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Opinion

How ‘Whiskey and Honey’ Uses Instagram as a Pivotal Sales Platform

By Katelan Cunningham · April 12, 2016

Vintage is definitely in vogue, but digging through piles of secondhand and forgotten clothes and housewares isn’t exactly glamorous. If you scroll through Whiskey and Honey’s Instagram feed, you might think otherwise. What started as an effort to sell personal vintage goods to friends and family on Instagram has evolved into a full-fledged business, that supports a family of four and brick-and-mortar store. 

It all started three years ago when founders Ariel and Justin Godfrey were moving their two girls, cat, and dog from Austin to Seattle and they only wanted to bring what they could fit in their Prius, (which Ariel admitted, was kind of crazy). Their personal collection of vintage finds still meant a lot to them, so to sell them at decent prices, they started posting pieces on Instagram so people in their personal network could purchase them. They weren’t just looking for buyers, they were looking for people who would love their stuff and its history as much as they did. 

 How ‘Whiskey and Honey’ Uses Instagram as a Pivotal Sales Platform
 How ‘Whiskey and Honey’ Uses Instagram as a Pivotal Sales Platform

Before long, they’d successfully sold everything they had and people were still wanting more. When they were ready to move to Seattle, they had about 1,000 followers and Ariel said, "At that point we were like, 'Let's keep this going and see how far we can take it.' So we just kept buying and selling, and buying and selling, and the following grew and now that's our full-time income." And they have 15.3K followers.

"When we first started, [selling on Instagram] was a weird thing." Their feed got a boost from being featured on Instagram's list of vintage sellers, but besides that, they haven't done any marketing and they’re still going strong with Instagram sales, posting a slew of new pieces every week. 

They've also avoided buying followers, because with most of their sales coming from Instagram, Ariel said "What we're looking for is an audience that's comprised mostly of buyers, so even if we had a bajllion followers, it wouldn't necessarily be better for our business."

 How ‘Whiskey and Honey’ Uses Instagram as a Pivotal Sales Platform
 How ‘Whiskey and Honey’ Uses Instagram as a Pivotal Sales Platform

“I just went for it, and it was crazy, but that was when we really started to pick up was when we just kind of did what felt true to us. That was when our customers seemed to really respond.”

In fact, their biggest boost has come from just narrowing in on a brand aesthetic. Scrolling through the Whiskey and Honey feed doesn’t feel like walking through a thrift store or a flea market. It feels like perusing the original, unique pieces that inspire the mass-produced lines that you find in places like Anthropologie or One Kings Lane. All of the colors of their Instagram feed are muted and natural. Whether it’s a cotton tunic or a copper mixing bowl, each piece is a basic essential, carefully picked and curated — but the brand wasn’t always as focused. 

Ariel started with a lot of themed Instagram sales, based on specific trends or designers. She said they did well, but "The aesthetic was all over the place and I had a really hard time finding my voice and figuring out who our customer was and who I wanted to cater to." They were reaching a point when they weren’t sure how long their model would work. Ariel thought “If we're going out, we're going to go out in glory.” So they raised their prices a little, launched an online store, and started using a Canon camera instead of her phone for photography. She focused on shooting in daylight and only buying items that fit within a specific palette of muted tones and natural textures. She said, “I just went for it, and it was crazy, but that was when we really started to pick up was when we just kind of did what felt true to us. That was when our customers seemed to really respond."

 How ‘Whiskey and Honey’ Uses Instagram as a Pivotal Sales Platform
 How ‘Whiskey and Honey’ Uses Instagram as a Pivotal Sales Platform

With the organic, incremental success of their Instagram, they eventually launched a web store, then finally their brick-and-mortar location. Their store is a tiny second-floor location that's only open one day a week. It’s decked out with Lumi decals and stamped hang tags and they also use it as a location for shooting and shipping. While getting a street-level storefront is a goal, it's a long-term one for the time being. 

Justin officially left his job a couple months ago to help Ariel run Whiskey and Honey full time, and though it was a scary jump, Ariel said it’s been really awesome and they’re going all-in to make their vintage dreams into a reality. "Every time we send something out, it's like sending a piece of us to these people we've never met and we're just so grateful every single time."

To see their latest vintage finds, you can follow Whiskey and Honey on Instagram.

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