Resources: Sarah’s eCommerce Agency and Coaching Business – Kased Communication
Local Online Marketplace that connects shopper with locally made products – shophamont.com
Karen Swyszcz 0:00
I’m Karen Swyszcz and you’re listening to The Bacon Bits ‘n’ Bytes Podcast. This is the podcast where a bit of business and a byte of technology come together
Sarah Killins 1:19
Hi, thank you. Thank you so much for having me, Karen.
Karen Swyszcz 1:22
Oh, thanks for being on. So just before we get into your background, I wanted to talk about travelling because I enjoy travelling myself. Um, you know, I can’t be your record. I’ve only been to 19 countries. I’m curious to know, um, you know, did you also live and work in some of those countries as well?
Sarah Killins 1:44
Yeah, I did. So basically, like, when I graduated high school, I knew I wanted to do something in international business. And I couldn’t decide which University program I wanted to go to. So I took a gap year and I moved to Alberta. and got a job working at the Chateau Lake Louise.
And the idea was just to snowboard for a year. And that idea, like accelerated and led me into a career in sales and marketing. But it also enabled me to travel to some amazing destinations. Stay at some really cool hotels because I was working for Fairmont at the time. And I was obviously like, I was very fortunate to be making a higher level of income than I normally would be if I was working at 19 in Ontario. And then from there, I didn’t really see hospitality as my be all end all for career.
So I thought like a natural growth progression would be to try like real estate sales. And I had a friend who was from London, England, and another friend who was a property recruiter in London, England, and so we were face timing all the time. And talking about their life in London. They said, Well, why don’t you come here and try real estate in London. And so I got a working holiday visa and I moved to England for a year and was able to travel around Europe and then once I left Europe, I went to New Zealand for a bit and then finished off in Fiji and came back home and then started working for Shopify and started doing all these wonderful things.
Karen Swyszcz 3:28
Oh my gosh, I’m so jealous New Zealand is on my bucket list.
Sarah Killins 3:33
It’s such a beautiful country, and the people there are amazing as well. And I got to see the set of the Shire for Lord of the Rings and that was just like bucket list item to the max. So yeah, that was a once in a lifetime trip.
Karen Swyszcz 3:48
So out of all the 30 countries do you have a favorite or a couple of favorites?
Sarah Killins 3:53
Oh, I’m um, I’d have to say Indonesia. Bali has to be one of my top destinations and just the vibe, the energy, the people, the beaches, the sunsets, the nature, it’s like pretty magical destination and Italy as well the food and the people just can’t be beat and Costa Rica, I think as well.
Karen Swyszcz 4:23
Hmm yeah, I’ve gone to Costa Rica a couple times and I’ve really enjoyed it like I’ve done surfing but it’s funny. I’ve only gone surfing like twice in my life once in Costa Rica the other time in Tofino, but if they were the trips were several years apart. So I felt like every time I tried surfing, I was just starting all over again. Like I think it’s one of those things where you need to do that on a consistent basis to see actual progress.
Sarah Killins 4:46
Definitely. Well, I commend you like just for being brave enough. I have this irrational fear of sharks.
Karen Swyszcz 4:51
Sarah Killins 4:56
I’ve definitely I sat on the bench and watch my friends served and be like Did you guys see any sharks out there? So good for you for getting in the water.
Karen Swyszcz 5:07
Oh, yeah. Okay, so I’m curious to know what inspired you to start your communications company Kase Communications?
Sarah Killins 5:17
Um, yeah, definitely. Thank you. And I left Shopify. Like, quite sadly, just because my dog passed away and it was very hard to work from home when you’re kind of missing your little best friend.
