How We Started an Affordable and Reliable Cleaning Service Business

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Leslie Tam and Derek Chiu are Co-Founders and Directors of UrbanMop, a new affordable and reliable cleaning service business in Ottawa. By combining Leslie’s engineering background and Derek’s business management background, these new graduates started Ottawa’s most affordable and reliable cleaning service. They started their business in the midst of 2020 and have employed 15 employees and contractors for their business. They are looking to continue to expand to the rest of Canada as they continue growing and aim to be a top-tier multi-location mobile cleaning service.

Was it a lightbulb moment or gradual process of Urban?

Before starting our business, founders Leslie Tam and Derek Chiu initially considered building an application that aggregated local service needs like cleaning, moving, lawn mowing, snow removal, etc., but we landed on a more narrow simple scope – cleaning. This was when UrbanMop was born.

How did you get your first three customers?

Getting our first few customers was quite an exciting and time-consuming process. We tried to leverage social media as much as possible with our limited marketing budget. We joined and advertised on local Facebook groups like community groups, mom groups, and small business groups. After posting to 20+ groups and several individuals, we landed our first few clients!

How did you validate the idea?

We validated our business idea by solving a problem with an end result that people could enjoy. It also worked out with the timing of COVID as many individuals were very cautious about cleaning and, in turn, were seeking cleaning companies. On top of this, we did not have much experience in this field. However, we knew we would learn as we went along and that there would be lots of trial and error. Therefore, we did a lot of product testing to ensure that everything was effective, allowing us to continue developing a better project line over time.

Have you raised any money? How much?

In terms of funding, we didn’t raise any money, but we did have to put in an initial investment of about $2000 for software subscriptions and equipment…and a lot of time!

Who is your target demographic?

Our target customers are people who require one-time and recurring residential services in the Ottawa and Gatineau regions. The main target demographic is anyone who values their time and productivity. It is commonly known that when people have cluttered or dirty spaces, it significantly impacts their productivity. We also want customers to hit our web page and understand our service enough to book via our online booking form naturally.

Where did you meet your cofounder/founding team?

We met through a mutual friend back when we were in high school. We both really enjoyed sports and usually met up to go for runs/chats.

Leslie Tam & Derek Chiu - UrbanMop founders

We both graduated from universities in Ottawa and jumped immediately into our corporate career. A few years into our corporate career, we both vocalized our entrepreneurial aspirations, and the rest was history!

How did you fund the idea initially?

We were thankful that we both had full-time jobs at the time of starting UrbanMop – using our existing income, we put in an initial investment of about $2,000 for software subscriptions and equipment to bootstrap our business.

Any tips for finding first employees?

Finding great people is extremely hard. However, we definitely were fortunate and found two superstars right out of the gates via social media and online job sites. We did have to conduct numerous interviews with numerous candidates right out of our houses, though!

What motivated you to start your own business?

UrbanMop is a cleaning service that serves all areas of Ottawa. We want to take out the stress of cleaning so that you can have more time to do the things you love. We strive to deliver high-quality service at an affordable and transparent price.

UrbanMop online booking

People will have the choice to book the old fashion way over the phone or simply decide to fill out a 4-5 mins form to get a booking and receive a price.

What were your family and friends first thoughts on your company?

We initially planned this months ahead of going public, and we both were quite nervous about telling our friends and families. However, both of us are super grateful and lucky to have amazing families that supported our ideas and aspirations.

What motivates you when things go wrong? What is the end goal?

Our most significant motivating factors when things go wrong are perseverance and looking at the end goal. We have established a clear plan to expand our services in Toronto and Vancouver and make our business a renowned name. We ensure that we celebrate the small victories between the team as well as between ourselves. It also allows us to reduce the noise of negative experiences and focus on the positives that will enable us to propel our business forward.

Do you have any advice for someone just starting out?

Our advice for someone just starting out is the classic saying, “Just do it.” Of course, for this to come to fruition, there is some planning required. Sometimes the best way to start is to dive in and go right into the deep end.

What has driven the most sales?

As for sales, what has worked for us is the word of mouth and referrals. We have realized that these methods are what is driving our sales – that is why we genuinely believe in A+ service. On top of referrals, we primarily leverage Google for marketing.

What is stopping you being 3x the size you are now?

Right now, what is stopping us from being 3x the size we are now is that we need to optimize our internal processes and policies before expanding. Having a solid foundation and infrastructure will allow us to scale more effectively. On top of everything, we want to create a great team culture and bring on like-minded people.

How do you protect yourself from competition?

We are extremely confident with the level of service that we provide in terms of customer service and consistent cleaning quality. We truly value and care for our work which shines through to our customers and our services. When clients are not satisfied with our work, we constantly re-strategize ways to make the client happy.

UrbanMop cleaning services

If clients are paying for a service, they want to make their experience worthwhile, which has allowed us to focus on the reliability factor of our business. We want to mitigate any risks and accommodate any client’s needs to ensure that we are constantly adapting to make the best version of our business for the years to come.

What are the top 3-5 apps your business could not run without? Why are they essential?

When it comes to our company’s apps and tools, we use Gmail, CRM software Launch 27 and WhatsApp. As for Gmail, this popular email platform allows us to communicate with our clients and team members. Our CRM software Launch 27 platform manages all of our customer information, managing bookings, team scheduling, plugins for our online booking. In addition to Gmail, we also utilize WhatsApp. This Instant message system allows us to communicate quickly with our team members and customer accounts.

What are your favourite books?

A few of our favourite books that are business-focused are:

  1. Rich Dad, Poor Dad By Robert Kiyosaki and Sharon Lechter
  2. Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

What are your favourite podcasts?

The business podcast that shaped our way of thinking is:

  1. How I Built This by Guy Raz

A few of our favourite Youtube channels are people sharing their experiences and teaching their viewers for free; they are:

  1. Ben Francis, the Founder of GymShark
  2. Alex Hormozi
  3. Maxx Chewning

Where do you see the company in 5 years?

In five years, we want to scale our services locally and abroad. We want to ensure that we are taking it as slow as possible but making sure it is done correctly to maintain the highest quality. We also want to ensure that our policies and processes are refined and established.

What is current revenue? If you don’t mind sharing

As for our current revenue, we have grown 300 percent since December 2020. A considerable growth, but we are still trying to maintain and prioritize quality in our processes and services.

Would you ever sell?

We are always open to opportunities. However, there are no immediate goals of selling the company since we have a personal connection to our business. If one day it makes sense to do so, perhaps we would explore that opportunity. Right now, there is so much value in what we do. We are incredibly excited about our business, providing cleaning services to our Ottawa and Gatineau customers and eventually expanding beyond!

Company Name: UrbanMop
Founders: Leslie Tam, Derek Chiu

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How I Built An Approachable, Accessible and Nurturing Therapy Clinic

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Alex Williams is a health and wellness innovator and Founder and CEO of Holistic Hyperbarics, a Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Clinic in Oakland California. Not only is she a true health and wellness innovator, but she is also the first and only Black woman to own an HBOT clinic.

Was it a lightbulb moment or gradual process of Holistic Hyperbarics?

It was not a lightbulb moment but rather a gradual process of peeling back the onion that is the need for accessible holistic healing modalities. Put simply, I thought that the same technology that assisted me in my own healing would help other people.

How did you get your first three customers?

At the beginning, people were coming to my house to use my personal hyperbaric oxygen chamber but I didn’t even recognize them as patients. I didn’t charge them, I was just excited to have them in my apartment and see more people getting healing results like I had after being deflated by nominal results over and over again through traditional methods.

How did you validate the idea?

Major validation came from complete strangers coming to my door without knowing me at all. They had a massive trust in me to help them.

Have you raised any money? How much?

To start the business, we started with $40k, our first  investment round was $220k at a valuation of $660k, we are now raising $9M in a S.A.F.E at a future valuation cap of $40M.

Who is your target demographic?

I don’t believe it’s possible to identify a target market. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy delivers oxygen to the body in large amounts. Everything we need in our body, every action or reaction we have in our body, requires oxygen as cellular cash. With that in mind, we have no target market as this treatment helps with all ailments and fulfills all needs for healing. In that sense, I guess our target market is humans!

