Welcome to our So You Wanna Start A... series, designed to give you a behind-the-scenes sneak peek at the journeys that went into creating some of your favorite local brands.
Today's guest is Nickole Swensen from N | S Beauty, a skincare brand started in Des Moines, Iowa.
Our favorite piece of advice: "Test!" An incredibly important step for businesses in any industry but especially those with products customers will either consume or apply to their skin. Nickole stressed the importance of testing her products on different consumers, in different seasons, with varying ingredients to make sure she found that sweet-spot combination that would become her signature.
I created N | S Beauty, which is a natural luxury skincare brand that's formulated with crystals. I also own Be Well Be Happy where I do chakra balancing. When Covid happened I had to stop seeing people in person. I had a lot of time on my hands and thought I should go for the dream that I've always had on the back burner. I had a dream of starting my own luxury skincare line because I'm super obsessed with skincare and love the feel of high-end luxury brands. I have very sensitive skin, so these products would irritate my skin and the fragrances would give me headaches. I wanted to create a brand that incorporates the feeling of high-end products and have it be natural.
My first win was my first order. I remember I was super excited about it, boxed it all up, had it all ready, and then sent it out. A week later I got a page-long email from that customer telling me how much they loved it and I cried. They had really sensitive skin too and hadn't found a product that didn't irritate their skin, that actually worked, felt good, was something they could display on their counters, and made it feel like a pretty experience. This showed me that I was onto something that other people wanted.
There's been many challenges on different stages of the journey. At first, I didn't know if anyone would like it or care, so I had to get over that mindset. I'm proud of what I do and have heard a lot of feedback from people who have loved it. Now, it's balancing this with being a mom, homeschooling, and my other business. As I get more and more sales, which is amazing, I'm figuring out how to keep fun in my life, have family time, and get my brand out there. It's important to keep some sort of routine and make sure there's some sort of balance within that.
1) Do what excites you. If that's one specific thing, then do that and do it really well. When I started this, I second guessed a lot of things because I've never seen this done before. I was super picky with all the jars, labels, and other things. I think it was important that I stuck with what I wanted to do because I'm so proud of it.
2) Test!!!! There's a lot of tweaking involved in the formulas and how products work with your skin during different times of the year.
3) Make sure you know your audience really well. What would you wanna see in a product or on social media? Focus on who it's for.
I hit my first year of business in August and I realized I had shipped 250 orders to 15 different states and have been able to donate to three different non-profits through my business. I'm really excited to expand on that! I want to try to get to all of the states, hopefully go international, and be able to donate to those places I really love. That's where I see myself going!
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With episodes on everything from pitching the media to effective Instagram strategies for local business owners to winning a Food Network show, Local to Legend is all about everyday people building extraordinary legacies for themselves and their brands. Find it on your favorite podcast app.