We’re excited to introduce you to the always interesting and insightful Taryn Lancaster. We hope you’ll enjoy our conversation with Taryn below.
Hi Taryn, thanks for joining us today. Let’s start with the decision of whether to donate a percentage of sales to an organization or cause – we’d love to hear the backstory of how you thought through this.
From the beginning, I knew Sweet Charity Clothing Co. had to be about more than just clothes. Don’t get me wrong: I love fashion, styling outfits, and the challenges of running a business, but at the end of the day, people are what matter. By donating 20% of our profits to charity, my motivation to push harder goes beyond making money or building my business. I consider giving back both a privilege and a responsibility, and I’m so grateful for every customer who chooses to join me in supporting such amazing organizations as Preemptive Love Coalition and Mercy Ships. It’s a win-win-win in my eyes!
Taryn, love having you share your insights with us. Before we ask you more questions, maybe you can take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers who might have missed our earlier conversations?
Oh boy, where do I start? I grew up in Northeastern Ohio, and from what my mom tells me, I’ve always had my own sense of style. Instead of wearing what was trendy, I wore what made me feel good. When I was 6, I was interviewed for an article in our local paper about back to school fashion. When asked about my Mickey Mouse watch, I responded that I couldn’t tell time, but it just looked good with my outfit. My group of friends in high school nicknamed me the “Color Queen” because of the bright, happy colors I wore and loved. I couldn’t help but get excited about style and how it let me have a unique voice.
Fast forward to a Broadway career (that’s a story for another day!), a move to Texas, two beautiful babies, another move to Colorado, another beautiful baby, and I found myself as a stay-at-h0me mom, still loving fashion but now having absolutely no idea how to dress my early 30’s postpartum body. I struggled being too young for “mom clothes”, too old for Forever 21, and too busy (and tired) to haul my three small children to try on clothes at the mall. As I was scrolling on Facebook one day, it hit me. What if I could start a clothing business that would remove the barriers of time, money, body insecurity, and indecision for women just like me? How great would it be to see affordable, flattering, age-appropriate outfits pop up right there on on your Facebook feed? And so I got to work. I threw the idea out to my Facebook friends, asking for ideas for a name that would incorporate my idea for a clothing business that would also get a percentage of profits to charity. One of my former college dance professors came up with “Sweet Charity”, which many may recognize as the name of a 1960’s Bob Fosse musical. In a word, it was perfection. Within the week, I took a $600 investment to form an LLC, get a wholesale license, create a logo, and invest in inventory. Sweet Charity Clothing Co. started as a Facebook group and is now a website (www.sweetcharityclothing.com) with thousands of visitors a month.
One thing I love doing for our customers is what we call Style Packs. A few times a year, we release Style Packs that contain usually 4 clothing items and 1 accessory for $50, which is over a 50% discount off our regular prices. After purchasing, customers fill out a pretty comprehensive “Style Questionnaire” where we get a good feel for their sizing and preferences, then we put together a customized collection for them. I love the challenge of meeting each unique customer’s needs, and the feedback from women would feel amazing in the clothes we chose for them is so rewarding!
We’d love to hear the story of how you built up your social media audience?
I truly believe my customers love Sweet Charity and follow us on social media because we *don’t* feel like a huge brand. I try to make it very personal, and this might sound weird, but I truly feel like every single customer is a friend. Authenticity and word-of-mouth go a long way, so when I treat my customers as friends, they’re more likely to tell others about us.
Do you sell on your site, or do you use a platform like Amazon, Etsy, Cratejoy, etc?
I use Shopify as Sweet Charity Clothing Co.’s e-commerce platform and cannot sing its praises enough! Besides getting better bulk shipping rates (which is huge as prices continue to rise), I love all the analytics and reports that Shopify provides from customer demographics to sales tax reports to returning customer rates. Shopify allows for almost complete website customization without any coding knowledge and even provides the ability to add apps for things like customer rewards programs and product reviews.
- Website: www.sweetcharityclothing.com
- Instagram: @sweetcharityclothing
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/sweetcharityclothing
Elizabeth Osberg Photography, Jordan Z Photography