A Look Back At 5 Years In Business (What Went Right, What Went Wrong + Where We're Headed)
If someone would have told me five years ago when I started Primally Pure that my one-woman show would grow into a company that employs 30-some people, has a spa at its headquarters and ships packages to hundreds of thousands of people all around the world each year, I would have laughed – seriously.
From the beginning, I was wildly passionate about getting clean products into the hands of as many people as I could and educating women (and men!) about clean living and therefore empowering them to lessen their bodies’ toxic loads in a variety of ways.
I had no business experience and not a clue what I was doing during the early years, but I was passionate and persistent. Giving up was never an option – and that type of mindset goes much further than all the resources, connections and money in the world.
So here’s a quick look at what went well, what didn’t go so well, and what’s ahead in the next half decade!
THE GOOD STUFF
EVERYTHING was bootstrapped. Okay, I didn’t really have a choice here (my husband and I had just quit our jobs and moved in with his parents and siblings to get his business – Primal Pastures – up and running). But looking back, I’m so grateful that I started Primally Pure with nothing.
I thought I was a hard worker already, but hard work took on a whole new meaning when I became an entrepreneur. Twelve-hour days were the norm during that first year when I was making skincare products in my kitchen, shipping them in another room of our house, doing customer service and influencer outreach at the kitchen table, etc.
I drove around to coffee shops to pick up old newspapers and magazines and used a Costco paper shredder to cut them into tiny pieces to stuff our packages with. I wrote addresses on packages by hand. I had our product labels printed on sheets of sticky paper at FedEx, and used a cheap paper cutter from Hobby Lobby to cut them by hand.
It was crazy. And often times more work than it needed to be. But I did what I knew how to do at the time instead of waiting for the perfect solution for everything that had to get done.
Education was (and still is) everything. With a background in copywriting, I knew the importance of educating and building trust with my audience early on, and I took that seriously. If someone trusted us enough to subscribe to our newsletter or follow us on instagram, I was determined to provide the best possible product education and general clean living education I was capable of giving.
Today, content is still a big deal to us. It’s a team effort now (and our Content Creater, Courtney – also our Holistic Esthetician – oversees the big picture) and I’m proud of how we continue to serve our community with meaningful information.
Quality has always been critical. I told my team at the beginning of 2020 that quality is our word for the year – quality of ingredients, quality of products, quality of service, quality of content, quality of design, packaging, etc.
We haven’t always been perfect in each of those areas. But we’ve always done our best, and are constantly building to a new “best”. And right now we have more resources and people than ever devoted to developing a better version of our best!
For example, we’re currently in the process of doing an ingredient audit. One by one, we’re sifting through our ingredients/sources to see if anything can be swapped out for a higher quality alternative. We’re also doing a formula audit to see if any improvements can be made to existing products in the areas of scent, texture, or efficacy. We’re developing new ways to better serve our customers and are re-working some of our content and email flows to provide more valuable information.
I’m so excited to zero in on quality this year with my team, and can’t wait for you guys to experience the results!
THE NOT-SO GOOD STUFF
I didn’t plan for success. I never expected Primally Pure to grow beyond me making products in my kitchen. And in the beginning, I was so excited and grateful whenever someone wanted to work for me but didn’t think through how to be a good boss or what those working relationships would look like. I handed out fancy titles too early on, because I never expected us to be large enough to hire a qualified [insert fancy title here].
I made lots of decisions that worked fine in the moment but not for the long haul. For far too long I found and used ingredient sources that only sold their stuff in tiny quantities, and I would do silly things like make 8 batches of 4 deodorants at a time instead of just making larger batches.
I played small because I was too caught up in the day-to-day chaos to think any bigger.
I didn’t prioritize education/growth. The early days, months and years were filled with a lot of tears. Every challenge that came up with an ingredient, an employee or a customer felt like the end of the world.
A lot of this was inexperience, but it was also a lack of understanding what it meant to be an entrepreneur. I didn’t have any insights on how to make tough business decisions, what to do when I faced an obstacle with someone on my team, or basically how to react whenever anything didn’t go how I expected it to.
I didn’t realize that there was this world of books, podcasts and events where people who had done this before were sharing what they had learned.
Once I discovered this, my mindset shifted from “why is this happening to me” to “what is this teaching me?”. I/PP still face many challenges today, but now I feel much more prepared to take on whatever comes up because I’ve prioritized learning and have sought out mentors who help me to feel empowered and less alone in this.
The deodorant tube disaster of 2017. I’m taking a deep breath as I dive into this next part because this was SUCH an intense part of our journey. Okay. If you’ve been with us for awhile, you may remember when we re-branded our deodorant a few years ago. It was all planned out perfectly. Our new tubes were scheduled to arrive at the beginning of November. We were going to launch the new tubes (and introduce our brand new charcoal deodorant) at the end of the month on Black Friday.
The newsletters were designed and scheduled. The social media posts were all planned out. The influencers we work with were all prepared to spread the word. Facebook + instagram ads were set up. There was no turning back!
Except…that Black Friday was quickly approaching, and our brand new tubes had yet to arrive. But our international supplier assured us they would arrive in plenty of time, so we weren’t too worried.
To give some background, this was our very first international packaging order. We were unfamiliar with the shipping and customs processes, and there was a lot of confusion and miscommunication along the way. By the time we were supposed to launch the tubes on Black Friday, we were certain they would arrive any day. (And that our awesome team could have several new batches of deodorant made to fill the tubes with and then ship them out to customers in no time.)
So the promo happened and it. did. amazing. People were so excited about our new tubes! We sold far more than we had anticipated. But YOU GUYS – we still didn’t have the tubes in-house. Thankfully, we ran other promos over the weekend for different products and still had plenty of work to do in just fulfilling those other orders.
One week went by. No tubes. Another week. No tubes and lots of emails back and forth with our international supplier, trying to sort out what had turned into a customs disaster. About two and a half weeks after we had “launched” our new deodorant tubes, the tubes themselves finally arrived in perfect condition.
The deodorant tube disaster of 2017 isn’t something I’m proud of, but we got through it and our gracious customers stuck with us and were patient with the delays (thank God!).
A LOOK AT WHAT’S AHEAD
Today, this girl who started out fully expecting to run PP out of her home for the rest of her life has big dreams for the future! Here’s a quick look at what we’re working on.
- We’re expanding our headquarters – again!
- We’re hiring!
- We just brought on a full time natural product formulator! (P.S. if you have a new product idea you’d like her to work on, please share in the comments below!)
- More than ever before, our focus is on you. We’re working on several initiatives this year to give you a better, more personalized skincare experience! You guys are going to love what’s ahead, and we’re sharing it first with our email family (if you’re not already a part of it, you can sign up here).
Thanks for reading and supporting this journey! None of this would be possible without you guys! I’m forever grateful for your support and look forward to continuing to serve you for many years to come.