Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal care but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Samantha Putošová, Owner of Bee Balm Co., located in Woburn, MA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Bee Balm is a plastic-free lip balm line for the conscious consumer. Our balms are handmade in small batches using simple ingredients and unique, fresh fragrances, and the packaging is 100% compostable - including the label. Each year, we donate 5% of profits to organizations fighting to restore and support pollinator populations.
Our customers are people from all ages and walks of life - typically, people looking to reduce their consumption of single-use plastics or folks who have sensitive skin and are looking for an affordable, natural alternative to conventional skin care products.
Tell us about yourself
I founded the business in 2017 after spending most of a year scuba diving in various locations around the world. The amount of plastic waste in our water systems was really striking, and upon returning from my travels, I was committed to reducing my own plastic use. Lip balms were particularly challenging as there weren't any local plastic-free options available, so I started making my own and sharing them with friends. The positive feedback on them was instant, and people were soon asking for more, so I solidified my branding, recipes, and supply chains, and Bee Balm was born.
I'm motivated by two main factors: the first is the positive feedback from customers - it feels great to be able to offer a quality product that is affordable, and that really works for people without generating so much waste. The second is the time of year when I get to make our annual donation - it's so meaningful to me to be able to support organizations doing the important work of fighting for pollinators and supporting our future food security.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Building a brand from scratch that people recognize. Bee Balm is a small company, so it's always surprising and delightful to be talking to someone new about Bee Balm and have them excitedly pull one out of their backpack or purse!
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Balancing cost and efficiency with company values. As the business scales, it's tempting to want to opt for cheaper or easier alternatives, but it's important to commit to your values early on and incorporate them into business decisions as you grow.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
If you're considering a business where you produce a product, do the 10x units thought experiment: ask yourself if your current production methods and suppliers will allow you to make 10x of what you are now or if you are going to drastically need to revamp your methods and supply chains in the next 3-5 years as you grow?
This type of thinking can and should be applied to other aspects of your business as well - if you're selling via eCommerce: can your current platform and shipping methods handle that type of growth while maintaining your brand values? If the answer to any of these questions is no, it's not necessarily a deal breaker for starting your business, but you should have a plan, backup suppliers, or idea for how you will proceed once your scale exceeds your current capacities. You want to be ready for growth one step ahead so you can meet demand and not be struggling to fill orders!
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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