More than 4 in 10 women business owners had to pivot their business model to maintain revenue during the pandemic, according to American Express’ Entrepreneurial Spirit Trendex, conducted in 2020. 68 percent expected they would have to again in 2021.
By pivot, we mean fundamentally changing the company’s business model in order to react to market shifts or in response to changing internal dynamics. For some businesses, the pivot was temporary, such as Anheuser-Busch and Diageo, makers of liquors and beers, which switched from making spirits to hand sanitizer as the pandemic surged. Restaurants pivoted to carry out and delivery-only as states shut down in-person dining, and retailers pushed curbside pickup as an option for shoppers to get what they needed quickly, without having to step foot inside the store.
Some businesses pivoted on a dime from one type of business to a completely different one, while others evolved over time. More are still in the process of responding to continued market shifts.
A few of those savvy female business owners who successfully pivoted include:
In-person to virtual workshops. Krista Neher, CEO of Boot Camp Digital, which provides digital marketing training, says that, “prior to the pandemic, most of our business was generated from in-person workshops. We had to quickly pivot to provide virtual workshops instead.”
Although clients initially viewed virtual workshops as “a necessary evil,” Neher says, her team spent months “testing, optimizing, and perfecting our virtual workshops and they now out-score even our in-person trainings!”
Now that “clients have seen that it can be effective,” Neher anticipates that 50 percent of the firm’s revenue will continue to be in virtual training.
Similarly, Laura Sinclair ran a brick-and-mortar gym pre-COVID. However, in November 2020, following the birth of her son, Sinclair quickly transitioned to providing pre- and postnatal coaching—her specialty—online, at Blueprint Fitness.
“We had come to terms with the reality that our gym business would continue to be impacted and the demands of being a new mom and running a brick-and-mortar during COVID would not be realistic for me,” she explains. “To date, I have been able to replace much of the income I’d paid myself from my gym by pivoting my business online.”
Shifting service offerings. Sarah Schaer, founder and CEO of Kango, which provided transportation services for children, says, “When the pandemic hit, the need for Kango’s main services vanished immediately.” Children didn’t need safe rides to school, activities, and appointments during a pandemic lockdown.
Recognizing the need to pivot but unsure initially what that meant, Schaer distributed a survey to customers “to find out how their needs had changed.” She discovered that “the solution was contactless food and grocery delivery, and the introduction of tutoring services for kids struggling to learn in virtual classrooms.”
By expanding her company’s services to provide a wide array of offerings, she tapped into new revenue generating opportunities.
Melissa Tong, founder and CCO of Duck Punk, took a similar tack. Her business pre-COVID was video marketing, with a primary focus on TV commercials for Fortune 500 companies, including Nissan and Verizon, she says. However, when the industry shut down, Tong switched gears away from video, specifically, to storytelling. “Offering storytelling services to companies that want to brand and market through storytelling,” Tong explains.
Already, clients are achieving big wins. “One of my clients quadrupled their sales in just three months,” she says.
From product to service. Nechami Tenenbaum, CEO of Karmela Cosmetics, shifted from selling her high performance, natural lipstick line to providing marketing and image consulting services, “to guide women on actualizing their ideal self-image and up-level their business, for greater business and personal success.”
Instead of relying solely on product sales, Tenenbaum looked at the reason behind those purchases and discovered many clients wanted more guidance regarding their personal image.
Make needed changes. Leslie Polizzotto, co-founder ofThe Doughnut Project, a handcrafted doughnut shop in NYC, had two locations, 24 employees, and a business partner pre-pandemic. The company was not profitable, she reports. However, since the pandemic, the business partner exited the company, Polizzotto shrunk her employee count down to three, and the business is now profitable.
The difference? Polizzotto is now able to pay her staff well and includes them in creative decisions, sharing financial results regularly. “This has led them to be motivated to help my business excel,” she says. Weekly collaborations with local and national brands as part of the company’s Weekend Specials has also led to lines down the block and “the shop sells out daily,” she reports.
