Friday, 27 September 2013

Two Recent Bumps / Business lessons?

Bump and Business Lesson 1
Feeling disillusioned with a “the biggies”… finally got into a shop I have been admiring for some time, a quickly growing Spanish company, beautiful concept, beautiful packaging, all products made with olive oil including "natural" skincare… and found out that their concept of “natural” ingredients wasn’t the same as mine. Some of the ingredients were even potentially harmful, and on David Suzuki’s dirty dozen list…
Am I supposed to simply accept that green-washing or lying is business?  In business, can we do it authentically and make a profit?  I still like to think so. 
Naturalmente Mediterraneo is a small, family run business with the 4 following core values:
1)      Love what we do
2)      Use ONLY natural ingredients, from this area whenever possible
3)      Support the local community and economy
4)      Treat the environment well
I don’t want to have to lower the quality of my ingredients to make more profit… so I won’t. For example, even though I know I can get Sweet Almond Oil cheaper, made with Almonds from California, I choose to use oil with Almonds grown in Spain. I don’t want to have to lie or “green-wash” in my marketing in order to compete... so I won’t make false claims.  I don’t want to have to purchase packaging from China in order to bring costs down, when I know our hand-made soap bags create work locally… so I won’t.  
How can I turn this “bump” into something positive?  What can I learn from this? Although it made me mad that a company can lie, not have visible consequences for it and seem to be growing successfully, it reinforces even more our core values. It reinforces what I don’t want to become.  It reminds me that green-washing happens, in companies that may be more interested in profit than providing an authentic, quality product. It reinforces that, although profit is needed in order to stay in business, our focus is on providing an authentic, quality product with only natural ingredients and I believe that is possible without lying. I may need to incorporate the word “authentic” into my core values somehow.  Maybe number 2 - "Create and provide authentic, quality products with only natural ingredients, from this area whenever possible".
Business Lesson?  Believe in and stick to your core values no matter what others are doing.  Be authentic.
Bump and Business Lesson 2
Just this week, I discovered someone else has started a natural skincare company with a very similar company name to mine, simply changed to English.  Although I am not able to find out much information about them or where they are based, it seems the person who runs the show may even have the same first name as I do as well? Coincidence or Intention? My main worry is that clients may think we are the same company...
Copying someone else’s company name and concept?  Not something I would ever be interested in doing. It is pathetic really, and I feel sorry for someone who has so little creativity that they need to blatantly copy others.  However, I acknowledge that I have to accept these things happen. In hindsight, I should have purchased that domain name.
If this can help anyone out there with their small businesses somehow, protect it well.
Business lesson?   I remind myself of that quote - “Expect the best, but prepare for the worst”. 
Now, I need to protect what I am able to, and move forward positively.
I am going to focus on the good stuff, because there is so much good stuff going on.
(one of our personalized hotel/ retreat soaps)
We had an exciting spring, with a trade fair in Malaga, releasing new products - Liquid Soap and Facial Serum.
(Malaga trade fair)
We got wonderful, long-awaited, new labels for our creams and salves.

We had a great, hard-working summer, our busiest sales season and it is just coming to an end with October starting. Now we are moving into production, creation and trade fair season!  Yippee!! 
(our night market stand)
I have several new products in the works which I am so excited about, happy to have my evenings free again after my summer night market every night, and excited to begin travelling a little to trade shows.  We did one in Marbella this past weekend which was great. 
(Stand in Marbella)

Hope you are all soaping away, happily experimenting and I look foward to reading about your next soaping adventures.  I also hope that my business lessons maybe help to some of you small business owners out there.
xo Jen


Anonymous said...

It is really annoying when someone tries to copy you, but at the same time it means you are good and worth copying. Your success is a testament that you are doing the right thing. So happy to hear that things are going great for you, Jen. You've worked hard for it and truly deserve it. More power to your growing business. :-)

Mabel said...

*hugs* I sort of feel you. A few weeks after I launched a stout soap, a fellow soapmaker back in M'sia did the same thing and with nearly the same key ingredients. But I often tell myself that the pie is big enough for everyone and also that if someone is copying me, it means I must be doing something right.

It's heartwarming to see that you're ultra busy - busy is good! :)

Jennifer Young said...

