our goals, I simply wasn't prepared to manage the success.

I may not have been prepared to go viral, but that didn't mean that I didn't want it.

The Lesson:

I may not have been prepared to go viral, but that didn't mean that I didn't want it. Now, I've realized that the key to managing that kind of success is just staying on top of organizing and reorganizing and figuring out what I need, and always planning ahead, while maintaining the quality and consistency that my customers expect.

I've also used the experience to my advantage by understanding that limited availability is a key aspect of marketing a product. After all, the fact that a product may run out of stock is the ultimate incentive for getting my customers to act.

Before launching any kind of social media campaign, I estimate how much product I might need while factoring in quality control and whether I'll be able to meet my brand's consistency. If I know I can't deliver the caliber my customers are used to then I refrain from going too hard with marketing. I try only to invest in items that perfectly align with our branding and messaging.

It’s definitely a learning process.

On Twitter, follow BikiniLuxe at @bikiniluxe and Candice Galek at @bikinigeek.

Pictured: Candice Galek. / Courtesy of Candice Galek.

Do you have a good story you’d like to share, or know someone we should feature? Email nryan@crain.com.

And be sure to sign up for your local newsletter from Crain's Miami.