Holistic Hyperbarics clinic

This treatment is good for whatever you need it for because we need oxygen for everything that we do. Claiming we have a target market would be limiting to the rest of the population. Sure, we do see a lot of patients come in to heal concussions, traumatic brain injuries, migraines, Lyme disease, and fertility challenges, but we do not limit ourselves to a target market because it’s impossible: we all need oxygen for everything that we do. We see a wide range, we cast a wide net, and we love it that way.

What is the funniest/most strange customer request you’ve had?

An opera singer came to see us after a vocal injury. Part of therapy was that she needed to use her vocal chords and continue to exercise them in order to bring them back to her performance-ready condition. She asked us if it was possible for her to sing inside of the chamber and if it would disturb the rest of the clients of the clinic. We said, absolutely not!

We weren’t sure what to expect in terms of her volume – the chambers are these thick, sealed metal apparatuses – so we were incredibly surprised that even with the thickness of the chamber, the pressure, and the oxygen mask that she had on, she sang through it all. It was beautiful.

She made a full recovery.

How did you fund the idea initially?

Two women and I initially funded the idea together. The three of us knew very early on that people coming to my house and using this hyperbaric chamber was a sign that we had something. Together we gathered the $40,000 to get everything started, to get the equipment, the lease, and everything else we needed to get ourselves into a good position. That funding initially came directly from our personal bank accounts.

Where did you meet your founding team?

Much like many other founders of companies that started in such a raw form, I was already friends with the women that became my fellow founders. I had met them a long time ago; both of them had been friends of mine and had gone through other ventures with me.

Holistic Hyperbarics team

They were always supporting me as I was trying to become a law enforcement officer and working as an EMT, however they were absolutely thrilled to see me in an entrepreneurial role. They offered so much excitement and support, and ultimately they helped me fund it.

Any tips for finding first employees?

My first employees were my friends. They were friends of mine that were working on the ambulance with me. I knew that hiring people that had the same medical experience as myself would be an asset as they were going to experience a lot of different people with different conditions.

Holistic hyperbarics

I wanted to know that the people that had the same training as I would be able to see the patients in the same way that I saw them.

Did you run any companies prior?

I was born into an entrepreneurial family. My grandparents were entrepreneurs. They came to California in the Great Black Migration and worked in the public sector. They saved their money and started businesses very quickly. They started with one barber shop and that eventually grew to five barber shops. They sold that whole chain and opened up a liquor store. When I was about four years old, they started taking me to the liquor store to come and work with them. I worked with them in that liquor store for years; everything I know about business came from those formative days of understanding that even in the short moments that people were in the liquor store, it was essential we took care of them. We learned their names and their stories. It was all in the details and hard work: even though I’d sweep the floors at night, I’d always sweep the floors in the morning when we opened as well for quality assurance and confidence in our brand.

Those were very influential times. Ask anyone in my junior high school and they’ll tell you: when our school outlawed candy bars, I sold candy bars out of a cooler that I took from classroom to classroom. It’s always been in me to start businesses.

I worked in home health care independently, helping people recover from surgery and assisting with myofascial release. It’s a huge shift doing things independently to running a business now with so many employees.

What motivated you to start your own business?

Running a business was in me. It was in my blood. What motivated me to start this particular business  was that I saw firsthand a lack of care and general holistic exploration in hyperbaric medicine that I was interested in exploring. That was a main driver for starting this business; I wanted to do more than what was out there.

What were your family and friends first thoughts on your company?

My friends and family didn’t know what hyperbaric oxygen therapy was. The first thing I had to do was repeatedly explain what hyperbaric medicine was. Even then, they just thought it was space-age science, God bless them. They’d tell me, “We’re going to support you no matter what,” which really meant “We don’t know what you’re doing, but we support what you’re doing.” That was the theme among my friends and family – they accepted that I was doing this weird thing, but always met my endeavors with a jovial thumbs up.

What motivates you when things go wrong? What is the end goal?

Things will go wrong. Things will always go wrong – that’s where the learning comes in. If we didn’t have to learn when we were building something, it would build itself very quickly. We would never have real “entrepreneurs.” The grit of a true entrepreneur is their ability to learn from mistakes. That was something that was taught to me very early: things go wrong. It is the best motivator for me. I’m interested in what is going wrong, and what can we perfect.

Holistic hyperbarics founder

I like to sit down and analyze what exactly happened. How do we shift it? How do we fix it? How do we make it better? You have to ask yourself and your team the right questions so it doesn’t happen again. How do we move around it? How do we shift and adjust to it? That’s always been really inspiring for me.

Do you have any advice for someone just starting out?

The advice that I always give people when they first start out is that everything is a lot more expensive than you think. If you’re in this to get accolades, if you’re in this for fanfare or the “Atta boy!” or the “Yeah, you did this right!” then you’re in the wrong kind of environment.

Entrepreneurs, or at least the good ones, get a lot of naysayers. Sometimes those naysayers will be the closest one to you. They could be your husband or wife or your family that tells you that you should be doing something else. Sometimes it’s the professional environment that you wish to impress that you end up not impressing.

Just remember that you are the little engine that could. You are a person that understands this thing that you want to do, and you can not look outward for praise and awards. You must solidify yourself inwards. If you can do that, you will have the strength to do anything you want to do.

What has driven the most sales?

You would think that the biggest driver of sales would be social media or SEO, but the driver behind how we’ve grown hand over fist over the last four years is from the patients themselves. They tell their stories, they tell other people their stories and are clear about their experiences in hyperbaric medicine.

We have grown a network of people that talk about their experiences and get their friends to come in. That has been the biggest organic power behind our growth. For the first two years, we didn’t even pay for advertising at all because we’re doing so well with people recommending their friends and family to fill our appointment schedules.

Never turn your back on the power of testimonial, experience, and word-of-mouth marketing. It’s the truest and most natural form of marketing.

What is stopping you being 3x the size you are now?

If we’re going to be real about it, it’s access to capital. I am an African-American woman in an environment that is predominantly, white and male.  You simply do not see the same amount of funding for minorities across the board and in many sectors, but especially in my sector. What we are constantly fighting for is equity. I believe with the correct funding, my business model can be easily spread across the country.

That’s why we’re in an investment round right now. We’re incredibly excited because with this investment round, we’ll be able to expand organically and not have to rely on funds that are so scarce for minorities. But yes, our biggest obstacle is funding, as funding has always been elusive for people that look like me.

How do you protect yourself from competition?

I don’t protect myself from the competition. What we do in our center is very unique. We are the highest rated and most rated hyperbaric center in the country. I don’t see my competition as competition. In fact, every business in this industry would all do better if we could collaborate on what we’re doing.

Holistic Hyperbarics facility

But we do things a lot differently than other facilities, and it’s not hard to see what our differences are. In fact, it’s been really fun to watch our competition emulate us and ask for our help, which we are happy to provide. In this sense, I wouldn’t say that I protect myself from the competition at all. I embrace competition. I think it’s healthy for the market.

Do you have any trademarks/IP/patents?

As much as I embody a kumbaya spirit around competition, I also understand that opportunists in the world don’t care about your mission of collaboration and friendship; people care about money, prominence, and being first. I learned very early on that you must protect the creations that you have. So yes, we do have trademarks. We do have IP and we do have patents on a lot of things that we do. We have spent a lot of our capital protecting our intellectual property, and I am proud of what we have done.

What are the next products you’re working on?

I have always had my eyes set on the stars and I love pushing the boundaries of what we can do. I am currently working on a few products that will do just that – we aim to push the boundaries of what hyperbaric medicine can do.

We’re working on a new hyperbaric chamber that we just put into production, a chamber that has never been seen on the market before. It incorporates all the things we come to expect from hyperbaric medicine, with a lot of extras to help us push this therapy into the next century.

Are there any releases you can tell us about?

We’re in an investment round! Part of that investment round is that we are taking our company to the next level. We have identified that we need to control our largest vendors and vertically integrate. Our first vendor is oxygen,  so we are starting an oxygen production company to supply not only our hyperbaric company, but companies around our area and beyond to wherever we expand. As I mentioned earlier, one of the biggest products that we’ll be releasing is our very own designed hyperbaric chamber. It will be produced in Spain, and once it gets FDA clearance here in the states, we will be selling it all over the country and using it exclusively in our facility.

Where do you see the company in 5 years?

Assuming this investment round goes the way that we think it will go, we will be probably be getting ready for, if not already finished with, a series B raise. We have a model that we can stamp out across the country in different markets and we are excited to get them into as many markets as possible. In five years, I see us in three to five markets. It’s wildly exciting to even say that aloud, but we really do see ourselves growing exponentially.

Would you ever sell?

This is a deeply private question; this business is like my baby. I have held it, nurtured it, and shepherded it to where it is now, watching it grow exponentially every day. I think it’d be really hard to sell, but I know that I would be ready to sell when my work is done.

The work I have ahead of me is to make hyperbaric oxygen therapy accessible, innovative and something that any American can reasonably get to from anywhere in the country. This medicine deserves to be everywhere. Once I’ve reached a certain saturation point, I think I would be interested in selling, but that said, there is always so much more that we can build upon once we have reached saturation. It’s hard to say, but I would be open to it for the right buyer and for the right reasons.

Company Name: Holistic Hyperbarics
Founder: Alex Williams

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Designing Versatile Couture And Ready to Wear Women’s Clothing

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Bodylicious Couture is an American High Fashion Brand with versatile ready-to-wear pieces, designed effortlessly and that embodies bold, edgy, femininity founded and designed Jennifer Love itself. Jennifer set out to create classic garments that instills confidence in women not afraid to show off their curves. Each garment is made by hand with high quality fabric and limitless possibilities.

Was it a lightbulb moment or gradual process of Bodylicious Couture?

Fresh out of college I got an office job, which I was excited because I got to dress up. I would always hear rumbles in the office from women, who talked about how they hated going home to change their clothes, to either because they had a date or drinks after work. Living in Atlanta, GA there was a lot of traffic and majority of the time when you got home you didn’t want to leave, traffic was horrible. So it was actually a lightbulb moment. I wanted to solve that problem, so Bodylicious Couture was born.

Bodylicious Couture

I designed my first piece the Passport Stamp top that was reversible. I got so many compliment on my design. The women I worked with were shocked, to be able to come to work and change their look in seconds, made them feel that they had a sense of freedom. Every one I worked with wanted to know where I bought it and how they could get their hand on it.

How did you get your first three customers?

I was happy to see that this was something that was needed. So I got samples made of 9 pieces collection called Passport to Freedom, because I felt that the versatility of each piece gave women the freedom to go through out their day without having to worry about going home to change. I did a pop up shop. That is where my fist three sales came from. I believe there we made $10,000.

How did you validate the idea?

I had a lunch party with a fashion show, showcasing Bodylicious Couture first collection. Which helped validate when a magazine article about the first collection Passport to Freedom came out calling it an innovated line with standout looks.

Did you have any experience/expertise in the area?

I was taught by my Mother, Lois, who was an interior designer. Learning from her helped me through trial and error. It help me built my confidence in my skills.

Have you raised any money? How much?

I have not tried to raise money, but I used my savings of $25,000 to start. Which makes me the sole owner of the company. Working my 9-5 until Bodylicious Couture started to profiting.

Who is your target demographic?

Our target is women 20-50 who love high fashion, want make statement with their wardrobe, and loves the ability to change their looks in seconds. That why I feel that there will be so much room for growth and major success.

What is the funniest/most strange customer request you ever had?

I have not had a funny or strange request but we are still a young company. I look forward to them with a smile and can’t wait to get them.

How did you fund the idea initially?

I funded it on my own. I put all my funds back into my business to keep the business growing.

Any tips for finding first employees?

Follow your gut for one. Someone who wants to work for you will see the business as if it was part of their dream. They will have the passion to see the business grow. They are people that you can trust and they understand your vision.

What motivated you to start your own business?  

I felt that I had a gift and I wanted to share it with the world. Being able to be creative is what motivated me to start my clothing brand. Bodylicious Couture.

Bodylicious Fashion

Honestly, I want to design clothes that were fun and made women feel confident in their skin.

What were your family and friends first thoughts on your company?

One thing people that know me, know that when I put my mind to something I don’t stop until I get it accomplished. My family and friends were very supportive and proud of me.

What motivates you when things go wrong? What is the end goal?

When things go wrong I take it as a learned experiences. Knowing that my reputation motivates me. I use that as a push to know that I can do better and it is only up from here. My end goal is to make Bodylicious Couture a household name, that will stand the test of time.

Do you have any advice for someone just starting out?

Jump and do it. Let your failures and fear be your drive to do it. Know that at the end you will win. Because as long as you don’t give up there is a light of greatness at the end. Think of the history you are making in this world and leave your story to motivate the next person to just Jump and do it.

What has driven the most sales?

I would say Instagram for sure. The algorithm get me a lot of impressions, emails, but mostly it is old school word of mouth.

What is stopping you being 3x the size you are now?

Driving more online sales and cashflow to build a larger team. I am currently adding what is needed to grow wide and deep to be the major brand that we are.

How do you protect yourself from competition?

I do not see any other high fashion clothing brand as competition. None of them aesthetic is like mine.

Bodylicious Model

Our focus is on versatility, giving women different looks with less pieces.

Do you have any trademarks/IP/patents?

Yes, My name and logo are trademarked.

What are the top 3-5 apps your business could not run without?

Monday, Mail chimp, Word Swag, and Canva. They keep me organized and professional.

What are your favorite books?

The Donna Karen Bio, she is one of my favorite designers and I hope to one day collaborate with her.

What are your favorite podcasts?

The Nikki Rich Show & The Business of Fashion Podcast. I plan to start my own soon.

What are the next products you’re working on?

I am working on Vol 2 of Rebel Capsule Collection, which will be an addition to the the Rebel Capsule Collection, which debuted at New York Fashion Week SS2020/2021. They are two dresses that will have the versatility for any special occasion.

Are there any releases you can tell us about?

Our new Collection the Rebel Capsule is a 4 piece collection that consist of the

Rebel Tailored Trousers, J Love 3-in-1 dress, The Mystic set, and the Estella Rose Blazer/Cape

Rebel Tailored Trousers, J Love 3-in-1 dress, The Mystic set, and the Estella Rose Blazer/Cape. We are taking pre-orders now at www.bodyliciouscouture.com.

Where do you see the company in 5 years?

I would love to grow my business to start my own fashion house. Taking Bodylicious Couture to having a flag ship of stores all over the world and available in major high fashion department stores. Also, be able to start a scholarship for future fashion students to take the fashion industry to the new level.

I also see Bodylicious Couture standing in high regard as many amazing high fashion brands that came before. With millions of women feeling good in their skin as they make a statement in Bodylicious Couture.

Company Name: Bodylicious Couture
Founder: Jennifer Love

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How I Created Fashionable, Sustainable Period Underwear

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Pure Rosy is a body positive, sustainable period underwear brand. It’s a fashionable underwear you’ll want to wear every day of the month. Their hyper absorbent fabric is perfect no matter what day you’re on and is made from all reused materials for a hygiene friendly wear. Owned and run by Linda Miller, Pure Rosy aims to reduce the carbon footprint of each wearer in effort to take care of planet earth.

Was it a lightbulb moment or gradual process of Pure Rosy

There was definitely a lightbulb moment for me. Rewind a few years back—a mom of teenage triplets, I juggled my twin daughters and introduced to them a bag that included tampons, pantyliners, and pads so they would be ready for their first period. I remember I thought to myself “This is Crazy!”. I had given my daughters a small pharmacy worth of disposable items which had little regard for comfort, single-use products polluting landfills, and a fashion score of zero.

Pure Rosy Founder

I had been inspired by the entrepreneurial women guiding a new age of innovation. I still felt that they hadn’t succeeded in creating a winning formula and there wasn’t a sustainable product that was comfortable, stylish and easy to use which allowed me to feel good about my daughters having to wear this everyday. So, I turned to my love of fashion and industry know-how, and got to work.

How did you get your first three customers

Our first 3 customers came from our initial photo shoot of the product. The models could not believe that something so beautiful could have the added benefit of period protection. They kept asking us “but how does it work, they are so thin.” After our photo shoot we gave all the models and the entire creative team one of our products to try. Shortly after our website launched we saw orders come in from the photographer, the stylist, and from the models. This was a wonderful affirmation that the product was not only something they liked but something they had tested out and felt compelled to actually purchase.

How did you validate the idea?

Although we were not the first  to introduce this concept to the market, we did recognize at the time that something was still missing by way of fashion technology  that was sustainable and had a luxury look and feel. This presented a real opportunity to create something different. There had not yet been a  product that really supported women’s needs with a top drawer feel that GenZer’s and young millennial consumers would want to buy and wear everyday. At the time, we had tested some of the products in the market with a small team of Gen Z’ers and asked them what they thought.

Pure Rosy GenZ

Their responses validated  our idea to create a fashion product  rather than a sanitary product meant only for the days you were on your period. So with that in mind we created the “pro-planet underwear  with benefits”.

Did you have any experience/expertise in the area?

With my love of fashion and with a strong background in the fashion industry— which included working closely on product development for clients, concepts with designers, meetings with textile and color trend agencies, and hand-in-hand with manufacturing partners overseas helped me to have the knowledge and business understanding of how to build a fashion product from the ground up. Had it not been for this decade plus of experience, the learning curve would have been a big obstacle to overcome.

Have you raised any money? How much?

Yes. We self-funded the initial research, design, testing and development of the fabric technology. Then we raised $200k from an investor with a shared vision of the addressable market and the Pure Rosy opportunity in the femcare fashion category. This has allowed us to establish our key operational capabilities such as manufacturing and e-commerce fulfillment center relationships as well as branding and marketing programs, etc. We are planning a larger capital raise in 1Q2022 to scale the business.

Who is your target demographic?

Pure Rosy believes that our strongest supporters and demographic come from the consumers who are looking for fashion options for supporting their lifestyles. They do not want to wear products that look like sanity apparel and they also love fashion.

Pure Rosy underwears

They care about their bodies and the environment. By making some changes in their buying purchases and eliminating single-use disposable menstrual products during each of their lifetime, they can potentially avoid an average of 12K single-use products from ending up in the landfills. That’s a pretty powerful motivator.

What is the funniest/most strange customer request you’ve had?

We recently had a customer ask us if they could wear our underwear to the beach. Although the concept of menstrual swimwear products is a real category, we found it so validating that a consumer liked the look and styling of our underwear so much that they wanted to wear it out.

Where did you meet your co-founder/founding team?

Pure Rosy was a collaboration of two industry professionals discussing the need for fashion apparel in the fast growing menstrual hygiene space. That led to a collaboration on design in its early development stage that initiated the original concepts for the launch.

Any tips for finding first employees?

This is such a great question and one I have learned a lot from during the process of building my business. Find employees with passion, with excitement about your product, with a strong work ethic and who can meet target deadlines. Go with your gut, it’s rarely wrong and when you find that person that just feels like they want to be a part of your company even if their resume does not check off all the boxes, their excitement to work with you will result in a great hire.

What motivated you to start your own business?

I think I have always been an entrepreneur at heart. From an early age I would think of ideas and how to develop them. I remember  some 20+ years ago dreaming up the concept of tiny disposable toothbrushes for travel before any of them were introduced to the market. It was natural for me to want to build something from the ground up and fashion was such a big  part of the fiber of my being from a young age. Pure Rosy embodies all that for me.

What were your family and friends first thoughts on your company?

I love this question! Men just didn’t get it other than my husband who recognized right away the market potential for a product like this. My girlfriends on the other hand, were both excited and intrigued by the idea of a period product that could be both functional and fashionable and less disruptive to their day to day lives.

What motivates you when things go wrong? What is the end goal?

What motivates me to  get up and continue to give 100% to building my business is knowing  that there is a real benefit to women globally to have good menstrual hygiene solutions that they feel good about and that are kinder to their body and to our planet. Additionally, young girls globally miss out on education and becoming financially independent because they do not have the basic products to help keep them in school.

Pure Rosy period underwear

Pure Rosy is changing that and millions of women will benefit from products that support their bodies and their hygiene needs and this is a pretty powerful reason to keep doing what I do everyday.

Do you have any advice for someone just starting out?

Make sure you have the determination and resilience for the long haul. There will be moments, days, even weeks that you feel like you want to just give up but keep focusing on the reasons why you started this journey and keep reminding yourself that those reasons are still worth fighting for.

What has driven the most sales?

Email marketing for us has been an important platform for communicating directly with our community of young fashion enthusiasts that are also eco-conscience, body positive, and an inclusive community of Gen Z and younger  millennials.  

What is stopping you being 3x the size you are now?

Getting brand exposure is the next key focus. Building out and expanding our advertising vehicles and direct marketing campaigns will be a crucial next step to our growth and to raising another round of funding will help us execute this marketing strategy.

How do you protect yourself from competition?

Our technology is patented and we have strong relationships with our manufacturing partners who are instrumental in helping us develop new fabrics

and new ways to make our products even better and at the cutting edge of the latest functional fabric innovations.

Do you have any trademarks/IP/patents?

Yes, we ensured everything was in place prior to our launch.

What are the top 3-5 apps your business could not run without? Why are they essential?

Ship Hero, Privy, slack. Ship Hero keeps us updated on orders coming in and going out at a glance. Privy helps us create unique promotional codes that help entice customers to purchase our products. Slack is a direct line of communication for your entire team to ensure everyone is on the same page at every step of our growth.

What are your favourite podcasts

How I built this is a great podcast with innovative ways to build a business and with advice from some successful  industry professionals.

What are the next products you’re working on?

Pure Rosy is creating a lifestyle brand that supports women’s hygiene and lifestyles. We will be introducing our technology in athletics, athleisure and swimwear in the near future  and really closing the loop on sustainability  by creating all our luxury fabrics from 100% recycled plastic water bottles taken out of our landfills.

Are there any releases you can tell us about?

Follow us on Instagram and you’ll be the first to know!

Where do you see the company in 5 years?

I see PureRosy becoming a known brand in the feminine hygiene apparel space  for creating innovative and fashionable clothing that support women’s day to day lives.

Would you ever sell?

Under the right circumstances, I can see that being a part of the natural growth of the brand.

Company Name: Pure Rosy
Founder: Linda Miller

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Redefining Fine Jewelry with Conflict-Free Diamonds, Gemstones & Gold

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Henry Tse is the founder of Nyssa Jewellery. An ethical fine jewellery line that’s attainable for everyone. Featuring an array of dainty pieces, their collection of fine jewellery makes you feel as good as it looks. Nyssa’s goal is to bring customers pieces that are 100% traceable from mine to jewellery box. All of their creative processes are done in-house bringing fresh and original designs that often feature solid gold and precious stones.

Was it a lightbulb moment or gradual process of Nyssa Jewellery?

Fine jewellery in my opinion is a very traditional industry, it’s not easy to get in because it takes a lot of expertise and resources in the form of funding and experience to survive and thrive. Unlike many other fashion industries with lower entry barrier, fine jewellery has been slow in the development of innovation. Not many questions have been asked about sustainability or customer choices, generally fine jewellery industries are ran by family businesses passing on from generation to generation, exactly like my experience. My father started as a goldsmith, where my sister and I have watched and helped on the side, seeing him transition from goldsmith to store owner and eventually manufacturing and wholesaling.

Did you have any experience/expertise in the area?

I’ve been lucky to be part of the industry and acquiring knowledge at a young age and not knowing how important it would be to create a brand like Nyssa.

Nyssa bracelet

My father has always explained to me jewellery is always about perfection, the more knowledge you acquire in how to make or how its made the better chance you have to create jewellery with the finest details, the more effort the craftsman spends on polishing and refining symmetry of the jewellery pieces the more success you will achieve in the long run, that has always stuck with me.

How did you validate the idea?

Being in and around the industry I’ve always seen the low volume of great choices for customers. Value is always an issue, customers find it very hard to make a educated purchase. Internet has made it easier these days but still there is just too much unanswered questions when it comes to buying a beautiful piece of gemstone jewellery for example, what clarity is it? Where did it come from? Does it come with a certificate? At the end of the day I think the big question is does the quality match its price. I guess that’s how Nyssa was born, born from wanting to provide an educated purchase and allow the customer to have comfort they made a good purchase, the more digging or refining of the offering the more opportunity I saw in revolutionizing the industry, I can go on and on about the things that needs to be changed in the fine jewellery industry but I guess the main one is transparency, transparency in the sourcing of the raw material, transparency in how the jewellery is made, transparency in the business model. Nyssa’s goal is to be 100% transparent in the near future, this a tall task as the industry as mentioned before is very traditional.

Nyssa Jewelries

We have started with traceable gemstone, Recycled gold, Kimberly processed diamonds to name a few. As a team in Nyssa we were very proud of voicing out the importance of transparency and now we can see our competitors making changes like sourcing recycled gold, something from day one it was non negotiable for Nyssa.

Have you raised any money? How much?

I think it’s very important when wanting to start a business to ask the question is the problem you are trying to solve big enough, the bigger the problem the more chance you have of success, Nyssa was finally launched in early 2020 after many years of working and fine tuning in the background. it wasn’t easy at the start, Covid definitely didn’t help but it was slow, what I learnt it takes customers to build trust with your brand especially when you don’t have a physical store, As a team we just kept focusing on solving the problem, creating a better offering and learning from our mistakes quickly, now we are proud to say we are growing month on month, we saw a 40% increase in sales last month which is our biggest since launch and we are expecting higher growth moving towards the end of the year, still a long way to go though but at least we are getting validated by our customers we are doing something special.

Who is your target demographic?

Our target demographic are women from 25-45 but we have seen all sorts of ages buying from us, we hope to sell men’s jewellery also in 2022

What is the funniest/most strange customer request you’ve had?

We get a lot of bespoke jewellery requests and some are very touching stories on why they want it, so we try to do so as much as we can.

How did you fund the idea initially?

Not having to open a physical store and also not having to hold as much stock as you would normally have to in a retail store has made it easier for us to not take any funding. It’s been great to only focus on the business rather than funding but there’s been very challenging moments that a bit more cash would of made the world of difference. I wouldn’t say no to funding but right now, I’m trying to use creative ways to live without it, like managing stock better and organic reach.

Any tips for finding first employees?

Employees in general are very challenging and rewarding. I’ve tried very hard to find employees that really believe in what we are trying to do. I value that more than experience, experience helps definitely but working attitude, wanting to solve the problems we face as a brand independently is harder to find in my opinion. If you can afford both then great!

Did you run any companies prior?

My second passion is in education, I’ve had some experience in starting and running kindergartens. I think quality education is so important at a young age, the more love and care a teacher can give the bigger chance the child can have a bright future.

What motivated you to start your own business?

It’s very challenging dividing attention, its harder to create magic in what you do, but I’ve always wanted to follow in my fathers footsteps of starting up a business, I think there’s no better way to give what you have to the world

Do you have any advice for someone just starting out?

Best way to start out is to start small, test your product organically, find opportunities to feature your product, whether it’s online or offline. There’s a lot of info out there for self learning, so that’s got to be a habit for success in business.

What has driven the most sales?

What I’ve learnt in really successful startups there is always a salesperson who is good for funding and selling the product, and another who is good a building the business, building the offering, take a look at which one you are and find the other one in the form of a partner or employee, if you are both then great, seems to be a rare commodity.

What is stopping you being 3x the size you are now?

Retargeting your previous customers is a must, we neglected this early on but more and more we are learning that its the utmost importance, there’s a lot of support for this with companies like Kalviyo, we hope to increase our returning customers to 30% monthly within the next 6 months.

How do you protect yourself from competition? Do you have any trademarks/IP/patents?

While following trends and what our competitors do closely we really try to find our niche and be creative.

We have designs in the pipeline that will be patented, something we have been working on even before we were launched, so it’s very exciting.

What are your favourite podcasts

My friend Doone started her podcast, Female startup club. She talks to all sorts of successful women led startups, I find it really insightful.

Where do you see the company in 5 years?

In 5 Years we want Nyssa to be the first truly transparent fine jewellery brand, we want to work directly with mines and miners and manufacture high quality ethical fine jewellery at affordable prices. We are currently working with different mining companies who see the importance of transparency also and hopefully together we can make a big impact.

Company Name: Nyssa Jewellery
Founder: Henry Tse

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Guide : Conseils pour rencontrer des gens tout en voyageant seul – Rankiing.net

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Cela va peut-être vous étonner, mais voyager en solo est l’une des expériences les plus excitantes que vous puissiez vivre. Bien sûr, cela peut vous inspirer un sentiment de solitude, notamment lorsque vous êtes timide, tourné vers vous-même ou ne parlez pas la langue de votre pays de destination. Mais la bonne nouvelle est que vous pouvez toujours vous en sortir. Si vous voyagez seul, suivez les conseils contenus dans cet article pour rencontrer des gens et profiter pleinement de votre voyage.

Faites-vous de nouveaux amis et tissez de nouvelles relations pendant votre voyage

Vous n’allez peut-être pas y croire, mais tout le monde peut se faire des amis en voyageant en solo et vivre une expérience unique. Pour y arriver, il suffit de :

Se montrer accessible

Être accessible n’est pas difficile. Par exemple, un service de rencontres pourrait chercher à accueillir des individus dans la région afin d’être le prochain lieu de rencontre viral. Sinon, il pourrait vouloir attirer des personnes d’âge mûr qui ont plus d’argent ou des histoires de voyage plus intéressantes. En outre, la plupart des sites de rencontre et des plateformes de médias sociaux sont socialement codés pour accepter des personnes issues de milieux, de genres, d’orientations, etc. spécifiques.

Bien sûr, vous pouvez vous aussi partager votre expérience et vos histoires lors d’une soirée destinée à une rencontre de célibataire en France, cela va vous aider à faire de nouveaux amis. Minimisez donc l’usage de l’électronique, gardez la tête haute et adoptez un langage corporel adéquat ; le sourire, par exemple, pour vous montrer accessible.

Approcher les gens

Il existe certainement plein de personnes sympas qui seront ravies de faire votre connaissance. N’hésitez donc pas à entamer la conversation lorsque vous rencontrez quelqu’un cool dans le bus ou à votre auberge. Si vous ne comprenez pas la langue locale, commencez avec les applis de traduction. Il devrait apprécier la démarche et vos efforts pour communiquer. Si vous vous montrez disponible et motivé, votre nouvel ami pourrait bien se proposer de vous initier à sa langue et de vous faire découvrir les immanquables de sa ville.

Rejoindre des groupes de voyage

Il existe sur les réseaux sociaux, de très intéressants forums où les gens partagent des conseils pour se faire des amis lorsqu’on voyage seul. Il y en a même qui organisent des rencontres avec d’autres qui sont locaux ou qui voyagent dans la même région qu’eux. Pour ne pas vous ennuyer, rejoignez seulement les communautés spécifiques à vos intérêts. Ce sera également une belle occasion de vous faire de nouveaux et bons amis.

Un voyage en solo n’est pas un voyage en solitaire

Voyager seul n’est pas voyager solitaire. Au contraire, cela regorge de plusieurs avantages. En effet, le voyage en solo vous fait sortir de vos coquilles et vous oblige à vous immerger complètement dans le lieu et dans la culture locale. Aussi, vous permet-il la liberté de faire ce que vous voulez, et quand vous voulez. Plutôt que de rester concentré sur votre compagnon de voyage, le voyage en solo vous contraint à plus vous intéresser à votre environnement et aux gens qui vous entourent.

Conseils pour ne pas se sentir seul lorsqu’on voyage en solo

Nous le disions en début d’article, un voyage en solo peut vite se transformer en voyage solitaire si l’on n’adopte pas la bonne attitude. Pour ne pas en arriver là, suivez ces quelques conseils.

Voyagez en train

Les trains sont très sociaux. De même que les voitures-restaurants, les voitures d’observation ou encore l’autocar qui peut aussi se révéler particulièrement amusant. Au cours de votre voyage, vous rencontrerez un certain nombre de personnes. Et dans le lot, il peut y avoir des groupes de touristes qui, peut-être, partagent vos objectifs de voyage. Auquel cas, proposez de vous joindre à eux et de dîner ensemble. Ainsi, vous ne vous sentirez plus seul.

Profitez des excursions d’une journée

Les excursions, c’est le meilleur des voyages en groupe et indépendants. Dès que vous en aurez l’occasion, n’hésitez pas ; sortez pour passer la journée avec d’autres. Bien évidemment, vous devez aussi choisir autant de jours que vous souhaitez pour vous-même.

Parlez à des inconnus

Pour les extravertis, le problème ne se pose pas. C’est pour eux, un don naturel. Pour les introvertis par contre, cela reste un défi. Mais vous pouvez y arriver. Et c’est indispensable lorsque vous voyagez en solo, mais n’aimeriez pas vous sentir seul.

Flirtez pendant votre voyage

Peu importe votre destination de voyage, vous pouvez rencontrer un (e) partenaire avec qui flirter le temps de votre séjour. Il suffit pour y arriver à vous renseigner sur les sites de rencontre les plus populaires du pays et de vous y inscrire.

Vous pouvez également faire des rencontres physiques en vous rendant dans les boîtes de nuit les plus animées. Si vous êtes gay ou lesbienne, cherchez sur internet les boîtes locales pour personnes homos. Ainsi, vous êtes certain de trouver quelqu’un.

A lire aussi : Meilleures alternatives de Chatroulette et Omegle en 2021

En somme, il convient de retenir qu’on peut bien voyager seul et vivre une expérience exceptionnelle. En vous montrant volontaire et dégourdi, vous rencontrerez plein de bonnes personnes et retournerez chez vous les souvenirs plein le crâne.

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Relations : Des idées de rendez-vous uniques pour chaque type de relation – Rankiing.net

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De nos jours, on compte de nombreux types de couples, comme les couples échangistes. Effectivement, chacun tente de trouver le bonheur dans leur relation et certains optent pour le libertinage. Pour pimenter une relation ou rendre les choses plus agréables, il ne faut pas hésiter à organiser des rendez-vous qui sortent du commun.

Les différents types de couples

On distingue essentiellement 5 sortes de couples :

Le couple bastion 

C’est un couple qui fait tout ensemble et qui a l’habitude de tout mettre en commun. Le couple bastion est un couple qui est en parfaite symbiose. Le duo a généralement les mêmes idées et les mêmes envies, sans oublier que toutes les décisions sont prises à deux. Dans la majorité des cas, c’est le mari qui travaille tandis que la femme, non.

Le couple cocon 

On peut dire que c’est un duo très fusionnel. Les deux membres du couple se ressemblent beaucoup. Ils ont des aspirations, des valeurs et des goûts similaires. Pour eux, il est important de se soutenir mutuellement. Pour ce qui est des tâches, elles sont partagées équitablement.

Le couple compagnon 

Dans cette relation, les deux personnes accordent une grande importance à la famille. Elles sont disposées à faire des sacrifices, tels que des déménagements pour le bien de chaque membre de la famille. En outre, le couple compagnon s’implique beaucoup dans tout ce qu’il fait.

Le couple parallèle 

Dans cette relation, chacun est assez indépendant. Les deux personnes concernées ont chacun leurs activités et leurs projets. Elles ont leur propre objectif et évoluent différemment. Dans ce couple, il est surtout question de cohabitation et les rôles sont parfois fixés de manière rigide.

Le couple associatif 

Il repose sur une grande autonomie des deux personnes. En effet, chacun a sa vie, ses idées et ses loisirs. Ils accordent de l’importance à leur liberté et poursuivent respectivement leurs propres projets. Le duo communique, mais il n’est pas toujours d’accord sur tous les points.

Le couple échangiste 

Dans une telle relation, le duo est d’accord pour faire des échanges temporaires entre un couple et d’autres partenaires en vue d’avoir des relations sexuelles. Cette relation convient pour les couples coquins voulant s’adonner à de nouveaux plaisirs. Chacun d’eux est à l’aise dans leur sexualité et choisit dans la majorité des cas de s’inscrire sur un site de rencontre spécialisé. Ce genre de couple est ouvert à toute proposition et les plateformes de rencontre demeurent une solution rapide et fiable pour trouver d’autres partenaires ayant les mêmes envies qu’eux. Pour faire des rencontres echangistes, ils optent pour les tchats et les rencontres en lignes.

Règles de l’échangisme

L’échangisme est une pratique légale, mais il est soumis à différentes conditions. En effet, il doit être pratiqué dans un endroit clos entre des personnes majeures et consentantes.

Pour faire la rencontre de couples échangistes, certains se rendent dans un club échangiste. D’autres privilégient les sites de rencontre. Cette seconde option est conseillée puisqu’elle est bien plus pratique et les utilisateurs ont accès à de nombreux profils.

D’ailleurs, les couples échangistes peuvent longuement discuter sur une plateforme de rencontre avant de réaliser un vrai rendez-vous. Pour les nouveaux venus, le chat en ligne sera une manière efficace pour surpasser leur timidité et leurs craintes. Les couples peuvent discuter sans retenue et parler librement de leurs fantasmes.

Des rendez-vous uniques pour chaque type de relation

Pour tout type de couple, excepté les adeptes d’échangisme, les rencontres peuvent se faire ainsi :

  • Se rendre dans un nouveau restaurant : c’est toujours agréable de découvrir un nouveau lieu, d’autant plus que de nouvelles saveurs sont à déguster. Le duo peut se mettre sur leur 31 et profiter d’un beau dîner en amoureux.
  • Pique-niquer : quand le beau temps pointe son nez, il ne faut pas hésiter à faire une sortie et à organiser un pique-nique en amoureux. Le couple peut préparer ensemble de la nourriture savoureuse.
  • Aller à la plage : le soleil, le beau temps et la mer sont des composants parfaits pour un rendez-vous qui sort du quotidien. Le couple a droit à un vrai moment de paix et de bonheur.
  • Réaliser une soirée casino : il suffit de changer la décoration d’une pièce et de choisir entre les différents jeux de casino. Les mises peuvent se faire sur les corvées de la semaine, des actions à faire ou autres.

Même si les échangistes doivent respecter certaines contraintes, les rencontres coquines peuvent toujours se faire de manière exceptionnelle.

Les couples échangistes peuvent s’organiser une soirée spa. Chacun peut s’offrir des massages et une mise en beauté et en douceur. Par la même occasion, ils peuvent laisser libre cours à leurs fantasmes tout en profitant d’un moment de spa. L’autre possibilité est de séjourner dans une chambre d’hôte. Ce type de résidence laisse l’impression de s’incruster dans la maison d’un inconnu. Une autre idée originale est d’échanger des maisons avec un ami. C’est plutôt amusant de vivre à la place d’un autre le temps d’une nuit torride ou d’un week-end plein de plaisir. Les échangistes peuvent également organiser une soirée cinéma en établissant un thème. Les couples peuvent mettre des déguisements et proposer toutes sortes de jeux sensuels.

En conclusion, les rendez-vous qui sortent du quotidien sont toujours un réel plaisir, que ce soit pour les couples échangistes ou autres. D’autant plus, qu’il existe plusieurs activités à faire à deux à plusieurs. Tout dépend des envies de chacun et du type de relations.

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How We Started An E-Commerce D2C Company

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Joe Stefani is the Co-Founder and President of Desert Cactus, an e-commerce consumer products company on Amazon. Desert Cactus has grown immensely since it was founded in 2012. They are considered as a leading licensee for licensed products on Amazon and is a certified gay owned business. Desert Cactus makes several million in sales per year with massive sales growth.

Was it a lightbulb moment or gradual process of Desert Cactus?  

For us, the idea to start our Amazon store was a lightbulb moment, but we wanted to prove our concept over multiple lines before we really dove head first with investing a significant amount of money in the company and in hiring outside employees.

Did you have any experience/expertise in the area?  

I had a handful of years of experience in the e-commerce world, but the concept we were putting into place (using Amazon as a marketplace for licensed goods) wasn’t yet being done in that way.

Have you raised any money? How much?  

We started our business with a small subgroup of products (five) and we grew very slow at first (from $250k in revenue the first year to $750k the second year). With our first product line, we set a goal for revenue and profit. When we hit those numbers, we added a handful more products, and continued to repeat the process. As of 2021, we’ve raised no outside money at all; in the past, we’ve had businesses with investors, and we’ve had to try what they’ve proposed because of their investment. I think people sometimes raise money for the wrong reasons, but also they get tied up with things that don’t make a difference – such as raising money for flashy things like new offices, personal assistants, etc.

Who is your target demographic?  

Our customers vary across the Amazon platform. Each type of product has a different target demographic.

Amazon products

For instance, we have some product lines that are targeted for six- year-olds to 12-year-olds, and others that are primarily targeted to college students.

What is the funniest/most strange customer request you’ve had?  

We’ve had tons of requests from “customers” to send packages to famous people, such as George Bush, Kim Kardasian, and others… Long story short, the packages never really go to the celebrities.

How did you fund the idea initially? Where did you meet your cofounder/founding team?  

In the very early years, we had a different strategy, and we encountered a large amount of knockoffs from competitors. It was very frustrating, and we had to try and reinvent the wheel sometimes. My husband and I started the business off with an initial $5,000 investment. Over the years, we’ve had to make major capital injections into the business in order to take it to the next level. For the first two and a half  years, we took zero salary in order to make sure 100% of the profits went right back into operating the business. It was just my husband and I, and we were dating at the time.

Any tips for finding first employees?

Everything in finding employees depends on what you’re looking to accomplish. We went to hire our first employee and ended up coming away with two. In our situation, we were looking for a swiss army knife (someone who could do a variety of tasks).  

Did you run any companies prior?  

Years ago, I owned and operated two summer collegiate baseball teams in the Chicago market. Along with three other individuals, I actually was instrumental in founding  that league.

What motivated you to start your own business?

Prior to starting Desert Cactus, I always held the belief that businesses I worked for were run the wrong way, or they took the traditional way of getting from A to Z. I  liked the idea of doing it my own way, but also doing something in an area that was up-and-coming, like e-commerce.

What were your family and friends first thoughts on your company?

When we started, many people thought, “that’s nice,” and I still have friends that think we’re not big time or see this as a hobby of mine, even though we have 27 people who work for us full-time.

What motivates you when things go wrong? What is the end goal?  

Whenever we encounter roadblocks, I remember what drives me: I want to prove others wrong and show them that it can be done.

Do you have any advice for someone just starting out?  

For other entrepreneurs, I would suggest not quitting your full-time gig to jump right into your idea- take your time and prove your concept. I wouldn’t do anything crazy (like quitting your job) until your company can support you and then some. For example, if your salary is $50k a year, and your business is making $50k a year, it doesn’t make financial sense to quit your job. There are a lot of expenses that a normal employee doesn’t see: retirement, health insurance, payroll taxes, etc. All those have to be taken into account when deciding on your risk. I also would recommend not to ask for money from other individuals until you have proven your concept AND you can monetize it. A great idea with no potential to make money is not a business, it’s just a great idea.

What has driven the most sales?

For us, Amazon has been the driving force behind our sales, hands down. We’re an e-commerce direct-to-consumer company, and Amazon has a large market share in that sector.  

What is stopping you being 3x the size you are now?

In 2021, we’re going to almost double the size of our business. What’s holding us back is ourselves, intentionally.

Desert Cactus

We’re trying to grow our business responsibly. What we’re starting to run into is growing your business at 50% is different when you’re at $1 million in revenue versus $5 million in revenue.

How do you protect yourself from competition?

Our business is unique in that we use other’s intellectual property (IP) in order to make products. I once had a very famous person give me some great advice, which was to get a great accountant and a great lawyer. Every month, we have a line item in our budget for accounting and legal services (usually 25% over what I expect to spend in the year) so we can have some one-on-one planning time for unique issues such as competitors stealing our designs.

Desert Cactus products

We work with each rights holder to ensure a beneficial relationship, which allows us to sell official products.

Do you have any trademarks/IP/patents?  

The authenticity helps us stand out from other products on the market. Currently we have two trademarks and a handful of copyrights.

What are the top 3-5 apps your business could not run without? Why are they essential?  

Our business runs every day on Google Sheets/Google Docs, DropBox, and WeTransfer. Because we have so many people spread out throughout the world, we need these programs to connect and collaborate with each other. Since we are primarily creating, submitting, and uploading designs, WeTransfer gives us the ability to send documents with a large amount of data.

What are your favourite books or podcasts?

I’m not into trade publications but do utilize newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal versus books. I’m not a fan of podcasts. I have a bad attention span.

What are the next products you’re working on? Are there any releases you can tell us about?

Currently, we’re working on launching products for a handful of Premier League soccer teams, Gumby, and a bunch of other properties that we’re finishing up the legal paperwork for. Gumby products are releasing over the next few weeks, as well as two teams in the Premier League.

Where do you see the company in 5 years?  

We see our company having exponentially more licensing deals with properties outside of our traditional areas of focus (pro and collegiate sports). Our goal is to triple our sales within the next five years- and I honestly think we can do it. If we continue on our current track, the revenue for Desert Cactus will be $10 million plus here shortly.

Would you ever sell?

We’ve received many offers to sell over the years, but we were focused on growing the company into something that is totally different from other competitors’ business models. If the right offer came along, we’d be interested; however, it would have to give us the ability to fund our next idea, in addition to funding a lot of the charitable interests that we have.

Company Name: Desert Cactus
Founder: Joe Stefani

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How I Built Textile & Dye Company That Ensures High-Quality Products

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The Neon Lace Company uniquely incorporates romantic, whimsical style with bright and bold colors for a one-of-a-kind look when it comes to home decor. Specializing in bespoke table linens and kitchen accessories, this textile and dye company ensures sustainable, high-quality products by sourcing their materials from antique linen suppliers or handmade by artisans. Every piece is then carefully dyed by hand with non-toxic ingredients. Offering a variety of one-of-a-kind pieces as well as everyday products, Neon Lace Company is sure to provide the perfect finishing touch for your next soirée or dinner party!

Was it a lightbulb moment or gradual process of Neon Lace Company ?

Neon Lace Company was not part of my initial plans. In fact, it started very unexpectedly. When I first got the idea I was actually working in the beauty industry but I always loved antiques. One day, while I was shopping, I came across a stunning vintage napkin set.

Neon Lace Napkin

However, when I used it in my table décor for a dinner party, it came across as a bit boring. On a whim I decided to dye them neon green. It looked amazing! My husband suggested I should do this as a business. From that point forward I couldn’t get his words out of my head. I started purchasing more linens and starting experimenting with dye techniques and colors.

Did you have any experience/expertise in the area?

I hadn’t had experience working with textiles prior to this, but I have a fine art degree and have always worked with color. I knew I needed more knowledge of the craft so on a trip to Japan in 2019 I worked with a 4th generation dye master in Kyoto to study Shibori, a Japanese dye technique.

Neon Lace Feather

This gave me the confidence I needed to officially launch the brand in May 2019.

How did you get your first three customers?

My first customers were family and friends. I started by sending an email introducing the brand to every single person in my email rolodex- literally everyone! I couldn’t believe the positive response and support I received in the beginning. Friends told friends and gave me shoutouts on Instagram which led to more customers. The support when I was just a teeny baby brand kept me motivated to keep going.

How did you fund the idea initially?

I started Neon Lace Company by bootstrapping it with $1,000 of my own money to purchase a linen lot at auction,  production materials, and a website. The company is completely owned and funded by me; I don’t have any outside investors. All of the profits made are put directly back into the business.

Where did you meet your cofounder/founding team?

In the beginning, I did everything. I sourced the materials, produced the products, photographed the images, managed the website, packaged and shipped orders, sent marketing emails/ answered customer support, and managed the money. I still do most of this but have slowly been able to outsource parts of the business that aren’t my strengths.

Any tips for finding first employees?

My best advice for finding your first employee is to look for someone whose strengths are your weaknesses to create a balance in the business– and make sure you enjoy each other’s company because it is a lot of time together! Also, be very clear and specific on your needs and expectations if they are important to you– employees are not mind readers.

What motivated you to start your own business?

The motivation behind launching my own business was really the desire to be in control of my own daily schedule. I work a million times as much now but it is completely worth it because I am my own boss.

What were your family and friends first thoughts on your company?

My friends and family were extremely supportive from the beginning. I think the products were surprising and new so there was a lot of enthusiasm and curiosity.  My husband is my number one fan and cheerleader. He always offers advice and insight. I would never have been able to launch my business without his support.

What motivates you when things go wrong? What is the end goal?

I am a perfectionist and very hard on myself when things go wrong. I am also a solutions – based person and so I focus on how I can fix the problem and learn from it for the future.

Do you have any advice for someone just starting out?

When you are first starting out, take every opportunity that comes your way- don’t be picky. These first opportunities are going to challenge you and teach you a lot! Also, always answer emails and texts promptly, and be on time! These details matter.

What has driven the most sales?

The majority of my customers are acquired through Instagram. This was an essential tool to drive sales, especially during the pandemic.

What is stopping you being 3x the size you are now?

Nothing is stopping Neon Lace Company from being the 3x the size we are now! Our rapid growth as a small brand is incredible and I am very proud of what we’ve accomplished and what is on the horizon!

How do you protect yourself from competition? Do you have any trademarks/IP/patents?

Competition is inevitable, but in the beginning I worked very hard on building a strong brand voice and reaching out to as many people as possible so I could have a recognizable product that was synonymous with my brand.

Neon Lace Linen

Once I was able to afford it, I hired a PR company to help take that recognizability to the next level.

What are the top 3-5 apps your business could not run without? Why are they essential?

Instagram, Squarespace, and Quickbooks. I need to engage with customers, receive purchase orders, and track my expenses!

What are your favourite books?

Conquering Your Fear of Water is a book my mother- in -law gifted me after she overcame a fear of deep water and learned how to swim at age 80 through the help of this book. The  focus is on swimming, but the steps used to overcome fear are universal and applicable to all aspects of life. It has offered me fantastic tools to overcome many of  my own fears in life and business.

What are your favourite podcasts

More Than One Thing by Athena Calderone is my favorite podcast. Athena Calderone’s guests come from all different industries and share how they’ve arrived at their current career landing spot. Many of her guests wear multiple entrepreneurial hats which speaks to multi-hyphenates and out-of-the-box thinkers/creators. It is also a must listen for anyone who is changing careers or embarking on a new creative endeavor.

What are the next products you’re working on? Are there any releases you can tell us about?

We are working on new colorways for the linen napkins and placemats, experimenting with new dye techniques, and sourcing incredible vintage. We have some very exciting collaborations in the pipeline as well- stay tuned!

Company Name: Neon Lace Company
Founder: Imane Fiocchi

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How I Created Comfortable, Odor-free Underwear & Loungewear For Men

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UnderGents is founded by Bill Barba. This brand is seeking to redefine what every man can expect regarding the comfort and function of their underwear. Using CloudSoft, a new, nature-based micro modal fabric, UnderGents is able to provide unbelievable softness that’s cooling, odor free, and moisture wicking while at the same time allowing for breathable movement.

UnderGents Swagger Men’s Lounge Wear collection

Combining luxury comfort with stylish designs, UnderGents has created a variety of options so that every man can find his perfect fit! Plus, you can add to your look by shopping their Swagger Men’s Lounge Wear collection, so that you can always feel like your best, most relaxed self.  

Was it a lightbulb moment or gradual process of UnderGents?

There was no specific lightbulb moment for UnderGents. The idea developed over some time. I had been the CFO/COO of a few traditional consumer products businesses that were retail based. After going through a few transactions and liquidity events, I wanted to develop a DTC brand and grow a business from the ground up.

Did you have any experience/expertise in the area?

I had experience with consumer brands that had larger budgets and could afford to buy size and growth early in their development. The new direct-to-consumer models were really democratizing the landscape where a brand could launch and begin growing without the millions of units required to stock shelves and the multi-million dollar media buys.

UnderGents Products

UnderGents came about as I was no longer in the same shape I had been when I was younger and able to work out every day (or twice a day). As my own pants and clothes became tighter, everything was less comfortable. I found most men’s underwear and basics were designed to squeeze and used polyesters and elastic, low cost scratchy cottons, or they were traditional woven boxers.

How did you validate the idea?

I decided to develop UnderGents as the 1st item men put on, and last item they take off each day, becoming the most comfortable item they wear. Getting to a live product took a significant amount of trial and error. It included learning about fabrics, the pros and cons of them as an undergarment, and working with designers to develop the initial designs based on comfort.

UnderGents Boxers

To validate the idea, friends started wearing prototypes and we analyzed the feedback to refine for a full production and launch.

Have you raised any money? How much?

Once that 1st large production order was placed, things became real, as there was now significant capital on the line. I thought the worst case was lifetimes of underwear being in a warehouse for holiday gifts. To-date the business has been primarily boot-strapped.

Who is your target demographic?

Our product is designed for men, and we have found men 30-65 are the men most likely to wear UnderGents.

UnderGents MEN

The purchaser of our products is both men and women as a significant number of women buy new underwear for the men in their life.

What is the funniest/most strange customer request you’ve had?

We do hear from customers and you might imagine we hear some interesting things as we sell an item that is worn in men’s most intimate areas. There have been a number of conversations with customers that have been both funny and strange, but they are somewhat NSFW so we won’t elaborate and will let your readers imagine and they will probably be correct.

How did you fund the idea initially?

As I mentioned, the brand has been self-funded and in the early days I was doing everything from product development, content development, to customer service. When things go wrong, that means I could only look in the mirror to identify the person that made mistakes.

Any tips for finding first employees?

As we have grown we have stayed lean and tend to work with partners that can help us with unique needs (such as web development & graphic design) as we are not able to fully utilize a large staff with specific talents.

Did you run any companies prior?  

I have been on the Sr. leadership team for a few consumer businesses that included, public companies, PE backed, venture growth, and had valuations from $50mm to over $1 billion. I have been on the Board of a few non-profits, and advise a few businesses in other segments.

What were your family and friends first thoughts on your company?

I did have a number of friends and family raise an eyebrow at the idea for UnderGents. Many thought it was silly that I would leave a larger business selling women’s lingerie and costumes to focus on men’s underwear. I would always ask the guys that had these opinions if they loved the underwear they were wearing right then and the usual answer was No. “Enough Said”

What motivates you when things go wrong? What is the end goal?

There are always things that could be done better or go wrong. We strive to learn and keep moving forward and don’t have a political culture that is blaming and fault finding. This helps us refocus on what is working and knowing that there is always a solution, we just have to find it.

What is stopping you being 3x the size you are now?

The biggest hurdles for growth are our goal to not overspend for top line growth and capital constraints. Growth is great, but as we grow we have to invest more into inventory to meet that growth and manage production schedules which require larger upfront investments in inventory that turn to cash over time. At a larger scale or with more capital we would increase our production order frequency to meet growth as it occurs.

How do you protect yourself from competition?

There are a number of brands in the men’s underwear space. We try to differentiate and protect ourselves by offering the most comfortable men’s underwear available.

We focus on ultra-soft fabrics and comfort without compression. This has helped us stay true to what we do better. We could always chase lower costs and prices, but that wouldn’t be comfortable for anyone.

Do you have any trademarks/IP/patents?

We do have registered trademarks for the brand name, UnderGents, and for

Cloudsoft

CloudSoft, which is how we name and describe our incredible micro-modal blend.

What are the top 3-5 apps your business could not run without? Why are they essential?

We use a number of tools to run the business, including a Shopify site, Amazon’s suite of seller tools, digital advertising platforms, and some smaller apps that are incredibly helpful such as Omnisend for email communications with customers.

What are your favourite books?

I read a number of different genres of books. I enjoy a good business development book, some historical non-fiction when done in story mode, and a great novel. One of my favorite authors has been Michael Lewis as he has a nice way of turning non-fiction into a story that reads as a novel.

What are the next products you’re working on? Are there any releases you can tell us about?

We are continuing to develop new products and new channels for advertising and talking to men. We have some great new patterns coming at the end of this year and we think they will be great additions to the solids that make up the majority of our collection.

Where do you see the company in 5 years?

We hope that our expanding collection will help us continue to grow, and we hope we can continue to realize triple digit percentage growth over the next 5 years and we become more well known for men’s comfort.

What is current revenue? If you don’t mind sharing

We don’t generally disclose revenue but we were very happy to pass 7 digits and to do that while being profitable versus spending above revenue.

Would you ever sell?

We expect to continue growing but would always consider a reasonable offer to sell. It’s a great compliment when someone else sees value in what is built and would want to take it further.

Company Name: UnderGents
Founder: Bill Barba

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