April 1 marks our 3rd birthday here at Albion. Hooray!! And, in 3 short years, our company has seen a lot of changes, some small and some HUGE: We opened a retail space, launched a website, opened a design lab and warehouse, and even started a luxury retreat (Hey, there Soulstice !). We've grown beyond our wildest dreams in a very short period of time, thanks to amazing team members and friends, a lot of hard work (including taking risks that now seem insane--what were we thinking?!) and of course, thanks to this fabulous era of social media.
I realize we haven't shared the "secrets of our success" over here and that's partly because Dave and I refuse to let ourselves be comfortable with our company's growth-- we haven't forgotten that it wasn't long ago that we were eating Ramen Noodles every day and the only 100k by our names was the balance on our credit cards. But if I were to give you a list of the top 5 factors that I think were IMPERATIVE in making Albion what it is today, one would be would be our INSTAGRAM account. Another would be accepting CHANGE as the only constant in this crazy world of running a small business.
You see, Dave and I have grown to LOVE change because honestly, it's the one thing we can always count on! The funny thing is, early on in this journey, there were a lot of things thrown at us that were out of our control. I mean, the whole reason why Albion was born was because there were several economic and full on LIFE changes that forced us to come up with first a plan B, and then eventually, our plan C, i.e., starting our own line of apparel and opening a retail location with absolutely NO experience whatsoever. As the years have gone by, these kind of unpredictable changes continue to surprise us, but want to know a little secret? We kind of love change now and even BRING IT UPON OURSELVES. ALL. THE. TIME. It keeps us on our toes. Every year, we come up with at least one HUGE change in our company and with a lot of hard work and probably some luck, they've paid off.
Change keeps us innovative, it introduces us to new and wonderful people, brings us exciting (albeit sometimes scary) opportunities, and keeps things fun and challenging. It's why we designed over 70 unique swimsuits for this summer, and took an amazing team to Guatemala to shoot our campaign, and it's why we still love what we do and are excited to go to work in the mornings (and late at night).
With that said, I wanted to share some thoughts with you about the upcoming changes over at our beloved Instagram. First, let me say that Instagram is by far the most important platform we use. We've prided ourselves on creating a COMMUNITY where we get to interact with our fabulous customers. We share who we are and in turn, see what YOU LOVE and what makes you happy. Each time we see one of you tag a friend or say "Look, this is the company I was telling you about!" my heart explodes and I may or may not shed a tear or two. REALLY! We've worked really hard to provide a feed that is more than just beautiful imagery of the apparel we design, but one that is POSITIVE, and INSPIRING, and UPLIFTING.
From a business standpoint, it's also where we show off our newest and greatest products and where we generate a lot of our sales. SO OF COURSE, when we first heard the news about a year ago that a new algorithm would be rolling out, it had us shaking in our Antigua leggings. AND THEN, when it came out a couple weeks ago that it was finally actually HAPPENING it was like Defcon 5 over here; and yes (insert cringe), we even posted a "turn on notifications please" (and for that I'm SO SORRY-- bad idea!). BUT, after some Diet Coke and a whole lot of chocolate chip cookies, Dave and I came to the conclusion that these are exactly the kind of changes that have made Albion push beyond our comfort zone, try new things, and in a nut shell, brought us the success we've seen these past 3 years.
So after taking a couple deep breaths and baking some more (because that's what I do when I'm anxious) I started doing some research to see what this change really entailed, and this is what I found out:
1. Instagram will no longer be chronological-- instead, it's going to give you what it thinksyou want to seebased off of who you always comment on, who you "like" and what you search for. So essentially, this means it's going to assess what you already do, and then give you more of what you like! (and you can always search out profiles too if you haven't seen them in a while-- just comment there more and they will start popping up at the top of your feed!).
2. Instagram is not going to distinguish corporations from people profiles, ala Facebook, at least not yet.
3. The new algorithm is going to take a while to go into effect because it needs to accumulate data. So it's NOT something that's going to happen overnight.
1. You are going to start seeing a lot more AMAZING CONTENT in your feeds because this means companies like us need to really up our game to make sure you love what you see and are compelled to comment and "like/double tap" what you see.
2. This isn't so bad after all! In fact, this whole thing may be a very eye-opening experience for a lot of us. Is what's popping up in our feed an accurate representation of the person we think we are? Or the person we want to be? Because that's exactly what we're "liking." There's just SO MUCH of EVERYTHING out there that I feel like it's maybe not the worst thing in the world if we take some time to reevaluate what we "like" and maybe spend a little less time looking at things that don't inspire us or uplift us.
What this all comes down to is that everyone has a role to fulfill: This is a great opportunity for those of us creating content to work harder, to be better. So we're considering this a call to action to make sure we think very carefully about the imagery and the words we put out there. Does it inspire? Does it create a sense of community? Does it reflect who we are as a company, as a brand, and as a family? Does it make you smile? Does it make you think? Because that's the goal.
Your role, my role, everyone's role on Instagram is to participate and interact with content that we want to see more of, to create a great sense of COMMUNITY. If you love what you see, please TELL US! Like the post, and if you're up for it, tell us what you love so we can give you more of it! I'm not sure how exactly it's all going to pan out, but I do know, that if it makes us work a little harder to be creative and original, and makes us all express sincere compliments that we might have otherwise kept to ourselves, then that's a good thing! The last few years have brought enough change to teach us that the fear of the unknown is often much worse than what the actual change brings so with that said, I'm excited for the change and for this challenge.