Business in numbers
Year of foundation: 2019 Investments at the start: 30 thousand rubles Turnover for October 2020: ~ 1.2 million rubles Profit: 500 thousand rubles (for October 2020) Number of orders for October 2020: 450 Average cost of a product: 550 Average check: 2800 rubles Number of SKUs in assortment: twenty
I was born in Zlatoust - a city in the Chelyabinsk region with a population of 163 thousand people. In the 11th grade, I did scientific work on the topic of environmental pollution by industrial enterprises: I came up with a technology that would reduce harm, and even received a patent for an invention. Then I realized that chemistry is mine, and after school I decided to study chemistry at the South Ural State University.
I got acquainted with natural cosmetics at the age of 18, having ordered myself mineral powder via Instagram. I shared my find with my friends, and at the same time I started working as a make-up artist and using mineral cosmetics in my work.
When I moved to Chelyabinsk, I didn't even know what I wanted to do in the future. I thought that I would continue to teach at the university, participate in public life and research science.
I did not even consider entrepreneurship and creativity: I did not seem to myself a person who generates and embodies ideas.
But everything was turned upside down by cosmetics. I wanted to talk about her, to help the girls, because they had a request for quality. At some point, I realized that natural cosmetics is a synergy of nature and chemistry, and I wanted to come up with my own approach, especially since I studied at the chemistry department.
What is natural cosmetics
Natural cosmetics consists of plant raw materials, that is, it does not contain parabens, SLS, silicone, synthetic fragrances and dyes, paraffins, GMOs, animal raw materials. Yes, the cucumber mask you made in your kitchen is essentially natural cosmetics. Natural cosmetics are often called "organic", although they differ slightly in composition. In organic cosmetics, there are no ingredients of animal origin, and plant components must be at least 95%. In natural use of animal ingredients is permissible, and herbal ingredients must be at least 50%. In this regard, there are brands on the Russian market that call themselves natural cosmetics, for example, "Chistaya Liniya", but in fact this is not the case. Even the most famous brand Natura Siberica contains synthesized components, so it cannot be fully considered "natural" either.
How I decided to launch my brand: ideas and first sales
For three months, after couples, I went to a small rented office to do makeup, for which I took 400 rubles. Sometimes I also gathered friends and clients and told them about cosmetics. By that time, I had my first thoughts to do something of my own. There were many brands on the market, but how to choose the right one? Plus, I've noticed that there is a universal mineral powder shade that suits everyone. And I thought I could use it.
First, I made a small batch of cereal and clay-based face scrubs in the kitchen. And she sold it through Instagram and acquaintances. I realized that I was interested in this and that I could move on. I bought containers, labels, equipment for mixing ingredients and ordered raw materials.
In April 2019, I started developing a powder with hydrophobic properties: for this I received training from a friend who lived in Italy. She is a technologist by profession and has her own brand of AnaMi mineral cosmetics. This powder lasts a long time, does not harm the skin and does not slip off the face when playing sports.
Before everything worked out, I tested the product a lot: I gave it to my friends and asked them to try it in different situations.We entered all the results into a Google document.
The turning point was the StartUp Tour from the Skolkovo Foundation in Chelyabinsk: I realized that my product was worthy of entering the market.
By that time, my first sales had started: I hardly promoted in social networks, so my main clients were acquaintances who also recommended me to others. I spoke at the event about the benefits of mineral powder and why I do it. Not everyone understood the idea, but women experts supported and gave feedback. Then an expert technologist approached me, who said that I had a good idea, advised me to write a business plan and start selling faster.
Why I left college and focused on cosmetics
Then I had a period of chaotic sales through Instagram. I still continued to do makeup at home, but it was not a priority. The price was the same as it is now, but buyers were not embarrassed, they trusted the product. It turned out to earn a stable 20-30 thousand rubles a month. In the summer of 2019, cosmetics faded into the background, as I was engaged in scientific projects. And in August I spoke at the WorldSkills international conference.
My worldview changed: I did not want to return to the university, where they said that because of the unlearned lecture you would not find a job. The university slowed me down, took up time and did not give me knowledge. I decided that I would only do makeup.
Was I afraid to leave the university? No. I clearly understood that I could not work for someone. Plus, I've already started to study social media promotion. Mom took my decision with hostility and was upset, but friends supported me. I thought that I could always return to the university, I just had to go forward.
I flew on vacation to Turkey, and then opened an IP. Gradually, new opportunities began to come and everything started spinning: I rented an office, hired an assistant, the first employees. They started writing about me in the media, I was even invited to the "Secret Millionaire" show (the release was released in November 2019. - Approx.).
Which Russian manufacturers do I like? SmoRodina brand. I bought, looked, got inspired. I cannot single out others. In terms of visuals, the designer and I focused on foreign brands - there are examples of gentle pastel presentation.