Even as vaccinations increase and hospitalizations continue to decline, it’s possible we may not ever revert to life as it was a couple of years ago. Some market shifts will become permanent, while others may continue to evolve over time. Companies that can be agile and able to respond to those shifting demands will come out on top.
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In a study of 1,000 small business owners, email marketing ranked second as the most effective medium for branding and first for return on investment (ROI), according to a 2019 Campaign Monitor report. And when asked which marketing methods were expected to be relevant in 10 years, email marketing was tops.
We asked women business owners who have had success with email marketing for specific tips for crafting a successful campaign, as well as sharing our own experiences. Here is what we learned:
Understand your target audience. “Taking the time to understand your audience facilitates tailored messaging to each unique persona in your overall target audience,” says Starin Strategies founder and CEO Christene Starin. “Understanding your audience includes identifying their pain points, goals, values, and ultimately, what uniquely resonates with them regarding your services or offerings.” That information should then drive the type of content you share via email.
Craft a compelling subject line. When an email hits your reader’s inbox, they have limited information with which to decide whether to open and read it. The subject line can be a make-or-break factor, so make sure it is short, catchy, and interesting. Don’t try to be so clever that the recipient has no idea what you’re talking about, however.
Include a call-to-action (CTA). “The absolute, most important thing to include in a marketing email is at least one call to action,” says Kate MacDonnell, CMO of Coffee Affection. “A call to action is the point in the email where you are asking the recipient to interact with a hyperlink. It can be a sale for new customers, asking them to sign up for a new subscription, or anything else specific to whatever marketing campaign you’re running,” she says.
Throw in an emoji. MacDonnell also advocates using “one or two well-placed emojis in a subject line of an email.” She has found that “as long as they’re appropriate, emojis are a great eye-catcher and can greatly increase the amount of people who open your emails.”
Use a funnel format for content. “Put the most important points of your email at the top, so that people can quickly see what it’s about. It’s unlikely they will scroll down to find out more if the first few lines don’t interest them,” says Jill Canes, NP, founder and owner of Face Forward Medical Aesthetics.
Keep it short. “Too much content is a big no-no,” says Rachel Renken, content manager for More Naturals. “When it looks too heavy [meaning way too many words on the page], the reader shuts down and moves on to the next email.”
Stick to a schedule. Lindsey Ardmore, founder of Star Tower Systems, recommends “actually sending emails on a dedicated schedule.” Sending out messages whenever the mood strikes you, or on an occasional basis, is not nearly as effective as sending every Thursday, for example. Your fans will come to look forward to it, if you’re consistent with your schedule.
Make sure it’s mobile-friendly. Jeanine Duval, co-founder at Edelwyn, says, “A lot of the people you are emailing will be reading the email on their phone. So make sure that whatever you send is formatted to be readable both on a computer and on a mobile device, as if it requires a lot of effort to read, most people will simply delete your email without reading it.”
Don’t DIY it. Unless you’re technically savvy, it’s likely you’ll save considerable time and money by using an email platform like Mailchimp or Constant Contact. Says Savannah Scott, content and editorial lead at Supergreat, “Platforms like Mailchimp are very user-friendly to make template designs for your company’s newsletter, invitations, or other email marketing outreach.”
With consumers challenged with keeping their email inbox from becoming flooded, you need to be sure that what you’re sending them is worth their time. Keep messages short and attention-worthy, whether that’s a useful tip, a video, or some other idea or piece of information that improves your reader’s personal or business life. That’s how you develop a relationship with your prospects and customers that can yield significant revenue.
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Success or failure in business often comes down to marketing. Developing a product or service that people want and are willing to pay for, that you can sell at a price that generates a profit, is at the core of building a sustainable company. Master that and you can build a strong foundation.
