Article written by founding direction of JOLI Natural Skin Care for Build a Little Biz - SHINE
INTRODUCE YOUR BIZ
My focus is on skin care made the traditional way, the way nature intended it. Making skin care upon request so it is fresh and ready to use as apposed to skin care that is mass produced and sitting around on store shelves for long periods of time. I am incredibly passionate about making skin care free of the harmful chemical cocktails found in most skin care. Creating beauty products that are good for people as well as the environment.
My inspiration and the idea for a new skin care line came from my babies. All of my children (from newborn to toddlers) were unable to use the skin care given in the hospital goodie bags without getting rashes on their skin and severe nappy rash. I looked around for products that were gentler and tried so many different brands only to find none of them worked and they still contained iffy ingredients. For a very long time they bathed in plain water because it was the only thing I could put on their skin.
Initially a friend and I began playing around with skin care recipes to see which ones we liked and which ones gave excellent results. At the start we were just playing around, experimenting if you will. Though after some time I realised we were onto something because I now had products I could use on my children’s skin with impressive results. It is a long story of how the business grew from there. In short I wanted to make the products available to everyone, certain that there must be other mothers in the same plight as me. Other people with sensitive skin needing skin care they could use without issue. With this in mind I invested serious time, effort, training, research and money into launching a new range of skin care that is unique in its absence of known skin irritants.
Soon after the product / website launch (albeit a humble and quiet event) I was approached by someone talking about the Skin Deep Database and The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, sites promoting businesses who supply safe skin care, asking if JOLI would like to be part of this campaign. Naturally I said yes and proceeded to work with the database which highlights companies manufacturing low hazard rating skin care. It is wonderful to be part of such an important campaign.
Not long after being accepted by The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics I was approached by someone representing PETA [People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals] wanting us to be a part of that also. Animal rights and animal testing had not been our focus, however since we don’t test on animals I applied and was approved by PETA as a company who does not test on animals and who does not use animal ingredients where supply of the ingredient harms an animal.
Similarly we were also approved by an other animal welfare advocate group Choose Cruelty Free, the Australian version of PETA whose accreditation application is considerably more stringent, and are please to be accredited by them also, as well as being part of their publication Cruelty Free List.
You don’t know what you don’t know.
Boy did I find this out the hard way. Due to my previous employment positions, training and eduction I was naive to the fact that I actually knew so little about what I was getting myself into. I thought it was child’s play and that I knew all I needed to know about running a small business. That I would just put my feet on the ground and start off running.
I soon found out this was not the case and when I needed someone to turn to all I had were people with no experience running a business. People who would give me all sorts of advice about changing the colour of the logo and the website colour scheme to the company name not being satisfactory enough. Foolishly I followed a number of their suggestions much to the detriment of the direction I wanted to take.
Seeking more knowledge I turned to other small business women and books. Reading as much as I could about running a small business. I have learned much about what works and what doesn’t. Mistake were made and while I wish they hadn’t been, having made the mistakes is what created learning, understanding and knowledge. From knowledge comes growth.
- Diary of a Small Business Owner – written by Anita F. Brattina
- Lessons of a Lipstick Queen – written by Poppy King
EDUCATE BY EXAMPLE
When my friend and I first started making products we made our own labels using Avery, choosing our own fonts, colour, background and so forth. The labels were neither water nor smudge resistance. There was no logo or something with which you could identify the product or brand. We were only making for ourselves, family and friends, and to sell at markets, so we didn't think it mattered much. Once I started to sell to the public I kept going with the same tacky labels for a while. Making changes to the colouring, wording and font here and there trying to establish some type of recognisable ‘brand’. I cringe now when I think of this yet it’s the truth.
After some advice from a friend I approached a number of printing companies however very few wanted to deal with my small print runs. One printing company was nice enough to take me on and new waterproof, smudge resistant labels were created with a logo I designed myself. Nice enough and fairly eye catching while still not saying what I needed it to say at a glance. Quality skin care. I had invested all this time and money into packaging, ingredients and all manner of other necessary items without sparing any real thought to labels.
|the changing faces of JOLI|
By chance another business woman and I struck up a friendship and she spoke to me about branding. Turns out she knows someone in the business of branding, put me in contact with them and thus the BRAND was finally formed. I now had a unique yet recognisable logo to show people who the company is at a glance.
