This week, we explore the fascinating journey of Harlow Harry, a brand that offers luxury dog perfumes and grooming products. In telling their story, Co-Founder Rachel Crawford offers valuable insight and lessons. As an e-commerce success story, this episode serves as a lesson in creativity, persistence, and how to turn a simple idea into a thriving business.
In today’s episode you’ll learn:
- Considering MOQs (Minimum Order Quantities) when manufacturing pet products and starting small to test market demand.
- The value of testing and trying various marketing channels, including TikTok, Google Ads, and email marketing.
- How to secure PR opportunities and also considering the services of a publicist.
- The importance of user-generated content (UGC) for e-commerce, whether it’s from customers or influencers.
- Maintaining a healthy balance in a business partnership with a friend.
- The need to give marketing strategies and platforms time to prove their effectiveness before making conclusions.
- The benefits of creating a structured daily routine and blocking time in the diary for focused work.
[00:00:00] Rachel Crawford: Trying a range of different things is really important because what works for one business might not work for another, some of it might be a waste of time, but some of those things have been game changers.
[00:00:09] Dahna: Hi, and welcome to the bright minds of e-commerce podcast. I’m Dahna founder of Bright Red Marketing, and after helping so many businesses in the e-commerce space over the years, I wanted to bring you the best advice Australian experts in e-commerce and e-commerce store owners had to offer. If you want relatable stories and actionable advice and the latest Facebook advertising strategies, you’re in the right place, so let’s get into today’s episode.
[00:00:31] Dahna Borg: Today we’re here with Rachel from Harlow Harry. Welcome Rachel.
[00:00:34] Rachel Crawford: Hi, Dahna. Thank you so much for having me. I’m really excited to join you today.
[00:00:37] Dahna Borg: So good to have you on the show. So can you tell us a little bit about Harlow Harry and how it came to be?
[00:00:43] Rachel Crawford: Yeah, absolutely. So, we call ourselves a fragrance house for dogs that would be our kind of our primary offering is dog perfumes. We also have a range of grooming products, so two in one conditioning shampoos, and then we’ve also expanded out the range to include doggy homewares and little accessories as well.
[00:01:00] But yeah, I’d say dog perfume is kind of the core of our business. And where the idea was born for the brand. So it’s actually a business that I run with my business partner and one of my best friends. We were actually away in the Hunter Valley one weekend. And I don’t know, I’ve always like.
[00:01:15] had an interest in having my own business or business opportunities. But I just thought it’d be really fun to do something with him. And so quite naively, I was like, Oh, how would you feel about starting a business together? He’s like, what would it be? I was like, I don’t know. It could be anything. So we had a few wines and we were brainstorming different areas that we could go into and we’d like to think about service or product offerings and different things that we could consider.
[00:01:40] But we just kept coming back to our love of dogs. Both our dogs were on the holiday with us. He’s got an Italian greyhound called Harlow and I’ve got a a little Pomeranian called Chewy. So yeah, we, we, yeah, we just came back. kept coming back to dogs and he just casually was like, oh, I wish there was a dog perfume because there are obviously the sprays and stuff that you can get from pet stores, but nothing that’s I guess, sophisticated and really nice that would look good in your home that you wouldn’t feel like you have to hide away in a cupboard.
[00:02:10] So I was like, okay, yes, I can just a hundred percent could see that coming to life. Neither of us have a background that relates to that. So, it was very much a case of going away. I had, I was in advertising at the time, so I did a lot of project management, so I could see like how to.
[00:02:25] flesh out the plan, but wasn’t quite sure how to bring it to life, I guess. So, that was a steep learning curve for us both. But yeah, that was where it all started. And I guess the rest is history, as they say.
[00:02:36] Dahna Borg: That’s amazing. So obviously not coming from like a product development background, obviously you’ve got a marketing background, which I imagine would have been very helpful. What was that product creation process like? Obviously there are sprays, but you’ve created something next level.
[00:02:51] What’s that sort of process like?
[00:02:53] Rachel Crawford: Yeah. So very much the whole like Google was my best friend. Just search, like, how do you create, what would you do like, manufacturers and really just try to, I guess, work backwards. From there we were really fortunate. We found a manufacturer that does specialize in pet products.
