Your product packaging is part of the first impression it makes, whether customers find it online or on shelves. It helps your products sell themselves.
On this episode of Shopify Masters, you’ll learn about an entrepreneur who invested heavily in her packaging design and the steps she took to avoid common packaging mistakes.
Patrice Mousseau is the founder of Satya: fragrance-free, Health Canada approved, certified organic, anti-inflammatory balm for eczema relief.
Design is like a second voice to have for your company
Tune in to learn
- How to hire a designer to design your packaging
- The process to get USDA certified organic
- How to adapt your marketing if your customer base changes
Listen to Shopify Masters below…
Download this episode on Google Play, iTunes or here!
- Store: Satya
- Social Profiles:Facebook, Twitter, Instagram
- Recommendations: SVI (Social Venture Institute), She-E-O, Unreserved , Quickbooks
Felix: Today I’m joined by Patrice Mousseau from Satya. Satya sells a fragrance free, Health Canada approved, certified organic anti-inflammatory balm for eczema relief and was started in 2014 and based out of Vancouver. Welcome, Patrice.
Patrice: Thanks, Felix. Thank you for having me on your show.
Felix: Of course. Tell us a bit more about this product that you sell. What was the idea behind it? How did you come up with the product?
Patrice: Well, it was out of necessity. It was for my daughter, but first I think I better back up a little bit and talk a bit about what my background is, which is actually in journalism. I’m a researcher by trade and was in radio and television broadcasting for probably about 15, 16 years. Then I got pregnant and had a baby. Of course, my world just completely changed, my priorities and how I was spending my time. When she was about eight months, my daughter Esme, ended up getting eczema. She was scratching so bad that her arms and legs were bleeding. I would pick her up out of her crib and there’d be blood on the crib sheets. It was a real kick in the gut for me as a mother because I felt very powerless to help her.
Because when I took her into the doctor, their only option was steroid creams, which I knew based on my past experience in media, I’d seen the stories about how negative and detrimental steroids can actually be especially used in the long-term. I was up all night basically taking care of her anyway and I just started researching. I started looking at normally traditional medicine, but I looked at academic studies from different universities to see what people have come up with in the last 10 years or so around nontoxic anti-inflammatories. Then basically took all that information and combined it together in my kitchen in my crock-pot and created this product.
Felix: Wow. This was a homemade remedy that you then decided to productize. Talk to us about that process. You created this. Of course, you tested it on someone that needed the product. How did you take that jump to the next step which is that I should sell this?
Patrice: Right. For my daughter, it cleared her eczema up in two days. It worked very quickly, very effectively with her. Of course, it does come back from time to time, but I just then put the product on her again and it goes away again. Now as I mentioned, I made this in my crock-pot so obviously I had some leftover. I went on my mom’s Facebook group and I said to the moms, “Does anybody want some?” 70 jars went out my door in a month and a half. I thought, “Huh. That’s interesting,” but I did nothing with it because I had never considered myself to be a businessperson. Like I said, my background isn’t something that I considered to be vastly different.
I always had this stereotypical perception in my mind of what a businessperson was is someone who was good at math, someone who was into spreadsheets and wore a suit and briefcase and frankly was a man. That was my perception. I later interviewed a woman for a friend of mine who had her own company. She said, “You know, I think that you have something. You should come to this business conference for women called SVI,” which is here in Vancouver. It stands for Social Venture Institute. Basically what it is is about people who not only want to have businesses, but they want to have business for a greater good. It’s not just about the bottom line per se.
Like it’s important obviously to have a healthy company, something that’s financially viable and you’re able to make money, but it’s also not just the only reason why you do business. The women that I met there were so full of social values and integrity and I thought, “You know, this is the type of business that I could do, that I would want to do.” At that point I decided okay, maybe I could be a businessperson and ended up deciding, “Well, if I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it to the very best of my ability.” I chose the name Satya because it’s actually a philosophy of finding truth. Personal truth, I could do this business. Truth to my customers, my company was going to be of service, again not about just profit. That’s become the North Star of the company.
