Not too long ago, I tagged along with Melissa on a very hot—and sweaty—Atlanta afternoon to see our pals over at Fallen Arrows. We were greeted by the company’s ever-cheerful co-founder Andrew Bellury and his equally friendly coworkers. After a bit of “oohing and ahhing” over custom t-shirt and embroidered patch designs, Andrew gave us a tour of the space—and a peek into how they run their business and keep their customers happy. He also gave me an ice pop that turned my mouth blue, so that won my heart over forever. Again: sweaty.
Fallen Arrows started in 2007, printing shirts out of an apartment with only 1 small machine, all the while having a much bigger goal in mind: elevating the designs of a small group of artists in the Atlanta community. Since those scrappy apartment days, Fallen Arrows has made a name for itself as the go-to print shop for the Atlanta film industry, start-up clothing lines, and one-off custom apparel. As Andrew puts it:
When a company builds its foundation on empowering artists and bending over backwards for customers, it’s no wonder why they have such a loyal fanbase. How’d they get here? Well, Andrew let us in on a secret:
“Everyone that works here is at least 70% MacGyver.” By that, he means they’ll happily take on projects that require very specific problem-solving.
As a small business, one problem Fallen Arrows is consistently trying to solve for is creating demand for their products and services. Here are a few tactics they’ve employed along the way:
Fallen Arrows is always thinking of new and creative ways to celebrate and reward their customers. And one way they’ve grown their email list is through Instagram giveaways.
This past holiday season, they ran a 24-hour contest through their Instagram account in an effort to grow their social following. They kept it straightforward and simple, asking followers to like the post and tag their friends in the comment section. This entered them into the contest to win a variety of prizes, included shirts, an Amazon gift card, candy, and music—all in the name of holiday cheer.
I asked Andrew how they landed on Instagram as their platform of choice, and he said they did their research. Andrew noticed a few giveaways on Instagram, and he reached out to the account owners to find out if and how these were working for their brands. They have used a similar tactic in the past to urge followers to sign up for their email list.
While the Fallen Arrows team is still learning the ways of the social media giveaway world, they understand the importance of asking questions and the beauty of iteration. Wth each round, they evaluate what worked and what didn’t, and they use their findings to adjust for the next time.
One key takeaway the team learned was that having a simple call to action with a high-demand prize specific to your audience garners more results. For example, “Join our mailing list, win this bike!” does a lot better than, “Fill out this form, fax it to 867-5309, and you’ll be entered into a semi-finalist drawing to win a sticker!” Andrew went on to say, “I feel like that’s pretty intuitive, but it’s always easier to give away swag that you already have in stock—which might not be the best prize for your crowd.”
Fallen Arrows started doing a limited run of Atlanta-themed designs this year, and the response has been amazing.
“Offering limited editions has given us the opportunity to fill a want hole most t-shirt shoppers naturally feel,” Andrews says. “Namely, I don’t wanna be wearing the same shirt as some other dude or dudette walking down the BeltLine.”
Plus, since they offer so few (just 25 pieces of each design), there’s a buzz around release time on social media and in the shop. “We love our city, and it’s fun to dedicate a shirt to The A once a month,” Andrew says.
Fallen Arrows believes that all customers should be treated equally, no matter how large or small the order. Andrew says this has played a major role in acquiring and keeping customers.
“The best thing we’ve ever done to promote brand awareness has been making sure every customer that walks through our door gets the same experience,” he says. ”When our customers are super stoked about working with us, they tell their friends.”