Name: Svjetlana Begic
Position: Business Owner
Location: Melbourne & Sydney
We are a 100% natural, Ayurvedic skincare and wellness brand. Our formulations are sustainably handcrafted with practicality in mind, aligning to vegan and cruelty free practices, using a boutique production process. Since inception, our ultimate goal has been to harness the power of Ayurvedic rituals through natural, sustainable and practical skincare that suits today’s busy schedules.
What products/services do you offer?
Our starting range is our Dosha Body Polish. These work to effectively detoxify, exfoliate, re-mineralise, nourish, soften and balance your body, mind and spirit.
Each is sustainably handcrafted with practicality in mind, combining the goodness of upcycled coffee grounds with the power of Ayurvedic essential oils specifically tailored to the unique rhythms of your Dosha and the powerful universal energy around you.
Our products are made from pure ingredients that do not compromise our environment or harm our bodies. We source our used coffee grounds from a small network of partners whom use beans obtained from boutique farmers that pride themselves on ethical, sustainable and natural growing practices.
Our essentials oils are locally and internationally sourced, depending on seasonal availability, and are 100% naturally prepared. Purity is essential to us and we have partnered with businesses that align to this philosophy.We are currently testing a facial toning mist and a face scrub that we are hoping to release by end of 2020.
Why did you start your business and how long have you been running it?
I started Sundace a few months before launching on 1st March 2020, however, my passion for the vision was born when I decided to create an Ayurvedic scrub for myself after finding the more traditional method of Ayurvedic self-care too laborious for my everyday life. After using it for over 5 years, I had to share the benefits my skin and mind-body had been receiving from the essential oils and the daily massage ritual.
What struggles do you think most businesses face in your industry and what would you say they need to do to overcome them?
A saturated market – there is simply too much choice in this market these days that it is very difficult to cut through the noise. Grabbing peoples’ attention and converting them to a customer is still out of reach for most of us, especially as start-ups.
One piece of advice I was given is to have a strong differentiator & the brand story to back it up – why should this person choose you over some other brand? Why would you?
Also, be comfortable with the fact that you will have to invest some cold hard cash into brand awareness marketing as you launch, and factor this into your business costs.
Regulation & insurance – this can be a rabbit hole in the beauty and wellness industry, and it rightly should be. I want to know that I am protected and my safety paramount when entrusting brands with my body so the same standards must apply to my business.
Make sure to cover yourself with the right public liability insurance, should anything go wrong. It’s a small price to pay for peace of mind should you be taken to court.
Test all of your products thoroughly, both for sensitivity and toxicity but also efficacy. Investing upfront could save you millions down the track; carry out your due diligence and ensure you place a microbiologically safe product on the market.
Doing everything yourself – this is by far the biggest trap for any small business owner. Some of us are fortunate that we possess a wide range of skills, but do we really have the time to get everything done? Especially if doing this on the side to start?
I suggest people focus on what they do best and outsource the rest. Not only is this quicker, generally of better quality than if done in house, but it will ensure you are not stretched too thin and give up.
Organisation – starting a business is not a task to take on lightly. There are a million and one things to do before launch day, and the list just keeps growing. This is especially true if you are trying to do everything on your own like I did.
The best thing you can do for yourself from day one is fire up a project management tool, like Asana, and spend a few minutes setting up your workflow. Asana is also great post-launch, to organise your social content, and even for everyday life tasks.
What has been your greatest accomplishment?
- With Sundace, it was getting that first sale. Considering we did almost zero pre-launch marketing, I was surprised that we had sales in week 1.
- In my corporate life, successfully building several new business units & operating frameworks within the organisations I’ve been fortunate to work for.
- Personally, it has been travelling most of the world and getting the opportunity to explore other cultures and countries.
What has been your biggest ‘fail’ so far?
The first time I attempted to start a business was to follow my passion. So, I quit my corporate job and threw everything I had into making it work. I believed that my passion and love for the work would conquer all, but it only made me miserable and I began to hate what once was my passion. I quickly came to realise that turning my passion into a job simply wasn’t working for me, and that it was best left as a hobby. I closed the business and returned to my corporate career; lesson learnt.