The brand can be found at Ozon and Wildberries. By the way, we first entered Wildberries in June through intermediaries, and the cooperation turned out to be unsuccessful - we had to change our partner. In mid-October we went there again. The placement justifies itself: clients are very fond of ordering us there and are waiting for new positions.
"I didn't want Ecomake to be another product on the retailer's shelf."
Earlier in an interview, I said that Ecomake was not initially focused on making money, that I did not have a clear financial plan. Things have changed recently. We have regular customers, and our turnover is growing. This is no longer a hobby, but a business project.
Now my goal is to reach a monthly turnover of 3 million by December, and then 5 million rubles. A couple of days ago, we advertised on a millionaire blogger and made good revenue.
I have nine people in my team and I am responsible for them. My task is to make an autonomous system. If everything is tied to one person, you can quickly burn out. That is why I am fascinated by the McDonald’s example, which has a clear structure.
But I am not a fan of the mass market and would not want Ecomake to be another product on the shelf of some cosmetic retailer. Yes, our cost is higher, but the composition is natural. And we do everything with minimal use of equipment. From a functional point of view, this does nothing, but we believe that manual production allows more control over the process.
I bring values to the brand that I lacked in other products. First, sincerity. I love local projects and support them. Secondly, the convenience of choice. Third, the feel of the product, not just the performance. I am trying to combine this into Ecomake.
We do not have an office: all employees, except for production, work remotely from different cities.The production itself is in Chelyabinsk, four people are involved there. I have almost no control over the process, just discussing plans. Once every few months I come to production for personal communication and optimization.
For me, money is the response from the world that I get for the value of the product.
Usually I take 100 thousand rubles for housing, food, clothes, and I reinvest most of the profits. Now I earn extra money on Instagram consultations, so I take less from business.
It is important for me to find a balance between a mass and a local, inaccessible brand. Until I saw the ideal format among cosmetics on the Russian market. If we take other areas, I can highlight Bite: I really like them. I consider them successful, stylish and modern - the product is available not only in healthy lifestyle outlets, but also in supermarkets.
How we sell cosmetics
You know, they never asked me: "Why are ground cereals and grass so expensive?" Rather, people are surprised: "Wow, you can make cosmetics out of this ?!" We even raised prices for some items because we see demand. Top three products: mineral powder, cereal cleanser and lip balm. The powder container has recently been increased from six to eight grams.
We are also working on additional value: when buying, we give a bonus lesson on makeup or something else, that is, we try to make the final value higher. We have a charter that spells out the values and communication style. Customers notice this and thank us. Therefore, word of mouth works well.
How to stand out among the mass of projects on the market
You yourself must understand the meaning that your product conveys. And based on this, build visual communication with the consumer. Our client is a 35-year-old woman from a metropolis. She has a husband and children. She lives in a fast pace, and cosmetics for her is one of the opportunities to come to herself, to feel herself and her desires. Show clearly what your product is, how much it costs, what problem it solves. People need to understand that you have more than just an account, but a store. I do not really understand those who hide prices and write: "Answered in private messages." In my opinion, this is inconvenient and disrespectful to the client. Choose sales channels that are close to your audience and product. We have chosen a promotion strategy through bloggers, because we have a specific product that is not clear to everyone. Not everyone knows how natural and mineral cosmetics differ from others, why they cost so much. We want to be known and trusted, so bloggers try our powder and share their impressions with the audience.
"It's good that I'm 20 years old"
I rarely meet with skepticism because of my age. The most important thing is experience. Yes, there are moments of uncertainty, but I accept responsibility and move on. A psychologist will not help here - you just need to move on and work. It's good that I'm 20. I have a lot of strength, energy and ideas. Shortly before the pandemic, I decided to move to Moscow. It was already cramped in Chelyabinsk, although everyone knew me and was often invited to business events as a speaker. Thinking is scalable in Moscow: there is a large concentration of people and projects.
I didn't have the feeling of being "lost" in the capital. I move in small steps. Unfortunately, COVID-19 slowed down the processes, but I already had my own circle of friends here.
“The most important thing is the assets we create”
My own business taught me that we create everything ourselves. And the result depends only on you. Now I understand that I could not live differently - not to be an entrepreneur. Freedom and the ability to implement ideas are important to me. I learned to take risks.
Usually this means money, but I would say that this is both the hiring of a new employee and a large investment in the purchase of containers. What matters most is the assets we create. You can lose all your money, but keep a great team, product and audience - then no crises are scary. I want to create a brand that people would fall in love with the first time.
About the regime of the day
Sometimes I work 12 hours a day, sometimes two hours.I completely disconnect from work only during training or massage. It's a never-ending process, but creative and varied.
Do I know how to delegate? Oh, I'm a bad leader - I don't know how to set tasks. I rather go out of inspiration, but this is not always rational for a business. At the same time, I consider myself an easy person: I rarely get angry and do not swear at the team. If we are wrong, this is an experience and we no longer need to do this.
Why am I so open on social media?
