Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Maria Kriner, Co-Owner of KE Health, located in Bethlehem, PA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
KE Health's mission was founded upon our desire to create affordable Doctor formulated feminine healthcare products for women of all backgrounds. With science and research-based products, KE Health LLC has developed products that naturally solve health problems for millions of women. Through a strong customer network, we have not only solved female health problems but also created a community for women to support one another. This spirit of community is what Danica and I had envisioned when we established KE Health, a place where women could take charge of their own healthcare.
Currently, our products are sold online at Amazon, Walmart, eBay, as well as our own website. We have dozens of pharmacies and clinicians, including midwives, physicians, and nurse practitioners, who use and distribute our products to their customers and patients. However, most of our customers come from eCommerce sales and women looking for quality and affordable products that solve their most intimate feminine health care issues.
Tell us about yourself
I have been an RN in a hospital setting for over 35 years. As a critical care nurse, I saw the challenges people face when they are not taking charge of their health. I advocated for patients and leveraged my position at a patient's bedside to educate people on how healthier decisions and preventive care can reduce or eliminate some diseases. Through a friendship and then a partnership with KE Health co-owner Danica, we saw an opportunity to combine my medical background with an entrepreneurial spirit, and the concept of KE Health was born.
Both Danica and I used products similar to our current product line. We found that access to these products, especially before the internet era, was limited. The cost was exorbitant, and the quality at times was substandard. We knew that we could do it better. We bootstrapped our business in 2014 and have been producing and innovating products that support women's health since then.
Weekly and sometimes daily, we hear from women about how impactful our product line has been. When you hear phrases like " life-changing" and "gave me my dignity back," it makes it very easy to get up in the morning and do your job. With over 20,000 reviews on Amazon and a 5-star rating, we continue to be highly motivated to develop our product line further.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Two accomplishments come to mind. Being chosen as a seller on Amazon was a huge factor that led to our business success. There are so many sellers on the Amazon platform that setting yourself apart as the expert is very difficult to attain and maintain. It takes constant oversight as the Amazon industry and algorithms change. Our continued success and upward trajectory in sales and reviews are something that I am so grateful for.
In addition, KE Health was chosen to become a member of the Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC). Founded in 1997, WBENC is the nation’s leader in women’s business development and the leading third-party certifier of businesses owned and operated by women. The WBENC standard of certification is a meticulous process, including an in-depth review of the business and site inspection. The certification process is designed to confirm the business is at least 51% owned, operated, and controlled by a woman or women. This is an accomplishment that both myself and my business partner are very proud of.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Since KE Health's inception in 2014, Danica and I have put ourselves in our customer's shoes to tackle product development as well as customer service. Having been in the "shoes" of many women our products serve, it was easy to brainstorm what products women may be looking for to solve intimate health issues and what was important to women when making purchase decisions.
Together we bootstrapped the business as we started small-scale production and let the business grow organically as the need and sales grew. We knew that to build this business from the ground up; we needed to be able to control every aspect of the business, from developing our own website for sales to hand-selecting our manufacturer based on high quality and GMP standards to self-fulfilling our own customer orders. By being hands-on with each aspect of our business, we were able to see where deficiencies lie and were quickly able to troubleshoot through our collaborative effort and develop sound strategies for moving forward.
As KE Health has continued to grow, giving up control of some aspects of the business has been difficult. We realized that we needed to stop working in the business and start working on the business. Vetting potential employees was a difficult process. We are currently partnered with many great consultants to help us manage our advertising, warehousing, order fulfillment, and Amazon compliance. Though we have a great team, there are still times that we have to roll up our sleeves and put in some long hours to fill a need for the company. During those times, I am always reminded of where we have come from and why we do what we love every day!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- When starting a business, choosing to do something that you love is key. During periods of highs and lows, it makes it much easier to go to work every day if you are engaged and enjoying the work.
- Researching products and knowing the competition are important in leading a business plan. Having a great product but with no profit margin won't be sustainable. Think outside the box and develop products or services that no one else is offering. As an industry leader, you can set your price. The competition will eventually follow, but as the first, you establish your credibility when you develop a quality product that your competition will have to figure out how to dethrone.
- Develop a business plan with clearly defined roles and business partners. You don't need to have everyone in place right out of the gates, but research what partners and services are available to help you grow as the time comes to give up some of the daily tasks. It's better to wade into the water slowly than to jump in headfirst and get in over your head. KE Health built the business slowly with organic sales. As we grew our customer base, we grew our product line and were always able to finance projects based on profits without needing to secure a financing source.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
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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