Gillian Gallant first spotted a Paper Shoot Camera on TikTok and immediately knew it would be a hit in North America. The simple digital point-and-shoot takes photos like a disposable camera—but without the hassle of buying and developing film.
Leaning on her background in marketing, Gillian reached out to the camera’s inventor George Lin in Taiwan to pitch leading distribution of the product in North America.
How did Gillian snag the exclusive distribution of a viral product and eventually sell Paper Shoot Cameras to more than 70,000 customers? Ahead, learn her best practices for pitching a brand and selling a product to a new market.
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Share your passion
Gillian’s challenge? Convincing the inventor that she was the right person to help Paper Shoot Camera enter the North American market. Initially, she and George casually emailed back and forth, but when the chain went cold, Gillian figured she had nothing to lose.
Gillian wrote George a long email detailing her passion and plans for the product, showing how she and her business partner would put in the effort to take care of the business. “I think the passion that I portrayed in that email to him, I think that did speak to him and gave us that opportunity for him to see that we would be a really good fit for his product,” Gillian says.
Know your target audience
Gillian immediately knew that Paper Shoot Cameras would be popular with younger millennials and Gen Z. “Younger generations that grew up with technology don’t remember a time where they didn’t have it,” Gillian says. “The latest iPhone doesn’t impress [them] as much as something that just goes back to basics and gives them a break from the technology.”
Gillian formerly sold disposable cameras on Amazon and used data from her sales to validate interest in the product.
Market on several different social media channels
The first hire Gillian made was a social media manager. Within a few months, the company produced a viral TikTok video: a video edited to make Timothée Chalamet look like he was holding a Paper Shoot Camera.
But Paper Shoot Camera continued to diversify its marketing channels, posting across TikTok, Instagram, and Pinterest.
Posting on different channels means understanding the type of content that works on each. “I think of an Instagram profile as kind of like a website,” Gillian says. “You’re going to want to make sure that you have lots of information that people can go to and browse.” She says Instagram posts need to have more evergreen content, while TikToks and Reels are more ephemeral.
Be prepared to tackle challenges in new markets
Gillian is based in Canada, so one of her biggest hurdles was figuring out how to distribute and ship to the US. “We haven’t been able to get a United States credit card, which means I cannot get a USPS account, because they need to have a credit card that has a billing address that’s in the United States,” Gillian says.
Gillian ended up using a third-party logistics company that was based in the U.S. to help her set up shipping accounts.
Take advantage of in-person selling opportunities
Paper Shoot Camera is still primarily an online brand. While the company doesn’t have retail partners yet, Gillian has sold the cameras at festivals like SXSW and Coachella. “It’s really nice to see people in person and their real-time reactions to it, their eyes lighting up whenever they see it,” Gillian says.
To learn more about how Gillian built out the distribution for Paper Shoot Cameras, listen to her full interview on Shopify Masters.
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