If I was going to do it, it had to be the best of the best. I decided that for people with sensitive skin issues for example, it has to be really clean. I went USDA certified organic. It’s not just about the ingredients, but it’s also about the policies and procedures, about getting those ingredients and how you prepare the ingredients and the cleanliness of the facilities, all those sorts of things. It’s a very high standard. Then I submitted it into Health Canada. Sorry. That’s my coffeemaker in the background. Submitted it into Health Canada with all of my research because that was a hoop I also wanted to jump through. I wanted people to know that the research had been done and this had been provably shown to work for people as well.
Yes, I submitted it into Health Canada and they agreed in fact I could make those health claims based on that research. My packaging, again it had to be the best of the best even though it was more expensive. I use a glass jar for example because even food safe plastics will leech into your product. My paper is 100% recycled. It’s created by a woman owned business. They use wind power offsets to actually make the paper. It’s all veggie and soy based things. These are all more expensive options, but they’re inline with my integrity. They’re inline with what I’m trying to do with the company. I think that resonates with people.
Felix: I want to unravel a lot of what you’re saying here. The first thing you did was to sell the excess product that you had by going to … You used basically a mother’s support Facebook group? What was the Facebook group that you …
Patrice: It was a mommy’s Facebook group. People get together and talk about mom issues or swap clothing, that sort of stuff.
Felix: I think this is an approach that is a safe low risk approach for a lot of businesses just to reach out to an existing group, an existing community, and see what the response is. Do you remember how you approached the group? The reason I’m asking is because a lot of times nowadays this is a good kind of a known strategy to go into these groups. You see a lot of spam, right? You see a lot of people going around posting about their product, trying to validate it. Sometimes if you join multiple groups, you’ll see the same post over and over again and of course, that can be annoying. How did you approach it? How did you approach it in a way that came across the right way?
Patrice: Well, you’re absolutely right. It’s super annoying and very disingenuous. When I went on my mom’s Facebook group, it was just like I literally wanted to know if anybody wanted the extra. It was not that I was planning on selling it per se, although I did end up selling it because just so many people wanted it. I actually had to make more batches. Yeah. I just was honest about what it was and what I was trying to do. I thought that it would be of service to other people. I think again it didn’t come across as salesy because it wasn’t.
Felix: Do you remember how you figured out the price point early on and has that changed over time?
Patrice: Oh yeah. Yeah, no, radically changed. I looked at how much everything was going to cost and what are the prices that I was going to do. My industry, like sort of the medicinal skin care industry, a lot of the larger manufacturers they’re making products for pennies and they’re selling it for like $12-$15. My product costs significantly more than that and on the shelf it is on the higher end, but a couple of things. One is that it’ll actually last a lot longer because you don’t need very much. Two, I wanted to keep the price low because I’m a single mom. I want everyone to be able to afford to buy this product. It wasn’t just about how much money can I make. It’s like how can I make this product, still make money and provide it to people.
Felix: Make sense. Now I’m looking at your site. In the beginning and up until now even you basically have I guess two products today. You started with one. Now you have two products. I guess two ways to use the product. What made you make that decision to stick with these two products? The reason I’m asking you this question is because a lot of times new entrepreneurs will just launch with as many things as possible and kind of stuff their catalog. Was this a conscious decision to stick with just a couple products?
Patrice: Yeah. Well first, I need to clarify. It’s just actually two different sizes of the same product in each container. The reason why I have the small container or the travel size is because you don’t actually know how something is going to work with your individual skin. A lot of people what they do is they buy these products and they spend all this money and they don’t work for them and then they hide it in the back of their closet because they don’t want to throw this away because they spent all this money on it, but it doesn’t work for them. I never wanted to be that product. What I did was I created actually the travel size, which is the second product that you’re looking at.
