Photo from: http://www.etsy.com/shop/DressGreen
This is the second in a series of interviews with Michigan women business owners. If you have any additional questions for our entrepreneur, please leave them in the comments and I’ll follow-up and post her response.
1. Tell us about your business
My name is Lauren and I’m the woman behind the scenes at DressGreen. I’m originally a Michigander, and have just moved back to the state (to lovely Ann Arbor!) after exploring various areas of the country over the last few years.
The focus of DressGreen is to provide a line of premium skin care products that are handcrafted with naturally- and sustainably-sourced ingredients. You’ll find everything from body creams and scrubs, to facial serums and masks in my shop. It is a philosophy of mine that high quality, effective skin care doesn’t have to break the bank and I constantly strive to offer products with the finest ingredients for an affordable price.
2. How did you first become an entrepreneur?
Entrepreneurship was something that gradually came into being for me. My background is in product design and engineering, so business basics were pretty foreign to me a few years ago. DressGreen started off mainly as a way to fill my personal need for high quality, naturally-based skin care products that weren’t outrageously priced. But as I gifted my products on to friends and family, the great feedback I received made me think – “maybe I could sell a few on the side to pay for this new hobby.” My Etsy storefront was born soon after, and following several months of building up a customer base I quickly found myself having a hard time juggling my DressGreen store with my regular job. Here began many trips to the local library to pick up books on building a business and marketing, as well as hours spent online researching state and federal requirements and regulations. Eventually I made the decision to leave my regular job and devote my time fully to DressGreen.
3. Where do you see yourself and your business in five years?
I continue to work at expanding the DressGreen line, and hope to offer a wider range of products to suite the many customer requests I receive. Slowly, I’m also trying to break myself into the 21st century (better late than never!) by expanding the methods by which I can communicate with customers – for me this has involved developing my own independent website that I hope to have operational later this year, keeping up-to-date information of new products and soap scents on a blog linked to my website, and getting a Facebook page off the ground.
4. Any tips for aspiring small business owners?
Have a business plan and budget in hand before you take the leap of opening your own business. I’ve found that for my business type, diversifying how you get your products out there also makes a great foundation – explore online, local and regional markets, wholesale, or other options like private labeling that might fit your product.
And don’t be afraid to outsource different areas of your business. If you find that your graphic design skills aren’t to a level that you’re satisfied with, or creating a webpage just takes too much time out of your schedule – look for a pro. It doesn’t have to be something you take a loan out for either – think about hiring a college student or offering a trade to keep costs low.
5. What is your favorite Michigan business/product?
Oh my there are so many to choose from, how can I name just one? Ann Arbor itself has many amazing spots that I’ve found in the few months I’ve been back in Michigan, especially restaurants and breweries (some of my favorites are Jolly Pumpkin, Blue Tractor, and the amazing crepes at Café Felix). And let’s not forget the weekly Farmer’s Market – so many great individuals and small businesses to support there. I also appreciate the work local online news groups are doing (annarbor.com, www.modeldmedia.com).