S3 E11: Building your Shopify theme to support your needs with Thomas Kimura (Founder, Brickspace Lab)


On this episode of Retention Chronicles, we’re joined by Thomas Kimura, Founder of Brickspace Lab, a group of passionate designers and developers that are committed to building the best ecommerce experiences. Specifically, we talk about:

  • custom Shopify theme development,
  • an overview of the Retention Chronicles podcast,
  • starting a career with Tumblr,
  • working with Storetasker and its possible use cases with Malomo,
  • auditing ecommerce websites and areas Shopify brands are missing out on,
  • going through the customer buying process on your mobile device,
  • the importance of great product images and photography,
  • how the first sale should be treated like a demo,
  • trends for 2023 such as AI making things easier,
  • and having the mindset of a student.

Be sure to subscribe to our pod to stay up-to-date and checkout Malomo, the leading order tracking platform for Shopify brands.

Subscribe to Retention Chronicles on Apple Podcasts


This transcript was completed by an automated system, please forgive any grammatical errors


shopify, retention, brands, theme, business, shopify theme, customers, website, podcast, toronto, app, clients, building, product, curious, custom theme, services, add, mariah, nice


Noah Rahimzadeh, Thomas Kimura, Mariah Parsons

Noah Rahimzadeh 00:04

Hey retention pros. I'm Noah Raheem today and I lead partnerships here at Malomo. I'm super pumped to continue to chat with ecosystem experts alongside Mariah, who you all already know and love, say hi, Mariah.

Mariah Parsons 00:16

Hey, everyone, as you probably know, retention Chronicles likes to bring in some of the best retention focused brands in the Shopify ecosystem.

Noah Rahimzadeh 00:24

Well, we don't just feature brands, we also feature some great thought leaders in the Shopify ecosystem that serve brands.

Mariah Parsons 00:31

And because we always want these conversations to be fun, you'll hear us talk with our guests about what they're excited about and what's helped them get to where they are today.

Noah Rahimzadeh 00:40

We hope you'll stick around to learn and laugh with us retention Chronicles

Mariah Parsons 00:43

is sponsored by Malomo a shipment in order tracking platform improving the post purchase experience. Be sure to subscribe and check out all of our episodes at go malomo.com.

Noah Rahimzadeh 01:01

All right, welcome back, everybody to the newest episode of retention Chronicles. Super excited today to have Thomas Kamara is that

Thomas Kimura 01:11

Kamara? That's good? Yeah. Got it.

Noah Rahimzadeh 01:15

Got it. Probably should ask that before. Thomas is the founder of brick Space Lab, Shopify agency. That also does some custom theme development, I think so I'm excited to to dive in Thomas. And I'm really, really looking forward to sharing this one with with our listeners. So thanks so much for joining.

Thomas Kimura 01:37

Thank you for having me. I mean, this is my first time on a podcast so I'm kinda I'm a newbie, but I'm excited to be here.

Noah Rahimzadeh 01:46

Nice. Yeah. When I wasn't there, I asked me to help out with agency and partnership episodes. I had never done a podcast, let alone host a podcast.

Mariah Parsons 01:57

Everyone has to start somewhere. Right. So

Thomas Kimura 02:00

how long have you guys been doing? Like the podcasts?

Mariah Parsons 02:04

Yeah, since August 2021. So yeah, we're just in season three now about 25 episodes to a season. So

Thomas Kimura 02:14

it has it been like a general like, like slow growth in terms of like, audience and like, listeners are. Okay. That's, like it. Like, it's like a lot of like, consistent work. But like, once you get through that, it's like, kind of start noticing it.

Mariah Parsons 02:35

Yeah, for sure. Definitely. Consistency is the name of the game. And just having great quality content, like we didn't really set out with a focus of like this listenership or this audience, or, you know, anything of that nature, but it was like, Okay, we have some really cool conversations with really cool people like yourself, so why not, like, learn and record and share those conversations with our networks and help other people who are in similar situations? So but yeah, it has been consistent growth over time. So it's very exciting to see.

Thomas Kimura 03:13

Cool, cool. Yeah. Okay. I'm thinking about doing but I feel like with the million other things I'm doing, probably.

Mariah Parsons 03:22

Yeah, I will say it dedicate some time for sure. Yeah, having to learn it. Yep.

Noah Rahimzadeh 03:28

Definitely not like, I feel like Mariah, it's not like a side. It's not like an off to the side thing anymore. For you. It's like a core part of the role.

Mariah Parsons 03:39

It's most definitely,

Noah Rahimzadeh 03:41

I will say, Thomas, like, to your point about the the growth and like, the production that you get out of it, it's now something that we talk about in like leadership meetings and how we can do different to maximize the impact of it. So it has, like, somewhat of a core channel that we that we focus on. And I think it's also cool that it's kind of grown and scaled as Malomo has grown and scaled. And that's allowed us to get people like you on where it's like, you know, two or three years ago, you would have been like, I don't even know who the hell you guys are with you.

Mariah Parsons 04:18

Were self aware here. Yeah. Yeah. It's also great to see now we're getting some people requesting like inbound coming to us and be like, Oh, hey, like saying that the podcasts or so on, you know, this platform or whatever. And asking what our guest lineup is like, so it's very rewarding in that sense, as well to see that coupled with the growth.

