Mia Dickson was three weeks from launching her second business when she decided to post about her product on TikTok.
With her face to the camera, Dickson started sharing how and why she began Safe Bandz, which sells waterproof wristbands and pet collar attachments that store contact numbers and other information that’s important in an emergency. Soon, viewers started asking questions: How do the bands work? Which colors do they come in? Can I use them for my pet?
Dickson happily responded to the questions on TikTok. In the process, she began building an audience of parents, caretakers, and pet owners searching for a safe solution to track their loved ones.
“And it just slowly grew and grew and became this big marketing machine for us that was very organic and very honest to what we are and wanting to help,” Dickson says.
The organic momentum on TikTok helped Safe Bandz generate $10,000 in sales within two weeks of launch. But using TikTok to grow your business isn’t like a magical wave of a wand. We sat down with Dickson to learn how she put this powerful social media tool to good use.
Dickson is the mother of four kids she describes as “runners.”
“They’ve all picked the perfect opportunity to just leg it in the opposite direction,” Dickson says.
Her active family loves camping and other outdoor adventures near their home in North Queensland, Australia. Keeping track of her gaggle of kids is always a hassle.
Previously, Dickson tried leaving her contact info on backpack leashes or writing it on her children’s arms, but nothing seemed to withstand the conditions of the active lifestyle of a Queensland kid.
Dickson began brainstorming how to pair connection and peace of mind. Thankfully, she already had a track record.
Dickson’s first business, Social Dot, launched in 2020. It offers a contactless and effortless way to share business information using a sticker attached to a phone. Inspired by frameworks from Foundr’s Start & Scale ecommerce course, Dickson launched Social Dot and earned $20,000 in three months.
Repurposing the technological concepts from Social Dot, Dickson started developing an emergency contact wristband.
The first challenge was mechanics. With the Social Dot, someone can tap the sticker with their phone to access a landing page of business information. But a sticker could easily wash off in the ocean, and embedding the tech in a wristband would be expensive. Then, thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, QR codes became widely adopted. They seemed like a natural fit to house the emergency contact information for the bands.
“We’re not relying on tapping tech like we do with Social Dot,” Dickson says. “It’s just a scan, and a majority of phones on the market have that built-in, or they have an app that can do it as well. So it just became the easy option.”
To ensure the QR codes don’t rub off from wear and tear or fade in the relentless Australian sun, Dickson decided to engrave the unique codes on a metal insert attached to the wristbands.
Next, she needed to reach out to manufacturers that could supply durable bracelets.
“We probably had a dozen different molds, a dozen different ideas,” Dickson says. “Obviously, we needed it to be mom-proof and kid-proof. And living in North Queensland, it needed to be sunproof, waterproof, everything proof we could think of.”
She had manufacturers send samples and shared them with her friends to test out with their children.
“And I just kind of said, ‘Put them through hell. I’m going to do the same. I really want to see how these go and how they are tested.'”
Testing different prototypes allowed Dickson to hone in on the materials and design. Next, she made the bands reflective for nighttime use and created a pet tag attachment to track furry friends.
But would the finished product stand up to the activities of the rigorous end user—her four kids?
“We took them camping, we had them in and out of water parks—everything we could think of,” Dickson says. “And the quality of them really stood the test of time. So we were really happy with the end result of what we had ordered.”
Meanwhile, Dickson built out the tech side of the business. She created a back-end website for Safe Bandz to securely hold the emergency information that customers connected to a personal QR code.
“We’ve really tried to think of every angle we possibly could as parents,” Dickson says. “Our kids have tested them through thick and thin, and we’ve come up with probably the best design that we could possibly think of to make it all happen.”
With the final products on hand, Dickson prepared for the launch date of Safe Bandz. Then, she picked up her phone and logged in to TikTok.
In three weeks, Dickson’s TikTok audience had grown enough that she was able to build a robust email list for the Safe Bandz launch. Two weeks after launching, she sold out of stock.
“Before you hit launch, it’s sort of like climbing a mountain,” Dickson says. “You put in all the extra hours after the kids go to bed, everything like that. You get to launch, and you’re just knackered. But then as soon as you hear that little ka-ching [noise], you go, ‘Oh, hang on, here we go.’”