[00:03:11] So that was really like a place to start. And she just she’s no longer with the company, but she just took so much time and really sat us down and explained the process and what would be involved. So, A lot of credit to her for that and just taking the time um, especially because we were looking at producing small MOQs.
[00:03:29] And that was another reason I think we were really fortunate as well, because a lot of the manufacturers that we hear about and say do require quite high MOQs. And it was really very much a case of let’s test this in the market and see if there’s appetite for it. Is there a reason it hasn’t been done?
[00:03:44] So we started with the manufacturing team and then we explored different fragrance houses. That was probably the hardest part I would say, because that was like the core of our idea. We really wanted something that was inspired by human fragrance, but safe for dogs. So we had a few misses before we found the fragrance house that we’re with today.
[00:04:05] A lot of those first sense that we explored really did smell like, I guess, toilet sprays or those just typical sense that you would expect a dog spray to smell like. So that was kind of key. And then we worked, yeah, with our manufacturer, the fragrance house and a vet and just consolidated all of those parties just to make sure we were heading in the right direction.
[00:04:23] And then yeah, it took a lot of sampling and time in formulation until we nailed it. So I think it was maybe like about nine months between ideation to launch.
[00:04:33] Dahna Borg: That’s not too bad. I’ve heard other brands that take, you know, years once they’ve had the idea to like get it like a product in your hand. So I feel like nine months isn’t too bad. I think you did a good job.
[00:04:44] Rachel Crawford: Yeah. I think that having that the project management helped because I was able to like, while one thing was in motion, I’d get I’d be sourcing bottles from Europe and like caps and tops from London and all these things like happening at the same time. So yeah,
[00:04:59] Dahna Borg: I love that. And you mentioned that you wanted to test the product and test the market. Was there a specific way that you went about that or was it just make a product, launch it and see what happens?
[00:05:09] Rachel Crawford: Yeah, it was. A little bit of that. We were quite, we didn’t talk too much about the idea outside of our tight circle until we had, we were ready to launch. And I think I would approach that potentially differently now. I think it’s really great. Talking to as many people as you can and just getting just sense testing and making sure like , it might be a great idea, but you might talk to someone who might have an idea that like improves on it or but we were really fortunate.
[00:05:32] I think like once we actually launched, there was definitely an appetite for the product. And we were quite surprised to get sales on our first day of being live. We’d built a little bit of a community on Instagram, so, and hyped it a little bit prior to launch. So yeah, we started with the small MOQs.
[00:05:50] We launched it, made some sales, and then we just continually increased our quantities from there. And then also expanded on the range as well.
[00:05:57] Dahna Borg: Amazing. So you touched on a little bit, but what was your marketing like in those early days? What were you doing? How did you get the brand out there?
[00:06:04] Rachel Crawford: Yeah. It was all organic. There was no sort of paid marketing in any way. We started, I think our Instagram account, maybe three months or so prior to launch. And that was, I think that was key for us at the time. It was very much like cute dog pictures, funny dog things. Because of. It’s like dog, but in alignment with like interiors and being a product that looks good as well and is aesthetically pleasing.
[00:06:28] We’d also post like nice homes and dogs in nice homes and just kind of built the audience that way. And then maybe… Like a month prior to launch, we started to drop little hints or product like a little snippet of a product image that would give a clue, but not too much away. So that was definitely kind of the biggest thing for us.
[00:06:49] We weren’t on TikTok or anything. And I don’t know if TikTok was around in 2019. it probably was
[00:06:55] Dahna Borg: 2019 was four years ago. That’s terrifying.
[00:06:57] Rachel Crawford: Yeah, it is.
[00:06:58] Dahna Borg: Look, it would have been close if it wasn’t.
[00:07:00] Rachel Crawford: Yeah. So it was primarily Instagram, Facebook, word of mouth. Um, And that’s definitely where we started. And then we were fortunate to get into some like boutique stockists as well. And I think just the nature of the product, being able to get it in front of people as well, so they could smell it and experience it did really help them and everything kind of grew from there.
