What follows is my whole audio interview with Nucete-Elliot and a transcript of it, edited for clarity and length.
Eric Bandholz: Give us an overview of Your Company, TIY — Tie It Yourself.
Andrea Nucete-Elliott: My husband and I created the business in early 2012. He created the concept of TIY for a hair tie which solves a problem he observed as a collegiate volleyball coach. It began as an observation on his side, and TIY gradually became the solution that we did not even know existed. It came from the need for girls to have another kind of hair tie when they were conducting.
He noticed that his female athletes, throughout the timeouts, were doing their own hair. The ponytails would fall on the side. They were redoing their messy buns.
TIY was born from the need to repair something. It’s become a car to empower women, and their hair.
Bandholz: Can you explain the products a little more?
Nucete-Elliott: it is a sort of elastic that’s designed to be different. It is softer and more powerful at the exact same time. It’s a tough notion to explain until you put it on and try it.
We currently offer two unique versions. The simple version is 34-inch elastic that will enable one to five hair follicles.
Another product is the pro version. It is more at 41 inches, and it comes in a system which will cut it to you — kind of like dental floss. You pull the elastic from the dispenser, and it’ll cut it.
We provide 14 colours in the basic version and 13 from the pro system.
Bandholz: That is 27 SKUs to start, which needs to be challenging. How are they manufactured?
Nucete-Elliott: They are made abroad. It was a lengthy process to get off the floor. We went through a year of samples. We spoke to a friend in California who had the connections to generate the item.
He produced a sample. We tried it out for a few weeks, and then we left a few tweaks. We gave away samples. We received some comments. This back-and-forth happened for a year before we found the perfect formulation.
Bandholz: Was this a side project for you?
Nucete-Elliott: My husband coaches here in Austin, Texas. That’s his full-time job. He and I hadn’t met when he came up with the idea.
How I learned about the item is funny. I got an envelope with three of the elastics that he was testing. They sat in my car for approximately two months. I was on my way to volleyball practice. I broke my hair ties, which I want three of them to maintain my ponytail up. I decided to try out these elastics.
It was a side project because I was finishing college. He’s got a full-time job. Then I chose to dive into TIY full-time.
Bandholz: You purchased all 14 colors of the simple version, then just started exploring the marketplace. Is that right?
Nucete-Elliott: Yes. We put a minimum order in the production company. We have them in our home. We began doing market testing — very grassroots, word-of-mouth. It just snowballed from there.
We haven’t advertised until today. We’ll soon start.
Bandholz: Your new Shopify store started recently, in early September. What was your sales volume prior to the launch and after?
Nucete-Elliott: Ahead of the launch, our orders came from individuals who knew about it. It was a minimum quantity.
After the launch, it has been amazing. We’ve received close to 100 orders in 17 days, with no sort of advertising. It has been great.
Bandholz: How do people find it?
Nucete-Elliott: Mainly on Instagram.
Nucete-Elliott: We’ve got a community that’s based on organically-given feedback. When you arrive in TIY Life, you know you are becoming a family and a community — a tribe sense that gets lost when you start selling on Amazon and larger platforms.
Bandholz: how can you utilize Instagram?
Nucete-Elliott: Instagram users wish to see our product in various applications. We’ve got a fun video of a dancer that’s spinning with our hair tie, and at precisely the exact same time, on a split-screen, it contrasts her same pirouettes into a regular hair tie. Folks love that video. They wish to see the fact of non-edited articles in high-end videos.
With Instagram, we could demonstrate the product for what it is, and the various applications that it’s. We can demonstrate the lifestyle which you may have if you are able to stick out in your own and wear something different.
We have had about 4,200 traffic on our website this week. It has been great considering that a month-and-a-half past, we had just 200 per week.