If two things could define the last two years other than the pandemic, it is the rise of TikTok marketing and conscious consumption of skincare products.
Jane Ormon, a young entrepreneur has taken advantage of both and has built a rapidly growing skincare brand that has grown beyond double its production value in the past year alone. She and her fiance have put in their educational background, personal experiences, and love to create a community to create Nola Skinsentials.
We sat down with Jane herself to know the secret behind the exponential growth of Nola Skinsentials, and their secret to building a loyal customer base turned community. Here’s what Jane had to say about it.
Could tell us a little bit about yourself and your role in the company.
Yeah, so my name is Jane. I am the CEO of Nola Skinsentials. I pretty much handle the entire team. Anything that’s associated with admin, marketing, and customer service, I have my hands on all of that.
We love talking to leaders who are very hands-on with their business as that's where we get the most lessons from. Tell us a little more about Nola Skinsentials, where the idea came from, and how the business has developed from there?
Nola is where my fiance and I, who’s also my business partner, met at a seafood cafe when we were vacationing. We eventually became friends and later started dating. He’s a cosmetic chemist, I was going to school for pre-med. That’s how we got to the idea to start a skincare business with both of us as partners.
That's a really cool story! One thing we noticed about your brand is that you have created a skincare plan that is focused on melanin-rich skin tones. Could you tell us about that and how you pick that particular category? I'm assuming there's a personal connection with that.
Yeah, definitely. Back when I was a college student who was dealing with hormonal acne, there weren’t a lot of skincare products on the market that were compatible, products that were created specifically for women of color, and their skin tones.
Everything was marketed for all skin types and skin tones. And you know that that’s not true. Darker skin tones have different skin ailments and skin concerns than lighter skin tones. We deal with a lot more hyperpigmentation cases, we scar differently. We would need products that cater to our skin tones. We saw the need there and a big gap. So we went ahead and kind of created a solution for that and that’s kind of how Nola Skinsentials originated.
Skinsentials is just a play on the skin, obviously, and essentials. The things that your skin needs. So Nola has what your skin needs and just all that good stuff.
Awesome. Again, we love the effort that you're taking to make beauty and beauty products more inclusive. We see your business doing really well through Instagram marketing. Any tips for brands looking to grow a following on Instagram?
When we first started our brand, we by default created pages on all social media platforms. But the initial engagement we received was from Twitter. It was organic and conversational.
We could be our authentic selves there and create a community. I’d credit our brand’s initial success to Twitter. This made it easy for us to create an Instagram presence.
Even before we started running ads on Instagram, we had good word-of-mouth community building going on. We also started working with influencers and did paid promotions, which were also fruitful.
For newer businesses that are just starting out on social channels like Instagram, what would you offer as advice to them to be successful in these areas?
Starting a new business is no easy feat. It’s definitely super challenging and I feel like it’s even more challenging now because there’s so much competition, there are so many new platforms, and there are so many things that you have to do to be a successful brand.
For people that are just starting out, I would say, focus on your why you’re starting your brand. What is your reason for the mark? Like, why should somebody buy your product, and live by that? Don’t compare yourself to other brands, believe in your brand. Focus on the why. Once your customers understand your why and believe in your products, you’re going to be successful and grow.
Don’t focus too much on paid social, as you wouldn’t be able to create an organic community through plain paid promotions. Fixate on building an organic and engaging community and getting people to understand and what they can benefit from your product. And definitely put your customers first, they’re going to be the backbone of your products.
It’s so hard to get someone to shop at your brand for the first time. But it’s so much easier for repeat customers to keep coming back to you. And they refer their friends.
I'm sure anybody needing this or hearing this is going to appreciate that. How did the pandemic affect your operations as a business? What are the challenges you had to face and how did you overcome them?
One of the things we struggled with was supply chains.
A lot of our packaging and inventory materials come from overseas. So when the pandemic first hit, luckily, our packaging orders were in transit on the way to the US. It just was delayed. But anything after that was super delayed.
