Natural Supply Co
Name: Celeste Robertson
Position: Co-Founder and Director
Location: Geelong, Vic, Australia
Natural Supply Co offers all of the essential natural, organic and zero waste products you could need for your home and family, in one convenient location.
What products/services do you offer?
We stock over 100 incredible brands, from INIKA Organic to Bondi Wash, Eye of Horus to Jack & Jill, Salus to Hunter Lab. We have something for everyone, including your dog!
Why did you start your business and how long have you been running it?
We launched in October 2014; back then, there were no Australian online stores offering the range of products, along with a blog with useful information, that we wanted to offer. We’ve been going for five years now, and the business is growing nicely. We are about to open a retail store in Geelong, and we are so excited about it!
What struggles do you think most businesses face in your industry and what would you say they need to do to overcome them?
So many people think opening an online store will be a great way to run a business from home, make an income and be flexible around a young family. It can be – but it takes so much work, so much knowledge and not much money (for a while at least!). I’d definitely make sure you’re opening a store that has its own niche – you need to stand out from the crowd – and do your research. Look into SEO (Kate Toon runs amazing courses for this) and learn how to do things yourself, rather than having to pay experts all the time. It’s tough, but it’s also amazing when it works.
What has been your greatest accomplishment?
We were on the front page of the Herald Sun Weekend lift-out in 2019, which was really cool! Also just getting to five years has been a big accomplishment, and being able to now open a store. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for Natural Supply Co.
What has been your biggest ‘fail’ so far?
Managing the cashflow has been our ongoing challenge, and not having the funds to implement all of the ideas we’ve had. Also, having to do everything ourselves and not being in a position to employ experts to help us grow.
What do you love most about your business?
There is so much to love! Writing the notes to our customers for their orders; it feels like we get to know them really well over the years, combined with chatting with them on social media; bringing in amazing new brands; getting to work with my best friend. We are so lucky!
What do you find most challenging?
Working set hours. I am always replying to emails at midnight, or checking social media on Saturday nights when I should be giving my attention to my husband.
How do you promote your business (please include as many details as you can)?
Through social media, collaborations with other small businesses, word of mouth, Facebook ads, Google shopping ads and search. We work hard on SEO to be found organically.
What business skills do you have (eg. graphic design, customer service)?
I’ve worked in online retail for a long time, so I am pretty savvy with running a website, creating graphics in Canva, and I’ve got excellent customer service skills. I think it’s really important to invest in professional photography, a skill I don’t have.
What software did you/your designer use to create your website (eg. WordPress, Wix)?
We use Shopify for our site.
What are some of your favourite business tools and apps?
Absolutely Canva – couldn’t do without it! Also Google Analytics to see what’s going on behind-the-scenes.
What do you like about your website and what’s not working for you?
I wish we could do more customisation, and improve site speed more easily, but unfortunately that’s tough with Shopify. But the site looks great (I think!) and it’s quite easy to navigate, given the number of products we stock.
What lessons have you learnt during your time as an entrepreneur?
I’ve learnt that it’s important to have a great network of fellow entrepreneurs, to share advice, contacts, and talk honestly and openly about the highs and lows of running a business. I’m lucky to have an amazing network in Geelong and Melbourne, and, as a result, to know that it’s not easy for anyone – whether it looks like it from the outside or not.
What key tips for success in business would you like to share with others?
Always be authentic – and start a business that you love, because it’s hard and if you’re not passionate, it will be harder to keep on keeping on. And don’t rely on family and friends to support your business.
What is the one thing that you want everyone to take away from this post?
That it’s important to make sure you upskill and know you’ll need to continually learn, to be able to grow a successful business.