There’s enough in there to last about two weeks for people to test with their individual body chemistry. Then when it’s empty, you don’t throw the package away. It’s a sliding tin container. You buy the jar and then you can refill it and then you carry the small one around in your bag. It was more about problem solving versus providing more options. Because it’s an anti-inflammatory, like I formulated it for eczema, but people with psoriasis picked it up right away, rosacea, rashes. I have a lot of athletes who are actually using it for cut and broken hands, for like crossfitters. I’ve got marathon runners using it. People do use it for anything. Anything and everything really.
Felix: That’s interesting that all of these other uses, all of these other problems are coming to you for their solution. Does that affect how you market or does that change the way you want to market your product because it solves other needs and clearly there are people that are discovering your product to solve their needs?
Patrice: Yeah. Well, eczema is such a big issue for so many people that I want to make sure like … We’ve basically just scratched the surface on letting people know about the product. I want people to know that there is another good option out there for eczema because it’s such a huge issue and steroids for the longest time have been the only option. People again they have taken it and said, “Well, what about this?” They try it and it works fantastically. Like sunburn. I had a grandmother email me and say, “I tried it on my grand kid’s sunburn and it worked fantastically and then I tried it and it worked really well for me as well.” It really just becomes about people taking it. It becomes like the Windex from Big Fat Greek Wedding.
I don’t know if you saw that movie where they put the Windex on everything kind of thing. It becomes like a multipurpose product for a lot of people once they purchase it, but I think the initial purchase is always either eczema or psoriasis.
Felix: You do want to keep the kind of marketing and the messaging focused on that specific … I guess probably the largest type of problem?
Patrice: Yeah. I mean if you try to be too much for too many people, like people do use it for everything, but again I just try to keep it focused on the one issue. I am actually coming out with a second whole product, which should be the two SKUs, specifically for psoriasis as well. That hopefully will be coming out in the next year.
Felix: That make sense. When you do roll out this other product, you plan on keeping it on this site still, right? You don’t open up a new store for it?
Patrice: No. Yeah, it’ll absolutely be on the same site, Satya Organics. You’ll be able to actually use it for both. The psoriasis product will be nut free and vegan as well. If the original Satya product isn’t something that you feel like you can use, then you can try the psoriasis product on your eczema. Because psoriasis and eczema, although they do tend to come from different places, they present themselves very similarly. The treatment very often is the same.
Felix: Make sense. Now you mentioned that there was a time, I guess a time between when you sold the products for the first time and then the time where you actually decided to launch a real business. What was the timeline? How much time passed during that period?
Patrice: Several months for sure. I would say eight or nine months before I finally did my first farmer’s market and sold $100, which was pretty awesome. I was really excited that people were buying something that I had made.
Felix: Those first sales are always the biggest rush that everyone kind of chases after again.
Patrice: Huge. I was so nervous too. It was amazing. It was great.
Felix: Did you have packaging and all that ready to go by then? I guess what version or how ready was your product when you started to sell it as a legitimate business?
Patrice: Right from the very beginning, this is actually the second version of our packaging design, but when I first started selling it, I knew how important good design was. Right from the very beginning I had already decided the good paper I was going to use, the glass jar. I got a proper designer who is still with the company today who’s amazing. She did a fantastic job. I can’t express enough how important it is for packaging and for products how important good design is.
Felix: Why do you say that? Why do you find that that’s an important aspect because it sounds like it makes your product much more … Not much more, but I’m sure it makes your product more expensive for you to produce. What made you decide that it’s a good investment to spend the time, spend the effort, spend the money on having this kind of packaging?
Patrice: Well, I mean there is a legitimacy issue. When you pick up a product from a plastic container that’s obviously been handmade and hand labeled versus something that looks professional and well done, when people pick … It might even be the same product, but people are always going to choose the one that they can tell time and effort has been made into making that product. I think there is a definite value to that. In addition, moving forward, if you want to go into a retail space, retailers are going to like your packaging. That to them says it’ll be easy for them to say yes to put it on their shelves versus again packaging that’s obviously very amateur. Good design, again can’t stress it enough, is super important.
