To those thinking they don’t have the time to put their business dreams into action, cast your eyes in the direction of 22-year-old Drifter Organics founder Micaela Hoo. Last year, the San Fran graphic design student, fashion photographer and blogger squeezed launching a beauty business (and raising US$11,000 to do so) into her hefty schedule. Here’s how… (Hint: her mum helped).
What prompted you to start a natural beauty line?
I saw a nutritionist about three years ago and got diagnosed with leaky gut. Although I’d always been a healthy eater, I had to eliminate a lot of foods from my diet as well as skincare products. Your body absorbs everything you put on it! Whether you ingest it or massage it in, you’re feeding your body one way or another. This brought a new awareness to me to really be mindful of what I put on my skin.
“If you’re waiting for a time when you feel like you’re ready to start your own business, it’s not going to happen. You just have to dive right in!”
How did you make your own product?
My mum started making homemade body butters for me to use with wholesome, raw ingredients, like shea butter and jojoba oil. After a few months, we got intrigued by the healing properties of essential oils and started scenting our body butters with these oils. After almost two years of experimentation, we decided to try to sell our skincare and in April of 2016, launched a Kickstarter campaign to help raise enough funds to produce our first line of products. In July of 2016, we launched our ecommerce website.
Your Kickstarter campaign raised US$11K. What’s your advice for others?
Aside from your actual product, the video is the most important part of the campaign. It may not be fair, but people totally judge a book by its cover and, in a similar vein, a crowdfunding campaign by its video. People will be more persuaded to contribute to a campaign that has a compelling video with a slightly inferior product, than a campaign with a lacklustre video but a better product.
How did you spend your crowdfunded cash?
The largest portion of the funds we collected went to purchasing the ingredients to produce our products. We use organic and non-GMO ingredients, which means our cost of ingredients is pretty high. The second largest portion of funds went to getting certified organic, and the rest of the money went to getting certified cruelty-free, trademarking our name, graphic design, website design, insurance, and all the expenses in between, like purchasing shipping materials, stationery, etc.
What was the biggest challenge in turning your homemade recipe into a commercial product?
Definitely perfecting our consistency. When you’re making something homemade for yourself, even if the consistency isn’t just right, you at least know all the ingredients are good – you’ll still use something if it’s a little bit grainy or liquidy. But when you’re creating something for the public to use, you can’t have the product off. We had to ultimately consult with a cosmetic chemist who helped us immensely.
How did you get the word out?
I used my blog, Oh My Drifter, and social media audience as a starting point for spreading the word about Drifter Organics. Friends and family are always good starting points too. We’re now stocked at some boutiques around the United States. What we’re trying to focus on is participating in trade shows and reaching people in person. We did the Brit + Co. Re:Make Festival in October of last year, which proved to be fruitful, and are doing West Coast Craft in June.
What’s your No.1 advice for others wanting to start their own thing?
For those of you who are in school or have a day job, it’s important to not use the ‘I’m still in school/have a job, so I’ll start pursuing my dream/business/fill-in-the-blank after I graduate/quit my job’ excuse. If you’re waiting for a time when you feel like you’re ready to start your own business, it’s not going to happen. You just have to dive right in! It may seem like you’re not competent enough, but everyone is always learning. No-one knows everything. And starting your own business is really just a bunch of on-the-job training.
Read More: How To Launch A Successful First Business