Beyond the sales pitch with Ruby Slipper

Iolanthe Gabrie Founder of Ruby Slipper

Australian startup Ruby Slipper is a digital agency with a difference. Made up of a group of writers that have a particular talent for content and digital strategy, they go beyond the sales pitch. In fact they avoid it. “We instead try to focus on building relationships and creating a feeling between the audience and the brand,” said founder Iolanthe Gabrie. We met founder Gabrie and talked career changes, branding and building a business.

Early days

Gabrie launched Ruby Slipper eight years ago after six years as a real estate agent and auctioneer. “That actually gave me some great experience. It’s a difficult profession and it’s made being an entrepreneur seem like a walk in the park.” she said. Gabrie said that as much as she disliked those real estate days, they really did prepare her to be able to pick up the phone and cold call at any time, an often underrated skill.

“I’m not bothered if people say ‘no’, it’s fine. So being given a phone and a desk and figuring out the rest really allowed me to build a lot of skills that are essential to being in small business, like being able to prospect creatively, like being able to talk about money, like being able to negotiate. It taught me everything, it was the ultimate boot camp. I’m quite fond of real estate, so that helped,” she said.

Moving direction

After six years in the property sector, Gabrie knew that she didn’t want to continue in that industry, wanting instead to use her literature degree and her natural ability to communicate. “I wanted to monetise that, and in my last couple of years of working in real estate, social media in its most nascent stages had come into being,” she explained.

“Facebook business pages didn’t exist yet, but I began using Facebook in my prospecting to introduce potential clients to me or to a semblance of me. I think that would have shortened the pipeline. The clients felt that they knew me; they knew a semblance of me courtesy of social media, and it meant that that sense of rapport and trust developed much faster. I thought this had legs, that it was valuable and that I would begin to sell both traditional copywriting and social content to brands.” Gabrie said the first couple of years were “pretty hard yards.” The business had a couple of early adopter clients, which it still represents today, but in the last four years or so Gabrie said that the appetite, as well as the value and the respect for Ruby Slipper’s form of communication has shot up.

We try to focus on creating a feeling between the audience and the brand

Building a team

In terms of the team, Ruby Slipper is now home to three people; Gabrie said that one of the milestones that she is most proud of is being able to bring on a staff member full time. “Being at the stage with my business where I can have a full-time person who works for me, in addition to my own workload, that makes me very proud because not only am I able to take care of myself, do an honourable, high-quality job for my clients, I’m also able to provide employment to someone else in a beautiful collaborative studio,” she said.

A standout brand

The studio she speaks of is indeed beautiful and is right on brand with the way that Gabrie presents the rest of the business to potential clients. Ruby Slipper rebranded last year and used our products to print all of their marketing materials like Business Cards and Postcards. Gabrie said the fast service provided by the innovative print house came in handy last year when she decided to go through a complete head-to-toe rebrand.

“I felt that, although the earlier iteration of our brand certainly suited where I was then, we’d really matured. The original iteration of my brand was quite feminine and it definitely played upon ideas of magic and that certainly did very well, but we’ve now developed into something sleek and much more mature and I needed graphic art to reflect that, so I had that done,” Gabrie explained.

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