An Epic Anniversary:
10 Years Of
We are proud to announce our Epic ten year anniversary! We’re celebrating a decade of digital innovation and re-designing online business as we know it.
To celebrate making it ten years in the digital industry, we sat down with Brandon Kirkland, founder and CEO of epicShops, and asked him to share a little bit about his Epic ten-year journey.
What made you take the leap and start epicShops?
epicShops actually began as epicFlowers. I started out working in the floral industry because my wife and I owned and operated a flower shop in Ashland, Oregon. The more familiar we became with the online florist website community, the more I realized how limited the options were. There was a huge lack of good quality, affordable florist websites. There was only one company designing and operating florist websites well, but they charged an exorbitant rate. Far more than the average florist can afford. Around the same time, BigCommerce launched Software As A Service (a distribution model in which a third-party provider hosts applications and makes them available to customers over the internet). SaaS was much more affordable, and you got access to upgrades and support. You pay less, but pay-as-you-go. It made so much sense, and I knew that would be the future of floral web hosting. So I started a website for our own business, and then several other businesses followed and hired me to manage their new floral websites under the SaaS model.
The Evolution Of The Epic Logo: From 2009 To Today
Did you draw inspiration from any specific company?
Not really. I noticed a lot of key features that were missing in most floral websites, and in websites in general. I wanted to create a platform that implements all the factors that I saw were missing in other sites. Factors like conversion rate optimization, search engine optimization, and better marketing capabilities.
I didn’t want to just sell a website like other providers, my aim is to design a great website, but also to make my customers money. By designing a great website and then implementing CRO and SEO, you can increase your conversion rate by huge amounts. In that way, we all win.
What was your vision for Epic in 2009?
Honestly, I didn’t have much of a vision. I just wanted to offer a better option for the floral industry: I wanted to help florists perform better online. Most florist web-designing providers will build you a website, and you pay your monthly dues to your provider. But then your provider not only takes a small percentage of your sales, it also builds other websites that will be in direct competition with their own customers. That didn’t sit right with me, and I wanted to create a better option. That was my main goal.
How has your vision changed in the past ten years?
We strive for transparency, and the bottom line is that we want to make you money. Period. Because when your clients are the happiest clients in the digital industry, you become the best digital agency in the industry.
What made you decide to expand beyond the floral industry?
I saw a need that businesses would fracture their services amongst multiple providers, and not all of those companies did a great job. I thought those customers needed to be taken better care of. I thought to myself, “We could offer those services, and increase their revenue stream and ours!”
There are a lot of things I thought I would never do, services I thought I could never provide. For instance, I never thought I would offer marketing until Rachel Koning, our marketing specialist, came on board and wanted to expand our services to include marketing and SEO.
One of the very first epicFlowers websites built in 2009.
I had no idea our marketing division would take off so quickly, but it’s currently the fastest growing piece of epicShops. Over the years, I’ve been able to expand my team and grow, and Epic has evolved into something great than I had even planned.
Our hope is to continue to expand. To be a “one-stop-shop” that can offer all the services and options our clients need to grow and succeed in their online businesses.
A marketing ad showcasing epicShops as the first platform in the industry to offer mobile websites and provide the option to sell on Facebook.
When did you move from the floral industry to creating other websites?
In 2017 we actually switched our branding from epicflowers.com to epicshops.com. We were getting great leads but those leads thought we were too specified, even though we were capable of so much more than floral websites. I realized I could be offering these same services to other businesses, not just florists. My goals remain the same, to offer a one-stop-shop for all of your online business needs, but I could expand to a much greater market.
We have signed a lot of incredible clients that I am really excited about, including Whitman.com and Dogs For Better Lives of Medford, OR.
But other than clients, what makes me the most excited, what I feel has been a great accomplishment, is being able to build a team. Build a team, pay for a team, and get serious, as a team. We have a lot of goals. We want to eventually double our number of employees, find a permanent office space, and from there expand into the best digital agency in Oregon.
I want to be able to create a company where everyone loves to wake up and come to work. I want my employees to love what they do so much, they can’t wait to get to work and work together to reach their goals. I just want to create a work culture where everyone works well as a unit, and they love what they do.
The Evolution Of The Epic Team Page: From 2009 To Today
What is your favorite part of your job?
Without a doubt, innovation. I love to look at the tools we have out there, and think of a way to make them better. I also love to create innovative revenue streams: how could we bring money to our clients in a way that has never been done before?
One of the things we’ve been working on is the capability to change how a website appears, depending on who is looking at it. To use a florist-related example, if the computer sees your web cookies, and knows you’re a tulip-buyer, you can still access the portions of the website that sell roses and lilies, but the website will mainly feature the tulips we know you generally purchase. We’re still waiting on some of the technology, but we’re really excited about this idea.
Another element I love is UI/UX software design (or how to design websites for best user experience). I love being somewhere, even a bathroom, and looking at the user experience of the handles on the sink. Are they efficient? Are they confusing to use? Do they create a positive user experience? I draw inspiration from some of the weirdest places, but I’m passionate about creating a web experience that is streamlined, looks incredible, is easy to use, and provides every user with a great experience. There’s often a difference between what a thing is designed for, versus what people actually use it for. I love looking at those differences, and turning it into useful technology or a digital innovation.
What is the best piece of advice you could give to a fellow entrepreneur?
I didn’t make this saying up, but it’s great: learn to lead by following. The “old way” of business looked like a dictatorship, of sorts. But if you lead by following, you give your employees more value and ownership in their jobs. When your employees feel value and ownership, they feel empowered and inspired. Trust the people that you’ve hired, try to avoid micromanagement. Check in on your employees, and create a team environment, but allow their skills to shine through in their work. You’ll often be surprised at the results.
What’s ahead for epicShops?
We have a lot of plans and goals right now. One thing we could be looking into is developing an IT division.
And we are always looking to build up more marketing clients. As we keep growing, innovating, and improving we keep finding that we have more to offer.
We are also currently developing a website layout for BigCommerce, called Luna. We are really excited about that, and we think people are going to absolutely love it.
And, of course, we have our business goal of becoming the best digital agency in Oregon. We, as a team, believe in that goal and are taking steps every day to accomplish it.