Case study - Ian Carter Body Company
Briana Ware started her body care business, the Ian Carter Body Company, in 2020, providing thoughtful body products (hair growth and body oils, butters and soaps) that are gentle on sensitive skin, with a branding and packaging flourish. The name was inspired by her two sons (it’s their middle names), allowing her to promote her business as a brand.
‘I had the confidence to start my own business when I realized other people apart from family and friends wanted to buy my products, and I was making a difference’ says Briana. She also wanted to be in a better position financially for herself and her children. As a single mom, she ‘wanted every mom to realize no matter if you're working, stay at home, or an entrepreneur mom...keep going!’ Ironically the COVID lockdown also gave her free time to truly start.
Not just products
Briana likes to emphasise she’s selling the product benefits (self-care, confidence, and relief to those sensitive to fragrances, alcohol and certain ingredients) rather than soap and oils. She’s helping people who deal with eczema, alopecia, dry skin, crown thinning, body fungus, acne and thinning hair, which is more common than you think. A key competitive advantage is formulating and creating her own products, which she had done for herself and her children for years.
A pre-start wish list
There are three things Briana had wished she’d done differently before she’d started:
- ‘Don't overspend and get carried away at the start. For example, I bought 2,000 thank you cards and 2,000 business cards. I for sure could have started out with only 500 of each’.
- ‘I wish I hadn’t worried about ‘selling out’ on launch day (which other businesses do). Selling 50 out of 100 items is better than selling 9 out of 10. Don’t let the selling out aspect make you feel you're not doing great when you in fact are’.
- ‘I wish I had a mentor or someone to keep me on track!’
The challenge of doing everything
Briana runs every part of the business which has its moments, especially when juggling her family, but it also creates proud moments, like creating the labels that customers love and building her website. Yes, there have been times of frustration (on her first day she didn’t know how to use her shipping label and had to scramble to quickly add state sales tax to website sales), but it’s those times you look back and learn. Fast.
One source of inspiration and virtual mentoring Briana turns to, are other women who have created successful skincare businesses, who she follows and watches on YouTube.
At present, the majority of Briana’s marketing is on social media. She runs ads on Facebook, Instagram and word of mouth from people who already know her. Ads consist of a unique photo that focuses on the product and how it'll benefit the customer, a catchy intro/tagline and then next steps on how someone can shop.
Other tactics Briana found that work includes:
- A popup shop hosted by Black Owned Brockton at Westgate Mall. She has the pleasure of seeing and meeting her customers in person.
- Actively using social media to generate word of mouth such as Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Tik Tok. To help drive traffic, any post or video posted uses keywords to make her business more searchable.
- Using old-school methods. It might sound strange, but talking to people and handing out business cards to people she meets often works. You need to be your own marketing machine.
- Finally, Briana’s website www.iancarterbodycompany.com is key to building a community and allowing them to know, like and trust you.
Briana is also looking to expand. She has followers in the UK and Canada who can't wait until she starts international shipping. Outside of Massachusetts, her top sales are in Florida, Texas and Illinois. ‘Brockton is great’ says Briana, ‘but if you have a product based business get a website. You never know how far your products can go’.
Briana’s advice for others
Since starting her business, Briana identified three things that helped her succeed:
- Taking the HarborOne U small business courses. ‘I go to every business and personal banking class I can, no matter what town it is in, between Massachusetts and Rhode Island’ says Briana, who finds both online and in-person classes enjoyable.
- ‘Not selling myself short by under-pricing. I never want to sell a product that people can't afford, but I also want to make a healthy profit in order to continue to run the business’.
- ‘Continue to take care of you. Don't work all day and forget to take care of your body. Ian Carter Body Company promotes taking care of your inside as well as you do the outside. Going all day without eating or getting no sleep is not healthy and will lead to burnout. Your business should be a healthy extension of you. That is something I had to learn from experience. Keep water around, don’t skip meals, oh, and take notes to avoid forgetting ideas has been helpful!’
We couldn’t agree more.
The last point Briana would like to mention is to really believe in your business and keep going. ‘As a single mom of two, I am often busy and extremely tired but I keep going. Let go of the fear, make a detailed plan and commit to that plan. Nothing will unfold overnight but growth is always around the corner when you are true to yourself, your passion and your craft. Also, remember your friends and family love you, but are not your target audience’.
We wish Briana all the best. For more details and to see her amazing range, search Ian Carter Body Company on Facebook and Pinterest and, or Instagram @iancarterbodycompany.
For informational purposes only. There is NO WARRANTY, expressed or implied, for the accuracy of this information or its applicability to your financial situation. Please consult your financial and/or tax advisor.