Through the Lens: @lisasaysgah
June 02, 2017
Before we started following and shopping @LisaSaysGah, the e-commerce site that’s blowing up, we followed its founder Lisa Bühler. It’s a pretty Instagram order of operations, fittingly. Three years ago, San Francisco-based buyer was in Squaw Valley and geotagged a post. A few taps later, we were following her personal feed, taken in by her images’ consistency and variety and sharp fashion sense. When her style blog Lisa Says Gah expanded, we evangelized its authenticity and ease. Its Instagram feed felt different from her own, but in many ways, the same: awash in color, motion and tinged with a little quirk.
This is the discoverability power of one Instagram post. @LisaSaysGah is now 101k followers strong, and Lisa’s branding and aesthetic came way before she ever added a “buy” button. Our friends over at The Coveteur got to talk with her, too, and it’s a compelling set of lessons in sticking with your strengths.
We needed to know more about managing the desire to grow with staying true to your roots. You can’t just go around saying “gah!” all the time to every opportunity, you know? Luckily, Lisa and her team obliged.
Here, Lisa Says Gah’s 10 truths of staying authentic.
Think Big From Day Zero.
You launched Lisa Says Gah as a blog in 2009. What confirmed for you, “people might want to buy what I pick out”? Basically: how can you tell when you can turn inspiration into a business?
The shop was the idea from the outset. I built the social and blog while items were in production, so in a way, the blog came first to viewers, as a way to support the shop. It was a shop-read-look (or product-interviews-visual blog) concept from the start.
Put Project Management On Your Roadmap.
When you launched it, did you articulate a specific editorial or social strategy or did it evolve naturally?
Every bit of the business has grown naturally. In fact, we are just now getting to the point of budgets, planning, and strategy because there are more responsibilities and people to account for. When it was just me, it was all reactionary because it could be and that was the best way, and the only way I knew how to grow the business.
Expression Is A Lifelong Chase.
Archival and original complement the mood we are striving for which feels like a constant quest.
Think 360° When You Have Bandwidth.
Do you publish the same imagery on your channels at the same time, or do you view them as totally discrete audiences?
Sometimes, when well prepared. It does make the most impact to have a proper “launch”—something we are building out and better planning for.
The Fast-Food Salad Is A Lesson In Authenticity.
There’s a lot of talk about LSG’s authenticity. What on earth does that even mean these days? Lines are so blurry—regrams and UGC and influencers and the whole nine yards. How do you define authenticity?
Very true! Staying true to your vision equals authentic in my mind, whatever that may be. Authentic does not have to look the same. For us, it’s stocking product we believe in, styling in a fun and natural way in a setting that’s not overly produced and compliment that back to content. Inauthentic to me is, for example, when McDonald’s adds fruit and salad to its menu. And while I’m sure it’s well intended and perhaps demanded by some, it’s just off-brand and confusing. You can’t be everything to everyone, so stick to who you are. Your customers will value that and come back to what they know they’ll find.
Manage Your Brand’s Feed Yourself For As Long As You Can.
What’s the value of continuity in a brand’s Instagram? Why is it important to define a visual style that becomes familiar?
If you’re sans brick and mortar like us, Instagram becomes the window into brand’s soul. It says, “this is who we are and these are our values.” It is a place where the viewer gets to think and feel about the brand often for the first time, and it’s important that message is consistent. We’ve been able to do that naturally, and I think it’s because I still manage the account and am very in tune with the brand and the community around it.
Create Workarounds For Platform Limitations.
No denying that Instagram is a powerful marketing tool. Considering there are no clickable links in captions, do “new arrivals” and “shop now” posts “work”?
They are rolling out linkable tags, which will be interesting to test. The customers that know us well know how to get to the product. IG is the best tool as this is where the customer is engaged and where they like to check in on what we’re up to.
Data Is Not Everything.
What do you learn from engagement? Does you set priorities around those things?
You know a highly engaged photo in likes does not always equal in sales. I don’t get too caught up in the stats because they can be fleeting. It’s important for us to focus on the now and the future and not to overanalyze the past.
Be Flexible When It Counts.
Thinking about the balance of giving customers what there’s an appetite for versus something new that you really like—how do you negotiate those things? Are they even at odds?
We often restock best sellers, but with a quick turnaround versus restocking in three months. Some trends last longer, and of course, seasonality plays a role. Each circumstance is special and unique to making those decisions.
Being Nice is Cool. (And, bonus, it’s free.)
Are there any Instagram tropes you’re tired of—the things it seems like every brand is doing?
I’m scrolling now to find something. I’m not too judgy about posts. I think if it’s you, you do you. I will say, and back to authenticity, as a follower, I’m most engaged when there is newness to spark attention but consistency in branding.
Required reading for entrepreneurs and non-science-lovers alike: In less than 100 pages, Italian physicist Carlo Rovelli elegantly demystifies physics. It’s ceaselessly curious and Instagrams just beautifully (wink).