The good news is that, despite what it may appear to be, marketing doesn’t have to be complex. You can learn as you go, and there are many great books on the topic that can help you. Of course, there are very general books, including Duct Tape Marketing, by John Jantsch, as well as super niche titles, like The 1 Hour Social Media Plan, by Kelly Smith, or Be Brand Brilliant: It’s All About Instagram Hashtags, by Julie Christie-Clark, and everything in between.
Ten marketing titles worth at least skimming include:
An oldie but goodie, this book is a treasure trove of short, actionable steps you can take to market your company, written by the former editor of Entrepreneur magazine, Rieva Lesonsky. Those tips include buying radio advertising for less, direct mail tactics, public speaking, networking, and hundreds of others, literally.
Abbie Widin, PhD combines practical business advice with money mindset guidance in this book, which is designed to help women imagine what a 7-figure business looks like and then leads them through steps to get there. Plenty of bonus materials, which are accessible through links listed at the end of each chapter, are useful supplementary information. The biggest takeaway is that to reach seven figures, you’ll need to take a different approach than you’re currently taking, starting with how you see yourself and your relationship with money.
Although Paul Jarvis’ book is considered a book about entrepreneurship, rather than marketing, it is written to help business owners think about how they operate their companies, including the customers they pursue. In that sense, it does touch on marketing and resource allocation to best attract the work you want. Although it is not a marketing how-to guide, it will help you consider whether you need an empire to be successful.
Since free publicity is one of the most cost-effective ways of building awareness of your business, you may want to read through Sandra Beckwith’s guide to the many ways of pursuing publicity. From writing pitch emails to press releases and press kits, you’ll find terrific templates for effective pursuit of media coverage. Although the book is a few years old, the strategies and advice are still spot on.
You’ve probably heard that “Content is king,” in this era of social media. Demand for information has never been higher and shows no sign of slowing. So how can you keep up? Andy Crestodina’s book provides more specific, technical guidance in how to build content that will have an impact, with illustrations and research that back up his suggestions regarding things like effective subject lines, best time of day for posting, and thank you message length.
For those entrepreneurs who like a step-by-step process with daily action items, CJ Hayden’s book may be for you, especially if you’re a service provider. You’ll find advice about defining your target audience to effective networking strategies and cold calling tips. The action worksheets and downloadable forms help with implementation of Hayden’s strategies.
Granted, this marketing guide is more than 20 years old, but that doesn’t mean its principles are any less relevant. Written by the pioneers of the work from home movement, Paul and Sarah Edwards, this is a terrific basic guide to identifying your target customer and helping them find you. The marketing tools covered are simple and inexpensive to use, relying more on traditional methods than digital, due to its publication date.
If you know that most of your work is going to originate online, or that you’ll be selling products through a website, you may want to start your reading with Mitch Meyerson’s book on digital marketing. He emphasizes the importance of a good website, how critical a mailing list is, and he reviews some of the basics of online copywriting and web design, to help improve sales conversions.
Businesses providing a service should take a look at Stephanie Chandler’s guide to dominating your market niche, using online marketing tactics to build a website that establishes credibility and establishing yourself as an authority in your field. Using content creation, social media, and networking tactics, she offers tips for standing out, even in a crowded field.
The idea that you should figure out what one thing you do better than everyone else, focus your resources on nurturing relationships with your best clients, and weed out those that are unprofitable or no longer a fit for your business is so simple that it’s brilliant. Mike Michalowicz offers guidance based on study of successful pumpkin farmers, which follow this same strategy. And it works.
There are great marketing lessons to be found in these pages, whether you order copies through your local bookstore or check them out for free from your library. You might even decide to listen to the audiobook versions while you commute to client meetings. However you tap into all the great information these authors have shared, you may want to keep a notebook handy so you can jot down notes for how you can apply their wisdom to your own venture.
