THE BLOG
04/08/2014 12:36 pm ET Updated Jun 08, 2014

How We Used Instagram to Grow Our Sales By 500% In 2 Months

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ZuVi was created with a mother's love of fashion, a daughter's love for yoga, and their mutual love for the environment. The result was some crazy, beautiful leggings made from recycled water bottles and sold on their Shopify store.

We chatted with Samantha Clifton- the daughter portion of the team - about the inspiration behind ZuVi and what she's learned along the way. That includes increasing sales by 500% in two months by turning Instagram into a primary source of sales.

Q: Why did you choose to sell leggings?

A: My mom began to create leggings because she saw the huge opportunity. I kept telling her about the yoga pants craze on Instagram and all the comments I received from the leggings she made for me. So we jumped on it!

Q: Where did the idea to use recycled water bottles come from?

A: We knew we wanted to do something eco-friendly. When we were out searching for fabrics to make the leggings, we came across the Eco Green fabric. We knew right then we wanted it.

Q: What is the process like to make leggings from water bottles?

A: That is the first question people ask when you tell them the leggings are made out of recycled plastic bottles. They take the recycled bottle, strip the labels and debris, then wash it. From that they make chips, then flakes that they turn into thread. Mix it with some spandex, and BAM! You get the Eco Green fabric.

Q: Can you share any metrics of success?

A: We have shipped to 27 countries. Wow, saying that feels so surreal! In this past month, we had about 8,500 visitors on our website; 4,756 were unique visitors. From the month of February to the end of March, we've had a 500% growth in sales. Typing this makes me feel extremely excited.

Q: What tool has been the key to your success?

A: Instagram plays a huge role in the success of our business. That has been the only platform where I do my marketing. I would say about 80% of sales come from Instagram. We have 6,472 followers. It is a great way to reach potential customers. With the Yoga craze going on and the yoga challenges on Instagram (which I happen to participate in too!), almost everyone wants the most colorful, funky leggings for their pictures.

Q: Why do you think leggings are such a craze - why do people love them so much?

A: I think people love leggings so much because of how fun they can be. The colors are bold and bright and with kick-ass designs. In pictures, the brighter and bolder, the better! Not to forget the fact that they are also so comfortable to wear. You can dress them up and wear them to work, and if you have a yoga class afterward then you're already ready.

Q: What role has Shopify played in your success?

A: I would be lost without Shopify! We didn't have the money to invest in a graphic designer. I would not have been able to do it myself. The free templates on Shopify made setting up my online store so much easier. I love the support I receive, and it doesn't take long to get an issue fixed. I have recommended Shopify to quite a few people. We love you Shopify!

Q: What has been the hardest part of your entrepreneurial journey so far?

A: The hardest part has been the financial backing. We started the company with only $800 that I had saved from my previous tax return! But we have been making it work since the day we started.

Q: Any funny anecdotes you'd like to share?

A: The first thing that popped in my head is the time where my husband was helping me cut fabric. It was the Color Me Fun design. I knew he had no experience cutting but we thought, how hard could it be? Just cut along the pattern. Well, we were wrong. The Color Me Fun design has stripes, and he didn't think to check if the lines were aligned straight. I freaked because it was about 35 pairs (and remember, we were on a budget). It was a mess! I thought, "This is ruined, it's a waste of time and money!"... He ended up selling the leggings to a few people that thought they were super awesome because they were different! Who would have thought?!

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This year, Shopify's Build A Business Competition is bigger than ever. Shopify is giving away more than $500,000 in cash, prizes and mentorship in its fourth annual competition. Contestants create a store and try to sell the most in their category for a chance to win $50,000 and a VIP trip to NYC to meet their mentor.

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