Soapjam, Thanks for all your wonderfully positive words!! I hope you are feeling better (saw on your blog that you were under the weather...) Love watching you experiment!! xo Jen

Jennifer Young said...

Mabel, Thanks for your sweet words. Sorry to hear you've been copied as well. Just checked out your blog and your new soap bags look wonderful. Re-usable packaging!! I'm all for it!! xo Jen

Adrien said...

Dear Jen!
Congratulations to the notion, and I cheer you on.

Anonymous said...

Dear Jen,
copying is the thing people without inspiration and knowledge do. They tend to be overly ambitious and ruthless and can cause serious harm so they should't be taken lightly. I sugegst you speak to an experienced business expert about dealing with unfair competition and with a legal expert about safeguarding your business against such newcommers. It is important to act immediately. Waiting will not make them go away. Take action.
Good luck and best wishes, S

tina bunston said...

I am so glad you are doing well, Jen! And all without sacrificing any principles, either. Keep it up!

Jennifer Young said...

Adrien, Thank you! Jen

Jennifer Young said...

Anonymous, Thank you for your words and advice. Sounds like you have experience with this. Thank you, Jen

Jennifer Young said...

Tina, Thank you!!! XO Jen

Moj sapun... said...

I can imagine how frustrated it can be when somebody copies the idea and brand image developed for a long time for which big effort and energy were needed to be installed. But luckily the customers can make a difference and recognize the value of the product quality. Just follow your vision and it will for sure provide you further development and business success!

isabel said...

Hola Jenn!!Tu empresa ya tiene un sitio en el mundo, quien busca calidad,seriedad y por supuesto aprecie el trabajo de lo elaborado a mano, os va a buscar,tu sigue creyendo en tus productos, y hazlos con todo el amor del mundo, el resultado final serán los maravillosos jabones que llevan vuestro nombre, vuestro sello NATURALMENTE MEDITERRANEO,hechos en andalucía, por cierto, mi tierra,OLÉ, Besos y ternuras.Isabel.

Jennifer Young said...

Moj Sapun, Thank you so much for your lovely supportive words!! xo Jen

Jennifer Young said...

Isabel, Muchisimas gracias... eres tan positiva i entusiasta como siempre!!! xo Jen

Diva Soap said...

I really got pissed off, while reading the post! Soooo unfair trade manners, all of them! I felt anger and rage, because it could happen to all of us and I exactly know how you must have felt!
I'm just wondering which law allows labeling product as nature, if it's really not!
And as for the second bump, can you sue them?
I really wish I could be so tough and keep a smile on my face, despite of others' unscrupulousness!
You and your stand look great, I love those huge soaps, are they batches!

Jennifer Young said...

Diva Soap, Thanks for your comment. Sounds like you felt similarly to me on these issues. Rage, disappointment, sad, duped, a-little-too-trustworthy... my husband wasn't concerned at all about the first "bump". He says we are doing something entirely different to what those big marketing companies are doing, and they won't affect us, but he was enRAGED about the second bump. We are looking into everything we can do. Thanks for your support. Which big soaps are you referring to.... the hotel ones? I do small hotel size soaps for this client, then big ones which they sell. xoxo Jen

Diva Soap said...

O, I see huge soaps/batches (not sure what they are) on the picture with caption 'Stand in Marbella' and on the one above it! No no, they cannot be hotel size!

Jennifer Young said...

They are just my normal sized (7,5cm x 5cm x 3 cm) soaps on display for people to smell, and the packaged soaps behind them. So glad you like them!! xo Jen

Savony said...

I love the clean, professional looking labels! I find that I delve more into the business side of soap-making, I'm having to think about balancing my more whimsical inclinations with my more professional aims. You can have both, as so many successful Etsy vendors have proven, but it is a really hard balance to strike. You do it very well!

Jennifer Young said...

Savony, Your site looks awesome, products look interesting and I love your name. Although I like our name as well, it is long and difficult to pronounce... I would have kept it sweet and simple likes yours! You are so right about balance in soap-making, so many things to juggle - creativity, numbers, business, sales, quality etc etc. Packaging is a biggie. Look foward to seeing photos of yours! Please send some to my email or post link to your blog when you get some there. I am not able to follow more blogs as I have reached my limit for following and can't figure out how to delete. Thanks for your lovely comment. xoxoxo Jen