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Small businesses are looking to hire more workers, according to NFIB’s monthly jobs report for February 2021. The report found that “56% of small business owners reported hiring or trying to hire in February, up 5 points from January.”
While that’s certainly good news for the economy, many companies are having trouble filling the openings they have. NFIB found that, “Fifty-one percent (91 percent of those hiring or trying to hire) of owners reported few or no ‘qualified’ applicants for the positions they were trying to fill in February, up 5 points.”
Given that many companies are still working remotely, finding and hiring job applicants is tough right now – even tougher if you want to meet potential hires face-to-face.
When in-person interviewing is not possible or advisable, here are some tips for making the right hire from afar:
Be clear about the job’s requirements. Whether you meet candidates in person or not, you’ll save a lot of time in interviews if you are super clear about what skills you need your new hire to have. What kinds of experiences would be useful? What kind of software should they absolutely know how to use? What kind of personality will be a good fit for the team that person will join? What are the must-haves and what are the nice-to-haves? This will help you attract résumés from people who have the skills you need.
Get on the phone. When you’ve identified some initial applicants who may be a good fit, schedule a 15-minute phone call to get to know them. Ask for more details regarding items on their résumé that interest you, whether that’s about a previous job or their hobbies, and offer to answer questions they may have about your current opening. At the end of the call, ask yourself if this is someone you’d want to work with.
Put together a hiring team. You may want to let the people who will be working alongside your new hire have a say in who they’d prefer to have join their team. That doesn’t mean they get the final say, but having 3-4 people participate in the interview process can give you that much more information and feedback. That’s extremely useful when you’re not able to sit across a desk or table from each applicant.
Get on video. Fortunately, video conferencing tools like Zoom, Teams, and Google Meet make it relatively easy to connect with job applicants visually. Invite applicants for 30-minute video meetings to further explore whether they might be a good fit. Ask the tough questions and push them to demonstrate they’re more than capable of doing what you need them to. Pay attention to body language, tone, eye contact, and self-awareness.
Have the team interview them. You can schedule a group Zoom interviews so that your hiring team has a chance to get to know applicants. What caught their eye on the applicant’s résumé, for example? Or what does the candidate do outside of work? Why are they interested in leaving their current job? Sometimes talking to peers reveals information a potential boss won’t necessarily hear.
Verify their information. Sure, you could call their references, who will no doubt have positive things to say. But you could also take your due diligence a step further and see who you might know in common on LinkedIn or Facebook. Consider reaching out to those people to get a reality check on your potential new hire. Or find a former co-worker at a past job and see how they view their colleague. It’s always better to do more checking up front and be confident in your hiring decision than to wish later that you had invested more time getting to know your candidates.
Compare notes. Some companies use a scorecard that rates each applicant on various aspects important to the company, such as capability, personality, work ethic, and other elements that have been linked to success in the job. Get your hiring team together, in person or virtually, to discuss your observations and ratings.
When you’re confident that you have the right person for the job, make an offer.
Many companies use a 90-day probationary period to give both the employee and the company the opportunity to determine if there’s a good fit. Giving yourself that trial period may also help reduce any anxiety you’re feeling about hiring someone from afar.
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Recently, WomensNet Advisory Board member Yamalis Hernandez sat down for an interview with 2020 year-end Amber Grant-winner Vanessa Bouche. You can learn all about her company, Savhera, in the video interview above — or you can browse the transcript below.
A special thanks to Vanessa for her time.
Today we are talking to Vanessa Bouche. She’s our $25,000 Amber Grant winner from 2020. And we’re so excited. [Vanessa]…I had the awesome privilege of giving you a call that Saturday morning and letting you know [the news]. That was amazing for me. I’m sure it was amazing for you too.
I think I screamed and said, ‘you’re making me cry.’ Yeah, it was a huge honor. Huge honor.
We know that you’ve already won the monthly grant award. And now you’ve won the 2020 award. So, our readers are a little familiar with your business, but maybe you can talk a little bit about what you guys do and how you impact the world.
