Image Cover Article Rachel Crawford: Running a Successful Brand in a Highly Competitive Industry

Candid Brand Conversations

Rachel Crawford speaks openly about their continuing battle with META marketing and some words of advice to other young entrepreneurs about hidden costs in starting an e-commerce brand. 

🎤 MarketingAlec

Rachel Crawford

After successfully launching a product that revolutionized the pet grooming game in Australia, Rach reflects on the struggles of creating a product that had never been conceptualized before, as well as how she pivots amidst META changes and an uncertain marketing landscape. 

MA: So thank-you so much for chatting with us about Harlow Harry! To kick things off, where did the idea behind the brand actually come from. It’s a totally unique product. 

RC: Yeah so my friend (and now co-founder) and I were away in the Hunter Valley in NSW, Australia, drinking wine. I always had an entrepreneurial mind, and knew I wanted to do SOMETHING. He had the idea to bring out something in the pet space that was 100% new. We knew of pet sprays. But we were like wait, what about a pet perfume? Something sophisticated, not just coconut or vanilla spray that lasts 5 seconds and then is gone. So that’s how we thought up the idea!

MA: I’m sure there was a bit of doubt at the time about bringing out a product completely new to the industry. 

RC: Yeah, we had to ask ourselves, and do a lot of research, about whether there was a REASON this product hasn’t been brought out yet. Or if it was just because it’s not been thought up. We realized it was doable and we went for it.

MA: So no competitors, that’s great, right?

RC: Yeah I actually said to someone the other day that I almost wish we had a competitor. I don’t know why haha. But now just in the last few days we actually have our first proper competitor. So be careful what you wish for!

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MA: No way. That’s crazy. No competitor (brand) for four years is nice, but all good things come to an end I guess. What was the biggest challenge you faced in the initial phase of starting up Harlow Harry?

RC: Yeah. I think it’s important and that a lot of people starting out don’t realize is how quickly the little costs add up. Like getting funding for a new business is REALLY hard. Especially if you don’t have any assets, looking for a loan from a bank is so challenging. So you have to have savings. Because it’s expensive, even doing it frugally. And if you’re not making sales, it takes a lonng time to see any kind of return. It’s stressful. But it’s all part of it. 

MA: We really like asking this question. Has there been a ‘turning point’ for you and Harlow Harry? 

RC: No.

MA: That’s the answer we always get! There’s this thought in small business that you have a ‘turning point’ or ‘breakthrough’ and then it’s just cruisey. But in our experience, it isn’t that common.

RC: Yeah definitely no blow up moment for us. I feel like it’s almost a blessing because you have to keep grinding consistently. And it pushes you because you’re like well, will next week be that moment? If I do this, will this be THAT moment? So you kind of always feel like you’re on the edge of a breakthrough.

MA: If you could give someone one piece of advice for starting a brand – what is it?

RC: I feel like these are like, not ‘businessy’ answers, but I would say they’re so important: 

  • Don’t put too much pressure on yourself.
  • Don’t compare yourself or your brand to anyone else. It will get you down. 
  • You need to take a rest every now and then. It can actually be so hard to ‘switch off’, especially if you’re passionate. But you need to stop. Don’t melt down. Catch it before you melt down because this will save you time in the long run.

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MA: Let’s dig into some marketing stuff.

RC: Let’s do it.

MA: Do you have a marketing background?

RC: Not really. I spent a year working for a gym doing their marketing. They were a big gym. So I couldn’t really apply what I learned there to Harlow Harry because their budget was just so much bigger. But at least I had an idea of the marketing landscape. 

MA: Today, what’s your biggest marketing challenge. Something you just can’t seem to nail down or get 100%?

RC: 100% paid ads and the cost to acquire a new customer. We actually turned Facebook ads off the other day. We can get a good CPA, but then it’s just not consistent and attributions don’t necessarily line up.

MA: So you pivot? Right?

RC: Yeah. We’re refocusing on dialing up retailing and PR as a strategy, rather than FB. It’s all about being adaptable. We would love to stick with it until we get it right, but it takes time and money doing this. As a team of two, we just don’t have the time or money.

MA: So, what’s your retail strategy?

RC: Well we used to restrict online retailers. Used to think it would cannibalize our own sales. But we realized it just creates more awareness. And now that our brand is established, socials and the website are looking good, it’s good to generate some new eyes on our stuff from retailers. That’s the hope.

We also never used to actively hunt for retailers. Now we’re going to be doing a bit of an outreach.

MA: What does that look like?

RC: Well, we’ll look at getting a VA to do bulk outreach to dog boutiques across Australia. Then go from there.

MA: That’s a really smart idea to do it that way. Because finding those retailers is the time consuming thing, isn’t it?

RC: Exactly.

Check out the luxe Australian dog grooming and dining range at Harlow Harry.

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