When my twins were babies, they had a lot of messy hair. On a daily basis I was asked to send or post pictures of the kids – and I was embarrassed by how their hair looked! My son was a Jim Carrey in Ace Ventura look- a-like and my daughter could have rivaled Cindy Lauper in the 80s.
When I couldn’t find anything natural for babies to tame their unruly locks, I started making my own product out of coconut oil. When other Moms started stealing it from my diaper bag, I knew it was time to turn it into a business, but I had no idea where to begin.
I had a chemist create the formula based on my specifications.
I wanted our formula to use quality, natural or organic ingredients so parents would feel comfortable using it. Unlike other kids hair products, I wanted our styling products to allow hair to have a soft texture after styled.
I decided to do mini focus groups with Moms to validate the product. My background is in marketing, so I knew it was important to have an understanding of how the consumer felt about my concept and product. After using the cream for a few weeks, I sent questions and made adjustments based on their invaluable feedback.
Did you have any experience/expertise in the area?
I worked as an SVP at one of the top ad agencies in New York prior to having twins. The only real transferable skill I had was a deep understanding of consumers, the insights that drive their decisions and how to communicate to audiences effectively. In terms of manufacturing, sales and product development, I knew absolutely nothing. The biggest lesson I learned was to ask the stupid questions – and keep asking until you get an answer. Going from being at the top of my field and knowing most of the answers to literally knowing nothing, was incredibly humbling.
One of the things I spent money on was packaging and branding. With my background, I knew this was something that would set me apart. The baby category has been known for soft pastel colors, and I wanted to be different. I picked a vibrant color palette, assigned animals per SKU and used the website to tell our story.
Have you raised any money? How much?
I raised a bit from friends and family, and used most (ok, all) of our savings. The business is profitable, but I’ve decided to expand the product line, so all of the profit is being reinvested now.
Who is your target demographic?
If you can nail who you are talking to, that’s half the battle. I talked to many Moms and while I am the Founder, I’m not the target. Our target is a first time millennial moms, 25-35 who wants to show off her adorable baby. We offer her natural hair and scalp products that allow her baby to shine. She believes her child is a reflection of herself. If she only has time to make sure one of them looks good for the day, it’s going to be her baby.
I think businesses can go wrong when they are too generic with their target. I could have easily said, “busy Mom”, but I wanted to dig deeper and understand what drives her.
Why do they pick “T is for Tame?”
People want to buy from people. I started the business trying to make it just about the product, but I quickly realized my story was just as powerful as the organic ingredients I put in the bottle.
What is the most strange customer request you’ve had?
I had a Mom ask me to send free product for her 20 adopted children. She included a photo. I reversed searched the image and found it as a stock image. Oops!
Do you remember your first order?
I joined a local Moms group and mentioned my product to a few of the women. On our Facebook group, she mentioned my products and I got my first orders to the website. Great news, except, I didn’t have any product yet! Although I had launched the website, I thought I set the product count to zero, but it was actually 10. I had to quickly scramble to give everyone a discount and tell them it was a preorder.
What sells best?
Honestly, whatever has the best review. It is so important to put out a good product.
Did you run any companies prior?
Yes, I started an underground restaurant with a coworker and friend. We were owners and chefs, and kept our full-time job. It was a weekend restaurant that operated in secret locations in NYC. After 3 years, we decided it was more of a passion project that a money maker, so we went separate ways.
The biggest thing I learned is to never take a business partner, and to never take a business partner that’s a friend. I know this may work for some people, but having creative and financial control is something that is hard for me to share. I’m too opinionated – and have trouble compromising if I don’t feel it’s the right thing to do.
What were your family and friends first thoughts on your company?
Most people in my life were incredibly supportive. It has always been my dream to have my own company. I laugh about it now, but the only person that was opposed, was my mother-in-law. She was, rightfully so, worried that starting a business with twin babies, may not be the best timing. If I went back to work full-time, I knew I wouldn’t be able to shed the golden handcuffs. It was either right after maternity leave or never.
What inspires you?
My Dad was a serial entrepreneur. He passed before seeing me become an entrepreneur. I know my mind worked like his and it’s a way to feel close to him.
Do you have any advice for someone just starting out?
Don’t stop working until you absolutely have to. I was pretty naive about how much funding a business would need to thrive. If you want to grow, you need to reinvest in marketing, product development and so on.
What is stopping you being 3x the size you are now?
I’m working on it. It’s still early. We’ve been in business a little over a year. I think if I had unlimited funds, I would drive more brand awareness.
Do you have any protection against competition?
We have trademarks. With personal care products, it’s almost always a bad idea to patent. When you patent a product, you have to show your formula, which makes it much easier to have knock-offs. It just wasn’t worth it for us.”
What are the top 3-5 apps your business could not run without?
- Shopify. I was on Wix. It was terrible for product-based businesses. I recently switched to Shopify and I’m kicking myself that I didn’t do this a year ago. Everything about it is better.
- Stitcher. I devour podcasts. I listen to mostly business and entrepreneurial podcasts that are specific to my niche. Why not learn from someone that has done it before?
- Amazon. My husband likes to say I check my sales more than a day trader. The app is fantastic for sellers. “
Are there any releases you can tell us about?
Yes, we are launching 2 new products by the end of 2019. Both products are for fighting cradle cap in babies and toddlers. We created an organic and natural cream that Moms can use to rub into scalp – and a sensitive shampoo that will wash it out. We tested it extensively with Moms. I still get DMs asking when it will be ready.
What is current revenue?
We are in the low six-figures. I am hoping to double it by 2020.
Would you ever sell?
I think there is always a number that someone would accept. I don’t have any plans to sell, but you never know what life will bring.
|Company Name:||T is for Tame|