So I was like, Okay, I need to take a break from this and kind of get myself more immersed in the community, and just for my own kind of personal development. And then I think I joined a Facebook group that was for fempreneurs. And there was a bunch of business owners who were asking questions, but selling online, and I was just like, Hey, I can answer these questions. And then I started meeting with some of them and kind of going through their sites with them. And it turned out that the knowledge that I was giving them, they found very valuable. And it wasn’t long until a friend of mine asked me to help him to do his site. And I just kind of naturally grew into a business before I even knew it. And I had so much stuff to do that I was like, well, I can’t get a full-time job because I’ve got a queue of this stuff to do. So I just need to listen to my market and turn this into a business and help these people as effectively as I can.
Karen Swyszcz 6:33
Mm-hmm. Did you feel like as a kid growing up, did you ever picture yourself as somebody who would be running their own business?
Sarah Killins 6:43
Yes, yeah, I’ve definitely always had a passion for entrepreneurship. And all of the roles that I’ve held within companies have been like I’ve had really amazing opportunities and mentors within companies, and worked for some of the top companies in Canada. I’ve always kind of had that itch. Like it’s always at a six month part like point that, like, okay, I’ve learned everything I can learn, can I either move to the next position? or What else can I apply myself to in this role? And I’ve always, I’ve always had the goal that I wanted to be my own boss, but I’ve kind of, I think fumbled with what I’m truly passionate and when I’m truly good at and I think that’s what I love about entrepreneurship is, once you take that leap, every day, you get to explore that and you get to explore your ideas. And as long as you’re, you’re moving and you’re working on it, like knock on wood, but most of the time, things go okay.
Karen Swyszcz 7:43
Mmmhmm. Yeah, it’s funny because growing up I never for me personally, I never thought I would become one I thought I’d be that person who worked the 25, 30-year job, but I found myself in my adult life. I was going from job to job getting quite bored, quite quickly and without even realizing like looking back in hindsight now you’re like no, I think that’s, you know, kind of the signs that you need to do your own thing and yeah, being an entrepreneur it’s awesome while there’s, you know, some days you’re like, Oh my gosh, this is like crazy as they say like the roller coaster, but then at the same time too there will be days like oh my god this is amazing like I’m doing all these incredible things and you know, working with incredible people but yeah, it’s just interesting to hear people’s stories when they said they say that Yeah, I always knew, you know, I had this entrepreneurial mindset growing up and it’s like, I didn’t even have a lemonade stand.
Sarah Killins 8:37
Oh my goodness. I yeah, I feel like I was a hustler since like, I was up and down my street raking leaves for $5 and then taking all the leaves back to our trampoline.
Karen Swyszcz 8:51
Sarah Killins 8:51
It’s more fun to jump on the trampoline. If you were getting hit in the face by waves for some reason.
Karen Swyszcz 8:56
Good for you. So sticking with the topic of your communications company prior to the recording of this episode literally just 10 minutes ago, we were talking about one of your big goals, and I’d love for you to share it with the audience.
Sarah Killins 9:11
Oh, thank you. A big goal would be for Kase Communications to be able to go partner with charities and going to third world countries to work directly with artisans to help get them online and show them how to sell their beautiful handmade products online.
I’ve been fortunate that in my travels, I’ve been able to see and experience some very different cultures and very different lifestyles, and it’s always been on my mind of how I can be most impactful and help these people. And I do really think it is empowering them through entrepreneurship and giving them entrepreneurial tools to succeed. But also being realistic that this needs to be done at the ground level like this is going into community organizations. And giving them funding for very basic things like computers and tools, just to get them on basic online platforms. And yeah, start to give them some of the tools that they need to succeed and help their families.
Karen Swyszcz 10:15
Hmm. It’s interesting in that, I guess, you know, being fortunate to live in North America, you know, having a computer and an internet like these are things I think sometimes we take for granted because we’re just so used to like, Oh, my laptop broke, I need to get a fix, or I need to get a new one. And I don’t know about you, but I actually, you know, like, I sometimes lose it when the internet is really slow, right? lose connection, because again, also, you know, like having an online business and being so immersed in the online world, it’s, it becomes a part of you. So just trying to think of, you know, those countries in those cultures who don’t have access to that and yeah, that can open up such a huge world of possibilities for their artisan business.
Sarah Killins 11:00
And even giving them the tools to learn the things that they need to learn to sell better in person as well. And to develop their business and person giving them access to online education and online tools to develop their in person businesses I think can be really powerful as well.
Karen Swyszcz 11:19
Mm-hmm. So we know that like pretty much e-commerce is like everyone does online shopping. So in such as like a huge trend, so I’m curious to know, you know, given your background being in Shopify, like, what are some e-commerce I guess, mistakes that people make? And then also, the other side, like, what are some e-commerce best practices to live by?
Sarah Killins 11:44
Oh, that’s a great question. Um, so I think most common mistakes I see are people trying to spread themselves too thin. When they’re kind of launching something new, there is this saying that you do have to be everywhere. And I think you just need to find where your market is and be focused on those channels. When people aren’t, don’t know where their market is and are just trying to blast their things on any social media channel that they can figure out how to use. It’s a kind of a frustrating path to watch. And I think another big one that I see a lot of small businesses struggle with is quality photography online. It makes such a difference in terms of sales conversions, and brand trust as well and building a brand relationship and getting that quality behind your products. Especially with handmade and artisanal goods. There’s some things are so high quality in-person so beautiful, and then are like an iPhone, picture or something like an old iPhone picture online. And the quality is just not transferring.
Karen Swyszcz 13:03
Sarah Killins 13:06
Kind of some best practices that I recommend to the site builds that I do are to be intentional and descriptive with your copy and to use a consistent tone and really pay attention to the details. To not launch with like a huge catalogue. But to launch like quality over quantity when you do start out to focus on the brand relationship that you’re building and the kind of sales touches that you’re having with your customers when they are visiting your site.
So that’s how are you interacting and engaging with a visitor once you do have them on your site? And that’s through like brand loyalty programs that different like apps and plugins that are available for stores, and different, like community strategies that they’re doing to engage their customers on their online store but also like getting that generation to get it to their online store. market. And that’s kind of what I get into with Kase why we do marketing strategy and e-commerce. I would say when I did start out I was doing kind of just website launches and then you see that to be successful, you do need to have one or two other channels that are bringing traffic into your site and helping you build a community.
Karen Swyszcz 14:32
Yeah, community is definitely important. And also the fact that you mentioned about you know, having high-quality photos because I find myself what I’m going to people’s websites and looking at their online stores if I can’t really see the product or you know like the photo is too small or too blurry. It’s kind of like a turn off like it doesn’t make me want to go back to the store and then also Yeah, definitely quality over quantity because I think And you could probably, you know, add on to this, if you’re launching and you know, like the consumer doesn’t know about yet or doesn’t know about their brand I think like having too much may overwhelm them to be like this so much. And it may take forever like to go through the store, realizing like, Oh, they have, you know, 10, 20 pages of products.
Sarah Killins 15:18
Yeah, yes, and definitely and product organization as well. And that’s something that I think Shopify does really well. And it’s very intuitive. Once you kind of know-how to organize your products, but organizing your products for like, optimal user experience is very important, like user experience in general. I think it’s always before you launch a site like you should be taking your site around to five to 10 different people and just watching how they like interacting with it. And what you can be doing better to make it more simple because that’s the biggest confusion conversion killer is just confusion online.
Karen Swyszcz 15:56
Mm-hmm. Do you have any predictions for the future of e-commerce are there Any trends that you see creeping up in the near future?
Sarah Killins 16:04
I think consumers want like, like multifaceted channel approaches. So I think like the coolest things that I’m seeing that are getting the most engagement are when it’s forcing a consumer to interact with your brand on multiple channels at the same time. So that’s something like having a pop-up location, but they can only experience the products they actually need to go online to buy it and then it gets shipped to their house.
Like I don’t think in-person is dying at all it’s just turning into more experiential. And I think like we’re seeing that within, like up and coming VR shopping, that’s going to take it to a new experience as well. And I’m very excited for it. And I’m trying our best to be as educated in that space as possible so we can continue to help our clients.