Thomas Kimura 04:40

Yeah, that's awesome. Yeah, cool. I'm happy to be here. Yeah.

Mariah Parsons 04:47

Thank you for asking. Yeah, I don't think we've gotten to chat about that specifically. Here. So

Noah Rahimzadeh 04:52

yeah, yeah. Okay, so we before we before we dive in and talk, talk shop, we always like to ask our guys is one or two things that you're excited about in your personal life. And before you even get into that, I don't know if I've asked you where you're dialing in from. So I'd love to.

Thomas Kimura 05:11

I'm calling it a really. So you're familiar with Toronto or Canada. We're just like an hour north. Nice. I grew up in I grew up in Toronto, like my whole life and moved up here, like two years ago. More affordable. We're working remote. So really no reason to be trapped in the city traffic all the time.

Noah Rahimzadeh 05:36

Was that COVID Move?

Thomas Kimura 05:39

Yeah, yeah. Right. And

Mariah Parsons 05:43

my father is actually from Toronto. And so my mother's from Nova Scotia. So I'm a dual citizen to Canada. Back. Yeah, frequent Toronto a lot. All my extended family is still in Canada. So I get to go a lot.

Thomas Kimura 05:58

I love Toronto. I go there, like all the time, but

Mariah Parsons 06:03

just living is different. It's nice

Thomas Kimura 06:05

to be outside of traffic and the rush hour and, you know, get closer to the lakes and nature, that kind of stuff.

Noah Rahimzadeh 06:15

Absolutely. Yeah. We I was in Toronto for shop talks event. And was that late? Or like maybe it was October? Maybe late October? Yeah. But I always loved visiting that city. It is so awesome. However, I have no desire to come there anytime in the next couple of months. Because the first time I went it was like, early February and brutal.

Thomas Kimura 06:41

Yeah. I mean, it's definitely more of a summer place to visit. Unless you're like into skiing or snowboarding. Right. But at that point, if you're doing that, why would you go?

Noah Rahimzadeh 06:55


Thomas Kimura 06:59

The Torontos are really nice.

Noah Rahimzadeh 07:01

Yeah, absolutely. Well, I'll certainly keep you posted on our next our next trip up. Okay, what are the things you're excited about right now, personally?

Thomas Kimura 07:13

Firstly, we just got a dog. So that's really cool. Yeah, I love her. Her name is Piper. She's a chihuahua terrier. We adopted her just in the summer. So it's been like, maybe like, a few months. And she's just over a year old and she's kind of the perfect dog for us. She's very quiet. Loves to hang out. And nice companion.

Noah Rahimzadeh 07:51

Amazing. That's awesome. Is that? I would imagine that's taken up some time. That's That's it. That's an adjustment if you haven't had a dog for a while.

Thomas Kimura 08:02

Yeah, yeah. No, I mean, like, it's a good adjustment because like, I'm really bad at like sticking to any kind of like schedule or like routine and like, having something to like take care of like a good reminder. Like, oh, like, I have to feed the dog but myself breakfast.

Mariah Parsons 08:24

I have to also feed myself. Yeah.

Thomas Kimura 08:27

We can go to walk and I can use a walk to so

Noah Rahimzadeh 08:34

nice. That's pretty cool. I don't have a dog. I don't have any pets right now Mariah Do you

Mariah Parsons 08:42

know and I desperately want, like so many but I just know that I cannot have a pet right now that added responsibility. So in an opposite way to you, Thomas. I'm like, Okay, I feel like there's too many things on my plate to add a pet on there. But definitely will be getting a pet in the future. I grew up with a cat and a dog and so always always had pets. Yeah,

Thomas Kimura 09:10

yeah. I was kind of the same way. Like we grew up with a dog and didn't really think about it until like recently. It's like, Oh, why not? Like let's just do it.

Mariah Parsons 09:23

And it's going well, so that's great.

Noah Rahimzadeh 09:25

Well, keeping you accountable. I'm very similar Mariah like, I I can't imagine having to feed myself and a pet right now. So

Thomas Kimura 09:37

I honestly feel the same way but I mean, I think I think once it kind of happens, you make it work because I was definitely feeling the same way like I don't know like is this this is a lot of responsibility. But it's, it's a it's easier than it than you think it is.

Noah Rahimzadeh 09:57

When you love something like that. because

Mariah Parsons 10:01

it's a welcome challenge. Yeah.

Noah Rahimzadeh 10:05

Awesome. Well, that's great. Let's get into brick space lab would love to know, you know, your background and how that led to brick space. And sort of where you're at today with it.

Thomas Kimura 10:21

Okay, background, how far back do we go here

Noah Rahimzadeh 10:25

your call, leave it to the guests.

Thomas Kimura 10:28

So, you know, I first started kind of like playing around with like coding and like computers, I was always kind of like interested in that stuff like growing up. Big gamer. So like, computers were kind of like, part of my life. Going through high school, like I did like a few courses. I wasn't really like that into it. Went through college. And then that's kind of where I started doing some like online courses like myself. So I was in college, just for like a Bachelor of Commerce. And at the same time, I was kind of like teaching myself to code. And that's where I was like, okay, like, I was kind of getting very much into it. And that was good. Because I mean, at the time, I was kind of obsessive personality. So I would spend like, all my time like, yeah, like watching YouTube videos and like taking courses.

