Founders Feature: The Sister Market

In this week's Founders Feature we're talking to Ashley and Shelby Dunn of The Sister Market - an online marketplace with hand-selected apparel, jewelry, gifts, and homewares. The Dunn sisters have turned their love for fashion and design into a successful eCommerce business! So let's learn more about The Sister Market's journey and the things that have helped them succeed.
Read Time: 6 minutes
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The Sister Market

Website |  Instagram | TikTok | YouTube | Lifestyle Blog

Tell us a little bit about yourselves and The Sister Market.

Inspired by our shared love of fashion, design, entertaining, and travel, co-founders (and sisters!) Ashley and Shelby Dunn launched The Sister Market in November 2018. The Sister Market is an online marketplace with hand-selected apparel, jewelry, gifts, and homeware curated by both of us. We were born and raised in Texas, then lived in New York City for 10 years before recently relocating to Denver, CO. We also have a lifestyle blog, As Told By Ash and Shelbs, and a YouTube Channel where we share fashion, beauty, and travel content along with behind the scenes of The Sister Market.

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What led you to start The Sister Market?

We started The Sister Market initially out of wanting to work on a project together. We are both entrepreneurs at heart and always planned to go into business for ourselves.

What have been some of the greatest challenges you've experienced as an entrepreneur, and what did you take away or learn from those experiences?

Our biggest challenge is just "doing it all". It's just the two of us, running all operations- buying products, running a website, shipping and packaging, photography, social media, etc. It's a 24/7 operation, but we've learned that we have to carve out time off or otherwise we run ourselves to the ground.

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What kind of growth have you seen at The Sister Market? What do you think helped drive that growth?

Ironically, Covid really helped our growth. Being an online-only business, during the first half of 2020 when no one was going anywhere, and many stores were closed, people turned to online business for all of their shopping needs. Our curated gift boxes were a really popular item, for people wanting to send a nice gift to a friend or family member without having to leave their house. We know that was not the case for many many businesses, but we are thankful that our business was able to survive.

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Do you have any techniques, tools, or words of wisdom on how you successfully engage your customers?

Social media hands down is our biggest tool for engaging with our customers. In this day and age, every successful business must have a social media presence and leverage your social platform(s) of choice to connect with your audience. People connect with people, so our biggest tip is to be your authentic self and show off your personality so that your potential customers get to know the face behind the brand.

Why The Sister Market? What sets you apart?

The Sister Market is a female-founded small business. We strive to fill the space for all of your gifting needs. Because we are involved in every aspect of the business, from top to bottom, we can guarantee our quality of work. And in fact, over 75% of our customers are returning customers, which is something we are very proud of.

Who or what has been your biggest influence in starting your company?

Our biggest business influence is definitely our parents. Our Dad started his own company almost 40 years ago, and he still successfully runs that business today. His guidance and wisdom has been invaluable. Our Mom has helped with physical stuff, like packing and shipping orders, but also serves as our idea sounding board when testing out new products.

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What advice would you give to someone that is just starting their business?

Just start! So many people don't start their own businesses because they are afraid of failure. You won't get everything right the first time, but you'll learn as you go!

What does the future have in store for The Sister Market? Is there anything you want us to know about?

We are very excited about our upcoming fall and holiday product launches! Looking further into the future, we'd love to launch additional product categories and hopefully create our own product line!

That's all for this week's edition of The New Yak Times! A big thank you to Ashley and Shelby Dunn of The Sister Market for sharing their successes with us. Tune in next week and subscribe below!

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