This week on our ongoing Meet the Maker series, we’re going behind the scenes with one of my favorite clients – Elissa Choi of Bonblissity. Elissa is on fire, and I’m so excited to introduce you to her brand. Welcome, Elissa!
LBC: What inspired you to take your leap as an entrepreneur?
Elissa: I’ve always been drawn to owning my own business. Right out of high school, I was a fashion marketing major with dreams of selling my own clothing brand in my own store. I later realized that retail was not for me, at least not in fashion. Throughout my adult years, I had many ideas for businesses, but nothing ever came to fruition until something just felt right about this one. My love for beauty products and my Type A and OCD personality led me to create a product that wouldn’t have to be reused or contaminated over time, and would be easily portable so that I could use it anytime. With my husband’s full support, we took the leap in 2011.
LBC: When you first got started, how did you envision your business would be defined?
Elissa: Since the product is not mainstream, we knew that our product was going to take some consumer education. We decided to participate in beauty events where beauty junkies would be more willing to try something different. It was a great starting point and since then, we have expanded to a broader market, including professional spa trade shows. Customer experience is important to us, so we always do demos and encourage our spa retailers to also use our products in their services as a way to introduce and educate their clients about the products.
LBC: How would you describe what you create?
Elissa: Inspired by luxury candy, our single-use hand and body scrubs provide the perfect amount of exfoliation and moisturization whether at home or on-the-go. Each product is designed to be used one time, so there is no wasting or contamination and you never worry about having to throw out a partially used jar of scrubs again. We use eco-friendly packaging, including biodegradable candy wrappers and foils.
LBC: Where can we find your products?
Elissa: Besides a shows and our website, you can find Bonblissity products in spas/nail salons/boutiques throughout the U.S. Prior to our rebrand, we were in more than 400 locations nationwide. Our stockists are still in the transition phase of bringing in the new brand. Some spas & nail salons use the products in their services.
LBC: Walk us through your typical work day.
Elissa: My day starts with answering emails and returning phone calls in the morning. Event-related tasks are taken care of so that deadlines are met. My husband and I go through inventory and create a production schedule to cover us for 2-3 weeks out. We participate in events almost every weekend in addition to supplying multiple wholesale accounts and a fairly large private label account, so we have to make sure we are well prepared in advance. Orders are fulfilled daily and shipped out by late afternoon.
My husband takes care of all the production labor while I take care of all the “behind-the-scenes” things, such as branding, marketing, raw material ordering, bookkeeping and all administrative things. On the days that I work from home, I am usually taking care of household chores in between everything else and always try to catch Lela on Periscope on Tuesdays.
Parenting occurs after school for a few hours. I get personal time at the gym from 8-9pm, and then my work hour usually continues into the night and can last up to 2am. Everyday feels like it’s never-ending but I really do love every minute of it.
LBC: What are 3 things makers should think through when they initially decide to start a business?
Elissa: 1. It definitely takes more time and effort than you think it will, so make sure you are willing to commit and make some sacrifices.
2. Be prepared to make some financial investment into your business (and your future).
3. Don’t try to do everything on your own.
LBC: When you’re overwhelmed, what brings you back to focus?
Elissa: Making lists and crossing them off one-by-one. I’ve been able to focus more since starting a fitness program at the gym a few months ago. My coaches always share inspiring and motivating quotes with us that helps me stay positive. They always say the right things when I feel like I’m losing it. A day at the spa doesn’t hurt either.
LBC: Tell us about a few of the best business decisions you’ve made to date.
Elissa: 1. Rebranding. We changed our name, look, and pricing structure.
2. Investing in a very expensive machine to help us scale. There was a lot of “noise” from our family and friends that questioned such a large investment when we didn’t have the business for it. They all recommended for us to wait until we knew we would have the business to justify the cost. Our thinking was that we couldn’t solicit more business if we weren’t going to be able to deliver. We bit the bullet and went overseas to meet the manufacturer of our custom machine. We have no regrets.
3. Offering Private Label. We were hesitant about this, but after being sought after for 2 years by a company, we finally said yes. Yes, growing our brand is important to us, but because we have such a unique product, we felt that if we didn’t do it for them, eventually someone else would. We looked at the positive side of this collaboration. They are using their channels (and their own money) to educate their audience with a product that is not mainstream. Soon, everyone will know what a solid scrub is.
LBC: Please share one mistake or obstacle from your business experience. How did you bounce back/overcome it?
Elissa: Not applying for trademark early on. We didn’t want to spend the money back when we first started. We finally applied and it was contested. Unfortunately, I wasn’t advised initially that we should only apply for the U.S. first and proceed with international after we know for sure it’s accepted and not opposed. So, I lost several thousands of dollars and had to do it all over again when I registered the new name. I just look at it as a costly learning experience.
LBC: Is there a cause or organization that you contribute to that you’re particularly passionate about?
Elissa: Not in particular, but our candy wrappers are made from cellulose and are biodegradable. Having changed from metal tins to paper boxes has given more more confidence about selling our products.
LBC: What are 3 essential resources in your business toolbox that you can’t do without?
Elissa: Lucky Break Consulting, Google, and my iPhone.
LBC: Suppose we had a time machine. If you blasted ourselves forward a few years, where would we see your company?
Elissa: We hope to have a larger selection of products that can be found in spas and chic boutiques worldwide. You see our products being used in nail salons all over the world. We hope that our candy-wrapped scrubs are naturally associated with Bonblissity.
LBC: Which Lucky Break products or services have you utilized?
Elissa: I’ve utilized several services offered by Lucky Break Consulting: GMP, Price-O-Matic, Private Strategy Sessions, Brick House Branding, 4-day Handmade Business Bootcamp, Periscope broadcasts, and I just signed up for Wholesale Matchmaker. Taking classes and implementing are two different things! Lela generously over-provides the tools and resources and never disappoints.
LBC: Share one of your guiltiest pleasures.
Elissa: Korean spa days and Soda Crush apps before bed.
LBC: What’s your favorite quote and who said it?
Elissa: “Life’s what you make it, so let’s make it right.” –Hannah Montana (well, it was a line from the theme song of Hannah Montana.) Yes, I’m a little embarrassed that I didn’t have a fancier one, but this really resonated with me when I used to hear it every day when my son used to watch it. I really believe that life is what you make it.
LBC: If you were given a million dollars, but were not allowed to keep a single penny for yourself, friends or family, how would you spend it or give it away?
Elissa: I would fund a program to provide middle-class people in need of dental services in my community. There are a lot of programs for low-income but a lot of regular people like you and me who can’t afford major dental services such as implants and crowns, which can run $6000+ per tooth, yet they don’t qualify for financial assistance. I see this all the time in my 13 years in the field as a dental hygienist.
Thank you, Elissa, for sharing your talent with us! We absolutely love what you’re doing with Bonblissity, and we look forward to all the wonderful things ahead for you and your company. We’re cheering you on!
Want to see your brand featured in our continuing “Meet the Maker” series? Drop us a line: hello AT luckybreakconsulting.com. Please use “MEET THE MAKER” as the subject line and be certain to include your web address. We look forward to hearing from you!