Noah Rahimzadeh 11:34

First thing that you were that you are coding are like building.

Thomas Kimura 11:38

Yeah, so this is a this is way back in like the height of Tumblr. So my girlfriend actually had a Tumblr, I guess, blog or whatever you call that. And that's where I think like, I saw her doing that. I was like, oh, you know what, and then I was like, looking at Tumblr, and I realized, like, they have this theme store. And you could like, make Tumblr themes. Oh, interesting. So I kind of latched on to that idea, especially because I was like, learning how to code and like learning like design and like typography. So that was kind of like the first big project like I worked on. So I made this Tumblr theme. And it's actually still available on the Tumblr Theme Store. Put it out and got a ton of downloads. It was free at the time. It still is so didn't make any money on that, but got a ton of downloads. And I learned for sure, yeah. I would like building software through that. And that was kind of like my first I guess, experience with that. After that,

Noah Rahimzadeh 12:58

before we move on from tumbling. Am I right? Mariah might be able to answer this to my right thinking Tumblr was like the first version of like a Pinterest sort of thing.

Mariah Parsons 13:11

I think yeah. So I was never actually on Tumblr, but like, similar ideas to Pinterest and like MySpace, right? Kind of like tied together.

Thomas Kimura 13:21

Yeah. I mean, like, it was very like, like flexible. Like, you could use it just like as a blog and like write articles. Very much like, I would say, like my space, Pinterest and Twitter, like people just kind of like write like one or two line things like share an image like, but the difference was that it was like, you had like your own theme. So it wasn't like a Twitter profile or looks like Twitter. It's like, it looks like your website. Or like a MySpace?

Noah Rahimzadeh 13:56

Yep. Okay. Yeah. I don't think I ever used it. And I obviously like was aware of it. And I guess that's, that's really I'm excited for you to keep going because it sounds like that was good inspiration for where you are. Yeah.

Thomas Kimura 14:12

Yeah. So after that. graduated college, got a internship at a startup called Student carshare. And they operated like a ride sharing or like a car sharing program on like different university campuses. It was very similar to like Zipcar. Yeah. So I worked with them for maybe like a year or two. And I did like, kind of everything there. I was doing like Facebook ads and marketing. I would go to events and social media like influencers, like I worked on their website and their app. Kind of everything which was really nice, because like, it's, it's was kind of great to have that experience where like you're in like a business and you're seeing like all the layers to it, and how it all kind of goes together. But yeah, worked there for two years, quit and then decided to just do freelance. So I might have been like 2016, I think. And then when I quit, I kind of didn't really have like a specific idea or direction, like, where to go. Just, let's get clients and make websites. I was kind of like my, my plan. So I think the first year or two, it was like, definitely a lot harder to find work in terms of like, looking for just general. If anyone has a website, and anyone needs help, it's like hard to find those people.

Noah Rahimzadeh 16:04

That really target right, yeah, yeah.

Thomas Kimura 16:08

It's kind of hard to do that. But like, I did that for like a year. And then I kind of started to figure out about Shopify around that time, too. So I saw Shopify as like, okay, like, this is really cool software, like I want to work with this love that you can like, spin up a online store and start a business and sell stuff. So that was kind of like, where I was like, getting latched on to the idea of that next, and actually started my own t shirt brand as well, at that time, because I was like, let's figure out how to do the Shopify thing. Like, let's figure out how to customize the seams and user, their software and tools and like, actually start a business. So started a t shirt brand, and did that for another year. And wasn't really like in love with the whole concept or the business at all. It was mostly just like something to do to use. Play around with the software.

Noah Rahimzadeh 17:15

I'm curious, did you like create your own shirts custom? Or did you dropship what was like one of initial setup?

Thomas Kimura 17:23

So it was our initial idea was we were printing like maps, and you could get them for like different cities. And it was like kind of a I don't know how to describe it, but it would be like outlines of like the streets. And you can Yeah, like a Toronto map, or an Ottawa one. And we'd had them for like all the major cities. So yeah, we did that. We actually had a local, we originally started doing like print on demand. And then we found a supplier in Toronto, who would kind of do print on demand for us. And they were like, cheaper. And we could give them like our own shirts. And it kind of worked out better that way. We could kind of handle the quality better, and like putting in our own, like, packaging and all that kind of stuff. So we did that. But yeah, we were never really like in love with a concept or idea at all. It was kind of just an excuse to start something.

Noah Rahimzadeh 18:32

And all the while were you taking on other consulting projects as well.

Thomas Kimura 18:36

Yeah, yeah. So that's kind of where I started the t shirt brand, and then got more into Shopify. And then, if you're familiar with storetasker, I was I joined that kind of around the same time as well. Okay, and storetasker is similar to Upwork. It's like a job board, like a developer marketplace. But it's specifically catered to like Shopify merchants, so merchants can go onto storetasker and look for expert developers to help with their website. So I was I was on storetasker back then, too. So that's kind of where I started getting projects for Shopify work. And then you know, one thing leads to another you do one project, they refer you to someone else and here we are, I want to podcast

Mariah Parsons 19:34

now the rest is history. Real quick, Thomas Do you know um, I think I'm right in saying this, but I believe Tim mastic works that sort. Okay. No, one 100 DDC. So, Tim, at what 100 Do you see also is that storetasker So I know the name and briefly briefly familiar. So you worked with him a bit. There or just

Thomas Kimura 19:59

I think Tim joined storetasker Like within the last year?

