A Year of ONLY
As I sit here typing this, I can’t help but go over everything that has happened in the past year and how much my life has changed. A year ago, I couldn’t have imagined all that would happen. But then a year ago, I had no clue of how many lives I would touch.
Creating a company and making a popular product wasn’t the first thing on my list. Originally, I wanted to create a product for me: something that I finally wasn’t allergic to so that I could stop chasing the holy grail of hair conditioner. Thankfully, in the beginning I had a lot of people who were also interested in this discovery — and they kept asking when I would finally make it so that they could buy it, too.
To all of those early influencers that kept pushing, kept asking: thank you for helping me find my confidence!
From dream to reality
Once production was finally completed in late June 2018, I held the product in my hand, and I actually did have a moment of panic. I mean, I had people, 10-15 that I had already been making product for. But I was about to put myself out for the whole world to see!
You know those moments, when you should believe in yourself because you’re totally capable — but then you still have that thought of, “Oh my gosh someone is going to call me out because I’ve never made a product before, and what if there is some strange law I forgot to look up, and this is illegal?”
OK, maybe I didn’t go that far, but if you’ve ever launched something, opened a business, stepped out of your comfort zone so that everyone could see you, that was where I was.
I remember telling my husband that if things didn’t go as planned, at least we would have an endless supply of conditioner. Oddly, I was OK with that thought. It is a lot easier to withhold information and keep it safe than to let everyone see exactly what’s been going on.
At this point in time my youngest was almost 3 months old and I was trekking him to all of my manufacturing appointments and meetings. As I’m lugging him in his little carseat, I look down at him and then I asked myself, “Nina, what are you doing? Seriously, what are you doing, why are you even going through all of this effort?”
The answer is that I want to be able to look back one day and see how much further we’ve come, and tell the boys all about starting this business. The fear holding me back was all made up. No one will ever be able to see things exactly as I have, or experience exactly what I’ve been through, so this is my story to tell. If I want to see a new product do well and expand beyond my wildest dreams, then that’s what I would aim to do. And I would just have fun with it along the way.
Allowing myself to be seen and to put it up on the shelves at Urban Betty was one of the coolest moments of my life. Here was this legit product with a legit label (and barcode) that was sitting very proper on a retail shelf. Then someone bought one. And then someone else bought one. Then I had people walk in just to buy it! All at once It was happening, and it really took off.
Here are some things I learned in this past year:
You have to buy barcodes. (And when you do, don’t buy the dollar ones.) Buy the right codes and have your company registered.
Keep every receipt, and keep all of the money that you put into a business separate. In the beginning, if I needed extra office supplies at Target, I would pay for it along with personal things. Let me tell you, separating that at the end of the year is not fun.
Always get a sample of the products that you are buying from another company and test them in the real world. Ahem. I’m talking about the bottle fiasco before I go the pump tops, and how hard it was to get the product out of the bottle. (It was an epic couple of months because I had to go through all of my bottles before I could order new ones.)
If you have the passion for something, follow that dream because it’ll all work out. And even if it doesn’t, you will learn something.
You can balance life and work. Early on, I was worried about being too caught up and not making enough time for the family. I mean it haunted me. How do you do all at once? I see people struggle with work and life balance and I didn’t want to be that person, too.
That being said, I learned that balance is not about making it to the end goal. Balance is taking each day and being extremely happy for where you are at that present moment. If I didn’t get something done on a specific timeline, then it wasn’t a big deal. Timelines are made up, time will seemingly speed up and slow down at the drop of a hat, and if I didn’t see each learning experience as a progression and a step forward, I would get lost in the details.
Everyone has an opinion, but I get to choose who’s opinion I want to listen to. It’s really easy to get caught up in the swirl of emotions, and people love to talk. The best thing I’ve found is to find the people that love to talk. Maybe they won’t have exactly the right info that you need, but it’ll inspire other ways of thinking that get your brain out of the box.
Get a label printer if you’re shipping items. You’ll save a lot on shipping tape.
There’s no such thing as mistakes or setbacks or failures. I learned to take those words out of my vocabulary, because it is true: One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. I learned to find the treasure in every step. Does it sound like the placebo effect? Sure, but it’s so much more fun than looking for missteps. By focusing on finding the good, it made seeing the good 100 times easier.
Do not stop doing what you love. Persistence is the way of the game, and that is the most important trait you need for a successful business.
Last one I promise. If you need to be lazy and not do anything — for a week, a weekend, a month — take the time off and enjoy it. There isn’t a time limit to creating and enjoying happiness in the random day-to-day moments.
A little appreciation
I do want to thank everyone who has been a part of this parade, and everyone who has helped to guide me one way or another.
To Mister Conor, for always bringing me a new bottle of ONLY every morning from the back stock and for being my little buddy through all of the manufacturing appointments. To Mister Luc, for letting me test every single product in your hair and for being the first ONLY baby. You boys have made this journey come to life, and have made the entrepreneurial process that much more exciting.
To Chelle and David, for your endless support and business advice. I am so thankful for your friendship!
To Nancy, for being my rock. Even though I’ve only worked with you for a couple of months, you’ve helped to drive me forward and be my saving grace to stay afloat.
To Christian, for opening the door and helping me to discover this wide world of PR, and kicking everything up tenfold.
To Ashley, for your superb design skills and for giving me a brand label that perfectly fit what I wanted to create.
And lastly to Tyler, for taking the time to learn all of the ins and outs of what it takes to make a new business thrive. Thank you for jumping in and being a part of ONLY when we both were taking so many first steps at the same time.
Thank you to everyone, I appreciate you more than you’ll ever know, and I can’t wait to follow up at the end of Year Two!