[00:07:20] Dahna Borg: Yeah. Amazing. And what’s your marketing look like now? Like obviously to be on a much bigger scale, but what sort of are your main marketing tactics these days?
[00:07:28] Rachel Crawford: Yeah. So. Email marketing. We do a lot of Facebook page. We do TikTok organically. And that’s something that we will start to explore. But I think I’d rather grow it organically first and see where that takes us. I think there’s still a great opportunity on TikTok and it’s almost where Instagram was way back when so you still can grow.
[00:07:49] Dahna Borg: TikTok’s having its moment.
[00:07:50] Rachel Crawford: Yeah exactly. And Google ads, we do Google ads. What else? We’ve doubled in Pinterest paid, but I actually find Pinterest as An organic platform as well, like the amount of monthly views we get is pretty high. So that’s great.
[00:08:05] Dahna Borg: still gets really forgotten. Like it’s one of those things that some brands do so well and everyone just forgets that it exists at some point. I’ve not seen too many people have much success with Pinterest paid, but Pinterest organic tends to do quite well for the people who do it well.
[00:08:21] Rachel Crawford: Yeah. Completely. And like on paid, we weren’t losing money, like we were getting like the return on investment was there, but just not, it wasn’t worth it in the longterm for the effort. So, again, not to say we won’t explore it in the future, but at the moment, the organic side of things on Pinterest is working quite well.
[00:08:37] Dahna Borg: Yeah, amazing. I love that. And I know that you get some really cool PR opportunities. Is that a big part of your strategy? I know people really love getting PR, but not a lot of people know how to go about getting it. Do you have any tips on how you’ve gotten those sorts of opportunities?
[00:08:52] Rachel Crawford: Yeah I think it’s been a combination of reaching out to people organically. So whenever I’m looking at articles, if it’s a publication that I want to be in, I would maybe note down the name of the editor or who’s written the article just so that I can reach out to, and then stalking to find out email addresses and like the format of the email address and just reaching out.
[00:09:12] That has given us a lot of success and then we also, we were on Channel 7 Sunrise and that was again, just, I think they used to do a small business segment and I’d reached out and they hadn’t, well, they might have replied, luckiless, thank you so much but then one Sunday we were just going over to mum’s house for lunch and I got a text message from the producer and he was like so are you still interested? Would you like to come on Sunrise tomorrow morning at five? And I was like, holy shit.
[00:09:37] Dahna Borg: that’s some notice. Thank you.
[00:09:39] Rachel Crawford: I know, I was just a bit of a, an anxious wreck for the the whole rest of the period until the segment was over. and it’s live TV as well, so just really throwing myself in the deep end.
[00:09:50] Dahna Borg: That’s terrifying. I cannot imagine getting that little notice to be on national TV.
[00:09:56] Rachel Crawford: To be honest, I, it was probably good. I think not having the notice, at least I didn’t have time to overthink it or cook about it. I still managed to cook about it a little bit.
[00:10:06] Dahna Borg: Fair. That’s a valid point. I appreciate that.
[00:10:09] Rachel Crawford: Yeah. And then more recently we started to look at Link B as an option. And I had a minimum spend for that. So I was like, Oh, if we took that minimum spend, what would it look like if we went direct to a publicist or so I was recommended someone through a friend. So if anyone wants to reach out to me for her contact, her name’s Eve and she was so wonderful.
[00:10:29] She just secured us so many pieces. So she started by what are your dream publications? Where would you like to appear? And at the time, I really wanted to be in Daily Mail because a lot of the businesses that I aspire to have been featured. So she got us into the daily mail.
[00:10:43] And then I think maybe five, five or six other publications got us picked up through Eve.
[00:10:49] Dahna Borg: I do want her details because we often get asked by PR people.
[00:10:53] Rachel Crawford: I’m not just saying she really is good, like she goes above and beyond to deliver and make sure she hits her KPIs. Like she invested more time than she was meant to, to secure. So I’ll, yeah,
[00:11:03] Dahna Borg: I love that.
