It's been one crazy year, and as Finding Ferdinand wraps up this year, I wanted to share what we've been up to and our progress. These past few months have been primarily focusing on putting down processes that will help accelerate growth in the next year.
Secured Supply Chain
Supply chain was hands down one of the MOST difficult thing I had to deal with. From scoping out potential vendors, working thru the product specs, and getting things shipped on time, I nearly got any sleep and couldn't help but have nightmares about this portion of the business.
The scope in which I had to work with was very limited, and I had to balance out a lot of things. This included how much money we could spend on packaging and design along with where we could source materials. Luckily for Finding Ferdinand, I had met the COO of a cosmetic manufacturing company at a conference, and thru that relationship, I've been able to secure our chemical manufacturing in the US. There was NO WAY that I would allow the chemicals to be outsourced. To this day, I am so thankful to her and her awesome team who keep a tight ship around our product development.
After months of this, we're now at a really good place and have this process down! This is the unglamorous side of the business, but probably one of the most important. If you're not detailed oriented, I would recommend finding someone who is to help you because any small mistake will cost you $$$ along with delaying your product shipments. Huge lessons learned here, and I'm just glad we survived this and can now focus on other things.
Built Strong Partnerships
You meet a lot of people when you run your own business because YOU HAVE TO. There's definitely a blurred line between business and friendships now because a lot of the people I've met and worked with this past year have become friends. For sole founders, there's a lot of isolation, which can be maddening at times, so there are days that I co-work with other female entrepreneurs around the city. We share ideas, brainstorm, and also collaborate whenever we can. I think down the line, there may be an opportunity for some of us to start another business together. That support network has really helped me in this past year. Your group has the best referrals for things that you may need like a printing shop or a freelancer. They can also warn you of certain companies.
Pushed To The Edge
You also meet horrible people who test your limits. We had a small project that we outsourced some printing on the lipsticks tubes for a wholesale order, and this company MELTED the entire inventory! Talk about a nightmare coming true. On top of everything, the women in charge of this project was a complete B!$@# You will meet a lot of people who will tell you that it is "not their problem" when they are the ones who mess up. In my head, I'm just sorry of them because they lack accountability and integrity. I was extremely livid at the time, but I had to make sure we fixed this problem and get the shipment out. It wasn't worth it to bicker back and forth on who's fault this was because we were under a time constraint.
We did have some delays in our wholesale shipments because the inventory was melted by that company. Obviously I had to take the blame for it because my buyers and partners have no insight into this situation. At the end of the day, you're going to have to take the blame for everything and try to make the situation better. I'm telling you this now because I just survived a huge crisis. There is light at the end of the tunnel.... if you handle it correctly. There's a fine balance of how much gets communicated out, and you're going to have to decide based on your relationship and personal judgement with that person.
Getting Out The First Batch Out
We sold out of our initial batch and now working on our back orders! We're working hard to make sure all of our customers are happy. There's no doubt that the customer is at the center of Finding Ferdinand. Those first initial orders are always exciting because you know how much work went into getting that initial product out the door. I try not to take those moments for granted. In the midst of it all, I was actually pretty stressed out because I was dealing with our supply chain. I was pushing them to move faster so that we could get more shipments out. Now that we've gotten the process down, I feel like I can finally celebrate!
As this year wraps up, I'm already planning for next year. I kind of have to :) Now that we have one of the most crucial parts of the business in place, we are now ready to shift focus to other areas. This includes marketing and technology. I'm putting some of my data analytics tools into use along with revisiting different things we we had built out last year but decided to put it aside to focus on our core product. You'll be seeing a lot of fun things from us, so you should get a Starter Kit if you haven't already!