Felix: Talk to us about this process of packaging and creating the design. We’ll start with the design first. Did you hire a packaging designer? How specific do you need to get if you are looking to hire someone to help you out with your packaging?
Patrice: It was actually at the conference that I mentioned, SVI, that I ran into a woman who had a design company. I was talking to her because I knew how important design was and she said, “You know, I could do this for you, but it’s going to cost you $20,000.” I’m like, “I can’t.” Obviously it’s not even an option for me. She said, “However, one of my senior designers is leaving and she’s opening her own company and maybe you should talk to her.” I was able to get this amazing senior designer who was incredibly talented and is opening her own business. I got her for a few thousand dollars, which was incredible. It’s about sourcing like a good designer. Somebody who has designs that resonate with you and are inline with what you’re trying to do.
Felix: You’re looking like their portfolio to see what other designs they’ve created and then you wanted to see if it matches your idea of what your products would look like?
Patrice: Design is like an extra voice to have of your company.
Felix: Now when you sit down with the designer to work with them, what do you do? What’s your role in working with a designer?
Patrice: Well, obviously it starts the conversation about my story, the things that are important to me, what this product is all about and the values behind that. It’s looking at obviously their past designs. Usually they go away and they start to have a bit of an idea. Then they’ll give you say five or six options and then you can narrow it down to maybe your top one or top two. Then you just keep honing it and honing it until you get something where you’re like, “Yup. That seems like my product, my company and who I am.” Also, it’s really important to also trust your designer too. My background isn’t in design.
To a certain extent, I have to trust that she is an expert in this or he or she is an expert in this and that they’re going to make great design choices. Maybe even not. Maybe in opposition of what I would necessarily choose.
Felix: Yeah, that’s a great point because a lot of times whether it be designers or developers, you’re hiring these experts. As entrepreneurs sometimes of course this is your baby that they’re working on, this is your product, this is your brand that they’re working on so you feel that you have to be super involved and contribute. Maybe even feel like you need to contribute more than they should be, which is like you’re alluding to is the wrong approach because you’re hiring people and you have to trust the people that you’ve hired that they’re going to do the job better than you. That’s why you hired them in the first place.
Felix: Now when you look at your packaging in the state that it’s at today, what changes did you make along the way? What kind of things did you notice maybe in the initial design respects that you knew you had to change to improve the design of the packaging?
Patrice: Well, one of the major shifts for us was actually taking the glass jar and putting it in a box. That wasn’t a choice that we made because we thought it would look prettier. It was actually a requirement for our Health Canada recommendations because when you get this approval, you actually have to have everything in English, French and the ingredients Latin. Just the simple fact that we just didn’t have enough real estate on the jar that putting it in a box was necessary. We’re also a little bit tired of the original one and it just became something that was even more sort of on brand with what we are trying to do. Just honing it down and getting it to more of what it should be.
Felix: When you see products in stores and the physical stores or you look at maybe new brands online, you look at their packaging, what kind of common mistakes do you see based on your experience that you think entrepreneurs should pay close attention to?
Patrice: I see a lot of stuff that isn’t very clear. Not only I’m trying to figure out what the brand name is, as well as what the purpose of the product is. There seems to be a lot of noise on a lot of labels. I think simple and clean and clear is always better. That’s also like not just a personal philosophy, but it’s a philosophy of my company. We only have five ingredients in our products. For me I think it should be very straightforward for the consumer to pick up your product and go, “Oh, that’s what this is,” and yes or no if I need that.
Felix: Now did you test that out? Did you have to test it out whether your packaging kind of ticked those boxes when you get it in front of potential customers? Did you do any of that?
Patrice: No, I didn’t. Honestly Felix, like I said, my background is not in business. So much of what I do is based on gut. What is my gut telling me about these decisions? I can try to overthink things or my brain is telling me all these wrong things, but what is my gut, what is my heart telling me? Very often that’s the right choice to make.
Felix: Right. I want to go back to all of these certifications and approvals that you got for your product. Can you list them again? Tell us what kind of certifications you had to get or that you want to get for your product?