Yes. So Savhera is actually a Hindi word that means new beginning. And it was named by our very first employees in Delhi because this represents a new beginning for them. What Savara does is turn the sales of organic aroma therapy products into jobs for survivors of sex trafficking in both India and the United States. That’s the meat and potatoes of our business: wellness products [and] aroma therapy products that contribute to the holistic wellness, mental wellness, spiritual wellness, physical wellness of our customers, as well as our employees.
One of the things that I’ve read about in your company report was your model around how you restructure your business. You have an acronym, P.I.E.S., that you use. Maybe you can explain a little bit to our listeners about that model.
Because Savhera is a social enterprise and our primary impact is on the people we employ, we have what we call our Human Flourishing Model. It’s P.I.E.S., as you alluded to. And PIES stands for Physical, Intellectual, Economic, and Spiritual growth and development. Because we are all about the employees that we serve and all about human wellness in general, this is a holistic flourishing model for human beings. Not just for survivors attracting, not just for the women that we serve as a company… but for everybody. And the way that the P.I.E.S. model works is essentially looking across all four of those dimensions, physical, intellectual, economic, and spiritual, and saying, we recognize that each of us has health or unhealth in these areas, at an individual level. So the first layer of the P.I.E.S. model is looking across those four dimensions at the individual level.
The second layer of the P.I.E.S. model is looking across those four dimensions at the interpersonal level. Looking more at families and communities. Finally, after your personal needs are met and your family and community needs are being met across those four dimensions, we get out to the macro level, which is really the giving back level. So it’s to say that our needs are met here and here. And how can we then start to give back what we have in the physical realm, intellectual realm, economics realm, and spiritual realm. Because we all have things to contribute to the world. But we’re not able to contribute those things if we’re not healthy ourselves. And if our family’s needs are not being met, secondly. So we want to get everybody to the point where their physical, intellectual, economic and spiritual needs are met, their family needs are met, so they can then contribute to the world the gifts they’ve been given.
The interesting thing about the model is that it’s for all human beings. It doesn’t just apply to survivors of extreme trauma or complex trauma. It really applies to all of us. For me, I recognize personally where I’m at along the P.I.E.S. model on any given dimension on any given day. If I’m under an immense amount of stress, I begin to operate as though I’m in survival mode, as though I’m in fight or flight mode. And so recognizing those things, understanding those things, understanding where the triggers are, where the needs are, that allows you to kind of intervene. And it’s a flexible model. It allows for a lot of fluidity, depending on where anybody is at, at any given point in their life or any given day. And that’s what we use, as kind of a base. We operationalize it with a baseline survey, a baseline assessment where we assess where the employees are at when they first come to Savhera. And then we monitor and evaluate their progress over time on the various dimensions of the P.I.E.S. model. And it’s really cool because of the systematic way of looking at their progress, and then seeing how far they’ve come.
I really love that. Especially the self-awareness incorporated in that model. It really is built to help people grow. We know that you spend quite a bit of time developing your employees, helping them to have life skills, math skills, all sorts of skills. And I really loved that your company principle is not just do no harm. I think you said, “do no harm is not enough; actively do good.” So that’s pretty amazing. How do you consciously run a business and keep in mind your company goals at the same time?
I would love to say that it’s easy, but it’s not. It’s definitely hard to manage knowing that at the end of the day, you do have a bottom line. We are running a business and we are a for-profit entity, while simultaneously not cutting corners on various things. We know that supply chain scrutiny, supply chain transparency, polluting the environment are all ways of cutting corners of getting things done in less time and for less money. I think that the way that you have to approach it is you have to be proactive. It has to be part of your mission and your ethos as a company. You cannot contribute to the world in a reactive way.
