Hey everyone, welcome back to my blog! This is the first in a new mini series where I interview small brands with a specific focus on tips for other small business owners and content creators. The first topic is Tik Tok and I interviewed Mel from Groovy Cat Garms. Mel has 27,800 followers on tik tok and she attributes most of her brand's growth to the platform. I've been following her journey over the past year and it's been so exciting to see how her business has taken off. In the interview we talk a little about her brand journey before going on to discuss her tips; from the tik tok algorithm, to her best performing content and perfectionism when it comes to creating content. Definitely a must read for any small businesses/content creators hoping to expand their reach with Tik Tok. Check out the interview below and let me know your thoughts!
Hey Mel, thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview! Could you briefly introduce yourself and Groovy Cat Garms, and summarise your journey so far?
Hi Gaby! I’m the creative behind Groovy Cat Garms, which is a small clothing brand that I started just over a year ago. I began by teaching myself to screen print to keep me occupied during lockdown, and it has just grown into this little business from there. I’m now running Groovy Cat as my main job, and bringing in an average of 250 orders per month!
Your brand has done incredibly well in this past year, it’s been so inspiring to watch. Are there any defining moments for you in your journey - any super successful videos, drops or surreal moments, which made you realise how far you had come?
My drop at the end of November was the first moment that I realised this could become my job. The 4 week lockdown was announced, and I was only working part time so the furlough didn’t cover my rent and bills. I decided that I would design, make and release a drop within 4 weeks, along with rebranding and creating a whole new website. I really surprised myself that month, and proved to myself that if I put the effort in I could really grow the brand and business. Another moment that sticks out was a drop in February where a TikTok had got a lot of views a few days before - I had about 300 people on my website at the same time trying to get a hoodie. It was crazy!
You seem like a super creative person. Would you say that a positive of lockdown has been having the time to experiment with lots of different creative outlets? How has this helped in the development of Groovy Cat and your signature style?
Yes definitely! I studied GCSE and A Level art at school, but once I left I feel like I lost the time and motivation to keep being creative and making things as I was busy working and socialising a lot. I knew I would be so bored in lockdown so I thought why not try and make some t shirts as it’s something I’d wanted to do for ages but just never had the time to research it and actually do it. Having the time to dedicate to drawing or just generally being creative but without missing out on work or going out with friends has been great. I’ve also learnt how to make punch needle rugs / wall hangings which I absolutely love! Doing this has really helped me to find my style, I think experimenting with a new medium you’re not used to really gets the creative ideas flowing.
Something you’ve done incredibly well at is Tik Tok. What has been the power of Tik Tok for your brand in particular? And if you’re looking to grow your audience as a small business would you say that this is the best way to do it?
TikTok can be amazing! It’s slow to start off with, but if you keep posting eventually one of your videos will end up on the for you page and get shown to thousands of people. It’s so exciting! I would say it’s best to be active on Instagram and TikTok, Eva Malley Art has said TikTok is great as a ‘first look’ into the business and then Instagram is better for engaging with your followers/customers which I agree with. But posting TikToks and Instagram reels is definitely where all of my growth has come from. I started posting frequently on TikTok around December time and I have noticed a massive impact from it. If you’re trying to grow your business, I think using TikTok is an unmissable opportunity to gain exposure and get your art / products / services out there!
Which types of content have you found to perform the best?
My best videos are of me making things, so either the process of screen printing or making a punch needle piece. However I wouldn’t say there’s particular a ‘type’ of content that you can keep repeating and it doing well. I think people get bored and want to see new stuff, so when I switch up the content or post a video of a new design people get excited and those tend to do better. Theres also so many trends on TikTok that change really quickly, so if you can get involved in one and make it relevant to your business it could do really well.
There’s lots of conflicting advice for Tik Tok in terms of when to post, how to reach relevant people etc. Do you think any of this is important?
I think the time of day that you post is important - I have an equal amount of followers from the US as the UK, so if I post between 6-10pm UK time then both my US and UK followers are awake and active. Other than that, I have no clue! I always use a few relevant hashtags and sometimes use trending hashtags too - but I don’t think you can try and understand the algorithm and ‘beat it’. If you put more focus on creating content you like and enjoy, you’ll end up doing well.
Something I’ve seen a lot of people say they struggle with in terms of content is perfectionism. Would you say it’s more important to go for quantity, quality, or to find a balance?
I think a balance is best but with slightly more focus on quantity. The main piece of advice I’d give is to make shorter TikToks as they get better engagement - people are more likely to watch until the end! Attention span on TikTok is very short so you need to make something that’s fast paced and grabs peoples attention. The more you post, the more chance you have of getting on the for you page. It can be so annoying because the videos you put a lot of effort into might end up flopping and you could make one that took 30 seconds and it could do really well! As I said before, just try and make content you enjoy and not focus too much on the algorithm.
What has been the biggest highlight of running Groovy Cat Garms this past year? And the biggest challenge?
My February drop was so unexpectedly successful, and initially I had just planed it to be a quick drop for Valentines day rather than a whole collection. So there was a lot of highlights in that month of drops selling out really quick, and feeling rewarded for the work I’d put in. I think the biggest challenge for me now is thinking ahead to have new items ready - as this is now my main source of income I have to be prepared and have a plan. It’s also going to be a difficult adjustment to fit ‘normal’ life around working on the business as during lockdown I’ve literally just been working all the time. I’m having to be a lot more organised but its going well so far.
And finally, do you have any long-term plans/dreams for Groovy Cat Garms? Where would you love to take it in future?
I’d really love to get my own studio space within the next year, as I currently run everything from my one bedroom flat! As shops are starting to reopen now, there’s a lot of opportunities to be involved in pop up shops or to be stocked on the high street so I’m definitely looking into that and getting involved in as much as possible. I’d love to put on my own Groovy Cat pop up event/party eventually with stalls from small businesses and a DJ. I have a vision of a big outside space with music and lots of creatives gathered together, but I think that’s a bit ambitious for me to organise in the near future!
I hope you all found that as useful and interesting as I did. Even if you aren't looking to grow your brand I hope you enjoyed hearing about Mel's journey with Groovy Cat Garms. She's super inspiring and it's been so nice watching her grow over this past year. I'll link Mel's socials below. Please let me know if there's any specific advice you'd like me to focus on next:)
Tik Tok: @groovycatgarms