EPISODE 34: How My Business Got in the Top 1% of All Shopify Stores
April 18, 2021


As my team celebrates Headbands of Hope’s 9th birthday, we’re also celebrating the honor of being ranked in the top 1% of all Shopify stores!

As I reflect on these last 9 years, there are so many experiences that led to this success in business! Listen in as I share 5 things that I believe contributed to our top 1% ranking of all Shopify stores!

Plus, make sure you use the code FIRSTTIMER for 20% off at headbandsofhope.com and help us reach one million headbands donated!


1. I hired people before I was ready. (2:42)

2. We’re quick to pivot. (5:20)

How can we always be a speedboat and not a cruise ship.

3. We kept showing up and continue to gather data. (6:47)

4. We diversified our revenue streams. (8:32)

5. We had fun. (9:40)

Recap (11:18)

Use code FIRSTTIMER for 20% OFF at headbandsofhope.com

One Liner: Don’t let, “I don’t know where to begin,” keep you from beginning. (11:55)


Review the Transcript:

Hey, everyone. Welcome back to Business on the Bright Side. If you’re wondering why maybe my voice is a little different, I’ve hesitated recording podcasts for a little bit, because I had a minor jaw surgery. I’ve had TMJ problems for years. My jaw was completely locked for two years, it was really bad, but they just went in and unlocked it. But now, I have to wear this retainer for 12 weeks. So, it’s really great when you make your career off of doing podcasts and speaking engagements to now have a slight lisp. So, this is what I’m dealing with. Just wanted to give you guys a heads up. But I am so excited for today’s podcast episode because it is nine years, nine years that I started Headbands of Hope today. I still remember going live with the headbandsofhope.com.

I was in college and I remember just constantly hitting refresh and wondering why the only people that had purchased was my mom and my grandpa and thought it was such a failed idea. Today, we just actually found out a few weeks ago, we’re in the top 1% of Shopify stores, which is absolutely crazy. And we are very, very close to donating 1 million headbands to kids with illnesses. And if you want to go get some headbands for yourself, you can use the code first timer, first timer for 20% off at headbandsofhope.com. So, let’s get to it.

What’s up, everybody? It is just extra and welcome to Business on the Bright Side, the podcast where you can learn how to make a living and make a difference at the same time. Life is short and so is my attention span, so let’s get started. So, even if you don’t have a business idea right now, or a consumer product or something that you’re starting, I think that you can still benefit from these tips that I’m about to share of how we got into the top 1% of Shopify stores. Now, mind you, this was our nine year birthday today, so it’s taken us nine years. We are not an overnight success story, but there are some things that I can point out as to what was a difference maker for us and really finding our footing at Headbands of Hope.

So, number one, I hired people before I was ready. So, my freshman year remained in college. There was a girl named Lauren and it was so funny, we randomly matched on Facebook in this group to live together. We were like, “Oh, we both have boyfriends from high school. This will be great.” And of course, we both ended up breaking up with our boyfriends the first year. But nevertheless, it was the right decision because Lauren is now the president of my company, but it was something where she started to help me out with Headbands of Hope, with some donations. And she was someone that I felt could really help me take Headbands of Hope to the next level. And when we graduated, Headbands of Hope wasn’t making enough money to pay her or pay me. But we came up with this idea that she would help us break into the wholesale market.

Now, mind you, she’s just like me. I think she was studying physical therapy or something like that. Sorry, Lauren, I forgot what you were studying. But we both really loved this idea. And so she’s like, “I want to find a way to make it work.” And so, we laugh about this moment so many times, because we were just these little 18 year old kids where we had a meeting with me and my dad and her and her dad about how to compensate her and offer her a job. And at the time it seems just so funny because now we’re running this multimillion dollar business together. And at that time we’re like, “Let’s bring our dads to this meeting.” I can’t imagine doing that today. Love you dad. But so, what I actually ended up doing, it was so great that Lauren was down for this challenge was that her compensation was based on how the company was doing.

So, she got a percentage of sales and now that’s how all of my employees are still paid to this day. I mean, they have definitely higher base salary, but I found that by giving people skin in the game, when things are good, they feel it, and when things are bad, they feel it. But that was how I was able to hire people before I was ready was if you’re going to come in and make the company better than you can get a piece of that. And so, if you’re going to come in and make the company better, than you should be able to get a piece of that. But if you come into the company and you’re not really moving the bottom line at all for us, then you won’t see that in your pay. So, hiring people before I was ready was a huge part of the success of Headbands of Hope today.

