November 11, 2021

Member Spotlight: Kelly Vaughn, Founder - The Taproom

Partner League is fortunate to have a vibrant community of thousands of Shopify partners from across the globe. Over the years, we have come together to talk about the changing eCommerce ecosystem and Shopify’s part in it. We have discussed tools, tech, no-code and many new ways of building online businesses together, holding back no information from one other.

So we decided it was time to start getting our members into the spotlight. The people who have been continually adding value to our community, helping it thrive together.

Each week we’re going to highlight a member from our community, sharing their story, background and the projects they work on that makes them an integral part of Partner League.

This week we spoke to Kelly Vaughn, the Founder of The Taproom, a Shopify app that helps E-commerce retailers protect their brands, revenue and user experience

Hey Kelly, great to have you be part of Partner League’s Member Spotlight.

Can you give us some details on your background, and what first got you interested in helping Shopify merchants, becoming a partner and starting your own agency?

I’ve been building websites since I was 11, freelancing since 14, been a Shopify Partner since 2014, and I’ve been running The Taproom since 2017.

A friend of mine gave me a freelance overflow project back in 2014 that was a Shopify store. Prior to that, I’d been primarily working with WordPress. I immediately loved the process of building and customizing themes and being able to see an immediate impact on my work via increased sales.

I haven’t looked back since and that’s how The Taproom came into being.

These days I’m more focused on strategy, operations, and advising and investing in early stage e-commerce businesses.

With the Shopify partner ecosystem growing rapidly, there is a lot of competition in the market today. How do you get the word out about your business to get more clients?

I’ve been fortunate enough to never need to do any direct outreach for The Taproom.

My primary sources of work are through our tech partners (including Shopify), referrals from past clients or colleagues in the space, and clients who find us from our content.

My team and I spend a significant amount of time creating content: twice-weekly blogs, being active on Twitter and occasionally LinkedIn, and leading and participating in webinars. That gets us through to our target audience in a very contextual manner as well.

The Shopify ecosystem revolves around collaboration and helping one another out. What is your opinion or personal experience when it comes to collaborating with other Shopify Partners?

Has it helped you and The Taproom grow, or was it something in the passing that did not really have a concrete impact on what you do?

If you could give us an example.

I’ve had an ongoing collaboration with Rhian Beutler, President & Co-Founder of venntov. She runs an app company, I run an agency. She specializes in SEO and I specialize in CRO.

Last year towards the beginning of the pandemic we decided to start a podcast called Commerce Tea and have been publishing weekly episodes ever since.

We co-host monthly webinars with Shopify Growth Lab and we actually recently started a new company to build our first app together.

A partnership turned into a friendship and a whole new business opportunity!

When we started Partner League, our goal was to connect partners from across the world and enable them to foster positive relationships.

Were we able to do that for you and The Taproom? Was there a connection you built in this community, a pivotal insight that you learned from someone?

I'm thankful for Partner League for being the source of a conversation with a fellow member here, which led to me becoming an advisor of Advising was always something I wanted to do, and Partner League opened up that door for me!

Which other professional online communities are you part of and most engaged in? Free or paid.

Are communities a core part of your business growth strategy?

I’m very active on Twitter (which some of you likely know), and I’m a member of 2PM’s Polymathic, Club CPG, and I dabble in the Shopify Partners Slack.

So I would say, yes, being a part of communities is important. It helps us have meaningful conversations, make more connections and of course, learn from other’s experiences.

Moving on to remaining productive as an entrepreneur. A lot of our members are either solopreneurs, running Shopify projects as a side business or have smaller teams.

What are the top 3 tools (digital or physical) you use, and can’t live without, to help you stay on top of things?

I’m a Calendly power user and can’t live without it. Taproom meetings, personal meetings, and paid consulting calls all flow through it.

I pay for Superhuman for my email and absolutely love it. I use keyboard shortcuts for everything and Superhuman makes managing 6 different email accounts a breeze. My monthly coffee subscription to Coffee Collective is an absolute must-have as an entrepreneur! (And not to be *that person* but I also can’t live without my Peloton!)

Those are some really nifty tools you got there. We’re continually experimenting with tools to help us streamline our inbox management. And definitely, coffee is a personal favourite too.

So, what are you working on now to help your business get to the next level?

I recently took a step back from The Taproom to take a one-month sabbatical to focus on bringing supporting small business back into our purview.

We’ve exceeded my growth expectations already, so now I’d like to apply what we’ve learned over time to help smaller businesses get from 0 to 1. I’m still figuring out what this looks like, so stay tuned!

And of course, keep a lookout for the new app Rhian and I are building! We’re keeping what it is a secret, but it’s something I’m super excited about.

Wow, you do have our attention now and we’re surely watching out for the app to come!

Thank you so much for sharing your story with us Kelly. We really look forward to hearing more about your journey soon, and maybe even hosting a live AMA with you.

Keep an eye open for our next Member Spotlight post coming soon! We’re going to make it our goal to share insightful snippets in the form of mini-interviews that you can read on the go, and learn from.

Not a part of Partner League yet? Join us today.