Mariah Parsons 20:04

It's not the same time.

Thomas Kimura 20:05

Yeah, not the same time. But I have I mean, I've talked to him a few times. But when I when we like when I first started on storetasker, he was he wasn't part of that. That ecosystem. Gotcha.

Mariah Parsons 20:20

Small world. He was also on retention chronicles a while back, one of our first guests, I think I was

Noah Rahimzadeh 20:25

just just emailing with him this morning. So that's, that's awesome. So today, are you still on there? Or have you sort of separated from store?

Thomas Kimura 20:36

I'm still on storetasker. But were like, our, I guess, our agency business, like, we get a lot of like, just business or like word of mouth. So we're at the point now where like, at least, like the current state, we don't really like need a lot of new business just because like, We're a small team. So I can't just go onto storetasker and pick up 10 new jobs, because who's going to do all that work? So right now, we're kind of like, at capacity, especially because, like, our priority now is working with the clients we already have. So yeah, we're on storetasker. But I don't really, I don't really pick up any work on there unless we're in like a dry spell or something.

Noah Rahimzadeh 21:26

Right, right. So I want to ask about like how you sort of stick out but first, I'm curious one, would you for like an up and coming consultant in the Shopify ecosystem? Would you recommend now it'd be a good place to start? And to be curious, like what the business model is? Do they take like, a rev share percentage, or what what does that look like?

Thomas Kimura 21:49

Yeah. So first question, what I recommend storetasker Definitely. So I mean, I've seen like, there's like a lot of other kinds of people in this similar situation in me, like, kind of starting their business or their freelancing and storetasker is a really good place to go, especially to get those likes those specifically, it's like in an industry like E commerce, Shopify. And these are clients that are okay, they're willing to pay for developers because they know that they need something on their website that they can't do themselves. So it's not like doing it the other way, or you're just like cold calling people. And you have no idea if they have a budget or anything like that. So it's definitely a really good option to go through like kind of any kind of job board or networking kind of place like that. storetasker is really good, especially if you want to stay in the Shopify realm. Yep. And then second question, how does that work in terms of pricing? storetasker it takes a percentage, I don't remember exactly what it is, but I believe it. It changes based on like your volume. So if you you're doing more more work, that percentage goes down. But it's nothing like unreasonable. Like it's definitely worth it. If you're starting out and you want to start freelancing, and you've got skills to help out other merchants on Shopify.

Noah Rahimzadeh 23:36

Right. Awesome. I'm looking at their page right now. And they not only obviously focus on like the Shopify expertise, but the Shopify app expertise as well, in a lot of these listings. So wheels are turning right now. How do we, how do we get Malema listed as a, you know, be Shopify and beyond app?

Thomas Kimura 23:57

Yeah, yeah, I think that's like, I think they're doing like a lot of partnerships with like, apps typically need like experts to implement them. So like, that's definitely like a good thing to think about. Like, if, like Malomo gets like, a lot if you guys get a lot of requests for like custom work, or we installed your app, but we need to customize it, or we want it to look this way. And can we integrate it here? Definitely get in touch with storetasker. Because I know they're doing that with a lot of other apps where there are like frequent customization so nice. Just keep in mind.

Noah Rahimzadeh 24:39

Awesome. Awesome. Yeah, we'll have to reach out and see what we can do. Okay, so that's a that's a great segue. So there's looks like probably 1000s of individual consultants on storetasker. And there's probably are maybe, maybe not 1000s. But a decent,

Thomas Kimura 24:54

maybe, maybe under 1000. I couldn't tell you but there's There's a lot.

Noah Rahimzadeh 25:01

Yeah, you know, that's that's just one channel. But then you have the other like 10s of 1000s of individual Shopify consultants and agencies and new ones entering the space every day. So what would you say makes bricks Bay sort of stick out from the pack? What makes you guys unique?

Thomas Kimura 25:22

You know, I've been asked this question before and like, I guess it's something that I can't really answer because well, first of all, I don't think there's anything that sets us apart like, like, if you think about, like, a business and like a completely different category, like an electrician, for example. Like what sets them apart? Nothing like there's other electricians doing the same work. There's other Shopify developers doing the exact same thing as me. I would say What sets me apart? Maybe we do good work. But other people do good work, too. We're a small team, but I mean, there's others are small. Yeah,

Noah Rahimzadeh 26:17

well, I can't. First of all, I love that answer, because it's refreshing. But

Thomas Kimura 26:24

I guess to, to add to that, I mean, I know like a lot of people like in like the startup like, or like tech world, they're always like, Oh, what's your differentiator? And like, how are you different? Like, I mean, I don't think things have to always be different, like, there's room in the world for two providers or hundreds of providers of the same service. And maybe we just have a close relationship with our clients. And that's it, you know?

