84. From Hobby to Business: How to Start a Natural Skin Care Line
Alana Rivera stumbled into the world of natural body care while working a job that left her feeling lost. At a time when she was unsure about what direction to take, she found brewing up apothecary products in her kitchen gave her purpose. Batch after batch, inspiration came from her other passion: food. Lavender shortbread became Lavender Soap. Coffee with fresh mint became Cold Brew Mint Coffee Scrub. Cardamom Old Fashioned became Grapefruit Cardamom Body Oil.
After leaping into the journey of experimentation, research, and a whole lot of product testing (including much-needed trips to local bakeries and cocktail bars), she launched Etta + Billie in 2009. Her focus on food has given her the opportunity to work with influential makers like Craftsman and Wolves and Ritual Coffee Roasters on special collaborative projects, allowing her an inside look at their creation process.
She’s traveled across the country, talking to people about great food, sustainability, and purposeful skin care and, ultimately, she discovered how to blend her love of good food with her belief in the attitude changing power of an amazing shower.
In this episode, we discuss the journey she took to figure out what she wanted to do professionally, why she had a 9 to 5 job during the first five years of her business, and what she did to position the brand to get noticed. Highlights:
- She explains how a soap making hobby, suggested by her mom to get through a tough job, became a business
- We discuss the importance of eco-friendly packaging and creating an all-natural product line
- The best marketing she did, in the beginning, was going to modern craft shows and starting out on Etsy
- She talks about not having a business background but seeking help via professional networks, classes, and books
- From the very beginning, she had a business license and liability insurance
- She started in 2009, rebranded in 2011, and began doing this full time in 2014
- We talked about working with manufacturers
- We talked about hiring people to do the things you might not be good at, like bookkeeping
- She collaborates with food and beverage companies
- Advice: Make sure you differentiate yourself from your competition, niche down, and be persistent
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- The Natural Soap Book: Making Herbal and Vegetable-Based Soaps by Susan Miller Cavitch
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Etta and Billie
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