5 Million Plays on TikTok w/ American Estates
(1:18) What are you obsessed with this week?
(5:56) The American Estates origin story
(10:50) Roles in the company
(12:41) How Jesse and Niki met
(15:20) What did Jesse do to grow his Instagram following initially?
(19:41) American Estates’ use of Tik Tok
(24:27) Where the name came from
(29:18) Legacy Fund
(32:38) Advice for new business owners
(37:40) What’s next for American Estates?
(40:40) Rapid Fire
“We started trying to, you know, forget the number of people. It’s about the quality of engagement and quality of the following. So if it’s like, you know, if it’s a bunch of people that are never going to buy your product because you don’t have anything to sell to them, then you know, okay. Cool. You got some, you got some numbers. So we started intentionally focusing, at least in that phase, on growing a following that was, you know, mostly local and regional centric.” (17:09)
“Those values were important to me and I wanted to be able to build things for people that, you know, when they move on from this earth, their kids are going to fight over who gets to take it, instead of who has to take it to Goodwill, or the dumpster.” (27:25)
5 Million Plays on TikTok w/ American Estates
On this week’s show, Bryan and Loren were able to sit down with Jesse and Niki Weegens, owners, and operators of American Estates. American Estates is a social media savvy, custom woodworking, and furniture company based in Northwest Arkansas.
Jesse always dreamed of being a rockstar, and he was not far from it. He eventually hit a crossroads and decided it was time to turn back home. While remodeling houses with his father, Jesse realized he enjoyed the hard work, but he lacked a creative outlet. Jesse eventually had an epiphany. He had access to tools and innovative ideas, and he enjoyed working hard. Why not start designing and building custom furniture?
He later met Niki, and they fell in love. She helped out around the shop in an unofficial capacity through 2015, and in 2016, she officially joined the company. Now, Jesse is the predominant visionary and designer. Niki mostly heads up marketing, social media, and other business-focused areas, but make no mistake, those lines blur, and they work best when they come together.
The name “American Estates” originated from a conversation Jesse had with his good friend Jon Allen, co-owner of Onyx Coffee Lab, but its meaning is much more profound than its origin. To Jesse, the term “estate” is “what you build in your life, and what you leave behind to your children and to the next generation” (27:57). His passion is building furniture that will be generationally passed down as part of someone’s legacy and estate. Jesse saw people buying furniture from big box stores and putting it out on their curb a year later, and he decided he wanted to push against that. He wanted to create furniture that would last and that people would be proud of owning.
Jesse and Niki know that not everyone can afford the investment of a high-quality piece of furniture, but they have a desire to give back to their community. This desire led them to create their Legacy Fund, where they hope to self-fund donations to members of their community. They have been raising funds over the last few months, and they hope to make their first donation in time for the holiday season. For more information on the Legacy Fund, or to nominate a recipient, click here.
While American Estates has seen success with their woodwork, they have also been successful across multiple social media platforms. Jesse used Instagram as a large portion of his marketing when he was getting started, and he attributes a lot of his success there to interacting with others. It is essential to have a following that wants to engage with your account, not just see posts. He also focused on growing a following of potential customers. A large number of followers is cool, but it is only numbers if they are not in your potential client region.
More recently, American Estates has grown a large following through TikTok. Niki saw the new platform as an opportunity to create for social media without any pressure of maintaining a well-curated account. She got creative with videos, found a niche woodworking following, and kept creating. Now, they have videos with millions of views. This serves as a perfect example of why you should push the boundaries of creativity and dip your toes into platforms you have not yet tried.
For more information on American Estates, click here.