Karen Swyszcz 16:56
Yeah, the idea of VR shopping sounds really cool, especially when it comes to online shopping for clothes right because that’s always the biggest thing like you don’t know how it’s going to look or fit on you and more often than not we’re like returning or exchanging just because again yeah it doesn’t fit or it looks completely different. um so yeah since uh let’s touch base more on your shophamont site. What was the idea behind that?
Sarah Killins 17:22
Yeah, so the shophamont site was really responding to the needs of like small brands and artisans that I work with every day. I definitely see this like niche market where they’re doing really well in person markets. They’re doing really well at like in person brick and mortar locations that kind of had this same model of multi-vendors that are making handmade products and sustainable products. But I wasn’t seeing anybody who was like successfully bringing this model online. And there’s definitely a consumer base for it. Like, if you look at these trade shows that are all kind of craft markets of handmade products, they’re always busy. Shoppers love them. And shoppers are willing to pay a lot of money for high-quality handmade products. But like I work with these business owners, so I know their unique struggles of getting their stuff online. And it is like when you’re a one-person maker like we know from running businesses, there’s lots more to running a business than just doing your service.
Karen Swyszcz 18:25
Sarah Killins 18:26
So these makers, they’re just they kind of get overwhelmed. And it’s very easy to as a small business owner, especially when there’s a demand for your product and a very high demand. So it’s just trying to enable them to give them another sales channel that’s very easy for them to use. And it operates on a drop shipping basis. So we’re basically a collective that we market and sell their products for them. And when we get an order through shophamont, we send them the order and the maker ships that directly to the customer.
Karen Swyszcz 18:59
Awesome. I’m just still blown away back all these amazing things that you’ve done at such a young age. What I wish I had done when I was in my 20s or explored. So given that you are, you know, of the Generation Z, do you think there is like a certain bias towards you guys?
Sarah Killins 19:20
Um, yes, unfortunately, I think it’s all just as like people are getting to understand the new generation. I think we kind of got like a bit of the millennial slack about we’re not willing to work hard or do the grunt work and things like that. I just think like, we’re very tech-savvy. We’re hard-working, but we need to see like a passion and a purpose behind it. And I think once that passion and purpose is tapped into, like, I’ve seen, my peers and coworkers do really amazing things. And I think that there’s a lot of potential and that talent that I see around myself and in the entrepreneurial community and in the ecosystem right now.
Karen Swyszcz 20:05
Mm-hmm. Yeah, I agree with you, like I’m of, I guess you could say like an old millennial, and it is true the generations before us, they tend to think, you know, we’re entitled, we don’t work hard. But I would kind of argue, and saying that we do work hard, or we worked hard to try and you know, design a flexible life that we want, or we’ve worked hard to, you know, focus on discovering our passion, working on our passion and monetizing our passion or then we’ve also worked hard to learn about the technology and how can we build things to help us you know, like, save time and make our life easier. So I guess maybe like, the traditional idea of like, working hard is like, Oh, you know, just slaving away or like being in person at the office. Whereas the sense like, I guess our definition of working hard is different or what we’ve produced from working hard is different from what I guess people from previous generations have expected.
Sarah Killins 21:02
Yeah, definitely. I definitely have that conversation. My grandparents, my parents all the time have like that old adage like that you should just stick with it and stick it out and like, has to take like, some crap sometimes, you know, and if you’re getting disrespected, you should just swallow it and up hierarchy and authority and you have to do it. And I think that it’s, it just comes from a perspective of different times to like when I have like really great deep conversations with my grandparents, like, my grandmothers just didn’t have the options that I did and the opportunities and that’s a gift as well. So I think it’s we work hard in a very different way. And we also have to be very emotionally intelligent and self-aware in a very different way because of like the level of distractions and options and opportunities that are available to us.
Karen Swyszcz 21:57
Mmhmm. It’s like shiny object syndrome. Just play something here like, Oh, I like this. I like this.
