Throughout March, Bustle and Instagram are highlighting female-owned small businesses to celebrate Women's History Month. You'll be able to tune into programming on the social media platform for conversations, Reels, and Instagram Lives that spotlight a handful of the many women entrepreneurs on the app.
According to Eva Chen, Instagram's director of fashion partnerships, small businesses are the "heartbeat" of the IG community. "Ninety percent of all Instagram accounts follow a business on Instagram and, since the pandemic, we’ve been focused on helping businesses tell their stories and connect with people who want to shop," she tells Bustle. Chen adds that the platform has seen a 20% increase in women-owned business profiles on the platform since November, so these founders are definitely making an impact in the online shopping world.
For Bustle's partnership with Instagram, you'll see a different entrepreneur go Live on the app each week to discuss everything from how the platform has impacted their companies to their top tips for other small business owners to thrive in today's market.
To kick off the month-long collab, Bustle spoke with Chen about how the app highlights small businesses, how users can support these female entrepreneurs, and her best advice for shopping small.
How is Instagram supporting the business owners who have turned to the app to grow their newly-founded companies?
We recently launched the new Shop tab on the homepage, making it possible for people to discover and support small businesses they love and shop the latest trends. We also launched the Support Small Business sticker during the pandemic to encourage the Instagram community to spread the love for their favorite small business.
Where do you go to discover new small businesses?
You may have noticed your navigation bar on your app change — there’s a new tab called the Shop tab, and it’s an amazing place to browse small businesses. You’ll see personalized recommendations, Editors’ Picks curated by Instagram’s @shop team, and businesses you can shop right in the app using checkout.
Plus, to make it easy for people to find and buy directly from women-owned small businesses, in the U.S. we’re launching #womenowned shopping collections on Facebook and Instagram Shop tabs and Instagram’s official shopping account @shop throughout March. @shop is generally a great follow — we tell founder stories and focus on small- to medium-size businesses every single day.
Favorite small business discovery of the last year?
@roomshop’s giant satin scrunchies bring me immense joy. We featured them on @shop, and I’m tempted to get them in every color because they’re ridiculous and joyful all at once.
You’re decorating a new home — are there any women-owned small businesses you’d like to shout out?
There are so many: I love @oh_minna’s gorgeous textures, I follow @claudehome for inspiration, and I splurged on some pillows from @boleroadtextiles too, which is a Brooklyn-designed brand made in Ethiopia. I can go on and on but I’ll leave it at that for now!
Best tip for people trying to increase the money they’re spending with small businesses versus large corporations?
Know that a dollar spent at a small business goes so far. You’re sending a vote of confidence to a small business owner who’s putting their blood, sweat, and tears into their passion. Discover new brands by visiting the Shop tab or @shop. Or ask your friends with the Q&A sticker in Stories to suggest businesses to support.
What’s your biggest piece of advice for small business owners when it comes to using social media? What makes a small business stand out?
Experiment! People think Instagram has to be perfect and just a reel of highlights, but that’s so not the case. Your followers want a sense of the real life, trials, and tribulations of being a small business owner. Share the ups and the downs — ask your followers for feedback and advice. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all magic formula on Instagram, so give things a try and see what works — and remember to own your voice.
Lastly: Any words of advice for young women thinking about setting up their own businesses in 2021?
Don’t get in your own head. Go with your gut and intuition — it’s brought you this far. Share your authentic journey, all aspects of being an aspiring entrepreneur. The world needs more women in business — we’re waiting to cheer you on and support you.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.