On Thursday evenings from 8 to 9pm ET, IBN hosts #HandmadeChat, a Twitter talk show to help artisanal entrepreneurs sell more products, have more fun, and be more successful personally and professionally. While the show is aimed mainly at business owners who make and sell handmade consumer products, the topics and discussions can empower and encourage the growth of any small business.
This week's chat was sponsored by OnlineLabels.com. Your one stop source for blank laser, inkjet & thermal labels for your printer.
Our guest this week was Samantha Dickey of Dirty Beauty Skin in Atlanta Georgia. Samantha shared a bit about her philosophy of business and then offered some incredibly useful tips for how you can make more money at farmer's markets. I think you'll find that Samantha's approach to integrating her life and her business to be unique and inspiring. Read on for my interview with Samantha.
Q1 WHAT IS @DIRTYBEAUTYSKIN, AND WHAT IS THE INSPIRATION FOR IT?
Dirty Beauty Skincare is cutting edge natural skincare, inspired by “dirt,” since that's about as natural as you can get. Ever since I was a little girl, I LOVED visiting my grandparent’s farms, so I was born into natural beauty and skincare! Since we use ingredients “from the ground” to deliver beauty to the skin, we thought Dirty Beauty was a logical name.
We offer beauty products “from the farm to the face” so people get the most benefit from the nutrients in the soil. When I first learned that there was even such a thing as ‘natural’ skincare, I realized that natural ingredients come from what farmers grow.
Our slogan is ‘beautiful skin from the ground’. We hope this also conveys that beauty comes from eating fresh natural whole foods.
Q2 HOW DID YOU START YOUR BUSINESS?
I started my business making brown sugar scrubs and bath salts for gifts myself. I fell in love with the textures and scents and the glow and feel of my skin. When I started my business, my husband and I had just had our second child, so we had plenty of baby food jars waiting to be refilled with something. I made labels on my computer and neatly covered them with tape. After a while, we began to evolve our product line, and the branding that is now ‘Dirty Beauty’.
My degree and experience is in Engineering, Science, and Lab/Manufacturing, which together allow me to “see,” formulate and manufacture solutions.
Q3 WHAT ARE YOUR MOST POPULAR PRODUCTS, AND WHY?
Some of our most popular products are Black Soap and Face Brush Cleansing System, a rescue for oily skin and great when combined with Herbal Astringent and Carrot Complexion Cream, and our creamy Baby Butt and Body Balm, a calendula infused all over body balm, that is SO CREAMY and men love it!
Q4 WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO LAUNCH “TRACTOR,” YOUR MEN'S LINE?
My husband and son needed their own stuff because they were using up all mine! Seriously, I was inspired to launch Tractor because men have skincare needs too, and they deserve products and packaging that they enjoy. Our men’s products and other brands are geared to give all guys, including teen men, solutions that help their skin look more clear especially during changes in their biology.
Q5 WHAT DO YOU SUGGEST FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE INTERESTED IN LAUNCHING A MEN'S LINE?
I suggest that Indies looking to introduce a men’s line survey current women customers about what their men need and build solutions around that. Many times, the ladies in a man’s life buy their skincare, so launching a men's line is an opportunity to provide even more beneficial products to current customers. Another thing to do, at places like farmer's markets, is to engage the men who accompany women to your booth, and ask them what they need.
Whatever you do, don't make the mistake of moving to fast. Don't guess about what men need. Take time to really develop beneficial products in scents and packaging that men can relate too and that serve their needs. In my experience, men want what’s earthy, yet still inviting, soothing, attractive and fresh.
Q6 WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE “WILDLY FAIR TRADE?”
“Wildly Fair Trade: means we’re “crazy serious” about our raw materials sourcing. Fair Trade and ethical sourcing makes sense on multiple levels.
We source from farms so we have a more direct connection with the farmer, which means more accountability for material freshness, efficacy, and planet sustainability. We even have local farmers growing herbs and other ingredients especially for us. As a manufacturer, it is important to use that I do my due diligence to ensure that my operations are NOT contributing to slavery, trafficking, and/or child labor. When I first started manufacturing cosmetics and making sugar scrubs, I learned about some of the atrocities that were taking place on cocoa plantations. From that time on, we realized that we were doing more than making face and body products. We are also contributing positively to the overall beauty and well-being of our planet and everyone on it.
Q7 YOU HAVE DIFFERENT WEBSITES FOR DIFFERENT BRANDS .. DO YOU RECOMMEND THIS?
I love having unique easy to remember URL’s according to the variety of brands in our operations. However, I think for Indie businesses like mine, it makes the most sense to direct these other URLs to a store at a main website. We are in the process of doing that now. It's important to focus attention and send clear messages. Having individual websites works for unique clientele, like one URL for consumers and another one for wholesale customers. Other than that, it's generally not a good idea.
Q8 WHY ARE FARMERS MARKETS SUCH A BIG PART OF YOUR BUSINESS FOCUS?
Our products are both beauty products and agricultural products, so farmers markets are a good fit for us. Farmer’s markets are where people who like natural fresh foods hang out and shop. Farmer’s Markets serve as filters and funnels for new and existing clients. They are also good think tanks because farmers market buyers are usually open to presenting feedback and ideas on what they are looking for and what they need that’s natural and beautiful.
