Blog > Turning Passion Into Profit: A Skincare Success Story
Posted By Create
With passion, planning and dedication you can turn your idea into a thriving business, and natural skincare specialist Jessica has done just that. To run her business more productively and profitably, she turned to accounting service Angel Books. Read all about her story and how connecting her Create website with Angel Books has benefitted her growing company.
Jessica founded Naturally Balmy who make and sell organic skincare products - a “one stop shop for skincare making”. They also sell skin care supplies, such as cosmetic packaging, raw ingredients and pre-made bases, organic flavours, essential oils etc, to other businesses. Whether you’re a hobbyist or a big company, they have you covered!
Following on from our blog “Easy Accounting With Angel Books”, we spoke to the Jessica to find out more about her skincare company, and why she chose to connect her website with the third-party service.
Hi Jessica, thanks for taking the time to speak with us. Lets kick things off, how was Naturally Balmy started?
I used to work in London as a Journalist – this is what I had trained to be and thought it was my dream. But after the stress of long hours and commuting I decided to try and work for myself. I’ve always been interested in holistic health and have very sensitive skin so I did an aromatherapy course. That is when my passion for making skincare began.
After trying a lip balm from a well-known skincare company that was meant to help my lips but actually stung, I thought; how hard can it be to make my own? On my first try, using all-natural ingredients, I was surprised by the good results. So I decided to make more for family and friends. When I realised how hard it was to get the supplies, I set up an ebay shop selling supplies myself, and Naturally Balmy was born.
We love your branding and concept, how did you come up with the idea?
I noticed a lack of information on selling skincare, and a lack of supplies, particularly lip balm supplies, on the web, so I researched all this and set up my own company selling the supplies and sharing recipe information etc.
I was sitting in the kitchen one day chatting to my mum, and thought that if I sold natural lip balm and lip balm supplies I could call myself Naturally Balmy – it was the first name that popped into my head! But to this day I haven’t thought of a better name for us. Even though we sell all types of skincare supplies now, not just lip balm.
You are using a third-party service with your website, how does this help your business?
Other accounting programs I tried were not user-friendly at all, and hardly anything was automated; everything had to be put in manually. It used to take such a long time, manually copying invoices into the software. We have quite complicated stock requirements, given that we don’t sell items as such, we sell ingredients banded by weight, as well as products created ourselves, so the very basic stock management functionality was just not good enough for us. So I turned to Robert from Angel Books and together we developed the service to suit our needs. It connects to my Create account using the API and updates everything automatically.
What are the key features of the Angel Books service?
The PayPal and Create integrations are invaluable time-saving tools, as they import all the sales / payment data automatically, which is not only very handy but also eliminates any mistakes you would get if doing it manually.
Invoices are automatically created and the price of the sale and any VAT is automatically accounted for. Angel Books is also integrated with Amazon, so all our Amazon sales get imported and accounted for automatically too.
Angel Books is especially ideal for people that produce products themselves because the software allows you to record a breakdown of exactly what ingredients go into making your products. This helps us keep an eye on costs much better. Plus it takes the products you have sold out of stock automatically upon fulfilment of the order. So it really is a one-stop shop for your sales, accounting and stock needs.
How does Angel Books support your needs?
It has saved a lot of time for us so it’s very cost effective, and our costs and stock levels are fully accounted for which allows us to be much more organised. At first I used spreadsheets in Excel, then I tried Sage and KashFlow. None of these products worked well as there was always lots of manual data entry which caused extra work if you got something wrong. There was no practical way of keep track of stock which fairly soon became a real gripe.
Using Angel Books means I spend far less time doing bookkeeping so I can concentrate on growing my business. As our costs to be fully accounted for, we can monitor the costs of our products Vs the sale price. We can also see what products sell the best and produce the most profit.
We have been able to keep a better track of our stock levels, and it even alerts you to any low stock, which means we order it in quickly rather than having to go out of stock and lose valuable sales.
What are your favourite things about using Angel Books with the Create website?
All the products on your Create website are imported into Angel Books with one click. Every time you update the price of a product or add/update a product option on the website, you just click again to update the system. So when you create a new sale in Angel Books, it will know the updated prices. Plus every time you get a sale on Create, Angel Books imports it directly with the touch of a button. All the customer’s address details, purchase details and the VAT and shipping options etc. are all put into an invoice for you to print out straight away.
You can see which sales are outstanding, which ones have been fulfilled, and when you do fulfil them it emails the customer to let them know, and keeps a note of the shipping service used and any tracking number. It also takes the products they ordered out of stock for you. So it really is integrated well with Create.
Why was connecting the two services important to you and your business?
It’s handy to have everything in one place – I don’t have to log in to Create on one web page to do one set of things and Angel Books on another. This saves so much time. I use Angel Books for all the sales print-outs, sales fulfilment, etc, and just log in to Create when I want to make changes to the website. Angel Books and Create make for an excellent combination as they work seamlessly together.
Sounds great! What advice would you give other merchants for maintaining an online business?
There’s a saying I read somewhere that goes: If you don’t drive your business, you’ll be driven out of business. You just have to constantly grow and evolve.
Look at what your competitors are doing, what they are selling, what their prices are. Get ideas but also try and be different. Use what might be considered weaknesses as strengths. If you are a very small company, highlight the positives of that – this might be better than a big faceless corporation, and might be the reason you are caring and give a more of a personal service. If you don’t have a lot of stock, make that stock sought-after and unique.
Above all, don’t forget about customer service. Good customer service is more important to people than you might think, and is the reason we get so much repeat business.
What are your 3 top tips for growing an online business?
- See if you can get your supplier to cut you a better deal by agreeing to buy more from them
- Outsource your production if you don’t have room, or get a storage unit
- Get staff to do the daily admin so you can concentrate on growing the business
What is next for Naturally Balmy?
There are lots of things we are looking into this year! We will be looking to do more private label products, where we make finished skincare products in bulk and can print our customers’ logo / labels to go on them. We may well come up with a label design and label printing service too.
We’re always looking to expand our product range, and at some point we’d like to run workshops on how to make your own skincare. I personally would also love a little retail shop whereby I just sell the finished products to the public. So to do all that we will need more staff.
Sounds like a very busy year ahead! Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us Jessica, we can’t wait to see what 2016 has in store for you and Naturally Balmy. The Angel Books stock management will be working hard with your ever growing business!
If you have questions any about using the Create API with Angel Books or other services, please share in the comments below - and of course if have tips for online businesses let everyone know.