Following the launch of Safe Bandz, Dickson continued to interact with customers through a feature on TikTok where you can create video responses to commenters’ questions. The initial feedback she received on the platform was to expand the color choices and add a GPS tracking function, both requests she satisfied in the first reorder after launch.
Dickson continued posting.
Within five months of starting on TikTok, the @safebandz account gained 30,000 followers, garnered 5 million views, and became verified on the platform.
“It’s sort of grown legs of its own, to be honest,” Dickson says.
“I’ve kind of discovered that there are different types of markets out there, and it’s been insane how far it spread.”
Dickson says she didn’t intend to use the platform as a selling tool or as a soapbox for Safe Bandz. The original goal was simply to share her story. But now, TikTok is the primary way Dickson connects with her customers.
“Even though you can find all that information on the website, to sit there and chat to someone and feel like you’re getting to know them, [and] you’re getting to know the person behind the brand as well,” Dickson says. “And I think that’s made a huge, huge difference for our audience.”
And it’s made a difference in the business. For example, a user from Germany commented on one of Dickson’s videos and asked if one of the Safe Bandz would fit her grandmother.
“[Her nana] basically does the same thing each week and goes to a particular coffee shop, but she doesn’t like to do it with her daughter or her granddaughter. She likes to do it on her own. So now they’ve popped the Safe Bandz on her [and] she can go there,” Dickson says. “And if anything is to happen, the store can scan it and call the granddaughter or the daughter directly to come and help.”
Dickson says that interaction on TikTok made her realize she had an entirely new market of elders and caretakers she never expected to reach with Safe Bandz. And as her TikTok community grew, so did her opportunities.
Safe Bandz expanded to work with the Australian NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) to provide people with disabilities and their families with wristbands. And through TikTok, Dickson even managed to sign with two wholesalers to distribute Safe Bandz.
“We’ve slowly built out the product to suit the needs of the users and the wearers,” Dickson says. “And we’ll continue to do that because they’re the people that are really being the Safe Bandz champions out there, spreading the word, wearing their bands, and using them daily.”
Dickson reiterates that any brand or business needs to listen to feedback to make its products adaptable to the needs of its users. That starts by getting your face in front of your target audience, no matter what.
“We have just put ourselves completely out there,” Dickson says. “I put myself completely out there as the face of the brand and [was] able to ask the hard questions but also get great responses and then use those to make our products better and our community better.”
@safebandz Reply to @random.editz.682 great question any excuse to push someone in the pool 🏊♀️ yes Safe Bandz are waterproof 💦 #safebandz ♬ original sound – SAFE BANDZ- ID and Medic Bandz
To date, @safebandz on TikTok has 69,000 followers and a curated hashtag, #safebandz, with more than 14 million views. Safe Bandz was also a featured product on Catch (formerly Catch of the Day) and now ships all over the globe.
Dickson says TikTok deserves credit for Safe Bandz’s success, but more importantly, the community has made the product viable. For fellow ecommerce entrepreneurs and founders, she suggests getting in front of your target audience as soon as possible—even before launch.
“Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there,” Dickson says.
“Don’t think that everyone’s going to steal your idea if you talk about it because it’s not going to build a community: It’s not going to get you the feedback that you need. You just have to take that step and be brave, whether it’s jumping on Instagram and building a platform there, or Facebook, or TikTok, or whatever it might be.”
Dickson says the bravery of sharing your business idea and the problem you’re trying to solve makes an audience connect with you. That’s why she remains motivated to use TikTok to grow her business.
“Don’t take ‘no’ for an answer,” Dickson says. “Do something every day to get you that one step closer to opening the shop and hearing that first ka-ching. And then you’re hooked. You’re done. You’ll be in ecommerce or your own business space forever.”
Keep Learning: How to Make Money on TikTok
5 Reasons Your Ecommerce Brand Needs to Be on TikTok
- Reach niche audiences.
- Interact and listen to customers.
- Connect with viewers regardless of your follower count.
- Tap into the #tiktokmademebuyit trends.
- Leverage user-generated content to scale.
You can take the same course that helped Mia start her business.