You can’t make positive change by being reactive. You have to be proactive. And in order to be proactive, you have to be intentional. And in order to be intentional, you have to have a plan. It has to be part of your strategic plan. It has to be embedded in the very fabric of who you are as a company. And so, it doesn’t just happen automatically. It takes up a lot of thought. It takes a lot of intentionality. It’s difficult. But, I think that the adage “do no harm” is passive, right? It’s like, we’re gonna operate to try not to harm the planet and the environment, but we’re not going to actively do anything to try to benefit it. Whereas [we’re] flipping that on its head and saying, no, that’s actually not good enough.
We have our values, we are a values-driven company. We know who we are, and we don’t want to compromise on our identity as our corporate identity. And so every single decision that we make, it has to align with our values.
If you didn’t have to think about these things, it’s would be much easier to do business. But when you put people first and you honor the planet — because none of us would be alive without the planet — we have to have a healthy planet to continue to sustain humanity globally.
I think that it’s the only way to do it. And I think that it’s the way of the future. I think millennials and gen Z people understand this much, much better than the older generations. And we’re going to start seeing a significant shift in the way business is done. Savhera wants to be in those conversations. Savhera wants to be leading the charge in that way. We want to be on the cutting edge of how to be a business that not just does no harm, but actually does good.
I know that it is. I’ve tried your product myself. And it is a wonderful product; it feels really good knowing the transparency from the beginning, all the way to receiving it. And so that’s a really wonderful story, and it makes me personally feel proud.
So this year we know that COVID has brought many challenges to many businesses, and certainly, as you developed this business from 2018 to now, there were probably other struggles as well. What would you tell other women business owners that are up and coming that have been doing this maybe for a year… what keeps you motivated? What helps you to not throw in the towel?
COVID has presented many, many challenges. So we have nine employees in India, and India had a three month country-wide lockdown for three months. There was zero productivity happening in India over the course of those three months. Of course, a lot of businesses during this time are laying off employees; that’s kind of where you first looked to cut, if you needed to make major cuts to your budget. But we’re a social enterprise that exists to provide jobs. That’s not an area we can cut. I am very proud of the fact that not only did we not cut any employees during that time, but nobody missed a paycheck.
It was very, very difficult. In addition to that, a lot of boutiques were going out of business at the time because nobody was shopping outside of their house. Amazon stock went through the roof, but small businesses — many of them women owned — ended up going out of business because they didn’t necessarily have an online presence. And they couldn’t easily pivot to having a website. And so for us, that meant that all of our wholesale orders tanked. We all of a sudden went from having, in a matter of four months from when we first started Savhera, we had 16 wholesale accounts. And we got those 16 wholesale accounts in our first four months of business. And then COVID hit, and it went to zero. And building back up again has been extremely difficult. So that’s another major challenge that we have faced as a result of COVID.
I know that everybody is motivated by different things. You know, some people are motivated by mission. Some people are motivated by money. I happened to be a mission driven person. I know myself well enough to know that if this company was about money for me, I would have been out a long time ago. I would be like, ‘you know what? This ain’t worth it. Not worth it.’ Okay. Because it’s hard, and everybody that has ever run a startup, knows it is hard. Right? So if it was about that, I would have been out, I wouldn’t have stuck with it, because fundamentally our business has a mission.
And that mission is about women who have very few, if any, other options or alternatives, or a livelihood outside of this job. Because that is the mission, I will not stop. I will not stop working. I will not stop putting one foot in front of the other. I will not stop advocating. I will not stop proclaiming the message of our wellness products and why they’re good for you, why they’re good for our employees. And why they’re good for the planet. Why we’re good for the world. I won’t stop. And I’m not a salesperson. I’m a professor, okay. I like to teach, I don’t do sales, but because the sale for me is not about me. We have an amazing product and we want people to become loyal to Savara because we have amazing products, but we also exist because women need jobs and they need advocacy and they need people to support them.