Farmer’s markets have an authenticity about them. They attract people who are not influenced by “natural hype.” Farmer's market customers see deep, and I welcome this kind of scrutiny.
Farmer's market customers want quality, and they will pay for it.
Q9 WHAT ARE YOUR BEST TIPS FOR ENGAGING CUSTOMERS AT FARMERS MARKETS?
I recommend a lot of things, here are three of them. First, make your booth full and very very attractive. Always have product testers for people to try on the spot. Sit back and let them try things. Don't be “ownerish.” The products are not ours, they are there for them.
Next, when you are setting up your display, make it Ask them what they are using now and engage them about what THEY need and not about what WE have. Help them solve their skincare problems, suggest your products and even home remedies they can try. Solve their problems with your products; that gets you profit!
Finally, embrace other manufacturers at the market and look for ways to collaborate with them. Just like one person grows the peas you like best and another grows the cabbage you like best, in skincare, one person produces the soap you like best while another one makes your favorite body oil. There more need than there is good supply so remember to be open.
Q10 HOW CAN FARMERS MARKET APPEARANCES HELP US MARKET OUR PRODUCTS?
Be consistent about what markets you’re going to, and communicate that on social media. Take lots of pictures of fans and your display and products to gain more sales after the market. Publicizing your farmers markets gives you good stuff to talk about. Rotate two or three weekly “special” products so there's always something new for your customers and prospects to try.
Establish relationships. Farmers Markets are good sources for fresh raw materials like herbs, honey, beeswax, oils, and more. You can establish a relationship with a farmer or two and they can source some fresh ingredients for you. This will add interest and efficacy to your finished products.
Be teachable. I have learned a lot from seasoned manufacturers at farmer's markets. Many of these veteran skincare company owners are eager to share and mentor newer designers and formulators. They may have secured a niche market, and they willingly offer best practices, especially if it’s an area or product they are no longer working in. Oh, and build good relationships with Market Managers by abiding by the market rules.
Q11 WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA OUTLETS WORK BEST FOR YOUR BUSINESS?
Facebook works the best for us for marketing as it really gets the word out about events and promotions, and communicates our message well. My personal favorite is Pinterest though. I have it connected to my Twitter and I do trace sales back to Pinterest.
Pinterest is the most fun because I personally enjoy sharing beautiful designs and things. I have learned the most about myself and my business by looking back at my boards and pins. Doing so helps me remain focused on my message and overall image, and that makes the other social media outlets work better.
Q12 WHO DO YOU FOLLOW ON TWITTER FOR THE BEST #SMALLBIZ AND SUCCESS ADVICE?
I have a like/don’t like you that much relationship with Seth Godin’s Blog (@thisissethsblog)! He always offers excellent business insight — just sometimes it’s the truth I don’t want to hear!
Q13 WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE #SMALLBIZ BOOKS AND WHY?
I love What Makes The Great Great by Dr. Dennis Kimbro. My copy is super highlighted and has notes written all over it. It paints a clear picture about what success looks like. The message is, “Keep driving and you’ll arrive!”
Q14 HOW DOES YOUR BUSINESS MAKE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE?
Our skincare is part of a person's “daily diet.” It feeds, fuels and contributes to how a person feels about himself or herself. Our products make the world a better place by standing on these 4 principles;
- Principle 1: We are anti-ugly: look good, feel good, and be equipped to do good!
- Principle 2: We are anti-stress: less stress means more compassion, patience and forgiveness
- Principle 3: We are anti-disease: the best skincare and food comes from the ground; healthier people are happier people
- Principle 4: We source raw materials from family farms, therefore helping the farmers finance their children's education
Q15 WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT BEING A MEMBER OF IBN?
There's a long list. I love the Success Calls! I listen to the recordings as part of my digital library of success tools. One of my favorites are ones with FDA officials who share how to label our products in compliance with FDA regulations and more. As a network of manufacturers, we are important to regulatory agencies and that was made so evident on that day!
Donna Maria is the BEST! She actively helps us Indies grow our businesses! She’s tough and truthful and all about our success!
I also love the ability to post blogs and photos on the Indie Social website. Other Indies comment and give feedback and it’s a real confidence booster when other professionals take the time to chat with you about your work!
I love being a part of a recognized community of ethical professionals and an organization that is proactive as it relates to the public policies of our industry. Our collective voice pushes the pendulum in the direction of progress and sustainability.
Oh! And I want IN on #IndieCruise 2014!
More About Samantha Dickey
Samantha has been an IBN member since 2010.
Connect with Samantha:
When Is The Next #HandmadeChat?
The next #HandmadeChat will be Thursday, March 28, 2013, at 8pm ET, with Jamyla Bennu of Oyin Handmade in Atlanta, Georgia. Jamyla will discuss her take on the natural hair and natural hair care explosion, along with tips for beauty business success.
Take the #HandmadeChat Survey so we can make #HandmadeChat even better!
Follow #HandmadeChat on Twitter.