'Create your tribe and you'll see the sales and success roll in'

'Create your tribe and you'll see the sales and success roll in'

Posted: Fri 26th Feb 2021

Some of the best businesses come about because the founder is looking for the solution to a personal problem. For Anne Onwusowulu, that issue was trying to find a brand that would help restore her skin following a period of stress after suffering a bereavement. She dealt with it by creating her own serum and turning it into a business.

Anne tells the story of House of Purple Rose and how a Bootcamp as part of the Amazon Small Business Accelerator has prepared her for selling products on Amazon's online store.

The free Amazon Small Business Accelerator e-learning programme is advice from more than 30 business experts in 218 bitesize videos.   
If you're already an Enterprise Nation member, log-in to your learning dashboard to access the e-learning. If you're not an Enterprise Nation member, you can join the Amazon Small Business Accelerator for free here.

How did you come up with the idea for your business?

Some years ago I suffered a personal loss, and as a result of the stress my skin began to suffer. My complexion became dull and I started to have breakouts, which resulted in dark spots and hyperpigmentation. I wanted to find a product that would help restore my skin to its former appearance, while correcting the damage wrought by grief. Though I searched high and low, nothing I was prescribed, recommended or tried addressed the issues I had with my skin, leaving me feeling low.

Like most women, I wanted a product that moisturised, brightened and combated the visible signs of skin aging. As a woman of colour, I also had a unique set of problems to bring to the table, including hyperpigmentation, dark spots and acne scarring.

High-street beauty ranges had some good, individual treatments, but there was no 'catch all' product. I was left frustrated, spending large amounts on layering up different creams that often damaged my sensitive skin.

Was it too much to ask that all women could enjoy a simple skincare routine, using one, affordable, effective product?

Through extensive research in natural ingredients, I was able to create a serum that not only moisturised and addressed the signs of ageing but also brightened skin, faded blemishes, corrected dark spots and controlled hyperpigmentation.

I was so excited about this product that I began to produce it by hand, in small batches. Over time, it proved so popular that my passion became my profession, and 'House of Purple Rose' was born.

What start-up challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?

Coming from the IT field, it was difficult for potential customers to naturally gravitate towards my products. I don't think they took me seriously until I became a qualified cosmetic formulator, facial therapist, herbalist and perfumer. It took some awfully good convincing for people to even try my skincare.

I overcame this struggle by networking and showing everyone the before and after results from previous happy customers. It wasn't until they tried it and felt that their skincare was finally being resolved that they trusted they could buy it from a previous IT girl!

The same thing happened with my fragrances. I sold them for much less than what they were worth, and people said how amazing the candles and perfumes smelt which spread the word, resulting into more orders, meaning I could charge what I thought was fair.

What is your marketing strategy for engaging with customers and making sales?

Instagram is super important in engaging with existing and potential customers. Research your competition and engage with their followers, and you'll understand what does and doesn't work for your business. Same goes for hashtags!

Before COVID-19 hit I did lots of networking and went to many events and pop-up shops. It's so much easier to sell and engage your product in person, especially when the customer can hold and get a feel of your items. These were so great and such fun. I cannot wait to attend more in the future.

How has COVID-19 affected your business?

As previously said, I attended many events and pop-up shops. Due to COVID-19 I haven't been able to go to any in almost a year, making it harder to promote and boost sales organically offline.

Another issue has been supplier delays and their factories. For example, I've had shortages of wax for my candles which has delayed potential buyers as they're seeing me almost always out of stock. The only communication is via phone or Zoom meetings, so I haven't even been able to visit the factories or have in-person meet ups, to resolve anything.

Why did you decide to register for the Amazon Bootcamp?

Someone I know recommended it to me, as I've been thinking about selling on Amazon for a while now. So, I thought as it seems that COVID-19 isn't slowing down any time soon, now would be a perfect time to join Amazon Bootcamp and learn all the ins and outs.

I also want to boost traffic to my website and get more exposure of my brand.

What were the key benefits of the Amazon Bootcamp for your business?

The key benefits were how informative and jam packed the Bootcamp was! I now know how to get started and navigate my way around Amazon, meaning I don't need to rely on or hire someone else to do it for me. I love that there are different categories, so you can take the right route that suits you.

The help and support we received was phenomenal! You can get lost as it's such an in-depth website but the support system provided to help cover everything is amazing.

What actions did you take after taking part in the Bootcamp?

This is a story for another time, as my journey continues.

I have, however, got my barcodes ready for my products and secured the numbers. I'll be getting everything listed and hopefully getting some great sales!

What are your plans for the future?

My plan is to create more brand awareness. I'm still figuring out how the right way to go about doing this is, but it's all a learning progress and I'm enjoying the process so far. I also plan to gain more exposure online, as at the moment there's just my website and Instagram.

What are your top tips for business success based on your experience so far?

I have three top tips for business success:

Know your business. Make sure you're doing something that you enjoy and are passionate about. There's nothing worse than a brand not caring about their reputation or customers, and just wanting to make profit.

Build a community: A.K.A, your tribe. Make sure you're visible and network and socialise with as many people as you can. Create your own little tribe and you'll see the sales and success roll in. Get your name out there.

Offer excellent service: Work to the best of your ability and try and offer something that your competition or even nobody else has done before. This makes your brand unique and memorable.

Which other entrepreneurs inspire you and why?

I admire Tata Harper from Tata Harper Skincare. I adore her skincare line and I'm inspired by her work ethic and devotion as she explains in an article for Allure.

She even worked on an SPF for three years! She said: "It's one of our most requested products, but I want to make the products that I feel proud of, that I feel are the most world-class and amazing, and that are different from what else is out there. And until that happens, we won't launch it." I find that inspiring and makes me want to produce first class skincare.

The free Amazon Small Business Accelerator e-learning programme is advice from more than 30 business experts in 218 bitesize videos.   
If you're already an Enterprise Nation member, log-in to your learning dashboard to access the e-learning. If you're not an Enterprise Nation member, you can join the Amazon Small Business Accelerator for free here.

Enterprise Nation has helped thousands of people start and grow their businesses. Led by founder, Emma Jones CBE, Enterprise Nation connects you to the resources and expertise to help you succeed.

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