Patrice: We are USDA certified organic. Although we are a Canadian company, the Canadian government actually doesn’t certify skin products. We did have to go to the USDA in order to get organically certified, which is actually even better because the standard is higher. I was quite pleased with that. Again going through Heath Canada and getting these processes done. They’re both really involved. The paperwork and the things that they’re asking for are just pretty extraordinary. Like the flowcharts and the overhead aerials and plant diagrams and all these sorts of things. A lot of hoops to jump through, but again I’m really glad I did it. Probably next we’ll be looking at FDA approvals, moving into other countries.
There’s a lot of interest in other international markets for the product and for the company. We’ll be looking at those as well. I would say people have said to me, “Well, you can move into this country and you can get in under the radar.” I would never recommend doing that especially for me. I want to jump through those hoops. I want to make sure that all of the regulations and qualifiers are done.
Felix: I guess it’s a good way to do a health check of your company, of your brand, of your products as well and just for yourself, not just for the customers and not just to slap it on the label, but just as a way to keep things tidy it sounds. Now when you go through these processes, are you able to reuse any of the kind of work that you do going from USDA certified organic to Health Canada? Were there reusable documents or did you have to pretty much start from scratch?
Patrice: A lot of the stuff can translate. I mean I did my USDA certification by myself, which was tough. When I went through my Health Canada certifications, I actually hired a consultant, which was such good money spent. I would highly recommend if you’re going to go this route is to get somebody who really knows and will take it off your plate for you. It’s actually not that expensive to get somebody to help you to do this. I would definitely recommend that as well.
Felix: Can you give me an idea of what kind of budget we’re talking about before this make sense for a store?
Patrice: You’re looking at anywhere from say three to $4,000 to get a consultant to help you do this.
Felix: Yeah, not bad especially if it’s a product like this that people need for health reasons.
Patrice: Yeah. Then you can actually make those health claims. It’s definitely worthwhile. It’s a good investment in your company. It’s for your customers too.
Felix: Where do you find a consultant like this? What are you looking for? What are you googling to find a consultant to help with this process?
Patrice: Well, obviously talking to your network, finding people if anybody else has worked with somebody in the past. A lot of it’s just digging into the internet and googling and talking to people and sort of getting what you feel like is going to be a good fit for you because the chances are you’re going to be working with them again and again. You want to too. You want somebody who knows your product. If you end up going for something else, they understand where you’re coming from.
Felix: You’re just like googling Health Canada consultants? Is there label for these types of folks?
Patrice: For Health Canada it’s called a NPH or a NPN, which is a natural health product number or natural health product. There’s a number of consultancies out there. They’re fairly easy to find.
Felix: When you did this yourself for … You said you did it yourself for the USDA certified organic?
Patrice: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yup.
Felix: What are some things that almost I guess tripped you up that you wish you would have prepared more for if you were to do this again by yourself?
Patrice: Oh my gosh.
Felix: As a warning for anyone else out there.
Patrice: As a warning. Track everything. Know where everything is coming from. All of your invoices, your lot numbers, where everything is stored. Just be very, very organized as much as possible.
Felix: Now that you had this all this done, you had the packaging done, you had the certifications done, what was the method that you decided to go after for driving the traffic in sales to your business?
Patrice: Right. As I mentioned, I started off in farmer’s markets. It became a lot of word of mouth. It was mom’s talking to other mom’s saying, “Have you tried this?” Then I thought I’m going to go to my first retailer. I went to this kid’s store and I said, “I have this product. I think it’d be a really good fit on your shelves.” She said, “Well, we already have so many things. We’re not interested.” I said to her, I said, “Do you have any skin issues?” She said, “Yeah. Actually I have this rash underneath my wedding ring. It won’t go away and it’s really itchy.” I said, “Well, here. Take one of these travel sizes. Try it out and I’ll call you back in like a week or so and see what you think.” Well, she called me back the next day and said, “I will carry your product. My issue is gone.”
