On Thursday evenings from 8 to 9pm ET, IBN hosts #HandmadeChat, a Twitter talk show to help handmade and creative 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 Bramble Berry, soapmaking supplies, instruction and fun.
Our guest this week was Sarah Zahn of Sugared Beauty in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania. On #HandmadeChat, Sarah shared a bit about how she runs her successful subscription based “handmade products by the month” business. Major kudos to Sarah, by the way — she was in active early labor during our chat, so we are sending her wishes for a smooth delivery of her first child. Read on for my interview with Sarah.
Q1 WHAT IS SUGARED BEAUTY AND WHAT IS THE INSPIRATION FOR IT?
SugaredBeauty is handmade skincare freshly made with organic ingredients. My inspiration is food for your skin, because I believe what goes on your body, also goes IN your body! My slogan is Fresh Skincare, Delivered Monthly. I’m having a baby soon, so I am learning how to balance my business with motherhood.
Q2 WHY DID YOU START YOUR BIZ IN THE MIDST OF A TANKED ECONOMY?
After the economy tanked, my husband and I lost our jobs singing on a show boat. I couldn’t afford the organic skincare I loved. It's expensive, so I began making things myself. My first 3 ingredients were #organic coconut oil, grapeseed oil and organic sugar. They eventually formed my signature sugar scrub, and a business was born.
Q3 TELL US ABOUT YOUR PRODUCTS? WHAT DO YOU MAKE AND WHAT ARE THE MOST POPULAR ONES?
I make sugar scrubs, face scrubs and cleansers, lip balms, solid lotions, body washes and butters. My most popular product is Happy Face Cleanser, which cleanses, exfoliates and moisturizes. I make it fresh to order.
My business is subscription based, so my subscribers receive fresh product every month, so they don't have to remember to reorder. People can subscribe in 3 or 6 month increments, or they can order individual products. Either way, products are made and shipped fresh once a month, usually on the first of the month.
Q4 OF ALL THE OPTIONS YOU HAD TO START A BUSINESS, WHY DID YOU CHOOSE A HANDMADE BUSINESS?
My handmade business was born out of my own kitchen experiments. I was so proud of my creations that I had to share them.
Q5 WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE, AND WHO SAID IT? WHY DOES IT MOVE YOU?
My favorite quote is “Do or Do Not. There is No Try.” – Yoda. I make a point to never say, “I’ll try.” My yes means YES!
Q6 WHO DO YOU FOLLOW ON TWITTER FOR THE BEST BUSINESS AND SUCCESS ADVICE? WHY?
Q7 WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE #SMALLBZ BOOKS, AND HOW HAVE THEY HELPED YOU GROW YOUR BUSINESS?
My favorite small business books are Quitter by @jonacuff, Barefoot Executive by Carrie Wilkerson and Twitter Power by Joel Comm @JoelComm. These books helped me make wiser decisions about starting and running my business.
Q8 WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT SELLING ON #ETSY? HOW DOES IT COMPARE TO SELLING ON YOUR OWN WEBSITE?
Etsy is a wonderful #handmade selling community, and it was the perfect place for me to start selling online. Even since opening my own web store, I still do a lot of business there. Actually, It's been as good or better since I opened my web store. It shows what a strong site it is for a handmade businesses.
Q9 WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES YOU FACE CUSTOMIZING PRODUCTS BY HAND?
The biggest challenge is time. Fine-tune a product takes time. Then there’s testing and packaging and label design. It’s rewarding to finally get a product right, though I trust my instincts and have a light-bulb moment when it’s right.
Q10 WHICH SOCIAL MEDIA OUTLETS WORK BEST FOR YOU TO MARKET YOUR BUSINESS? WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITES
Twitter first because it yields the most sales for me, then Facebook.
Q11 YOU'VE BEEN AN IBN MEMBER SINCE 2010. WHY DO YOU THINK IT'S IMPORTANT TO JOIN IBN?
The IBN is a supportive community. When I have a question, I know I can go there get honest answers. While many of us have similar businesses, there’s a feeling of support, not competition! We’re all on the same team at the IBN.
For my beauty business, the product liability insurance is also a no-brainer. I couldn’t find the coverage for such a good price ANYwhere else!
Watch this short sharing the ultra-condensed version of how Sarah started Sugared Beauty.
More About Sarah Zahn
Marge has been an IBN member since 2000.
Marge is the founder and CEO of Nature's Gift and the author of Essential Oils and Aromatics: A Step-by-Step Guide for Use in Massage and Aromatherapy. Marge is an active and enthusiastic participant in every online website that reflects a truthful and accurate representation of the use of aromatherapy and essential oils for health and wellness.
Connect with Sarah:
When Is The Next #HandmadeChat?
The next #HandmadeChat will be Thursday, February 28, 2013, at 8pm ET, with Sheri Lee Pierce of Herban Paradise in western Massachusetts. Sherri will share how she manages her micro-farm and integrates her lifestyle with her business for maximum success.
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