Coffee & Commerce: AnaOno’s Dana Donofree
We have some very exciting news here at ReturnLogic!
This past Tuesday, October 4th, We chatted with AnaOno’s Dana Donofree for our very first episode of Coffee & Commerce.
Coffee & Commerce is a series of fireside chats hosted by the ReturnLogic team to connect e-commerce storeowners together through casual discussions on LinkedIn Live with some of the best and brightest in the business—talking about what works, what doesn’t, and what’s new.
Of course, we had to kick off our first episode with the Shopify merchant who was also our first customer, AnaOno’s Dana Donofree.
Her business was inspired by her own story and struggles. When Dana was diagnosed with breast cancer at 27, she found it difficult to find a bra suitable for her new body after surgery.
After finding nothing on the market, Dana decided to create a solution for herself. So, she took to the sewing machine and began deconstructing and reconstructing her bras.
At first, this was a DIY project made to solve her own problem. However, once Dana started sharing her creation with the community, she discovered that she wasn’t alone in struggling to find comfortable bras for post-op bodies.
“It wasn’t until I started to get introduced to more and more patients and I started putting myself out there in this concept…” says Dana, “…that I realized this might not be a tiny little niche business on Etsy. Like, this might be a business.”
GROWING HER BRAND
Inspired by a passion to help every person who struggles to find intimates made for them, Dana decided to open an e-commerce store to sell her bras and AnaOno became one of the first shops on Shopify.
Since its launch in 2013, AnaOno has become a frontrunner in the “Boob Inclusive” Movement, which aims to provide intimates for women of any and all chest types.
When asked how her brand has changed since its start, Dana answered, “I think evolution of your brand comes naturally and it’ll come naturally if you listen to your customers. Like my customers and community are the lifeblood of our business.”
Dana goes on to explain that it was through conversations with her customers that led her to discover other groups struggling to find bras that fit their boobs.
“I had this swarm of other community members that were like ‘I don’t have reconstructed breasts but I need a better pocketed bra’ or ‘I lost a breast during my reconstruction process and I only have one boob and am flat on the other side’… These stories were just flooding in!”
It was from these stories that Dana built AnaOno into what it is today.
ANAONO’S TECH STACK
We asked Dana if connecting to her customers on a personal level was difficult through an e-commerce platform and how her tech stack worked toward what she hoped to accomplish.
Dana explained how the world of e-commerce looked very different when she first started.
Unlike today, where online shopping is constantly growing, AnaOno launched at a time when people were still uncomfortable at the idea of buying something before physically viewing it.
“Lingerie and shoes were the lowest indexing performers on e-commerce as a whole because it’s something that people want to try on and typically has a high return rate because the fit isn’t always right.”
Therefore, it was important to align with the correct apps and platforms in order to stay ahead of these challenges.
When AnaOno outgrew selling on Etsy, decided it was time to open her own e-commerce shop and took to Shopify.
Dana raves about her experiences with Shopify and explains how the high indexing volume capabilities paired with integrations that made the backend hosting an e-commerce store run smoothly cleared up time to focus on communicating with her audience.
By doing this, she was able to build trust in her brand and her products that allowed her to convert more customers.
Upon visiting her online shop for the first time, guests are greeted by a personalized experience, feeling more like an online version of a brick-and-mortar than a traditional e-commerce store.
Visitors are offered unique product types, complete with bras modeled by the women who wear them every day—not just models—which serves as another way to help shoppers feel welcomed and supported as soon as they land on the page.
In fact, this level of personalization and emphasis on customer service extends all the way to the returns process.
Dana explains that with a product like theirs, returns are an expected part of the customer journey.
“We have an audience that is confused. They have been disappointed time after time after time because nothing in the traditional market fits them…A part of what we have to leverage as a brand and as a business is that we got you and we’re going to make this as simple and easy as it possibly can be.”
This is accomplished through AnaOno’s integration with ReturnLogic, a returns management system that allows for automation, personalization, and customization so you can create the best returns experience for your customers.
Dana mentions the ability of the integration to embed your brand at various points throughout the process so that it doesn’t feel like a different platform when customers try to make a return.
This makes returns less confusing and builds trust with customers.
They know that if something is wrong with a product that they receive, it’ll be handled effectively and timely.
It’s through such customer management that Dana explains her brand was able to grow.
ADVICE FOR OTHER E-COMMERCE MERCHANTS
We closed off our first Coffee & Commerce chat by asking Dana what advice she has for other e-commerce merchants and here is the wisdom she had to bestow:
“I just always encourage you to do a little bit of a gut check and say ‘Am I in the right place for the right reason?’
Because it’s hard… I’ve been through cancer and running a business is the hardest thing I’ve ever done…
…knowing that you have to have passion and heart to be able to drive that energy forward because it demands everything out of you is just something I ask people to consider all the time…
…being an entrepreneur is different because it feels different. It 100% consumes you and it’s your everyday life…
… (if you are) passionate and you have that drive and you’re that excited about doing it, you have to at least try, even if you fail. You have to try,
especially if you’re a female or a person of color because frankly, the ethos needs more of us.”
Dana and all she is doing with AnaOno is truly an inspiration.
She had so much great information from her experiences in the e-commerce market to share.
We truly couldn’t have picked anyone better to have our first Coffee & Commerce chat with.
Be sure to watch the full episode of Coffee & Commerce featuring Dana Donofree from AnaOno if you haven’t yet.