Noah Rahimzadeh 26:53

Yeah. Well, I think I can I think I can say this with confidence. I won't mention any brands, specifically by name, but I know some of our joint customers are, you know, logo accounts, so to speak in the Shopify ecosystem. So you're clearly doing something right to just get in the door. But I think you also have, you know, retainer, like engagements with them. Is that correct?

Thomas Kimura 27:17

Yeah, yeah, definitely. Definitely correct. And I mean, yeah, sometimes I do, I do get a little bit of an ego boost when I go on other other apps. And I see like our clients, Logos put on like, oh, we worked with them. And I don't know if that's, that's maybe we just got lucky. And I've been in Shopify space for a while. Or maybe it's sad, and we do really good work. But yeah,

Noah Rahimzadeh 27:46

yeah, that's awesome. And then what kind of just for the listeners sake, like, what kind of services do you offer? What's a typical engagement look like?

Thomas Kimura 27:57

Yeah. So we're kind of now that we have our Shopify female. We're trying to make a shift towards I guess, packaging our services up and like more predefined I guess, scopes? Okay. So one thing we're doing now that I'm really trying to promote more of is just audits. So that's like where we take like, we'll look at your Shopify website. And we'll basically tear it apart and list out recommendations for things you can change things you can test, and things that might be broken, and then we'll give you like a side by side mock up of here's your website. Here's our recommendations. So that's one that we're kind of recommending for, like, maybe those bigger brands that have like, more traffic, and they have a higher, like, they're getting traffic to their store where they can actually AB testings. And they don't know, like, which direction they know, they want to change things on things on their website, but they don't know what or where or where to start. So that's definitely the first thing we're kind of recommending. After that. We're doing like retainers, so that's retainer. They're kind of like support, ongoing, kind of anything. So it could be something like installing an app, or customizing the Malomo tracking pages. And maybe adding new collections and integrating with new features. So support or retainers are kind of set hours and we can try to do whatever we need to do for our clients. And then we're also looking to do just seems setups now So for customers who are installing our Shopify theme, if they want our, our, I guess our help to design it and actually install and set it up with kind of our extra input, then that's something else we're doing. And then I would say, customizations would probably be final service. So that would be either if someone's installing our theme or another theme, and they want to add XYZ feature that isn't isn't already available, or they want to change things a bit, then that's also something we can do. Got it?

Mariah Parsons 30:43

I have a I have a quick question. So Malomo has like our Shopify theme, but what does it look like on the like, control consultancy side? Like the agency side? For your like Shopify theme? I'm not like just like, technically speaking, is it like something that they're enabling on their site? Or like, what is that?

Thomas Kimura 31:07

Um, um, I'm not sure I understand.

Noah Rahimzadeh 31:11

So yeah. So I think I think the question is, like, we have like a theme app, just like a lot of other you know, like, third party Shopify apps can be easily plugged into any Shopify theme. Right, what you're describing relate to like, an app versus like, a Shopify theme in and of itself.

Thomas Kimura 31:35


Mariah Parsons 31:36

yeah. Thank you. No, I gotcha.

Thomas Kimura 31:40

Okay, so how does our theme relate to an app? Or like

Noah Rahimzadeh 31:45

how? Yeah, like, what's the how do they how would they like work together?

Mariah Parsons 31:50


Thomas Kimura 31:52

Right, right, right. Right. Right. Yeah. So I mean, I guess out of the box, Shopify themes definitely come with a lot of functionality. But they don't come with everything. And I mean, they showed it because there's millions of people on Shopify, you're adding every single feature to a Shopify theme, it's just gonna be way too much way too bloated. And it's not really going to be good at any of those things. So themes are kind of built to be flexible in a way that they can be customize. And they're kind of built in a way that they can serve a lot of people. And part of that is being able to implement other apps, right? That's definitely where like, Okay, if you want to have a tracking page, you can just use a default theme. So you got to go with an app, and you can install an app and integrate it into the team, and then boom, boom, no coding needed. It's just all done.

Noah Rahimzadeh 32:59

Yep. So okay, that's, that was really helpful. I'm curious. And maybe this is a really stupid question. Can you like prepackaged third party apps into a custom theme? Like, for example, the theme that you created for bricks base that you're now selling? And then offering services on? Could you theoretically integrate, like a rebuy for product tracks? Or a Malomo? For for tracking, like pre packaged within that theme? Or can you only do what's like native out of the box with Shopify? And

Thomas Kimura 33:35

that wouldn't? I mean, technically, that could be possible. But there's no way that would, I guess, get into the Shopify Theme Store, just because that would kind of be against their terms of or whatever their agreement for the Shopify team. Sure. But I mean, that technically could be possible. And that's something that we could sell outside of the theme store, like, as an add on. I don't know what that would look like. But that's definitely possible, whether as like a one off service, or even like a, like, buy this, like buy this customization. And then like, you get emailed like a code snippet, you can just paste it in. There's probably a few different ways you can do it. I know there's even like some apps where you can install an app. And then that app adds extra sections to your theme. I think it's I gotta find the name of this one, because

Noah Rahimzadeh 34:48

this is interesting. I don't think we've ever had anybody on who's talked about like creating a custom theme and then also providing services on it as well.