Recently, I read of the most profound things that applies to this situation, and it has led me to look back at the past with fondness instead of regret – accepting the difference between a hobby, a job, a career, a vocation and knowing they can all play a part on your life, that they all serve a specific yet different purpose and that you don’t have to (or should, in my case) choose just one to be happy.
What do you love most about your business?
I love that we approach how we do business in a genuine, natural and sustainable way. It mirrors our home life and the message we put out to the world throughout actions.
What do you find most challenging?
Most challenging is keeping up with digital marketing trends and getting a good grip on Facebook Business Manager (and its handful of incarnations). It almost feels like you need a PhD to operate it.
What is also challenging for a start-up is the continued move away from organic marketing, particularly when you may not have a big advertising budget to get the first spot in an already saturated market.
How do you promote your business (please include as many details as you can)?
- As we are a brand new business (live for less than 1 month), we are running brand awareness campaigns and split our budget between Facebook & Instagram advertising and Google Ads.
- Creating social and blog content that positions Sundace as a source of knowledge for improving overall health and wellness.
- Email marketing (EDM) also plays a big role in our strategy.
- Getting amongst our target market by being a presence at local markets.
- Working with micro influencers.
What business skills do you have (eg. graphic design, customer service)?
I am somewhat of a jack-of-all-trades, having had many passions and incarnations in the corporate world. My skills include:
- graphic design
- web design
- project & program management
- customer service
- consulting & facilitation
- go-to-market strategy
- music production
- some video production
- some product photography
- some SEO skills
- some digital marketing
What software did you/your designer use to create your website (eg. WordPress, Wix)?
What are some of your favourite business tools and apps?
Later – for managing social media posts
- Canva – for quick designs & story creation
- Adobe Creative Cloud – for more serious design, video & photo editing
- Slack – for communication
- Asana – for organisation & project management
- Omnisend – for EDM
- Google Analytics – for web analytics
- Dropbox – for file storage and sharing
What do you like about your website and what’s not working for you?
Our website has been life for less than a month and I am pretty happy with how it has turned out so far. It could always be better, and I expect changes as we roll out additional products and content.
What lessons have you learnt during your time as an entrepreneur?
- You can find almost any tutorial online these days but learning new skills from scratch takes a lot of time. Sometimes it’s best to hire an expert to assist and allow yourself to focus on what you do best.
- Most products and services have been done before, and that is perfectly OK. Make sure yours has a point of difference.
- Talk to everyone about what you are doing. It’s highly likely they will have suggestions, ideas or can draw on their personal experiences to provide insight on the many facets of running a business.
- Try not to let your business bleed into your personal time. Have dedicated hours wherever possible and ensure you continue to devote time to your friends and family.
- Network, network, network.
What key tips for success in business would you like to share with others?
- If there is one skill I recommend every entrepreneur learn, it is how to pitch to anyone. You will end up telling your brand story to many people, learn how to tailor it to your audience and how to win them over.
- Really understand and identify your audience, then sell to them. There is no point in selling to the masses when they are not the ones that are prepared to part with their money.
- Focus on the problem you are trying to solve, not the product. Promote this and make it the focus of your story.
- Get yourself organised from day one – setup a filing system, setup your workflows, create your templates, do the hard work upfront. Your future self will thank you.
- Learn how to nurture your existing customers. It is easier to sell to those who already trust you and who you have a relationship with so invest in them as much as you would in acquiring new customers.
- Keep your engagement up on socials and be an active and valuable member of your ‘online family’. This includes creating content that is free and doesn’t ask for anything in return.
- Do your business plan before starting anything. This will clarify so much of your strategy, vision and how you plan to operate.
What is the one thing that you want everyone to take away from this post?
If you’re wondering where to start, waiting for that big idea that could change your life, you could end up waiting for a lifetime. Start with something simple and build on it. And if it isn’t going as planned, be prepared to pivot and change direction. Business, much like life, is about taking chances and remaining nimble.