This week on Marketing Mojo, we sat down with Lashawn Kenley, founder and designer at Sun Gods, to discuss how she has adapted her small business to drive growth despite the pandemic. We spoke with her about the new social media app Clubhouse; adapting engagement events to the virtual space; obtaining content inspiration from the community; and the launch of her new line, King’s Wear. Plus, LaShawn gave us two creative Instagram marketing tips.
Seeing a gap in the market, LaShawn created her brand Sun Gods, which is inspired by the African diaspora, to feature patterns and earth tones that complement black and brown skin. Support from her loyal customers, known as goddesses, helped the brand to take off. Not only did Sun Gods sell apparel, but they also made a difference in the community. They had popups at the W hotel, as well as women’s engagement events known as “Goddess brunches” which helped women come together in DC. Needless to say, the Covid-19 pandemic brought many changes.
When Covid-19 hit, Lawshawn used her seamstress skills for good and helped to create hundreds of masks for the local hospitals. This inspired the new line of facemasks that Sun Gods has recently launched. Lashawn’s masks incorporate the vibrant colors and patterns that make darker skin pop. Aside from adding this new line, other Sun God apparel lines were put on hold. Lashawn discussed how she thought through community need and and how people didn’t need more extravagant clothes. Instead, she started designing clothes such as two piece sets that were comfy and cute to lounge around in at home, but also presentable enough to wear out of the house.
With the W hotel closed, LaShawn was forced to adapt the community she’d formed through in-person women’s engagement events to a virtual format. She decided to do this, in part, through Instagram Live and Clubhouse in tandem. Clubhouse is a new social media platform that features rooms for casual, drop in, audio-only conversations. Desiring to hear her followers’ questions, suggestions, and anecdotes, LaShawn decided to use clubhouse in tandem with Instagram live to foster more of a conversation which enabled an in-person feel in the digital space.
In addition to adding Clubhouse, Lashawn created a TikTok for Sun Gods and explained that this platform has been an interesting way to reach new clients. Overall, LaShawn shared that regardless of what social media platforms one uses, it is important to employ mediums that your audience utilizes and can engage with. Aside from this, she discussed how her content, and subsequently, her aesthetic, is often related to community impacts and events, such as a recent Instagram post which acknowledged the harm of the Texas power outage.
LaShawn also shared two creative Instagram tactics to drive sales. She discussed how on Instagram Livestreams, a member of her team will screenshot engaged users so that they can go back later and conduct outreach to accounts after the stream is over. LaShawn’s second Instagram tip is to reach out to followers through direct messages. She admitted this approach does take more time, but said that directing followers to look at a new product or read the most recent News Letter through DMs helps to generate sales. These strategies are groundbreaking and could be employed by other small enterprises to take their business to the next level.
As a final note, LaShawn said that her best advice is to know your audience so that you can properly align product with consumer and company culture. She also suggested that small business owners should be open to learning and understanding that there will be tough days, but passion should help ease the harder days.
To keep up to date with Sun Gods, follow them on all social media @sungodsofficial. To keep up to date with Market and Grow, follow us on all socials @mktandgrow. In two weeks, tune in to the next episode of Marketing Mojo.