Friday, 4 March 2016

The Interview - Part 2

We left off last week discussing how we first got a stall in Chester Market - here's where we pick up the story.

Fairypants    The feeling I got from being in a market is that people have to see you there a few times before they’ll buy from you, because to their mind you could be there one week and gone the next. And they’ve bought something and they want a refund, so they don’t trust you until you’ve been there for a few months. So, like I say, after the pity sales of the first few months, then it started to kind of pick up a little bit and it was really good. And then I think maybe it was a year or two years later I just found this recipe in a magazine to make vegan lip balm and I’m obsessed with cosmetics, like really obsessed with them, to the point where people who go abroad will bring them back for me if they’re a strange brand that you can’t get over here.


And I had a friend in Uni who was from Texas; she used to bring all this crazy stuff back over from America for me. So finding this recipe for lip balm, it was amazing, it blew my mind. I decided to make some just for me, but this recipe, it made about ten lip balms. I had all these lip balms in the same flavour and, although it was really nice,  I didn't want ten of these lip balms, so I just gave them to my friends and family.


And it was the same thing as with the dresses, it was totally accidental. I just gave them away and people were saying 'it’s the best lip balm I’ve ever tried'. And probably part of it was them just being nice, but I thought maybe I was on to something. I started doing a load of research into what it takes to make cosmetics and sell it. It’s different. If I make a dress and sell it, that’s fine, I don’t have to adhere to any rules and regulations, really. I mean, as long as I tell you about the washing instructions and care and stuff, that’s kind of about it. But with the cosmetics, you have to get it tested. You have to get it sent off to a lab. You have to go through all this red tape. You have to tell the government that that’s what you’re doing. You have to register.So I did. It took months of this research to find out what I had to do to be legal and then I sorted all that out, bought a license – well, it’s not really called a license, but it basically means that I am allowed to make and sell lip balms in the whole of the EU.


So I bought this license thing, started selling them, and it just, it went from there. It got… it went a bit crazy. I started having people wanting to buy wholesale from me, so that was a bit crazy. I didn’t really know how I was going to do that, but I said yes anyway. Say yes and think about it afterwards. Then it kind of grew from there. I did just the lip balms for about a year and a half, before I kind of felt like it wasn’t really going anywhere. Like, it was slow and steady sales, but I felt like to really do these wholesalers any justice, I had to expand the range and let them buy more things from me.
So slowly over the course of a year I introduced eyeshadows, skin balm. So the skin balm was quite a good story, I’ll come back to that in a minute. Nail varnish, that’s my biggest seller. It’s the worst as well because most of it I still make myself and they just take forever and I have to rope my boyfriend in, and we just sit there making nail varnish for a whole day. But, yes, so each time I was adding this product to my collection, I was paying another fee for a different license for that product, and the scarier the product is, the more stuff that’s in it, the more expensive it is. So like for the lip balms I might have only paid £130 or something. But for the nail varnish it’s more like £400 because there’s so many more chemicals and stuff in it that has to be tested. The lip balms have only got three ingredients in so, you know, there’s not a lot of testing that has to go into that, but the nail varnish is more complex.
After that, I started doing perfumes as well. So they were another expensive one because there’s so many things in them and also it’s directly onto your skin, so there’s a lot of extra testing in there. There’s no real plan to when I’m going to think of something new. I tend to just get bored and want to do something new. None of what’s happened has been extensively planned. It’s all seemed a bit accidental, which is probably not the best way to run a business, but it seems to work all right for me so I might stick to it for a little while longer.
In Part 3 we look at taking a customer suggestion and turning it into Dry Skin Balm, and product testing. xox

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