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Who are you and what business did you start?
I’m Celeste Robertson, and I co-founded Natural Supply Co: an online boutique that stocks the best, most luxe natural and organic products for the whole family. We also offer a large range of plastic free, zero waste goodies.
What’s your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I’ve worked in beauty and online retail for a long time, and my best friend, Catherine Brooks, asked if I’d be interested in starting an online store with her in the wellness sector. Catherine has Multiple Sclerosis and was looking into the effects of all the chemicals we come into on a daily basis in personal care and home cleaning products; so many of these contain toxic chemicals which affect our reproductive and endocrine systems, not to mention carcinogenic ingredients. We decided to start our store to help make it easier for people to get better informed, and make better choices.
Describe the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing the product.
We don’t create any of our own products – we buy them from existing makers. We make sure the ingredients in the ranges we stock measure up to our standards, and are created and packaged in an eco-friendly way. We also love to support women in business.
Describe the process of launching the online store/business.
I had some contacts from working in online beauty previously, and I was also responsible for bringing in new brands; so I knew how to contact brands we wanted to stock, and explain why they should get on board the Natural Supply Co train.
I used Shopify to set up our site, and Catherine’s brother and sister-in-law – talented architects with a flair for design – created our logo and branding.
It all happened very quickly, and we launched about 6 weeks after our first discussion; the day after I returned from my honeymoon! We could barely get inside the front door, for all the boxes crowding the entryway. My new in-laws spent a lot of time collecting parcels from the post office for us, while we were living it up in Hawaii!
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
I am not too humble to say that our customer service is excellent. We reply to emails really quickly, love chatting with our customers on social media, and we send orders out quickly. Products are wrapped and we handwrite a note to all customers, including a sample of a new product to try, too. As a result, we have a great customer retention rate of 50-60% most months. It is something we really appreciate!
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Natural Supply Co is almost 4 ½, but we are still definitely in our infancy. We don’t pay for advertising in any form (except for retargeting to customers on social media) and we do everything ourselves; social media, order packing, website updates, customer service etc.
Our focus this year will be on growing corporate gifting (through our Gift Concierge service: https://naturalsupplyco.com/pages/gift-concierge) and we’re hoping to run more events in the Geelong region.
My original co-founder, Catherine exited the business in 2018 to focus on her family and her law career, and I have had a different friend and partner in the business, Sarah Scott, for the past three years. We both love what we do and look forward to what the future holds for Natural Supply Co, but we both have young families so we’re happy to continue with slow growth.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
I’ve been learning about SEO (search engine optimisation) over the past few months and it’s really been helpful for me, not just in terms of reaching new audiences, but also because I know that the more I work at this, the more customers I’ll be able to acquire without paying for advertising. This is an enormous help with a shoestring budget!
Additionally, I’ve always been an advocate for supporting small business, but this has reached a whole new level since running Natural Supply Co; I can’t express how valuable it is to support others who are also trying to earn a living out of their passions.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
We use Shopify for our site, and Klaviyo for email campaigns. We recently made the switch from MailChimp, and the support has been amazing; we have been able to set up lots of automations as well, which has been great.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Make sure you have found a niche or can do something better than the existing crowd; and, most importantly, be genuine and authentic, ALWAYS – people can smell a rat.
Where can we go to learn more about you?
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