Think about the last time you bought a piece of clothing or jewelry. Did you purchase it from a brick-and-mortar store, online, or through a social media page? With the emergence of websites such as Depop, Etsy, and Shopify, it has never been easier to sell your own products without a large startup cost. As these barriers to entry have lowered, the market for clothing and jewelry has been saturated with custom products. In such a crowded marketplace, how can small businesses stand out?
Meet Tristen Ikaika, an entrepreneur based out of Utah who has been selling rings made out of spoons since he was a teenager. Tristen has amassed a following of nearly 70,000 followers on Instagram (@tristenikaika) entirely organically. A closer look at his business and his journey as an entrepreneur reveals powerful marketing lessons for companies big and small
First and foremost, Tristen is able to stand out because of his unique product. Until recently, all of the rings that he sold were cut and bent from spoon handles. As a result, each ring is entirely unique and handmade, rather than being mass produced. Furthermore, each ring “drop” sources spoons from different areas around the country and the globe to further limit the supply of undifferentiated rings in each drop.
In terms of social media marketing, Tristen is a master of engagement. Ikaika posts daily Instagram stories showing the behind the scenes of each step of the supply chain including sourcing product, making the rings in his office, and shipping to customers. Furthermore, Tristen has essentially turned his Instagram into a reality TV show where he shows off the office dynamic by posting casual clips from his day at work, including a work pyramid where he dramatically reveals who is the best and worst worker of the week. In addition, he involves his customers with his posts as well. For example, one customer recently dropped her ring in her toilet, and Tristen made several posts with polls engaging his customers about the situation and whether she should get a new ring. He ultimately sent her toilet supplies. Lastly, Tristen engages his customers by allowing them to name the rings before they are released on his website.
Another way in which Tristen has been successful in marketing his rings is by limiting supply. Tristen releases a small set of rings roughly once a month, which sell out in less than an hour. Once the rings are sold, they are gone from his website for good. His customers often send him hundreds of messages the day of a drop discussing how they have their alarms ready, and are even willing to miss work or weddings to buy a ring. As a result, his followers sense the demand from other customers which reinforces the idea that a Tristen Ikaika ring is exclusive.
Lastly, Tristen often makes an appeal to emotion with his audience, specifically by supporting fellow entrepreneurs. Tristen does giveaways and provides free promotion to other small businesses in the Utah area including Thread Wallets and Kai Pops. Furthermore, he sends PR boxes to fellow entrepreneurs and influencers to increase word of mouth marketing and create a positive brand image.
These marketing tactics create a unique, exclusive, and positive brand for Tristen and his products. Although other businesses are not able to copy his unique products, every business could take a page out of Tristen’s book when it comes to engaging with their audience and marketing their product or service.
My name is Sam Thayer and I am a junior at Boston University studying marketing. Feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com with any questions or comments!