Empirelistas, have you ever felt totally beside yourself? So stressed, that you felt you could go on? Well, there’s a jar for that! Nikki Brooks’ Zen in a Jar, is exactly what you need to take your stress level from ten to zero. Check out her story below to learn how she leveraged Etsy to boost product sales and has plans for zenful expansion.
IsokeMK: What motivated you to leverage Etsy as a selling platform for Zen vs. building your own online website? Do you plan to transition?
Nikki Brooks: I started with Etsy because this was at the time, an effort I focused on as a sort of “side job” but over the past 7 months, business has grown exponentially. For example, I just got my candles stocked at a local hospital gift shop (YAY!!!). That shifted my focus from ad-hoc items made to order to forecasting and bulk order preparation. I continue to leverage Etsy because it is the platform with the creative individual in mind — I mean, they think of everything! All I have to do is create-which is what I LOVE! I purchased the Zen in a Jar domain name over a year ago and house product information there, but I point to the Etsy Shop because it keeps all of my sales, inventory, promo codes, marketing support and customer relationship management information in one place and it offers platforms to support the business owner on the go…..Hmmmm, do I plan to transition? Absolutely. I am currently recruiting 1 MBA student and 1 Digital Communications student (virtual or DC area based) to assist me with managing the transition to an ecommerce platform through ZeninaJar.com and also managing the social media accounts and product campaigns.
IMK: Tell us about your upcoming partnership with Amyang Fashun. What are the top 5 things to look for when deciding to partner/collaborate with another business?
NB: I am very excited to partner with Amyang Fashun. I met Gayima, one of the co-creators, a few years ago and we instantly clicked because we recognized the same work ethic and drive within each other. And honestly, we both LOVED each other’s products. We have traveled the country together and have also been brand ambassadors for each other for years. We came up with the Amyang collaboration scent a few months ago. It was actually Sallay, the other half of Amyang, who suggested the combination of citrus and vanilla. And boy oh boy did that work! The Amyang fragrance is the essence of grapefruit, tangerine and vanilla and it is available in sugar scrub, soy candle and whipped shea butter.
Top 7 Characteristics that I look for when deciding to partner with a business
1. Brand synergy
2. Personal Characteristics of the CEO/Creator
3. Does this person have good character? Are they honest? Do they make excuses? How do they handle criticism?
4. Professional reputation/Quality Control
5. Does this brand have current content, are words spelled correctly, what is level of attention to detail?
6. Is this brand’s message consistent?
7. Does this brand inspire and empower customers?
To me, Zen in a Jar is an experience. It’s not just ingredients in a jar and an exchange. I value the personal touch and write a hand-written thank you note to each customer. I care about how they feel in and around my products. I will only align ZIJ with brands who take this piece as seriously.
IMK: What advice would you like to offer to women on their journey to build their empires?
NB: This is not for the faint of heart. Believe in yourself and in your product. If it were easy to do, everyone would be doing it. Be GRATEFUL for customer complaints and VALUE your customer. If there are issues with a purchase-make it right. There is not much room for ego. Be trustworthy. DO YOUR HOMEWORK. You must know everything there is to know about your product, your business, your ingredients-everything. For example, I was once asked about allergies and at that moment, I stopped all sales and immediately did research on the best base oils to use that people will not have reactions to. I weighed the benefits of all of my options and came up with a final allergy-free recipe that is now my standard. (It’s avocado oil – many, many benefits!). Under promise and over deliver. Never, ever over promise and under deliver. People will imitate you. Often. Especially if you’re doing well. Focus on your customers, not your competition.
IMK: What does the future hold for ZIJ?
NB: Many, many wonderful things. I am expanding my brand to home items such as hand soaps, room and linen sprays. And new body care items such as facial scrubs, JBCO which enhances hair butter and body honey. In addition to expanding to these new products, my target markets have shifted to providing housewarming gift boxes in bulk for real estate agents to give customers and also expanding my outreach to provide lifestyle tips and recommendations for all-natural living. I truly enjoy what I do and I love providing amazing experiences for my customers.