And now, I have a team of amazing women who seriously, I don’t know how I got so lucky to have the women that I do working at Headbands of Hope. The second thing that we did that I think is a big part of our success is that we’re quick to pivot. So, I like to say that we are turning a speedboat, not a cruise ship. We can be really quick to move on something. So, for example, when the pandemic hit and all of a sudden the CDC was like, “Everyone needs to wear masks,” but you couldn’t find masks anywhere. We had these headbands called tube turbines that could also go above your face and be a mask. And so, literally, I remember it was a Saturday and the team and I were texting about what we were going to do, and then we decided that I was going to take a picture and I was literally sweaty from the gym.

And I was going to take a picture beside this brick wall with one of our headbands and show it being pulled up over my face like a mask. So, I took that picture, texted it to the team, they sent out a newsletter, and I think we did a Facebook post that day. We sold out of almost every single one of those headbands. We had this sales that we did in that day were typically what we do in a month. And that was really because we were able to come together, pivot, and be quick to fire. And so, as the company gets bigger, that’s something that I truly try to hang on to is how can we always be a speedboat and not a cruise ship. Okay. So, number three, how we made it to the top 1% of Shopify stores is we kept just showing up and continued to gather data.

So, we would always go to these trade shows in Atlanta and all these other places where sometimes we would go there and the costs wouldn’t make sense. We had to pay for the booth, we had to pay for a hotel, maybe we got a couple store orders from there, but we would break even. But then we realized that when we show up at these trade shows and we’re actually in person, we hear feedback, we get data around what people are thinking about the product. You can’t really get that online. So, I feel like one of the things that made us successful is we continued to show up in person, talk to people, watch how they touch the product, watch how they try it on, see what their reasons are, if they don’t buy it, how we can change that. And so, by continuing to show up in person in a very digital world, I think was a big part of us learning about our product, about our customers, about people’s needs.

And then also, I just feel like whenever you just keep showing up, it almost broadens your frequency in the world. We had this show that we went to recently that it was just a bust, no one was really there. We weren’t really placing many orders, but then two weeks after the show, we got a call from someone who had just taken one of our business cards off the table and it’s a major retailer that is interested in carrying us. And so, things like that just don’t happen when you’re sitting at home. So, continuing to show up is definitely step three of how we made it to top 1% of Shopify stores. So, step four, we diversified our revenue streams. So, I started Headbands of Hope first, just online. In order to get a headband from Headbands of Hope, you had to go onto headbandsofhope.com and purchase it. Then we moved into mom and pop boutiques where you could go to your local salon or gift shop or women’s boutique and buy Headbands of Hope.

And then we got into some medium sized chain retailers. And then we started having these campus events where people would sell headbands. And then we started going on QVC, and then we started doing all these other different channels that are really helpful because for example, when the pandemic hit, a lot of stores closed down. And if stores were a 100% of our business, we would’ve been done. But because we were diversified in all these other areas that we were selling product, we were able to focus more on those areas and not be hit so hard when one of them didn’t work. So, definitely diversify your revenue streams and how you sell your product.

And then the last one, number five, how we made it to the top 1% of Shopify stores, and this one sounds silly, but it truly is a big reason is that we’re all just having fun. And I think that in the beginning of Headbands of Hope, I gripped it really tightly. I thought that like, “Oh, this has to work. It’ll be so embarrassing if it doesn’t.” And it was so draining and not fun to run a business that you’re constantly holding your breath anytime something bad happens. Now, I realize we’re never going to have zero problems. When we solve one big problem, four more problems are going to pop up because of it. That’s just the name of the game. That’s the business that we’re in that is the ticket fee to join this club of entrepreneurship is knowing that there’s always going to be problems. And so, we can’t let those problems ruin our mojo or ruin our morale.

And so, we truly, I feel like are just having fun. I mean, you go into the warehouse, there’s music blasting. There’s just our slack channels, posting pictures of our dogs. And whenever we have a really amazing giving photo that comes in, we do a mass text to everyone in the company. Before the pandemic, we were going into the hospitals all the time, hosting DIY headband days. But I think that just truly enjoying what we’re doing is a big part of the energy that we have when we show up to work every day. I truly believe that even the down parts can still be fun when you’re all in it together.

Okay. So, to recap, here are the five ways that we made it into the top 1% of Shopify stores on our nine year birthday. One, I hired people before I was ready. Two, we’re quick to pivot. Three, we kept showing up and gathering data in person. Four, we diversified our revenue streams. And five, we’re all having fun along the way. Again, if you want to celebrate our ninth birthday and shop, you can use the code first timer at headbandsofhope.com for 20% off. And I will leave you with this. Don’t let, I don’t know where to begin, keep you from beginning.

Thanks everyone and I’ll see you next week. Thanks for listening to Business on the Bright Side with Jess Ekstrom. I love to send out the episodes every Monday with a quick text and a quote from me, so text me the word podcast to (704) 228-9495. That’s (704) 228-9495. And do you want to see what the show notes are from this episode? Head to businessonthebrightside.com, hit subscribe here, write a review, and I’ll see you on Monday.


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