[00:11:04] Rachel Crawford: Always recommend her. Then I’m about to do a bit of a reach out, just organic myself directly to get picked up for Christmas wish lists and listicles and that sort of stuff.
[00:11:13] So yeah, just balance it out. Think you can do some yourself where possible. But then also just explore paid opportunities. Cause I think I don’t know, obviously you’re usually spread quite thin in business, so it’s good to get the support there and someone who already has the contact is going to do a much better job than
[00:11:31] Dahna Borg: Yeah, well, I mean, instead of you having to go and read publications, find their name, stalk them, find their email address, they just have them in their little black book of magic and just reach out directly. They’re probably friends. No, that’s great. I love that so much. And obviously you’re in the dog field.
[00:11:47] The dog field is amazing because dogs are adorable. We have some dog clients and it’s just. You just look at cute dogs all day and it’s fantastic. But you get some really lovely UGC. Obviously, you have dogs, so it’s nice and easy. But is there anything that you’ve done to help make people provide you more UGC?
[00:12:07] Rachel Crawford: Yeah. So we do, we have a lot of people would just purchase the product, upload a photo or a video. So that’s great. We can pull on all of that. We used to focus on influencer marketing a lot more, but now when we get reachouts, I actually look at those as more UGC opportunities because it is, it’s not like something that you can just be shooting yourself all the time unless it’s featuring our dog all the time.
[00:12:28] So it’s nice to have that variety and content.
[00:12:30] Dahna Borg: Yeah, you want it to be more than one dog. Otherwise, it looks like you don’t actually have any customers. Like it needs to have that
[00:12:36] Rachel Crawford: Yeah,
[00:12:36] exactly. Yeah. So now a lot of the reach outs that we get, we just ask like, we’ll send gifted product in exchange for video content or photos. It used to obviously be more photos, but I’d say now because that’s the thing we get the most of through Instagram and customers will always.
[00:12:53] Request video content that we can use to cut up for tick tocks and, you know, one piece of content you can probably use in five or six different ways. So, it’s yeah, it’s been a really big key, key thing for us.
[00:13:05] Dahna Borg: Yeah. And I love that it’s become sort of like… Not necessarily like a priority, but it’s one of those things that you’re like, we need video content because we are on these platforms. And you know, TikTok requires video, Instagram requires video these days that it’s well, the best use for us is actually if you make us videos.
[00:13:20] And that’s, I think people kind of forget that they can actually ask these things. They don’t have to just. get what they’re given. You can be like, Hey, we’d love video. Thank you.
[00:13:30] Rachel Crawford: Yeah, yeah, completely. No, it’s really great.
[00:13:33] Dahna Borg: I love that.
[00:13:34] Dahna: Ready to dive into Facebook ads, but you only have a small budget and aren’t really sure where to start. We have a free five day email challenge that I would love to have you join us on. All you have to do is head to sprint S P R I N T dot bright red marketing.com.au And you will get five days of really actionable insights into making sure that you make the most out of your Facebook ads. Make sure that you’re profitable. And I share with you how to make my absolute favorite ads of all time. So. Let’s get back to today’s episode.
[00:14:04] Dahna Borg: You said you’ve got your business partner. What do you find that relationship like in terms of having another person in the business? Are there any challenges, anything that you’ve learned lessons? Cause I know that a lot of people either start their business on their own and they’re like, it’d be really nice to have some help.
[00:14:21] Or they are like you and they’ve got their best friend and they’re like, Hey, let’s start a business together. And sometimes people enter that relationship naively and then there’s problems and sometimes it just magically works. Is there any sort of like tips or words of advice or wisdom that you’ve got after being in business together?
[00:14:38] Rachel Crawford: I think we’ve been really fortunate. I want to say it magically works, but I think we also are very considerate of each other and our relationship. And that’s probably actually what’s made it work. I think we
[00:14:49] Dahna Borg: magic.
[00:14:50] Rachel Crawford: No, exactly. Yeah, but it feels like magic, but it’s, yeah, it’s, it’s not quite.
