On Creating A Skin And Hair Care Company
Hello! Who are you and what are you working on?
My name is Francine Porter and I am the founder and CEO of Osmotics Cosmeceuticals; we create science based, anti-aging treatments for skin and hair.
Our brand is sold at specialty retailers including Nordstrom, Dillard’s, Soft Surroundings, and independent niche beauty boutiques and is also available on Amazon Luxury, Dermstore and other cosmetic health/beauty websites; we also sell direct to consumer on our own website at Osmotics.com.
Our key products include a full range of anti-aging skin care based on copper peptides and other science based, proprietary technologies. Our customers include all ages from 25 - 80; but our target audience falls between 40 -70, with the Baby Boomer as our core customer.
What's your backstory and how did you get into entrepreneurship?
Originally, my husband and I launched the brand; we worked wonderfully together but after we spun off a pharma division in 2005 he left Osmotics to focus solely on that business.
I have always suffered from super sensitive skin and have been obsessed with topical skin care products since I was 15! Before we started Osmotics, I spent many years reading, researching, testing (on myself!) anything and everything, and interviewing scientists, dermatologists and other professional experts on the subject of healthy skin.
I’m passionate about formulating science based products with real efficacy, and clinical validation; this was a revolutionary vision and concept back in 1995!
We had a new product idea that we developed, launched and later patented (the vitamin C wrinkle patch) and also created a new product development strategy that focused on clinically proven technologies licensed from research centers and universities around the world.
Take us through your entrepreneurial journey. How did you go from day 1 to today?
We started development on our business and product concepts at our dining room table on weeknights (after working daytime jobs) and during the weekends; whenever we had any spare time we were working on Osmotics! We wrote the business plan, created the product line, finalized a logo, package design, confirmed manufacture group/warehouse, raised investment capital, researched the market and finally met with retailers to get the company off the ground.
When you have a strong gut feeling about anything (decisions people,etc.) go with your gut; don’t over analyze it.
We launched the brand with a prestige, specialty retailer and launched in 10 doors to start. We rolled out into additional doors with additional retail partners. From there we continued to research and license new technologies, developed additional products, put together press launches, and expanded distribution. When we started there was NO online business. Later in the late nineties, we developed our own website and started selling directly to consumers.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Our company has survived the retail apocalypse and continues to thrive by selling in both digital and brick and mortar channels. On our website we have maintained a lifetime customer value of 10-20 years (once our customers use the brand and see the results they remain super loyal!). We have over 10k email subscribers, and an average conversion rate of 6-7%. Our email marketing campaigns account for over 75% of our website sales.
Our social media platforms continue to grow (over 21K IG followers) and we have seen great results when coordinating social media efforts and events with our retail partners. We are still learning and always searching for new and better ways to improve that personal connection/conversation with our customers every day. Our customer service has always been and will continue to be priority number 1. I love personally connecting to as many customers as possible as I always learn something new and gain invaluable insight for our brand and its future.
We have plans to expand our distribution to more medi-spas, specialty retailers, and additional online health and beauty sites in the US and internationally as well. We are also looking into expanding into the professional market (Dermatologists).
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Being an entrepreneur has taught me so many valuable lessons and insights; it’s hard to list them all!
But here are a few that I feel are the most important: You must be an enthusiastic optimist, as starting a company is NOT for the faint of heart, and quite frankly not for everyone (and that’s ok!). Always remember every problem has a solution; you just have to find it and DON’T GIVE UP. You’ll always run into people that are naysayers; don’t listen; keep moving forward and keep your eye on the next task ahead.
Of course you will make mistakes; admit them, correct them and move on. Don’t try to be the smartest person in the room; it’s a waste of time and energy. Believe me you will need all your intellect, time, and energy to motivate your team and continuously and consistently drive the business forward. And last but absolutely not least; raise more capital than you think you need, because you’ll always need more than you can predict, never less!
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
Our ecommerce platform is BigCommerce. We have added various third party apps over the past several years including Shipstation, Power Review, Zen Desk, Avalara, MailChimp, Store Mapper, Rebillia, Google Shopping and various others.
We handle social and public relations internally (and I am personally involved in all) while outsourcing some additional photography, graphics and technology support. I must admit, I’m unashamedly old school when it comes to the business tech tools I use daily.
Of course, I use all Microsoft Outlook basics but I’m a very visual person and I love to write in notebooks; it helps me to organize my thoughts and think creatively. It’s a tactile thing (like reading real books, not on Kindle) that gives me great pleasure in this constantly changing, robotic and intrusive digital world.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
To be totally transparent I rarely listen to podcasts, just being honest here. I read the key health/beauty/retail industry newsletters almost daily (early am when having coffee).
I read several digital publications including, Women’s Wear Daily, Beauty Independent, Glossy, Target Marketing, Beauty Matter, Harvard Business Journal, and Specialty Chem.
Plus, I’m constantly scouring clinical studies on new technologies and ingredients.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Try to have a clear, concise vision for your business, take the time to write a mission statement, it helps cut through the clutter and allow you to focus on your vision. I believe tenacity is the most important quality for an entrepreneur; yes you need creativity and a brilliant idea, but that is only about 10% of the picture. When times are tough or even seem impossible you must have and maintain the fortitude, will and discipline to find solutions and make it one more day, and that becomes one more month and one more year.
Last point, when you have a strong gut feeling about anything (decisions people,etc.) go with your gut; don’t over analyze it. Many MBA’s or high-level advisors that have never started or successfully managed a business suffer from analysis/paralysis; this can negatively affect your judgement and decision making process. Certainly critical analysis is an important tool you always want to utilize but if you are still on the fence, your gut instinct is usually spot on. Anytime I did NOT rely on my gut instincts, I usually regretted it.
Where can we go to learn more?
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