Sarah Killins 22:03
Exactly. What do you do when you truly can do anything?
Karen Swyszcz 22:08
Yeah. And just kind of going back to what you’re saying about how, you know, our parents and our grandparents have told us just to stick it out. And I just think back to my own personal experience when I was building my career some time ago. If I had stuck to those jobs that were making me unhappy, like, I don’t think I would have been in this position where I am today. I felt like I probably would have been even more miserable and think I would have like wasted my time. So say like, you know what, I’m I have the power to choose. Like, I haven’t decided, like, I’m going to try and search for something better, even though it’s going to be difficult, and it’s going to be stressful and time-consuming. But I think at the end of the day, it’ll be worth it.
Sarah Killins 22:53
Mm-hmm. Definitely. I always like the term the golden handcuffs. Oh, yeah.
Karen Swyszcz 23:00
I’ve used that term actually. (laughs)
Sarah Killins 23:02
(laughs) Because that is what it feels like when you’re working like a cushy, corporate or government job you like it, it’s good. But you know that you’re just going to feel stuck. And well, that’s how I felt at least I was like, you know, this is a path that I don’t perceive for myself. And the quicker I change directions and work hard on what I do want, the more successful that I’ll be.
Karen Swyszcz 23:28
Mmm-hmm. Yeah, it’s all about taking risk and moving forward. So speaking of that, like given that you’re a young entrepreneur, what advice would you give to people who wants to take the leap who are around the same age as you who wants to follow in your footsteps?
Sarah Killins 23:43
I’d say Just do it.
Karen Swyszcz 23:45
Like Nike. (laughs)
Sarah Killins 23:48
(laughs) I’d say keep your overhead low, like keep your expenses as low as you can, and be realistic about your lifestyle. And then that’s something definitely I’ve had to curb. Like I went from travelling like four to six times a year, internationally to travelling one to two times a year just within Canada. And look at every single expense in your life from a lens of like, do I need it? Or is this something that like, I just want and I think I’m used to and network like network your little butt off and tell people your ideas and work with people that you feel good around.
Karen Swyszcz 24:28
That’s a lot of great advice. Um, yeah, with respect to cutting expenses I’ve cut significantly, like my expenses by a huge amount. And at first, I thought like, Oh my gosh, how can I do this, but I think also at the same time, you’d be or people would be surprised as to what they can live without and realize, oh, okay, I didn’t really need that or like I’m surviving and even like thriving without it. I think at the end of the day when you know, you’re really focused and dedicated to your goals and working closer towards your purpose then all the other things are like you could do without.
Sarah Killins 25:04
Definitely, definitely. And I think there’s a lot of things that I’ve realized just in the different lifestyles that I’ve seen. There’s a lot of things in our culture and in North America that we just think like are given that we need and that we’ve always had and then went to see people without it you’re like, oh, maybe I can just change the way I live a little bit.
Karen Swyszcz 25:24
Mm-hmm. So if people want to get in touch with you, where can they find you?
Sarah Killins 25:29
Yeah on Instagram would be the best and easiest at SarahKillins or at kasedcommunication or at shophamont And I also have websites kasedcommunication.com or shophamont.com or on LinkedIn or medium as well.
Karen Swyszcz 25:46
So basically, everywhere.
Sarah Killins 25:50
Yeah, that’s good. That’s good. Just Google me you’ll find it.
Karen Swyszcz 25:54
Yeah, it’s funny because I sometimes I get annoyed when I Google people and then I can’t find them and like, where are you? (laughs)
Sarah Killins 26:00
Oh yeah, I’m like, my company can help with this.
Karen Swyszcz 26:06
Thanks again for being on the show. It was really great chatting with you.
Sarah Killins 26:10
Yeah. Thank you so much for having me, Karen. I really enjoyed it.
Karen Swyszcz 26:13
Thanks, everyone for listening to this episode and stay tuned for more episodes in the near future. Ciao for now.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai