When the love of your life asks you if you want to start a business together, how could you say no? Months before the pandemic, I faced this decision. Dominique has always been a crafty person; she loves cooking, crocheting, sewing, and baking. However, these skills did not pay the bills. It was not until she started making candles and hand soaps that she realized that her skills can make money, which is useful for a college student.
Unfortunately, starting a business costs a lot of money, so Dominique asked me for help. As a great boyfriend, I agreed because I felt obligated, and I knew she would not waste our money and time with trivialities. After using the candles and hand soaps for myself, I realized that we have incredible potential and dedicated a great deal of my income to our business. BlackPearlByNique was born. One person with the talent and skills to make wonderful products combined with another person with the money and time to share it with the world.
First, we needed a name, something that would make us unique. BlackPearlByNique became our name because of its characteristics. I liked it because it was catchy, so more people would recognize it when we start promoting to other people. Picking a name is not always easy, but your identity is critical to your business.
Then, we created a logo. Again, we needed an image that would make us different. First, we looked at pearls because it is in our name, but we fell in love with a flower. It represented the blossom that we could reach when we established ourselves as a legitimate business and not some hobby. Finally, we added homemade with love because we truly love our products, and we want our customers to know that.
Next, we developed the products. For us, our products were the hand soaps, candles, and lip balms that we now sell. The tricky part is continuously buying resources, so we can create more products. We needed shea butter, coconut oil, candle tins, soap bases, shipping packages, which are not cheap. We had to figure out how much it costs to make each product, then sell at a price that is fair to our customers, competitive to the market, and profitable for us. This pricing also applies to a service business. You have to figure out how much your service is worth to your expenses. It is a difficult balance, but we believe we have the right one. If we were not creating our products ourselves, dropshipping products are another option. Dropshipping means using an outside supplier to make and ship the products, but you market the products to make a profit. Without figuring out your products or services, your business is likely to fail.
We needed a platform to sell our products. The pandemic made that decision for us. The original plan was to mix online and in-person sales. However, BlackPearlByNique had to embrace online sales. As discussed in another post, we listed our products on Etsy but switched to Shopify when we started to grow. Shopify provided the freedom and resources to get more sales. The most important of those resources Shopify offered was a personalized website that centered around our products. Etsy is a great site to sell homemade items, but you are competing with multiple businesses that are selling similar items. Shopify put that spotlight on us. It is like when a band member leaves the group to go solo. The attention shifts from the group to the person.
Lastly, marketing is important because regardless of your product or services' quality, it is worth nothing if nobody knows it exists. If you look at any business, it is likely they spend more money on marketing than on the products. We had to create marketing campaigns on multiple social media sites, including Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. However, your first step is to market yourselves to your friends and family. Creating this network is easy because of proximity, but also they are more likely to buy from you because they know you. Without a doubt, I would say that my college advisor is our biggest supporter who buys and promotes our products as much as us. When using paid promotions on social media, invest in a more expensive campaign. With more money invested, you are more likely to reach a larger audience than you would with smaller, cheaper campaigns. For example, our biggest audience is in Texas and California. We are a New York-based business, so this statistic was surprising, and we would never have known this fact if we committed to smaller campaigns. Indeed, it is a balance that you need to find that works with you and your budget.
Many smaller steps come with running a business. Dominique and I are still improving our business. However, understanding your name, logo, product, platform, and marketing are the most important facets that influence your success and failure. Thank you for reading our post.