Welcome to this e-commerce business success story! In this profile, we interviewed Tonya, the owner of STORIES Parfums. Our hope is that you find this interview to be enlightening and inspiring as you seek to start and grow your very own online brand!
Thank you for joining us for this e-commerce business success story! We’d like to start by getting an understanding of your backstory. How did you come to own your business?
I should start by saying, I never set-out to launch a premium niche fragrance brand. It was born out of a transformative experience during a visit to the heart of perfume-making in Grasse, whilst creating a personal fragrance that started the ball-rolling. As a child I experienced a traumatic event that effectively blocked off my earlier happy childhood memories leading to a difficult period for me, but those memories were actually recovered, as as I sat with the master perfumer in France at their perfumer’s organ, blind smelling hundreds of extraordinary ingredients. At the time I did not know that scientific studies confirm there is a connection between scent and memory. The olfactory bulb recognizes smells and is part of the limbic system, responsible for our emotions and the formation of memories. Once I realised the power of fragrance, I felt compelled to bring my story to a wider audience and launched the first luxury fragrance house in Northern Ireland in 2018.
Terrific! Now, this article is about profiling successful e-commerce businesses. So – can you share your top 3 keys to running a successful online brand?
1. Know your customer – place them, front and centre. From the products you create with them in mind, to curating content which will appeal to them and help them engage with your brands authenticity and encourage brand commitment. Identify the challenges they experience along the customer journey and ensure that you prioritise answering them to ensure that you are able to keep your customers happy and give them a reason to keep coming back to spend their hard earned money with you.
2. Data and content is king! Try and test in all areas of the business. Being across analytics enables you to clearer see what is working and what isn’t. Once you have established what works, it provides a snapshot of a winning formula to repeat. It also highlights where you are attributing resource into an area that may not be performing and enables you to adjust your course and resource towards activity with a greater success yield.
3. Build deep and solid relationships with your customer, retailers, media and influencers. Find your brand champions and look after them. Building a loyal and engaged database enables you to communicate directly with your customers. Understanding what they like and dislike enables you to provide excellent customer service and build trust, not only in what you are selling but the way you respect and look after your customers. Things can go wrong, often out of our control but the way a business handles problems can often make the difference between keeping and losing a customer.
Excellent. Now, I’m sure it hasn’t always been that easy. Can you tell a story about one challenge, setback, or mistake that you’ve had to overcome on the road to success? How can others learn from your mistakes?
Some of our biggest challenges have been around the area of sustainability. It is very difficult as a small manufacturer to compel component manufacturers to rethink what they have been doing for years – producing plastic parts. As we all know the industry is moving apace on this though and we are delighted to be able therefore to become more sustainable as we develop. When we started we could only find and afford plastic caps. We now have Zamak, a Zinc Alloy that is sustainable and 100% recyclable. We manufacture with the lightest carbon footprint we can and are constantly reviewing. Sometimes that means selling stock at lower prices to enable us to bring the latest more sustainable developments to market. Our bottles now have paper labels made from calcium carbonate which is more sustainable than raw paper and all three sizes of bottle are refillable so the customer can have a long standing relationship with us, able to refill their “travel pocket” bottle from their larger “at home” bottle. Our boxes have been designed to be repurposed and are cello wrap free. My key take out to share here is be transparent, let people know you are on a journey to improve what you can when you can. Do not be afraid to explain you are not fully there yet, the more everyone shares the journey, the more other brands can support each other in the quest. After all the planet is bigger than all of us.
Thanks for that! Any final words of advice for our readers?
Be prepared to give your idea your all, surround yourself with people who are as passionate about your concert as you are and prepared to walk the long walk with you. It can be all consuming, so remember to set-aside time regularly to recharge. Small business owners often find that challenging, but its not a nice to do, its a must!
Brilliant! We want to thank you for participating in today’s interview. Hopefully our readers agree that there is a lot to be learned from your brand’s story. What links can our readers use to follow along with your journey?