Click here if you missed the first part of Cocoa Pink’s interview.
Do you have your Vision and Values determined? Would you mind sharing?
CocoaPink is committed to the highest standards of ethics and integrity. We are responsible to our customers, employees, to the environments we inhabit, and to the societies we serve. In executing our responsibilities, we do not take professional or ethical shortcuts. Our actions must reflect the high standards we affirm.
You have a great site! I love the graphics on the site. Do you feel like having great graphic design has helped your business?
I love my illustrator. I do all the label design and most of the concept art and my illustrator does all the graphics. We have a great synergy, as she is able to take my vision and realize better than I could have imagined it myself. That’s the true talent of an illustrator, to honor the clients vision and surpass expectation.
I think packaging is very important. I like to pay attention to details. Yes, product quality is the most important element, however people still judge the bottle, label, packaging. I get it with the higher end retailers, as my packaging is not “exclusive” enough to be in the higher end retail shops, even if the product is superior to the “nicely wrapped” ones.
If you only had $1000 to start out your business, what would you spend the money on, knowing what you know now?
2. Legal Fees
3. Start Up Supplies
Insurance – I am a stickler for doing things by the book. I’ve learned that to maintain a well run business you need to have a secure foundation. If someone is interested in selling cosmetics to the public, they need to be aware of the liability they are placing themselves in with each sale. There are great affordable insurance options available to the small business owner. I would recommend looking at the Handcrafted Soaper’s Guild as they have a plan with various coverage options that is very reasonable.
Selling to the public without insurance is financial suicide. Just one lawsuit is enough to rack up thousands in legal fees. If you sell it and it hurts someone, you are responsible. So insurance is a must.
Legal Fees – There are companies online that offer affordable legal options for things
like business licenses, corporations, state tax identifications, and any other legal requirements your state may have for running small businesses. Legal Zoom is a good place to begin researching. I would also recommend contacting your local small business association as they can help you state legislatures and laws. You don’t want to invest in a business then get slammed by fines. Make sure you know what is required of you before selling to the public.
Remember, all it takes is one hurt customer, one lawsuit, or one state law that you are unaware of to put you out of business for good. Be responsible and take it seriously. Selling to the public is not like a grade school bake sale. You need to know what you are getting into and make informed decisions.
After you have all the red tape in place, an active insurance policy, and anything else you may need to sell your goodies to the public… your wallet will feel pretty empty. Start with one product – the product you do best – your signature item. If it’s soap, start with that. If it’s fragrance do that. Start small. Get what you need to make a few small batches and focus on that. Depending if you sell online or locally, take photos yourself to save money. Start with Etsy or another low fee way to sell your product. Save money where you can – photos, website (wait on investing in a full blown online shop until you have some profits).
What’s your favorite product to make?
Soap! It’s my zen. I soap alone, in private. It’s intimate. I love it.
What’s your favorite Bramble Berry product?
Right now I’m really diggin’ the Hello Sweet Thang Fragrance oil.
Thank you Ilona for such an informative and information-rich interview!
I am so glad that you got such great take-away value from this interview. I was very impressed with Ilona’s openness about her business philosophy and practices.
The Handcrafted Soaper’s Guild is a great resource to start at for insurance.
Teresa R pretty much summed it up, I hadn’t really thought much about insurance, because I don’t make anything with a flame. I didn’t even think about allergic reactions being something to sue over. Will def. be doing some research on the Handcrafted Soaper’s Guild. Thanks again for the info!
Thanks for this interview. It is so helpful for me, a newbie, to hear from someone who puts such an emphasis on being ethical, responsible and fully insured. I will structure my business differently now after reading this.
Teresa R says
It’s eye-opening to see her place such emphasis on insurance; I never thought much about it. Again, I learn lots from your blog, Anne-Marie!
As for Hello Sweet Thang, I made skull-crossbone Halloween soaps with that fragrance and it was a huge hit! 🙂
I had my first home party last night to launch for the very first time. I made the Fresh Snow and Black Amber & Lavender. The guests went CRAZY over the Black Amber and Lavender; actually so do I! I now have to order because the orders I took exceeded my supply. Happy problem!
I also love the labels you have been sharing. They are great!