A Chat with
Audrey Zimmerman of Zimmerman Shoes
Zimmerman Shoes is a highly successful, beautiful, and deeply personal brand to co-founder and owner Audrey Zimmerman. She and her sister created Zimmerman Shoes in 2014 as a means to honor their family’s shoemaking legacy - a history built upon the creation of elegant, high-quality shoes manufactured right here in the United States.
Over the past decade, Audrey has built a stunning online store that is a pillar of the shoemaking community. Widely known as one of the most sought-after children’s shoe brands, Audrey shared with us some of the important lessons and keys to success she has found on her ecommerce journey.
What made you decide to use Shopify as the platform for Zimmerman Shoes' online presence?
Zimmerman Shoes was established by my sister and I in 2014 to honor our family's shoemaking heritage. At the time, our parent company, Kepner Scott, was predominately selling to a wholesale market. We wanted to create a brand that focused more on direct to consumer sales.
In November of 2014, we launched our website, zimmermanshoes.com, through Shopify. At the time we were brand new to the ecommerce market, and we didn't know much about selling online, especially direct to consumer. We were really drawn to the quick and easy setup through Shopify. As our online presence grew, Shopify provided tools and resources to help small businesses like ours reach our target market.
Do you have a favorite tech feature of Zimmerman Shoes' website? Why?
From the backend of Shopify, we utilize the analytics feature almost daily. It's so helpful to clearly see our top selling styles, sales over time, social leads, etc. This data allows us to better define what's working and what isn't. From there we can better outline our target market, work on our areas of improvement, and ultimately it helps us improve our production schedule over time.
Is there a landing page you have that you're particularly proud of or would strongly recommend to other Shopify store owners to help them succeed?
I absolutely love our homepage. When we worked with Fran and the Hazil Studio team last year we explained what we were looking for and it came out exactly as we imagined.
On the homepage we were really able to convey our story and the heritage feel of our brand. When customers visited our storefront online, we wanted to capture the beauty of our historic shoe factory and welcome customers in as if they were visiting in person. Additionally, through years of selling online we learned we needed to update our sizing landing page. We knew our sizing guide was an important part of the buying process, especially for new customers. We worked with my brother-in-law, Thaddeus from Penciltucky, to help design the illustrations and the easy to use conversion chart/printable guide for sizing your little ones from home.
How has being on Shopify helped you tell Zimmerman Shoes' story? Do you feel it's given you the tools to expand and better express your brand?
Absolutely! We spent a lot of time focusing on our about page that outlines our family history, the importance of quality made footwear, and visually through our YouTube channel. Additionally, we were able to tell our story in more detail through timelines and behind the scenes content through blogs and emails. Shopify makes it really easy to integrate our email marketing platform so that we're able to connect with customers on a one-on-one basis and send behind the scenes photos of our process directly through email and text marketing.
Recently, Hazil Studios has done a lot of research on branding, both in terms of the practical steps to build a brand and the psychology behind how customers feel connected to certain brands.
Could you speak to how you choose your wrapping and shipping materials so that when people receive your product they know instantly it's a Zimmerman Shoes purchase and that they are receiving an extension of your brand?
Each shoebox is built by hand by our packing department. In every box we provide a postcard with a thank you note, contact information, and a discount code for future purchases. Additionally each package includes a made in America tag to let customers know that each pair is handmade in Pennsylvania. Every shoebox is branded with our Zimmerman Shoes logo. When designing our logo, we found inspiration in the roots of our company. We took a vintage logo from the 1920's and wanted to incorporate the same tradition and meaning behind our vintage parent brand. (see photos attached)
Handmade shoes are the crux of your business! After expanding your target audience across the USA now that you are on Shopify, how have you navigated bridging the gap of extending the personal connection your brand represents to customers near and far all over the country?
Through platforms like Instagram and TikTok we're really able to show visual behind the scenes videos of our shoe company. Our customers love to see how our shoes are made and the beautiful details of our shoe factory. Not only have we been able to expand our customer base domestically, we've recently increased our international sales over the past year. Shopify makes it really easy to ship internationally and connect with customers all over the world.
How long does it take for Zimmerman Shoes to build one pair of shoes from start to finish? Can you speak to how meaningful it is to you to be selling a product that holds so much emotional value, not only to you but to your entire family?
Zimmerman Shoes was created to honor our family's shoemaking history. We're a family owned shoe company located in a small town in Pennsylvania. On average it takes 14 days to build a pair of shoes from start to finish. Overall there's roughly 125 steps to make each pair. All of our footwear is handmade by our skilled team of shoemakers. Behind every shoe there's so much love poured into each cut, stitch, and lace. Every pair of Zimmerman Shoes is handmade with love from our family to yours.
Can you share a few ways Zimmerman Shoes offers excellent customer support? We'd love it if you could share how you've found success in these and how it's supported your business as it grows.
We really pride ourselves in our customer service. Whether you're emailing, calling, texting, or faxing (yes! we still have some customers that will fax their orders to us), you're speaking to someone within our family. My dad, aunt, sister, and I work really hard to provide quality customer service. My great grandfather and grandfather always prided themselves on answering customer questions and we still implement that value today (and plan to for another 135 years!).
How do you define success in the eCommerce world? Does that differ for you as a business owner vs. how you see success for your business?
A lot of people define success by how much money you make each year. While, yes, it's important to make a profit and run a financially stable company, I think there's something to be said for doing what you love day in and day out. If you're able to connect with the right market and promote a brand you love, to me, that's the definition of success. If you're passionate about what you do and what you make, odds are there are probably more people out there that will love it just as much as you do.
If you could go back to you at the beginning of your Shopify and eCommerce journey, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
Be patient with yourself. Ecommerce is always evolving, and it can feel hard to keep up with it all, but if you have a dream, big or small, you should go after it. There are so many amazing tools and companies that can really help small businesses grow and expand, especially through freelance partners like Hazil Studio and platforms like Shopify. We've connected with so many amazing customers from all around the world that value our story, brand, and most importantly our footwear.
Check out Zimmerman Shoes' full online store here to see for yourself how this American treasure has revolutionized the creation of children's shoes.
If you'd like to work with Hazil Studios on your own Shopify store, contact us here!