Thomas Kimura 34:56

Yeah. But the thing is like, I guess for us, like our primary, like we're making most of our money through our agency right now. So we kind of need to keep doing that. Right? At the current, I guess, scale of our theme sales. It makes a lot more sense for us to like upsell those customers for, like customizations and other services, just versus like, we're not getting 1000s of installs. And we can just just do the installs, which, that'd be nice, too. But I don't think we're at that point yet.

Noah Rahimzadeh 35:39

Yeah, makes sense. So what I'm curious to hear a little bit more about, like, the theme that you created, specifically, who like Who Is it best for what's unique about it? This is clearly an area where Mariah and I are not up to snuff as some of the other areas. So really curious about that.

Thomas Kimura 36:00

Yeah. Okay. So we did we designed the, the paper theme, and that was probably like a eight, nine month project. And so you're asking who is for? So I would say right now, it's a lot of the features on the theme are like built for larger catalogs. So there's a lot of like, discovery and like filtering and sorting features. That works pretty seamlessly with like, all the like, recent Shopify updates. So I'd say like, really, any large catalog store, there's obviously like, like, if you're looking for specific features, it might not have it, but it might, I mean, it really depends what you're looking for. But generally, I'd say large catalog store. It's fairly flexible, like when you're going into it, you can, you can go into like the color settings, like the border settings, you can like, change the radius and rounding for like buttons and inputs. So you can kind of take something and like make it look like Like, like, kind of minimal, like blend, see Agha like, kind of brutalist style, or you can make it look like, like, kind of fun, Poppy. And like, there's completely different ways to design it. So it's not really like for a specific style, but I would say generally large catalog. Got it.

Noah Rahimzadeh 37:43

Okay. Cool. Yeah. Yeah, that's, that's a really interesting topic that we just have not talked much about. So glad we got a little little education there. Thank you. Yeah. I want to go back to something you said earlier, you started sort of on the search service services provided by big bricks base with audits. I'm curious, you know, in doing I'm sure many of them over time. When you look at a site and you're like, Okay, here's what's working, here's what's not, here's what's broken, here are your opportunities. Are there any themes that have consistently sort of stuck out in terms of like, most Shopify merchants are, many are missing this thing, and you just can't believe how many, you know, are missing this specific or missing on this specific area, in their business.

Thomas Kimura 38:36

Um, honestly, there isn't really one because at least like for the clients that we're working with, they're, they're usually like, pretty far along in their business. And like, maybe they've like started their brand themselves. And like, they used a free theme. And like, their business kind of took off. And now they're kind of looking for extra help. But I haven't really noticed, like any, like, common opportunities among like, the clients we work with, it seems to be kind of all over the place. Like some clients will do things good. And then other clients or customers won't do those things, and they might do something else. So I would say generally, like, just maybe being aware of your website in terms of like a customer perspective, like, I know a lot of people probably like go into the theme editor and like, maybe preview their website. But it's an even better idea to like, go on your phone and like, open up a website on your phone, and I kind of go through the buying process. And maybe even do that like once a week. If you're changing things on your website, like see what that looks like. Are things easier to read? to our customers finding the information they need to find easy, or do they have to like scroll and like search through big blocks of text to find like one thing. But I mean, generally like it all comes down to just like making, making the content like easy, digestible, making things easy to find. And I mean, there's so many ways to do that. So it's kind of hard to give like general advice, but yeah,

Noah Rahimzadeh 40:34

no, that's I think that's fantastic advice. I just, I think, actually, the podcast that we released today, with Apple group out of Canada, talked a lot about like, a consistent side experience. And a lot of brands sort of like, don't think about, and I actually heard it on Nick Sharma and Moises podcast this week, too. So it's kind of consistent themes. But they were they were talking about how like, even things like the camera angles on which you like, take your product pictures for the listings on your site need to be consistent, like all of the messaging from start to finish needs to be easily digestible on brand. Would you agree with that? Is that sort of

Thomas Kimura 41:19

100%? I mean, I think it it kind of depends on like, your business, but I mean, I've seen some like Shopify stores where maybe it's just like, like, kind of a local shop, and they're selling like hardware goods and like, maybe they don't need the best photography. Yeah. All that other information that those customers need, like, what tool this is, and like, the dimensions of the whatever device they're selling, like that information needs to be there for those customers. But definitely for like some of those more like a static Instagram brands. The photography is probably number one, I think that's one of the components on like a website where it can make something go from looking really kind of unprofessional to make making something looking completely top grade, like top notch. Photography is a big part of that. Because if you think about it, Shopify or any website, really, like, you're looking at a grid of products, and you've got a little bit of text under each photo, like the name of the product, 90% of that design is just the photo. So that is a that is a really important component.

Noah Rahimzadeh 42:49

Well, that's such an interesting like, take, right, it's like this is the main thing you're looking at. So why would you not focus most of your time on making sure looks good?

Mariah Parsons 42:58

Yeah, I feel like most people would say, like, copy would be more important than the photography. So that's like a very interesting. Like, I feel like my gut reaction to that would be like, Oh, copy, like the messaging. I feel like that's what we talk about a lot. Nova is like proactive messaging, just because that's where we live in the ecosystem, right? But it's an interesting take to think about, like, the imagery of it all. Because then when I think about my experience as a consumer, like the picture is what grabs my attention first, and then you read more about it.

