Google tells us that the traditional gift for a five-year milestone is something made of wood - or even silverware for the modern folks. But, as Ladyburg marks five years since opening those doors, five years of getting to know you, and five years of taking customers behind the red apron for an intimate look at products, we decided to break tradition. We are marking this chapter of our story with a little reflection.
When Crystal Wellman launched Ladyburg Bath and Body Apothecary, she did so with little experience in operating a business. Sure, she had worked for someone, but she admits that’s not quite the same thing. What Crystal did have though, was a drive to control the type of experience that could be delivered to customers. The centerpiece of the retail boutique would be the customer, and everything else could be learned.
Well, sort of. She says in hindsight, hitting the brakes a bit could have been beneficial.
“We really did it so quickly that we didn't even have time to reach out to small business professionals to do it right. Looking back, we should have slowed down and came up with a better startup plan,” she explained.
Luckily, during the infancy stage of Ladyburg, there were some basic tools in her kit that came in handy: the Small Business Administration, a good bookkeeper, and oh – a nice savings account.
Throughout many points in her career, Crystal knew she had the entrepreneurial spirit.
“I have pretty much always been an entrepreneur at heart. When my husband was in the Army in Hawaii, I started my own basket party business. We would go to the shipping docs and purchase baskets from all over the world at wholesale, and I came up with a party plan and went all over selling my baskets,” she said. “I have had pet sitting businesses as well as running a skincare business.”
Now, five years after going all in, some lessons have emerged from the day in, and day out, of running Ladyburg:
- Trust your gut - Always trust your initial instinct when it comes to people and places. Location is key when looking for a brick and mortar because visibility equals less marketing needs. Pay attention to foot traffic patterns and do research on customer psychology before selecting a location. For people, we conduct 2 interviews. The first interview rules candidates out and second focuses on how they handle situations, and if their personality is a good fit for our company. We usually have a sense within the first couple of minutes if the candidate will move to round two.
- Ask for help - I still struggle with this. I do most of the backend, behind the scenes work and most days I am completely swamped, yet I don't think to ask for help until it's too late. I have been getting better about handing off social media to my daughter to fill in when I'm working on a big project.
- Hire someone against your weaknesses - I am a painful introvert, which is why working in the treatment room with clients was a great fit. In a retail environment, it can be overwhelming and intimidating. When I started looking for someone to run the retail portion of my store, I knew I needed someone who was an extrovert, but with the same passion that I had. I started looking outside the company and realized I had the perfect person inside: my daughter Morgan who had been with us since day one.
Now, that’s what we’ve learned, but what about the looking ahead part? Let’s just say we’re bringing our products to life. The heart of a business based in skincare is all about creating a lingering experience of being refreshed. Stay tuned for details of what to expect as Ladyburg rings in 2018.
Bianca M. Strzalkowski