We really weren’t able to place large orders like we generally did with our suppliers to get anything done. Because at the same time, while we were struggling to send out our orders, we were growing exponentially. A lot of people migrated to online shopping, and black-owned businesses were getting a lot of support from the social movements.
Meanwhile, the work from home mandate made us lose a lot of employees and the job market was extremely hard to find like top talent. But the main outcome from the pandemic was definitely growth for us.
I'm sure you're expecting even more of a growth spurt as the holiday season rolls those boots. So what are your strategies to combat that spike in shipping volumes? How do you plan for a busy season like that?
First thing is to be super transparent with your customers. If there’s ever an issue, we always are super transparent with them. We’re starting our holiday sale a little bit earlier this year to alleviate the expected delays with shipping to help our customers out.
We were informed by USPS and UPS that there could be massive shipping delays, and with only four weeks between like Black Friday and Christmas. We realized we had to equip ourselves to make all ends meet. Thus we stocked up accordingly and hired additional staff in our warehouse to get things going smoothly.
Can you tell us about the efforts you take on the post-purchase side to ensure that your customers have a great experience? Even after the auto-ship?
Yeah, for sure. A lot of things that I’ve learned just about customer service and post-purchase CX are from the reviews and complaints on the website or social media of our competitors.
Many brands think that when a customer orders from your website and you ship the package to them, their relationship and the service stops which is not true. Because if they’re coming to you for something, it’s our duty as a brand to ensure that they get their items.
We, at Nola Skinsentials, tend to stay in contact with a customer for at least two or three weeks after their order has been delivered because we truly want to know what’s going on and how our customers are benefitting. Thus we focus a lot on our post-purchase phase and make sure that they’re getting the best service that they can possibly get.
As an extension of this, if there are one or two important takeaways from your experience that you would like to leave behind for any new young brands reading this?
Number one is to realize from the very beginning that you cannot do everything all on your own and build a solid team to grow your brand. Building and finding a core team is an investment, and also mentally healthy for an individual as an entrepreneur, and in turn, brings a better return on investment.
Number two, even though you may be an expert in your field and expert in some of the things you study, you never ever stop learning. There are always new things coming out on the market, new platforms, for instance, new-age platforms like tick tock you may not be as well versed in. Open yourself to learning, listening to people, and getting advice, to become the best version of yourself.
We see that your mom has played a very important role in you becoming an entrepreneur. We’d love to hear more about her role in your success.
Coming from a Caribbean background where people take the traditional routes of profession like teachers, doctors, or nurses; my mom never imposed such expectations on me. I never wanted anything traditional even back when I was a kid, and my mom never forced me into anything.
She got me thinking life is full of endless possibilities and gave me the confidence to explore less trodden routes. Thus, I went to pre-med school, started my own skincare brand, and today also own a spa. Had she limited my potential, I would’ve never gotten this far. And I think everyone needs a support system like that to succeed.
That’s inspirational. Do you have any closing comments on how Lateshipment.com has enhanced the customer experience at Nola Skinsentials?
Yes, definitely. Lateshipment.com is one main enabler for us to be transparent about shipping updates and delays, and be in touch with our customers in general as I mentioned before.
I found your app on an integration page of Klaviyo and had my mind blown by the fact that someone was making the post-purchase phase of the customer cycle to be customer-friendly. It also eventually led us to be ahead of the customer service curve, curbing our helpdesk ticket volume.
Before we partnered with LateShipment.com, we were using a different platform that required a lot of money and manpower to ensure our deliveries were made at a maximum of five-day windows.
Since we send an automated email through Gorgias integration on shipping updates, we’ve had so many customers thanking us for being proactive in communicating shipping delays and such. All this wouldn’t have been possible without LateShipment.com.
So again, on behalf of all our readers, and me personally, it was an absolute pleasure to talk to an owner and a business that is very tuned in to the community of customers, and also offering a product that not only meets quality requirements but actually stands for something right. It was a pleasure to talk to you in that regard.