That was my first store. At this point, people were actually calling me because they’d heard of the product. We got up to about 70 stores in Western Canada, so BC basically, mostly. I was still doing the farmer’s market.
Felix: Real quick. These farmer’s markets, do you find that they helped you with these retail stores or do you feel you could have gone straight into the retail stores?
Patrice: The farmer’s markets were great for a number of reasons. One, talking to customers and getting to know what it is that they really wanted. Like when I first produced my product I thought, “Oh, it can be like a baby balm kind of thing.” People weren’t interested in the baby balm, but they were very interested in the eczema. That was like a market research. It’s also very supportive of the retailers because when somebody buys a product for you at a farmer’s market, they’re not necessarily going to be back in a week or a month to get more, but you can say, “I’m in this store and that store and you can pick it up there when you need it again.” That was very supportive of the retailers as well.
We were doing really well and going quite fast and I ended up deciding to get somebody to come in and help me with operations. One of the things that she said, first thing that she said is that, “You no longer can do farmer’s markets,” because I was working seven days a week. I’m a single mom so I was taking care of my daughter throughout the week and doing these farmer’s markets on the weekends. I was exhausted. I wasn’t able to get really good time spent. I just was constantly trying to put up fliers and run to the next thing. She was like, “You need to back up a little bit and figure out where you want to go next.” At that point we had been talking to a distributor, one of the big national distributors up here in Canada.
They said, “We are very interested in carrying your product,” but I wasn’t ready. I didn’t have the capacity at that point to be supplying more stores than I was at the time. I said no actually, but they said, “Okay. We’ll stay with you. You let us know when you’re ready.” I started building out capacity at that point saying, “Okay. How do we streamline our suppliers? How do we figure out where we’re going to store everything?” Then all those sorts of issues. Then probably I guess it was about a year later and we said yes to the distributors because we were ready. Then we went from 70 stores to about 400 stores in two months.
Felix: Wow. What was scaling up from 70 to 400 like?
Patrice: We had done our work ahead of our time, right? We were ready. It was still a bit of a shock. We certainly weren’t expecting that to happen and certainly not that fast. Luckily we had put some processes in place. It was relatively painless. Exciting, super exciting, but it was a good thing to have happened for sure. They’ve been great also supporting us through this entire time.
Felix: Now what about the online presence? Are most of the sales coming from these retail locations or do you push a lot onto the online store as well?
Patrice: Never been like a super focus. Again it’s been a lot of like organic growth online and in the retailers as well. It’s been the couple different revenue streams. It used to be three, but then I dropped the farmer’s markets. We had the retail, the online and the farmer’s markets. The retail strategy obviously we have some social media … Associate media person working with that, but our major sort of big push happened … Again it was actually kind of by accident. I had done my first media interview in January of this year. We’ve done only one marketing campaign before that, but no advertising, no media, nothing. I was a finalist in a business competition called SheEO, which is amazing.
If you’re a woman and you’re looking for venture capital or any kind of like growth in your business, look to SheEO. A friend of mine has this show on CBC Radio One, which is our big national broadcaster, show called Unreserved. She asked me to come on and talk about the product and talk about SheEO. I said, “Sure. No problem.” I was on for about eight or nine minutes and just chatting. The retail set like that awesome Shopify chaching sound. That started happening like every 30 seconds. It was insane.
Felix: How long did that last?
Patrice: Well, we did $36-$37,000 in sales in 10 days online alone. Our entire online sales from the year before we did in like 10 weeks basically. All 400 stores across Canada sold out in two days. There were waiting lists across the country. In addition, we also got another 60 days that joined up from that. The power of the media and reaching people is huge. If you get an opportunity, don’t ever pass it up. Don’t ever think that you’re not expert enough or you don’t have something to say or you can think of somebody else who do a better job. Never do that. Just get out there and talk about what you’re passionate about and that will translate and hopefully translate into some amazing sales as well.
Felix: Now this show that you’re on, was it for business people? What was the audience of the people that are tuning in?
Patrice: It was actually a very small show. Well, I shouldn’t say very small show because it was hugely impactful, but it’s one hour every week. It’s called Unreserved and it focuses on first nation’s people and what they’re doing just in general. Our story on Unreserved, my 10 minute story, was the most shared story in all of the CBC Radio One Broadcast. Even like their big shows, like The Current and Q, we out shared them by hundreds and hundreds of shares. It was super popular. People really responded to it.
Felix: Now do you have any tips for anyone out there that is thinking about taking this approach of getting on TV shows or getting into more kind of a nationwide media appearances?
Patrice: Well first off, don’t be intimidated. I know it’s easy to say, but honestly, I come from a background of radio and television. If we have somebody that’s going to talk and be a good interview and can be an expert for us and help solve our time crunch problems because we’re always looking for good content, we are going to be super happy to talk to you or they are going to be. I’m not in the media anymore, but they are going to be super happy to talk to you. Don’t feel shy about reaching out to people. I would avoid press releases like the plague. Never read them.
What I would do is reach out to people who have a beat, sort of a focus on what it is that you’re doing and reach out to them directly to try and develop some kind of relationship with them to let them know that you’re available as an expert to them. Just be passionate. I mean there’s a reason why you got into what you’re doing and just share that with people.
Felix: Do you need preparation? I guess for you you’re much more experienced. For anyone out there that has never done an interview before, that definitely has not been on TV or radio before, any tips on how to prepare the days leading up to your first interview?
Patrice: Sure. Well first off, you’re not providing like a dissertation on your product and the industry. Although it’s important to have facts, facts aren’t really what people get engaged with. They get engaged with your passion. Have a few talking points. Let’s say four or five things that you want to discuss and maybe some key points around that, but avoid having to read or be too scripted. Just go out there and be yourself because it’s you that people are really interested in.
Felix: Now when you are going down this path of getting on TV or getting on the radio, who should you be trying to connect with? Who is I guess the decision maker at these companies?
Patrice: There is obviously the manager editor or the producer or those sorts of people. They get inundated a lot and again I would say if you can, talk to the writer, talk to the individual reporter, talk to those specific people because they’re looking for you right now. They want to have someone like you on their program to talk about these things because content creation is huge and they don’t have a lot of time. They’re going to be happy to speak with you. Consider trying to get to them directly and there are ways to do that. You can go on … I forget the name of it, but there are … You look up on Twitter which reporters are reporting on what kind of thing. You can just do some googling and reach out to those people directly.
Felix: I’ve heard of this service. I haven’t used it myself, but I heard of other entrepreneurs using it called … I think it’s pronounced HARO, H-A-R-O, Help A Reporter Out. You sign up and I think you get to mark yourself down as an expert or someone involved in a specific industry. I think you get a couple of emails a day, depending on which industry you’re in of course, from reporters that are just looking for people that are experts that can comment on whatever is in the news or whatever they’re writing about. The great way to get essentially someone to do the PR for you without you having … Passively essentially without you having to reach out yourself. Definitely check that out. Now I want to talk a little bit about site.
The design of it I love it. I think it matches your packaging so well. Who designed that? What was the process behind creating this site?
Patrice: Same person. Same person who did my packaging did my website. It’s going to be pretty in line with that. Her name is Nanda Van Der Meer. Originally I met her here in Vancouver, but she moved to The Netherlands. I still work with her, just remote and that’s been fantastic as well. Don’t limit yourself just to your specific market obviously.
Felix: For sure. Now has the site gone through iterations like the packaging as well or is this the design that you’ve always had?
Patrice: It’s pretty much been the design we’ve always had. Again we had a little bit of an update in the past year or so, but nothing too radically to change it. Again it’s just very straightforward and it’s about getting people the information that they’re looking for. Being a place where people can actually look for our reviews as well and hear what other people have to say about the product. Because I think very often versus me talking about it, it’s so important to hear other voices. That’s a really good opportunity to let people do that.
Felix: Because a lot of your revenue is coming from the retail store, I’m assuming that’s where a lot of your focus is as well. When you sit down and think about how you should be spending your time with the website, the online store, where do you spend your time? Where do you focus on these days to grow the business when it comes to your online store, your online sales?
Patrice: Obviously our social media we’re trying to engage our customers. We do have a specific Facebook group that we started just for people to be able to talk together versus us talking about discount codes and all that kind of stuff. It’s just a place to build some community because this can be also a very isolating disease if you don’t know other people that you can talk to about it and you haven’t had experience with it. Having eczema and psoriasis can be … It can be just terrible. It’s not just about itchy, scaly skin. It’s also about the way that people look at you when they see you on the street and how that feels as a teenager or as a professional and you don’t want to shake someone’s hand because of the state of your skin.
These are very real things that people are suffering with. It’s an opportunity again to just get together and build a community and share things like that.
Felix: I like the Facebook group is built around the problem rather than your solution, right? I think a lot of times people will have a brand, have a store and they decide to start a group and the group is all about their products rather than people coming together as a community. Because no one really wants to spend time online talking about a product, right? You barely are going to participate in a group like that. If the topics, the conversations around problems, the stigma as you are talking about, if the topic is around that, then there’s a lot more for people to contribute. There’s a lot more value people will get out of it because you can only talk about your product so much.
I think that’s an important thing that you’ve certainly nailed is that your group is focused on support around the problem that your product solves, but it’s not about the product itself.
Patrice: Mm-hmm (affirmative). It’s not just always about monetizing everything either. If I’m out there providing some sort of relief to people and not just the literal relief, but making them feel better, that to me is a huge payoff. When people email me and call me and tell me, “You made a difference to me or to my children,” that’s huge. I think that’s probably why I got into journalism in the first place is I wanted to feel like I was making a difference. At some point it became clear to me that I didn’t feel like I was making the difference that I wanted to. Now again everyday people are telling me that I’ve helped them. That has huge, huge value to me.
Felix: Now because you are pretty much the only person running this business, of course, you’re hiring people to help you out. I’m sure you rely on a lot of tools and applications to help you out. Can you talk a little bit about those and what kind of technology do you employ whether it’d be on Shopify or outside of Shopify to help you run the business?
Patrice: Well, Shopify has been incredible. I mean I don’t think I could have created this online store without Shopify and all the tools that are available to us for mailing out our shipments to just tracking where our sales are coming from, all the tools that are out there. Being able to export to QuickBooks from Shopify, those apps, it’s been sort of our go to place for sure. I also want to be pretty clear. I do have a team with me and without whom I wouldn’t be successful the way that I am. My operations person, Hillary, down to like the team that helps me with labeling and fulfillment of all my products as well. It’s definitely a group effort for sure.
Felix: Any tools that you can mention or that you can think of that you rely on heavily?
Patrice: Not off the top of my head. No. Other than just everything on it. Like the Shopify is just the go to place for me. If I need something, I just look and look at what they have available.
Felix: Very cool. Thank you so much, Patrice. Satya is Satya.ca. Where do want to see the business go this time next year? What are your focus? What are your goals for the coming year?
Patrice: Well, obviously we’re going to continue to grow in Canada. It’s really about getting people to know that there is another option out there, another good option out there to the steroids. We do have interest in possibly going overseas to some few other countries as well and just continue with sort our mission, which is to be of service in a product industry.
Felix: Awesome. Thank you so much, Patrice.
Patrice: Thank you so much, Felix.
Felix: Here’s a sneak peek for what’s in store in the next Shopify Masters episode.
Speaker 1: When people [inaudible 00:48:00] they feel like it’s important enough that you feel that you want to pack someone that I think it’s always some good content.
Felix: Thanks for listening to Shopify Masters, the eCommerce marketing podcast for ambitious entrepreneurs. To start your store today, visit Shopify.com/Masters to claim your extended 30 day free trial. Also, for this episode’s show notes, head over to Shopify.com/blog.