I try to develop my personal brand and actively maintain Instagram: I promote cosmetics, and cosmetics promote me. I love that thanks to Ecomake I can share my experiences, give interviews and live a fulfilling life.
Why am I openly talking about business on social media? For me, earning is the response of the world to the value that a product gives. There is nothing to be ashamed or afraid of, but employees still always see the data on turnover. Yes, and it's easier for me not to keep all the numbers to myself.
Now I have no goal of getting a specialized education as an entrepreneur. I recently took a two month course in business strategy that helped me. There are also questions that I solve with the coach. For example, plans for the future, work with fears, team relationships.
But I understand that I don't want to break myself and become a classic businessman: it would be more comfortable for me to hire people who will competently manage. And I would deal with the main vision of the brand.
Natalya KozlovaFounder of 4fresh ecomarket
Over the past three years, the demand and consumption of "green cosmetics" has grown exponentially. There are a number of reasons for this.
Brands have become more accessible: they can already be found in chain stores, on marketplaces. The trend for the consumption of natural products still persists. This is not only cosmetics, but also food, household chemicals. Influencers and media people are talking about her love for organic products: Julia Roberts talks a lot about Dr. Hauschka (a German brand of skin care cosmetics), and the singer Nyusha, who before we did not associate at all with the consumption of organic, after giving birth began to talk more and more about healthy lifestyles. A generation of millennials has grown up who do not pay attention to marketing, but put the brand's mission, its values, eco-initiatives, and animal protection at the head. And here, of course, there is no equal to natural brands, because for them it is the DNA of the company.
The Russian natural cosmetics market is developing at the expense of local brands and foreign players, which are adapted to Russia.
At 4fresh, we give new brands a year to complete their processes. From experience I can say that if a brand passes the milestone of 2-2.5 years, it means that it will survive on the market.
If we talk about local brands, then the most powerful of the regions can be called Mi & Ko (Kirov), Levrana (St. Petersburg), SmoRodina (Magnitogorsk), Krasnopolyanskaya Kosmetika (Sochi). Among the newcomers I will single out “Correct cosmetics” (Moscow), “Inspiration” (Novosibirsk), Kristall Minerals Cosmetics (St. Petersburg).
If we talk about the niche of mineral cosmetics, then it is interesting and growing rapidly. This cosmetics does not clog pores, is excellent for the skin and even partially cares for it. Therefore, those who masked problem skin with tonal means from the mass market switch to it, which further aggravated the situation.
There are not many players in this niche. I am impressed by Latvian Era Minerals, American Everyday Minerals, Russian Kristall Minerals Cosmetics, small brands like Belka pudra. This is a segment of decorative cosmetics that is still growing and growing, because the products are quite understandable, but unfamiliar to the buyer. To reverse a trend and inspire people, you need to pay attention and show that it is easy to use. On average, powder costs from 500 to 1000 rubles, shadows - 400-600 rubles. At 4fresh, they order more of the usual formats in liquid form.
I like the visual style of Ecomake: it is minimalistic, pleasant, without unnecessary details. I would like to mention a good logo and name.
But in my opinion, the design of powder and large cosmetic jars is a bit overloaded with text and images. I liked the mini-set very much - it should be popular with those who start working with mineral cosmetics. But I find the jars of the cereal washer uncomfortable, because the product will spill out more than necessary.
Instagram is alive and conveys "girlishness": delicate, like the mineral makeup itself. I would like to see more tutorials on the use of cosmetics and more stories about the creator - she is a very beautiful girl. And it is definitely worth building a story that this is a Russian brand from a girl to a girl.
I advise Anastasia to create as many focus groups as possible - ask what she likes and what she doesn't, refine the product, find her target audience. Now, various eco-festivals, fairs and exhibitions help a lot in this. Constant communication with clients is required. The second story is sales. At an early stage, it's easy to play with the product itself and forget that sales determine the brand's popularity. Therefore, it is important to have a strong salesperson who will put the brand on the marketplaces and will constantly work with the customer base. Provide him with conditional sales plans and monitor their implementation.
Anastasia SemenovaFounder of the SmoRodina brand
In the organic cosmetics market, competition is growing. The percentage of the presence of natural cosmetics in relation to the classic is 3-4%. Therefore, while my colleagues and I are developing together.
Of course, we compete with distribution European, American and Korean brands of natural cosmetics. Their quality and packaging are much better. They can afford expensive and higher quality ingredients, as they are in close proximity to the places where they are produced. And many of these brands have been using all these opportunities for about 50-70 years, and in Russia they started only 20 years ago.
The niche of mineral cosmetics is still at the same level as the market for natural skin care products - this is generally a promising direction. I can mention Belka Pudra, Khristal Minerals, "Samotsvet".
Starting a business at such a young age is worthy of respect! Therefore, I can advise Anastasia to always be scrupulous about her business: buyers of eco-products carefully study the compositions, packaging, ask questions, since they have chosen the path of conscious consumption.
Photos: provided by the heroine