Coupon code for readers: use the code JULY10 for 10% off any order (ends 07/31).
The amazing creator of the week is CourtneyJo of Milk And Honey Naturals -- a shop specializing in a full range of preservative free natural body care products. Milk & Honey Naturals offers everything from handmade soaps, to solid shampoo, solid conditioner, solid parfum, solid lotions, lip embellishments, facial care and more!
All about Milk And Honey Naturals: "I have been creating my own natural products for over a decade. I really pushed myself to create after I had a few unusual reactions to synthetically produced products. After struggling with problem after problem for years, I finally turned to only natural care. Most of what was available in stores was unscented or medicinal smelling, boring and flat out bland. Over the years I have done a lot of research on holistic medicine, herbal therapies, natural cures and have learned a lot about how earth products nurture, nourish, heal and cleanse. I started experimenting with herbal infusions for color, pure essential oil blends for punches of amazing natural aroma, swirling, layering and sprinkling for visually interesting effects. With a small nudge from my husband, Milk and Honey Naturals was born.
I started my business with a head packed full of knowledge, college training in business, hands that love to create, $200 and a big dream. I'm really scrappy when it comes to wise investing, researching the market, putting together a workable business plan and I learn fast. After the first year of exhaustively hard work and a lot of seed planting, I was able to stay home with my twin boys and help support our family for what looks like the foreseeable future.
The biggest inspirations behind my shop are family and health. They really go hand in hand. When I read the ingredient lists on regular store products, it irks me to no end. I've become even more fussy about ingredients since having my kids. I remember finding a baby lotion that actually boasted "no essential oils, only fragrance." There is a long list of essential oils that are not only safe for kids, but can actually help with conditions like colic. I dream for my family, I create for my family, I work hard for my family and I share my creations so that all people and all families can have access to quality natural products.
My process first starts with the functionality of a product. I always ask myself what I would like to get out of what I'm trying to create. I research and find the natural ingredients I need to get the results, then it's on to design. I take visual inspiration from anything and everything around me. It can be a slice of cake from a European bakery, to the colors created by light peeking through fall leaves all the way to a beautiful marble floor I remember from childhood. I compose ways to use the necessary ingredients to create my design and with a light hand, leave it at what naturally occurs."
Tips for other sellers:
1. Make something you love.
2. Give your shop meaning. After you decide what it is you would like to sell, make sure your shop has a story, a purpose and that everything goes together. So many people start shops without a unique selling perspective. Know what makes your shop unique and play that up, always.
3. Be realistic with your goals. Expect to be working hard the first 2 years and not making a lot of money. Otherwise, when you aren't rich the first day, you'll want to quit. I started with a 3 year plan. I didn't expect to be making any type of income until after my third Christmas. I worked extremely hard, all day, every day, and was lucky that I was making a very good profit by the second year. That isn't typical, but it can happen with a well rounded shop, good product and a lot of hard work.
4. Don't give up when things get tough. Take a step back, a breather, a break and come back ready.
5. Submit, submit, submit! Send your story to blogs, newspapers, magazines - everywhere you can think of at least bi-monthly and you'll start to snag press.
6. Get social - Start a blog, get on Twitter and Facebook. It's free advertising.
7. Have the best photography possible and very descriptive descriptions.
8. Go above and beyond with customer service.
9. Always be growing, learning, and improving.
"My favorite way to promote is through reviews, interviews, magazine spreads and my own social network. I have never purchased an ad. I prefer to have personal opinions written up. I feel it carries more weight when someone vouches for a product rather than putting up an ad that anyone can have."
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