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