If I had my time again and knew then what I know now I would have invested in branding right from the start. It would have been the very first thing I did and yet I didn’t know anyone who did branding when I first set out nor did I know anything about branding in order to seek it out in the first place. It was really an amazing coincidence that it came to me the way it did and the time it did.
What I learned about branding while working with Additiv Design and Print [now Ideapro] was how important BRAND is. From the style to the colour scheme. The message I wanted to send was ‘I am as professional as my competitors and my products are excellent quality’. Colour scheme was equally important as it has to appeal to my specific clientele. Pink would not work for example as it doesn’t say natural nor does it appeal to both men and women. We chose chocolate and sunset for the colours and stayed with my previous butterfly theme, for 1. so previous customers would still have something to recognise the product/brand by. 2. butterflies symbolise renewal which is was great skin care is all about. 3. who doesn't love chocolate and sunsets :)
One of the things that I felt was important was giving back to my customers since they are the one’s supporting the business and helping me grow. To achieve this I implemented a Customer Loyalty Rewards scheme where customers receive discounts on subsequent orders when they open online accounts. In doing this customers are rewarded for their purchases and I’m sure they are a little bit please when they receive their discounts.
Also customers are able to put in requests and tell me about their skin care requirements and I am able to work with them to come up with a product blend or scent that is just right for them.
I also like to include product samples and / or a free gift with outgoing orders. This way customers get to try a product and see if it’s suitable for their needs. If so they can purchase the product on their next order already knowing it will perform well. I know there is bound to be a product suitable for a particular skin type or condition they have and they’re unaware of the benefits until they try the product.
Setting up an online shop
To begin with I sold online on a group selling site. Set up a store and listed my products selling to the public. This was enjoyable to begin with then numerous changes came into play and selling there became too competitive, expensive and un-worthwhile. Sales slowed while fees increased.
Looking into alternatives there were web hosts whose fees were quite reasonable. I could purchase a domain name from them, have monthly hosting and also use their web templates if I wanted. Doing the math I found that if I set up a domain name, set up web hosting and created a website I would be better off costs wise than selling on the group site. So this is what I did.
To set up a website I purchase a web creation program that thankfully came with a ‘How To’ book because I was starting from scratch knowing absolutely zero about setting up a website. It took me three long stressful months of working all day and staying up late to put it all together. I’m sure I went insane at some point because it was so complicated and hard work. The end result was worth it – for the most part what I learned from the experience was priceless.
Would I do it all again. Mostly likely I would because I have the kind of mind that loves a stimulating challenge. Yet setting up of the website took up all of my time and energy and the family came second to the work I was doing. It would have been easier to let someone else set up a website for me, someone who knew what they were doing and could have done it sooner. Nonetheless it was one of the most challenging and rewarding things I’ve done to date and I’m so glad I went down the path of launching my own independent website.
Work Life Balance
After the website was complete hubby and I came to an agreement that my work hours would be set (10am - 6pm, Monday to Friday) and I would be off the computer at 6 spending time with the children before they went to bed, with weekends free for family time and tending to the house. Having agreed to this I find it quite easy to adhere to this routine. Each day is pretty much set by a routine that includes breaks and lunch time just as it would any other office based job. By 6pm I am quite exhausted after a hard day at the office so it’s easy to want to leave the office and enjoy time with the family. On occasion I’ll do some overtime. Not often though. I try to ensure I treat my business and my hours much the same as I would normal office hours.
Once clocked off my family have my undivided attention for the most part – I’m often still thinking about work. Having regular set hours has helped organise my day and my time. I tend to look forward to starting my day because I have left over tasks to do; something that wasn’t happening when I stayed up all night trying to get everything done.
This is a something my eldest son told me when I was having a bad ‘why am I bothering? I should just quit’ day.
“If you quit because you think you’re failing then you will have failed.”
When I have those quiet moments where sales slow down, I feel un-loved and un-appreciated, I hold on to what my son said. That quote keeps me going, pushing on, moving forward.
Another quote I have posted to my office wall is:
Another quote I have posted to my office wall is: