Favourable digital algorithms and a committed online audience have encouraged a whole new generation of entrepreneurs to launch brilliant brainchildren onto the buyers’ market.
Thanks to Facebook, Instagram and the like we as consumers now have easily accessible online options and a choice of fabulous products and services that may never have seen the light of day without the wonderful world of Wifi.
One such range of products comes from our guest today, the creator of a natural, cruelty-free, eco-conscious business, Sara Quilter, of Tailor Skincare www.tailorskin.co.
She credits social media for providing consumers with opportunities to access the Tailor brand, and for a fledgling business this strategy seems to make good sense. Public exposure and recognition grow organically, customers buy at better profit margins, brand loyalty skyrockets – and most importantly, scaling is eminently doable.
But what about when the algorithms change, and the digital space becomes saturated with competitor products leading to buyer fatigue and a need to increase investment?
And how do you reach the masses who prefer to shop in an actual shop? Those people who love the tactile and olfactory sensory pleasure of a product you can hold in your hand and try before buying.
The urge to delve deeper into buyer patterns, product trends and customer demographics lead Sara to explore the bricks and mortar realm of retail. And not just any retail. We are talking some of the biggest players in the national retail scene: Farmers and Greencross (Life) Pharmacy, as well as loyalty providers, FlyBuys and Airpoints.
How’d it happen? By hard work and serendipity in equal measure.
In 2018, Tailor Skincare www.tailorskin.co won Best Cleanser of The Year and at the awards night, the beauty buyer for Farmers was in attendance as a major sponsor.
After a couple of wines Sara plucked up the courage to have a chat (“took me 3 goes, I was that nervous”) and after a protracted interval of data-based pitching and negotiation during the weeks following, the deal was done.
Pitching is a strategic skill on its own, and a vital one to master. According to Sara, retail operators want to know that you’ve done your homework, studied your research and can prove that your product is not just based on whimsy.
“I was a girl who started a skincare brand with a cake mixer (fun story). Now I’m actually here to do real business and I have a feasible brand that you should want to partner with.”
Sara Quilter, www.tailorskin.co
Sara used business intelligence and market analysis company Euromonitor https://www.euromonitor.com/ to source the data required to convince Farmers that Tailor was a strong brand to embrace.
“This is what we see in the market. This is what’s happening. These are the stats, this is the growth, here are the macro trends, the emerging trends … this is why Tailor is perfectly positioned for your market.”
Sara Quilter, www.tailorskin.co
"Gosh, that was easy!" Is the rest then, as they say, history? Hardly.
Getting on the shelves was indeed the easy part.
But staying alive as a vulnerable small fry means making lots of canny decisions based on being responsive to market research, predicting trends, intensive forward planning … and forgiving yourself for making a lot of mistakes.
The many unknown complexities of retail meant Sara had to dot I’s and cross T’s at every junction. It was one curve ball after another and some of her learnings include:
- Understanding the time scale of retail
- Outsourcing manufacturing for easy scalability
- Paying minutely fastidious attention to finished product time frames
- Inventory management
- Accurate sales forecasting “You don’t want to under-predict coz you will run out of stock; you don’t want to over-predict, or you will run out of money!” (Liquid assets, especially those with the added pressure of an expiry date tie up your capital until sold.)
- Refining sales predictions on a monthly basis
- Consistent analysis of product performance, spreadsheet statistics and trends, and “if something’s not working, change it and don’t muck around – because that’s costly”.
- Feeling the fear and doing it anyway.
Doing the D.I.Y early on qualified Sara to stick with these challenges and retail has now “opened up a whole other new realm of possibility and produced dramatic growth for the business.”
But retail sales people and end-buyer clients have gotta love Tailor too.
Educating retail staff to adopt Tailor Skincare www.tailorskin.co is something Sara is passionate about and she’s travelled far and wide to represent the brand in her own charismatic way.
She reckons it’s not hard to engage with shop floor personnel – and who wouldn’t enjoy a chocky bicky, a few free skincare samples and the chance to schmooze with an enthusiast like Sara?
“You love your own brand but then you have to share that to staff so they communicate that to customers so that they will buy it.”
Sara Quilter, www.tailorskin.co
All good! And refining her business model further has seen Sara recently hire a business development lead to spread the Tailor Skincare www.tailorskin.co word nationally and potentially, overseas.
So what else is on the horizon?
Well, the Tailor Funds scheme is looking for a mental health project to support – “if anyone knows of an awesome charity organisation doing cool things in the mental health space, I absolutely want to know about them.” Great stuff, aligning so beautifully with the Tailor Skincare www.tailorskin.co philosophy:
Taylor Skincare is not about striving for cosmetic ideals. It’s about finding a moment in your day to take care of yourself; give yourself the love that everybody deserves.
And that’s a truly beautiful thing.
You can touch base with Sara via her website www.tailorskin.co, Facebook, Twitter or get onto Instagram and “slide into our D.M’s @tailorskincare”.
And when you need help in moving your business from chaos to control visit Craig Oliver at https://www.projecthq.co.nz/
Or read the show notes from our other amazingly informative, inspirational and gritty podcasts at https://www.talkingbetterbusiness.com/
So many insights, tips and ideas to be had! Just sit back, listen or read - and learn.
Go on, smash through the glass ceiling and grow move your business from ordinary to extraordinary!