Jackie and Evan Streusand know their robes. In fact, they’ve built an entire business around the flowing garment called Highway Robery. The kimono-style robes have gained a following of folks who love their breezy feel and colorful, quirky designs. Jackie and Evan invited the What’s in Store team out to their Austin, Texas headquarters to talk about how they use pop-up forms and welcome and follow-up emails to build their customer base and brand awareness.
It all started with a road trip. In the summer of 2016, Jackie and Evan were riding along a scenic route to west Texas. When they arrived at their accommodations, they happened upon a pair of colorful robes. For the entirety of their stay, the couple wore the robes. They loved the experience so much, they thought, “Why not make a line of these?”
“The whole summer leading up to us even starting the brand, we kept thinking about it,” Jackie says. “Evan always says people have great ideas all of the time, but no one actually pursues it. So it was like if we just follow through then this might be something.”
Highway Robery’s collections—which are all small batches made in the U.S.—range from silky rayons to cotton flannels. The garments come with pun-friendly names such as “Mark Twang,” “Lady Croissant,” and “Temporary Secretary,” and no one robe is mass-produced, adding an air of exclusivity to an already unique product. Plus, there are mini robes!
Before they could really put a dent in the robe industry, Jackie and Evan had to carve out roles for themselves. “Since we’re married and business partners, we’ve actually learned a lot about our own relationship and what it takes to run a business with your partner,” Evan says.
What did they learn? How best to divide and conquer. Whereas Jackie’s focused on the fabric selection, brand aesthetic, and designs, Evan handles the day-to-day business operations, which include the marketing duties. Despite being a newer business, Evan’s found a winning combo that’s helped grow Highway Robery’s customer base and get the word out. Here’s how he does it:
The process of turning website visitors into paying customers begins with using a pop-up form, Evan says. Highway Robery uses the pop-up to offer first-time visitors a 10% discount on their purchase if they sign up for the mailing list. Evan says he loves that the team is able to customize the pop-ups with their own text and imagery. They’re also able to experiment with when and where the pop-ups appear, which allows them to test the effectiveness of various options.
“Once we installed the pop-up, we were getting 3, 4, 5 new email addresses a day, and that helped us grow our customer list really quickly,” Evan says.
Once new subscribers sign up, they’ll receive a welcome email from Jackie and Evan, which includes their discount and tells the story of how Highway Robery got started. “This process has encouraged people to try our robes,” Evan says, “and also educates them on our robes and our brand, which leads to sharing our content and getting people talking about us.”
Two days after they sign up and receive the welcome email, subscribers will get another message from Jackie and Evan. This one gives a brief history of kimonos and details why they chose that particular shape for their robes.
“We’ve gotten a lot of new customers and new emails from having that pop-up on our site, and those have turned into repeat customers,” Evan says. “That’s really helped us grow our customer base and grow as a business.”