[00:14:55] So we, yeah, we definitely will set aside time to talk about business. And then there are times that we’ll just completely switch off because our friendship group is very intertwined as well. So it’s so easy to just fall into business chat, especially when you talk to your friends about work. So we just, I, particularly me, I have to be really conscious of that and just.
[00:15:14] Being able to switch off when I need to and yeah, we’ve just always said we’ll put our friendship first which I think has been really helpful, but then I don’t know what that would mean if because obviously the business has grown to a certain size now, so it’s just not an insignificant pass it to the side, but I just think we will always be so considerate of each other and our feelings.
[00:15:33] We’re very similar, so we kind of know how the other’s probably feeling.
[00:15:37] intuitively before we have a conversation. So yeah, I think as long as we keep that first and foremost, we should be okay. I think we’ve made it this far.
[00:15:45] Dahna Borg: I feel like you’ve made it this
[00:15:45] Rachel Crawford: for the rest of the journey. Yeah.
[00:15:48] Dahna Borg: I love that though. I love that it’s, it’s friendship first. Like you’ve built this successful business together, but it’s just like we value our friendship. And I feel even in doing that has set yourself up for success anyway, because you’re going to treat each other well, regardless of what’s happening in the business.
[00:16:05] And I love that.
[00:16:07] Rachel Crawford: Yeah.
[00:16:08] Dahna Borg: Do you think there’s anything that we’ve missed? I’ve got a few more questions for you, but is there anything in your business journey that’s worth sharing?
[00:16:14] Rachel Crawford: I don’t think so.
[00:16:15] Dahna Borg: Any big lessons that you’ve had to learn that was like a big challenge in business?
[00:16:20] Rachel Crawford: Gosh, like I hate this question only because I feel like I’m one of those people that just forgets the bad stuff. So someone will be like, tell me something that’s bad that happened. I’m like, well, I’m such a positive person. And then I like adjust stuff to the side. And then someone will say, what about that?
[00:16:36] And I’m like, Oh my God, that was a disaster. But I just can’t, think about stuff.
[00:16:40] Dahna Borg: I love that. Your lesson is just focus on the good stuff.
[00:16:43] Rachel Crawford: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, there’s instances of issues with packaging or there’s like nothing that I would say is an amazing takeaway for people. Although that might be in my mind.
[00:16:53] Dahna Borg: And then what would be your best e commerce tip for those listening?
[00:16:57] Rachel Crawford: I think key for me and I’ve seen other businesses just like not giving it enough or not trying something for long enough and maybe giving up on something like, You kind of need to give it a little bit of time to know whether it’s going to stick or not. I think. Trying a range of different things is really important as well, because what works for one business might not work for another.
[00:17:18] So I’m always like listening to podcasts or watching things and just implementing stuff that I pick up and some of it might be a waste of time, but some of those things have been game changers. So I think it’s, yeah, it’s just being consistent, always showing up, trying things for long enough because yeah, you just never know, like what will be that thing for your business.
[00:17:38] Dahna Borg: Yeah, I love that. And that’s so true. I think so many people, especially in the social media world, where things are changing so quickly, they’ll be like, Oh, I tried TikTok for a week and it didn’t work. And it’s you’ve got to, you’ve got to invest, you’ve got to give it a bit. It’s if you tried to build your email list, gave it three weeks and then gave up that’s not enough time.
[00:17:57] So I think that’s really solid advice of, you’ve got to give these things time and give them a real good, solid crack first.
[00:18:04] Rachel Crawford: Yeah, absolutely. I agree.
[00:18:06] Dahna Borg: And you mentioned podcasts. Do you have a favorite podcast?
[00:18:08] Rachel Crawford: I’ve got a few. I always consume a lot of business content as well. So my regular podcast that I’ve been listening to for so long is shameless. I don’t know if you’ve heard of that. But I listened to it every Thursday and it just I don’t know.
[00:18:19] It’s just a breath of fresh air for me. Cause I feel like it is something that just puts me completely out of my little business world.
[00:18:26] Dahna Borg: to get out of that space. Amazing.
