Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal care but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Caroline Ranoia, Owner of Blue Eden, LLC., located in Stone Harbor, NJ, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We make all-natural bath and body products and a line of home fragrances in reed diffusers and organic soy candles. Our customers range from 20 to 85, 98% women, with the bulk of our business coming from the 40-year-olds to 65.
Tell us about yourself
I've always enjoyed working in the arts and making things with my hands. As a little girl, I would make items and sell them on the corner from a little "liquor cart" that my parents were throwing away. In the summer, all of my friends would hit the beach, and I had nothing to do. I would paint, draw, make tissue paper flowers, and taught myself to make soap and sell them from my little cart. I always wanted to have my own shop, and this was the start of it.
As I grew up throughout high school and college, I worked in retail while refining my bath and body care line. After college, I took a job in marketing, working for a large company. The experience gained was a life changer for me and a career that lasted 18 years. It was also the place where I met my mentor, who helped me get my business plan together to pursue my passion and follow my dream. In 1996 the company I worked for merged with another company, and my entire department closed to prevent duplication. This was the start of a year-long realistic look at what I wanted to do next. After researching the idea and expanding my product line, I opened my first shop in 1997 with a whopping $400 in my business account. At the same time, I was in a marriage that was ending; this motivated me to do my best and work my hardest. Navigating a new life and financial challenges kept me motivated.
I found that in order to be successful, it was more than creating a great product; it was really about developing customer relationships. Today I am still motivated by creating an experience in my stores and working with our customers daily. Building a staff that cares as much as I do is also important. I want people to love what we do as much as we love creating it.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Well, there are a few of my goals to create a line for hotel room amenities. In 2017 a hotel approached me, and not only did we start making their room amenities, but I also created the same line in larger sizes for their gift shop as well as a spa. Additionally, working with the owner of the hotel, we developed a line just for their spa, which includes a body mask, foot scrub, and body/foot lotion. Having a business in a seasonal resort town is not what everyone pictures. The seasonality is hard to deal with, as you really are only busy ten weeks out of the year; being clever on other streams of revenue is a must-do if you plan on doing this for a living.
To fill in for the other months of the year, we have our website, a "fashion truck, which I have a business partner on, creating favors for special events, and the hotel room amenities that are made for several small boutique hotels keep the shops moving forward, plus I am able to employ two full-time people year-round in an area that only offers seasonal help. In the summer months, staffing is beefed up; luckily, the same women come back year after year to work in the summer!
During the pandemic, we were closed for three months, but one of the few people started making hand sanitizers and mask refreshers in January of 2020. By March, most stores were out of it. I sent out an email blast, and we were getting 40 to 60 orders a day; after the first month, I thought it would be a great idea to offer refills so people could just fill the bottles they had already purchased. It was an incredibly successful campaign going through real business challenges.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Balancing my time. I leave my shops, and then I go home and put in at least four more hours of work, either making products or creating my marketing plan for the week on social media, email blasts, and text blasts.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Don't listen to the naysayers; if you've done the research on your idea and feel confident, then you will be ok.
- Never give up.
- To really grow your business be willing to put the work in, go above and beyond in customer service and create relationships, and stock away enough money so that you can take your business to the next level. I don't recommend starting without at least $25,000 in the back.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
If this is something that you think you'd like to do, take it seriously, learn what your competitors may do, be original, offer great customer service, and work social media to its fullest; it is a great way to market your business/products. If you're doing it as a hobby, be prepared; it is more than "playing store."
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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