Thomas Kimura 43:27

Yeah, I mean, like, I wouldn't sacrifice either like you kind of need good copy and good photos to make a great website. And I think customers probably noticed both like, if you can just like imagine like a like a store and they're selling like It's like Lululemon for example. And you you replace all the photos was just a photos someone took off their phone camera, and that's not gonna look at all like, same website it does now. And people notice that. Yeah,

Noah Rahimzadeh 44:08

yeah. Really interesting. Okay, moving on to retention really quick. Don't have much time left. But since this is retention Chronicles, I got to ask, what does retention mean to you as part of all of the things that we've just talked about? And what would you say the most important drivers of it are?

Thomas Kimura 44:31

Retention. So I think retentions like, really important for brands to consider when they're trying to go after like sustainable growth. I think a lot of maybe newer founders might kind of get caught up on like, new sales or just revenue is like a primary metric for retention is like, really important because it costs a lot A lot of money to find new customers. And if you always have to find new customers, you're always going to be like digging this digging the hole when you could just be building, like a community, building a customer base, and keeping that customer base alive, like some businesses run off of a handful of customers and like, maybe that's all you need. So, retention is definitely really important for building a sustainable long term business. And you're not thinking about how to keep it, how to keep customers, and then where are they gonna go? They're gonna go somewhere else.

Noah Rahimzadeh 45:41

Yeah, and I had argued, like, not only that, but you're probably losing money on that, that new customer that you acquired the first time that they buy something. So like, yeah, so you have a plan to keep them there's like no sense at all in acquiring them in the first place.

Thomas Kimura 45:58

Yeah, exactly.

Noah Rahimzadeh 46:01

Yeah, one of the things that I also heard i, this is top of mind, because I just listened to it this morning. But the podcast that we released today was he talked about, like, acquisition is just acquisition by retention is where you like drive profitability. And like without it, you're just, I think, exactly to your point, Thomas, like, you're just forever digging a deeper and deeper hole if you haven't figured that out.

Thomas Kimura 46:25

Yeah, exactly. Like, it's like, that's, you're getting new customers, but how do you keep them happy? How do you keep them coming back? How do you? How do you make your product, your business part of their like, ongoing life? Like, if this is a product they need? And they want it again, then you got to be there for them?

Noah Rahimzadeh 46:51

Is there are there any specific areas that you've noticed in the work that you've done with brands, where brands are consistently like neglecting in terms of retention, or things that you think a lot of brands could implement?

Thomas Kimura 47:08

I think generally it's something that brands probably want to take, like, kind of a holistic approach. Because I think retentions it's not like a, it's not like a one solution thing. Like, there's kind of a lot of things that go into it. Like, it's the customer support, it's the product quality, it's like, the shipping and tracking and keeping customers in the loop. Like let me think,

Noah Rahimzadeh 47:45

Well, that's good stuff. Like I I totally agree with you. I don't think that there's,

Thomas Kimura 47:51

yeah, it's there isn't just one thing, it's like a completely. It's your whole business. So it's like, making the reordering process easier, or making it convenient for the unlike. I mean, if you're selling a product, and you know, maybe it takes three months for that product to get used, and maybe sending reminders to get reordered at like the right times and really leveling up your support and making that like a a plus experience and just having a good quality product. I mean, that's probably number one. Like if you get a sale, and that's a new customer. And you want to keep that customer for a while. Well, that first sale is kind of just a demo, because they're only going to reorder if they like the first product. So doesn't matter if you have great ads, or great, whatever, they're not gonna buy again, if they didn't like the first time.

Noah Rahimzadeh 48:46

Right? Yeah, absolutely. I feel like that. That sort of just comes full circle in terms of like, unfortunately, you just can't neglect super key aspects. And the only way to probably figure that out from a brand operator's perspective is to your point earlier, Thomas go through the experience, like how do I need to go through the experience Roz? If you're a brand new customer, and even you know, especially if you're like a subscription brand, like figure out what the experience is, like, if you were to buy again, or subscribe, and look for ways to optimize, would you would you agree with that?

Thomas Kimura 49:22

Completely, completely. And I think that's like, that's something where I mean, it's even worthwhile to like, look at other brands that are like, maybe if you're, if you're selling, if you have your own company or your own website, look at similar brands, similar websites and see what they're doing, and it's kind of a great place to look for like inspiration.

Noah Rahimzadeh 49:46

Yeah, absolutely. Okay, two more quick hitters, and we'll be at the top of the hour. We are recording in sort of late January here. So I'm curious if there are any Any trends that you're looking closely at or expecting to come to fruition in the Shopify ecosystem in 2023?

Thomas Kimura 50:13

I think there's going to be I mean, there's a lot of like things that are kind of happening simultaneously, I think, Okay, the first thing that's kind of probably everyone's talking about is just like aI was tools. In general there, I don't think they're going away at all. So it's just a matter of like, how that's going to evolve and apply to different businesses. How you can use that. And I think all that software is definitely going to get better and better in terms of, there's going to be like actual tools built for specific use cases. I'm sure like, there's going to be support tools and like, replying and smart AI chat bots, and there's going to be things for better product photography, and better kind of smart recommendations and things like that can look into your reporting and like, kind of find things for you. I don't know if that's all going to happen this year. But I think that's definitely something that's happening. It's happening, but I don't know. I don't know how long it will take.