I believe so deeply in their value as human beings and what they can contribute to the world. I believe that we’re providing jobs to the most resilient human beings on the planet. These are people who have experienced levels of trauma and exploitation that the vast majority of us cannot fathom. They are the most resilient, talented people on the planet. And if you can give them an opportunity to thrive and grow, the potential is endless. So that’s what motivates me. You can tell when I talk about the mission and the purpose of the company, that’s what really gets me excited. That is what motivates me to never give up and to never stop. And has it been hard? Oh my gosh. I can share story after story, after story of why this is so hard.
Any startup is so hard. But I think every individual has to identify for themselves what drives them. And if there’s not an element of what drives them in their business, then the business probably is not going to last. But if there’s an element of what drives you in your business, if your mission is about people and you believe that your product can genuinely help people, then I feel like that’s what allows us to keep going and to keep moving forward. And some people, it is money. They are motivated by making a lot of money. And that’s fine. And those people, hopefully, can eventually find a business model that does get them that money, but you have to know yourself first.
So it sounds like one of the first things any aspiring business owner is to know, is yourself. Knowing your value system. Because that is going to be the thing to keep lighting the fire under you.
Absolutely. It’s so fundamental. And then as you grow as a company and as you have more and more employees, you get to know yourself better and better and better because you get to realize the ugly sides of you, the bruise sides of you. That’s the parts of you that need to acknowledge that you don’t know the answer. Then be open and honest with yourself to continue to get to know yourself better for the safety of your employees and for the sake of the company.
One of the things that we want to know is about competitors. We know the essential oil business is a big business. And through this interview we’ve seen what makes Savhera different. Is there anything else you’d like to add in terms of what puts you in a special place?
You’re absolutely right. It is a pretty saturated market. A lot of people know kind of who the biggest players are in that market. So we are different in a variety of ways. So first of all, obviously the social mission. We provide salary jobs to survivors of trafficking. They all are making over the living wage. Secondly, all of our essential oils are organic. We don’t sell any essential oils that are not USDA certified organic, and there’s no other essential oil company that sells only organic products. We’re really the only one. There’s a lot of essential oil companies that do sell organic essential oils, but it’s in addition to other non-organic essential oils.
And so we only sell organic products, which is another thing that makes us very different. We also try to integrate our social mission into every step of our supply chain. So most recently we have two new blends that just came out, but this one [shown to screen] is called Warm Memories and it is formulated. The blend was formulated by a registered aroma therapist who herself is a survivor of sex trafficking. And every sale of this, a certain percentage goes back to her and her small woman-owned, survivor-owned business. So we are always looking for creative ways to partner with other women-owned businesses.
Also we sell, for example [shown to screen] a ceramic lamp defuser that was handcrafted and designed by a female artisan in India who was one of the very first female artisans to really make it big. And I don’t even know that I would say it’s that big, but to make it in a very heavily dominated male industry in India [is amazing]. And so again, supporting other women-owned businesses in our supply chain is something that’s very, very important to us. So our environmental sustainability, our social impact as far as the people that we serve all make us very different. And then obviously, the two main multilevel marketing essential oil companies that a lot of people think of are multilevel marketing companies.
And unfortunately, a lot of people assume that we’re a multi-level marketing company when they hear that we sell aroma therapy products and essential oils. But we are not. And so one of the ways that we also are different is because we’re not a multi-level marketing company, our prices are significantly lower than those other companies. We’re not having to pay a commission all the way up the line. And so despite the fact that our oils are organic, our prices are actually lower and that’s just because of a different business model. And I think that that’s a really important point for people to really understand as well. Just due to a business model, oftentimes you’re paying more money, not necessarily because of the quality of the product. We get all of our oils independently tested by a third party lab, and we make all of our test results available on our website for every batch of oil too. So that all of our customers know that they are in fact, a hundred percent pure unadulterated uncontaminated undiluted essential oil. So you’re getting a very pure organic quality product for a very affordable price while simultaneously investing in the lives of marginalized women who really need support and need jobs.
