How to scale your skincare start-up
Stevi Lowmass, Founder and Owner of The Camel Soap Factory, shares her wisdom and suggests tips to the budding entrepreneurs who wish to scale their skincare start-up to the next level
Since its inception in 2011, The Camel Soap Factory (TCSF) has formed a loyal customer base and achieved a global reputation for our unique products.
A brand that had humble beginnings as a kitchen adventure, we have grown to become the world’s largest manufacturer of natural skincare cosmetics made with camel milk, with sales of more that 1 million bars of soap over the last eight years.
The UAE is home to many unique start-ups, however, achieving success is no easy feat. Below I break down my top six tips for growing a business start-up into a successful venture, which includes how to deal with unexpected external implications, an element that is still very much a consideration today:
Do your research
Launching a new business with limited research on your target market and the product / service you plan to offer is like playing a game of chess with limited knowledge on how to win. It might work in your favour if you are incredibly lucky, but your chances of success are slashed. Many successful entrepreneurs work backwards, by first identifying what is missing in the market they are targeting. A tool some use is to survey potential customers, to gain insights into not only how their target market thinks but also to find out why they might be interested in a new particular product / service.
Find a niche product
In addition to research, finding a product or service that isn’t currently available or is in low supply is your next objective. Not only does this invite your target market to test you out over competition (because there aren’t many alternatives), but it also increases the likelihood of customer brand loyalty to you as a start-up / SME. Many consumers seek out unusual or new-to-the-market products which are uncommon amongst global brands, so this psychology can be used to your advantage.
Find a manufacturer for your product
Find a reliable manufacture who can provide high standard products based on your concept and formulation. Ten years ago, we couldn’t find a company to manufacture our unique products, so we had no alternative but to open a factory. Nowadays we offer contract manufacturing to enable skincare start-ups to control their budget while guaranteeing great outcomes.
Carefully consider customer feedback
Achieving profitability is one thing but taking time to listen to real customer feedback on goods and services is essential for long-term success. Maintaining a consistently positive reputation in UAE and beyond is key to both attracting new customers but also ensuring that loyal ones return to you over competition.
Gradually scale up
The Camel Soap Factory was not an overnight success story. We began as a start-up and it has taken several years to scale up to where we are today. Successful business takes commitment and hard work to see the best possible results following investment, carefully selected suppliers and strategic scaling up and expansion.
Prepare and adapt to external challenges (i.e., Covid)
Some external challenges just cannot be foreseen. The pandemic shook many sectors while others enjoyed positive impacts to their bottom lines. The key learning for most leaders has really been to ensure that their businesses remain adaptable to these external changes, many of which have had to invest into further digitization of the sales process, for example. The Camel Soap Factory had to adapt by changing its business strategy to target a wider audience. Pre-covid our typical customer profile was the UAE tourist where we’d gained a reputable reputation amongst customers, but this had to shift to remain competitive. With the move to the Dubai Silicon Oasis factory in 2019, our strategy became more about international market expansion.