[00:18:28] Rachel Crawford: and they’re just funny and it keeps me feeling young. Cause I’m like up with the celebrity gods. And then I really love mindset mentor as well. Cause I think as well, just being in business and so all consuming you can really get in your head and if you’ve got a small team or you work solo just having just that sort of outside voice of reason really helps. And I’ve got so many actionable tips from that. And then I’ve always got a new favorite in the the business world, but I really loved the lazy CEO podcast. She’s just obviously launched recently and she’s got some really interesting guests on as well.
[00:19:00] Dahna Borg: Yeah, I, I love that concept too about being lazy. It’s like the anti hustle culture is my jam. So I need to listen to that one. I’ve seen it around and I haven’t had a chance to listen yet. But I’m very anti the hustle. So it sounds like it’s up my, right up my alley.
[00:19:18] Rachel Crawford: Yeah. It’s a nice casual chat as well,
[00:19:21] Dahna Borg: Yeah.
[00:19:22] I always like those. I don’t like to grill you for the first half an hour.
[00:19:26] And then do you have any strategies or habits that you follow each day to help you stay on track in business?
[00:19:31] Rachel Crawford: Yes. So, I’m really creature of habit. So I have a really like strict routine even outside of work. I’m always quite stretched. So certain days of the week, I’ll get up and go to the gym and I’ll either do like pilates or run club. And then when I get home, I set aside time to meditate and I do an ice bath at home as well, most mornings.
[00:19:49] Used to hate it when I started doing it. And it was like, like making myself do it. But now my mindset about it is I get to do it and I just really enjoy it. And it’s five minutes of although sometimes my daughter is in the background yelling at me and I just pretend she’s not there. So those are kind of my key. They really help with mental wellness. And then in the business, I’m really good at blocking time in my diary and trying to stick to that. And I always feel like the busier I am, the more productive I am as well.
[00:20:17] Dahna Borg: I’m the I’m the same.
[00:20:18] Rachel Crawford: I don’t know what it is.
[00:20:19] Dahna Borg: I don’t know what it is either, but it’s like you’ve got enough on so you get more of it done because there’s less time to do it all maybe?
[00:20:27] Rachel Crawford: Completely. And you know you have so much to do in a day, so you’re like, really I’ve got this hour. I’m going to smash this out. And I used to be quite bad at jumping between tasks or like doing starting something and then jumping to something else. But now I’m like, close the emails down. Don’t pick up the phone, finish this one thing and then move on to the next thing.
[00:20:46] And my sort of time where I’m most creative and productive, I guess, is unfortunately really early in the morning. So I just get up at four, even on the days I don’t go to the gym and I just. Work for a block and then doesn’t really matter as much what happens throughout the day because I know that I’ve ticked that off
[00:21:02] Dahna Borg: Fair enough. I’m not a get up at four o’clock in the morning person, but good work. I know lots of
[00:21:06] people that are very productive at that time of day.
[00:21:08] Rachel Crawford: yeah, I do drink a lot of coffee to kind of get through
[00:21:11] Dahna Borg: Fair enough. And if people want to visit you, find out more about Harlow Harry, have a look at what you’re doing. What’s the best way for them to find you?
[00:21:19] Rachel Crawford: Yeah, so we’re on Instagram and TikTok at Harlow Harry On Facebook at Harlow Harry Sydney and our website is harlowharry.com.au
[00:21:30] Dahna Borg: Wonderful. Everyone go have a look at their products are beautiful. And also lots of cute dogs, so you can’t lose there, And I hear you have a special offer for our listeners.
[00:21:39] Rachel Crawford: Yeah. So we set up a discount code for your listeners. It’s ‘Bright Minds 15’. And if you enter that at checkout, I’ll get 15 percent off any of our range.
[00:21:48] Dahna Borg: Thank you so much. We always love getting little gifts for our listeners and your products are amazing. So I’m excited to hear how everyone finds them.
[00:21:55] Thank you so much for joining us. It’s been an absolute pleasure having you on the show.
[00:21:59] Rachel Crawford: Thank you so much Dahna, it’s been great chatting to you
[00:22:01] Dahna: Thanks for listening to the bright minds of e-commerce podcast. As always you’ll find the show email@example.com forward slash episode 51. thanks for listening.