Yeah. And making essential oils accessible to someone otherwise not be able to afford them.
Yes, exactly. And just, again, as far as our supply chain goes, these are our essential oil pouches [shown to screen]. About 12 bottles of our oils fit in these pouches, and these are also made by survivors of trafficking in Calcutta. It’s all organic, a hundred percent organic cotton, and then the insides are lined with up-cycled material. Again, everything that we do, all of our decisions that we make as far as what products we carry and where they come from, is very, very intentional. And as much as possible we work with and serve women-owned businesses.
Where can our listeners and viewers buy your products?
We sell our products online at Savhera.com. All of our products are listed on our website.
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With so many questions being asked in the WomensNet Facebook group recently about Kickstarter, we turned to Katheryn Thayer, director of brand content at Kickstarter, for the inside scoop on what types of projects and businesses are most successful at crowdfunding. Here’s what she shared with us:
WomensNet: Could you give us a little history of crowdsourcing and Kickstarter?
Kickstarter: Kickstarter did not invent crowdfunding, but it gained its eponym by popularizing it. The company launched in 2009, at the tail end of the Great Recession, and that scrappy spirit has definitely been evident through 2020’s hardships. The Inside Voices call for projects helped creators generate new streams of income from quarantine, and Lights On encouraged creative businesses to use Kickstarter campaigns to stay open.
WomensNet: What types of companies usually use Kickstarter as a funding source?
Kickstarter: Kickstarter is exclusively for creative work (which includes creative businesses). The site rules require creators to offer something new—whether that’s a book, performance, class, food, installation, or something else—as a reward. Kickstarter campaigns allow creators to collect money for an idea they do not yet have the funds to produce at scale, so it can be a great tool for early and seed-stage businesses. It’s important to note that Kickstarter does not allow campaigns to offer equity.
WomensNet: Are there particular industries or types of products and services that tend to do well on the platform?
Kickstarter: Almost any creative project or business can find its fit on Kickstarter (provided it follows the rules). The official Kickstarter categories are Arts, Comics & Illustration, Design & Tech, Film, Food & Craft, Games, Music, and Publishing. But there are also several less apparent subcommunities around offerings like fashion, tarot, bike gear, and more.
WomensNet: Are there price points that tend to have more success?
Kickstarter: Most projects aim to offer at least one reward that costs between $20 and $50, and these more accessible prices tend to be popular with backers.
WomensNet: Is there an average amount raised that we could share?
Kickstarter: Every project is different. Small campaigns like those launched as part of Make 100 might aim to raise $1,000 or less. Creative businesses with a large following, like Brandon Sanderson’s self-publishing business, can raise millions.
WomensNet: Could you share a case study of a microbusiness that was successful in securing the funding they needed?
Kickstarter: I’m not sure how you define microbusiness, but this case study about a small design studio might be a good example.
WomensNet: What are some do’s and don’ts you might share to help our women business owners improve their odds of success on Kickstarter?
Kickstarter: There’s tons of great advice in our Creator Handbook—we recommend everyone who launches a project reads it. A few takeaways we repeat frequently:
Create a list of potential backers and start collecting emails before you launch. (Our prelaunch pages can help with that.)
Use clear, compelling lifestyle photography to help backers imagine themselves using your reward.
Give yourself a cushion. Creators sometimes forget to factor shipping costs, production complications, and our 5% fee into their budgets.
Creators can set a financial goal of any amount, and give themselves between 0 and 60 days to meet that goal. Though every project is different, we generally see that 30 day campaigns are the best way to motivate your community’s support without burning out.
Send updates! Once you successfully meet your goal, regular communication with your backers is key.
WomensNet: Anything else they should know?
Kickstarter: Many creators launch a failed campaign before they find success! Failing is sometimes part of the process. And Kickstarter is a great way to learn what your audience is or is not responding to before you invest money in creating something.
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