July 26, 2021

Powwow teepees and play tents

teepees and play tents

I’ve been helping Celia Jacobson with her teepees and play tents business, Powwow Designer Teepees since 2015.

When she started the business in 2014 with a partner, she only sold four teepees.

I’m sure it was an excuse for the two of them to get together, sew, natter, have a cup of tea (or something stronger).

I came along in 2015 (I started dating Celia) and not having learned from experience, I stuck my nose in her business and made a few suggestions.

Smart as a whip, she said, “You suggest it, you do it.” I created a rod for my own back, but that’s another story.

I crafted a website. I had/have some skill with SEO and put a couple of keywords together.

I managed to get the website to #2 on Google for the keyword teepees. But it was such a niche keyword with only 170 searches a month in South Africa at that time. Apparently, Covid-19 has had some effect because searches in South Africa are around 1 300 per month. Celia has sold a lot of teepees in 2020. Clearly folks needed to entertain their children in lockdown.

But I’m in deep trouble with Celia because we are now sitting at #9 on Google for the keyword ‘teepees’. She has given me an ultimatum. “Either get me back to #2 (I’m not even asking for #1) or you are fired as one of our imagineers, and I’ll not be inviting you for dinner any time soon.” (Not that she has invited me for dinner for a long time … Covid scuppered that one good and solid.

Seriously, though, we went down in the rankings because we hardly posted any articles for a while now. This goes to show, that content marketing is a thing. The optimum posting schedule is an article a day. For mere mortals who don’t have blog writers on their payroll, four times a month is adequate.

So, my job as of today is to try and get the site back to #2. I’ll check back in a month or two and see if it can happen with a couple of tweaks I’ve made.

quality teepees and play tents in South Africa

Here we sit today, July 2021 with 2031 sold. Actually 2032 (we sold another one today).

  • This translates to around 290 teepees a year over the last seven years.
  • Besides South Africa, she has shipped teepees to Botswana, Dubai, France, Italy, UK, USA and Zambia.
  • As a consequence, Celia also sends work to three people that make an extra income out of this endeavour. In case you were wondering, she doesn’t pay me, but bosses me around like she does pay me.
  • I know I’m biased because I’ve seen the quality of her work, but I don’t think anyone can compete with her teepees. We’ve had people come to us who have bought teepees from other suppliers and have rated her teepees as the best.

Excellent service, it was a pleasure to deal with you! Your Teepee’s are very well made and good quality. I will definitely order from you again. THANK YOU!!

Marlene Ferreira, Kids Slumber Parties, Randburg (received July 2021)
  • Celia is big on #supportlocal and is vehemently against the large chain stores that buy teepees made in China. They apparently sell them for around R450. Her cost to make one is more than that. So, you can only imagine the sweatshops that are exploited to produce something so cheap. And, the quality is absolute crap.

What did Celia do right?

  • Besides being smart enough to let me help her with her marketing 😉
  • She crafts real quality teepees. A lot of her business comes from referrals from people that have seen the teepees at their friends houses.
  • She has an active blogging strategy. So far, she has written 100 blogs. Not nearly enough. But, way more than her nearest rival.
  • We decided early on to give the brand a personal touch. So, there are no Woo Commerce or catalogues where you click and buy. Nothing impersonal. You literally have to speak with Celia. She doesn’t just let anyone get one of her works of art. She wants her teepees to go to homes where they will be appreciated. So, she’s the face of the brand.
  • Facebook was a bust, but Instagram is a winner for her. So, she focuses a lot on Instagram. Go here to see her Instagram account.Teepees are visual, so they lend themselves to being featured on Instagram. Apparently, 32 percent of Instagram users in South Africa are between 25 and 34 years old. This is the age when folks have children. Children/teepees … a match made in heaven, methinks. Interestingly, for me anyway, she has sold quite a lot of teepees off Instagram to single fathers.

More than a teepee

Teepees reinforce positive behaviour in children.

Support local teepee suppliers in South Africa

They are:

  • Hideouts and safe spaces
  • Nap pods
  • Reading nooks
  • Imagination stations
  • Meditation space
  • Bonding space (where parents can read and connect with their young children)

I love what Celia has done with this business. It’s entertaining, educating and connecting children, it’s created work for other folk, and she’s having fun doing it. What more can one ask for in a business?

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