Noah Rahimzadeh 51:32

Right? Yeah, I mean, I feel like we've been talking about AI since like, I was a kid, probably, but now feels like, you know, a lot of things are actually being like put into practice. Like, it's not just, it's no longer just talk and like, the leading brands are probably going to be incorporating some facet of AI into their, into their business. And

Thomas Kimura 51:58

yeah, and I don't think it's gonna be something where, like, it's not really going to change, at least in the short term, like how, like you would operate a Shopify business, it just gonna make things easier. Like, you'd be doing all the same things. But maybe, instead of doing this one section, this one process of your day, maybe you just have an AI assistant. And yeah, handle it or kind of flag when you need manual home for.

Noah Rahimzadeh 52:33

Yeah, I would say though, that that like that up level. And efficiency is a differentiator, because if you're the only brand in your space, doing it like you'll eventually start to pull away because you have more time to focus on your business rather than, you know.

Thomas Kimura 52:49

So yeah, exactly. Exactly. And I mean, it's kind of a, it's kind of empowering, too, because like, you can see now how maybe smaller brands are people just starting out of their, their home apartment, and they want to do all these things. And maybe in a few years, they'll have the same capacity to do what these big brands and these big players can do all on their own. So it's definitely exciting things to pay attention to. And I'm hoping that it gives more a level playing field to kind of new newcomers to online Shopify space.

Noah Rahimzadeh 53:31

Yeah, absolutely. Okay, that's a good one. Last question. And then we'll be we'll be wrapping up here. You've had an awesome career so far, sort of since the start on on the tumbler days to working with some of the, you know, Premier brands in the Shopify space. So we always like to ask, what's like one tip, or a piece of advice that sort of helped you throughout your career that you would share with others?

Thomas Kimura 54:02

One tip, okay, well, I had written something down for

Mariah Parsons 54:08

prep for, for that knowledge,

Noah Rahimzadeh 54:09

share, preparation and notes.

Thomas Kimura 54:15

So this is probably more of a life tip in general. But I found it really helpful for myself. I mean, I've kind of gone through burnout and like recent years, and I think probably a lot of other entrepreneurs go through similar things. But I think one thing that's like been really helpful for me in general is kind of focusing more on your effort rather than your outcomes. It's kind of counterproductive or intuitive, especially if you're trying to reach a specific outcome. But it becomes really mentally draining. If you put in so much effort. And the thing that you want to happen, the outcome doesn't happen. That can be kind of soul crushing. But if you reframe that, and to say, well, success, to me looks like putting in that effort, it's just trying, and I put in the effort, I learned something, what I wanted to happen didn't happen, but I, all I care about is the effort. So I will keep doing the effort part. Because that's enjoyable, that's fun. And it whatever happens happens, it's outside of my control.

Noah Rahimzadeh 55:48

And I love that one that's like, take you back to like, you know, fifth or sixth grade basketball, when you hear that for the first time of like a coach say, you know, as long as you do your best, then you can't control anything else. Yeah, I mean, truly like

Thomas Kimura 56:07

that it kind of applies to everything, like I know, I know, I've been in the mindset where like you're so focused on like, reaching a specific goal. And you could try very hard and put in a ton of effort and still come short. doesn't feel good. So it's a lot better for like, just overall productivity and overall, like, literally life, happiness to just be happy with your effort. And whatever happens happens, then. That's, that's kind of the way I do it in my head.

Noah Rahimzadeh 56:48

Yeah. Like, regardless of like, you know, whether you get to that outcome that you're searching for it or not, you are still learning and growing. Yeah. And all that effort. So like, you're still bettering yourself and and bettering whatever it is you're working on, even if you fall a little bit short. Yeah.

Thomas Kimura 57:07

Exactly. If you if you take on like the mindset of a student, where everything is just a learning experience, and I'm not out here to achieve that goal, I'm just out here to learn, then everything is part of that student experience. And we're just students in life learning things.

Noah Rahimzadeh 57:30

Yes. Trust the process. Right. Yeah. All right.

Mariah Parsons 57:35

I was just going to add, it's way more sustainable to feed your energy into those kinds of efforts than to be critical on yourself for objectives or outcomes that you did or didn't hit. Yeah, completely agree.

Thomas Kimura 57:50

Yeah. And I think sometimes it's can even become a bit like, I know, some people like freeze up when they think about outcomes and like, all the different ways that can happen and like, maybe they're like, contemplating, like, the bad things that can happen. Like, should I do this? Should I try this? Should I start a Shopify brand? Like, just try? Like, you gotta learn something. So

Mariah Parsons 58:17

what's as well, right, yeah, you're

Thomas Kimura 58:19

gonna learn something. That's, that's a good thing. So

Noah Rahimzadeh 58:24

yeah, that's, that's great advice, man. Well, thank you so much for joining us. We really appreciate it very unique perspective, sort of like nothing we've ever had on before. So really appreciate it and looking forward to hopefully working more closely together this year and 2023

Thomas Kimura 58:39

For sure, for sure. We'll definitely stay in touch