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Jelly Pong Pong Cosmetics – My journey from $700 to a million in 5 years

Jelly Pong Pong Cosmetics – My journey from $700 to a million in 5 yearsJelly Pong Pong (www.jellypongpong.com) is the cosmetics company I founded in 2001, when I was still in college, my target audience being girls like myself : Young & fun at heart, with a playful sense of adventure when it comes to trying out new brands. Cosmetics then were intimidating and too serious, many ranges only came in sombre black packaging, and I wanted to stand out from the rest. In 2001, I was fortunate enough to be caught in the dotcom bubble during which property prices trebled & your classmates became paper millionaires overnight. Becoming relatively so much poorer made me think twice about taking a full-time job on and to instead give myself a year to follow my childhood dream to one day run my own company.

Private Label Cosmetics

Cosmetics is a product-intensive business & therefore requires substantial capital which I didn’t have access to then. I had all of $700 in my savings account! It seemed quite hopeless at first when I found out manufacturing minimums were 2000pcs per shade & that was after you met a packaging minimum of 10,000 pieces. My way of dealing with this was to give up formulating my own & take stock formulations instead. In this industry, there are private label companies like Ladyburd (www.ladyburd.com) and YourNamePro (www.yournamepro.com) who allow you to choose from hundreds of in-house formulations and colours, and all you have to do then is to just print your name onto the packaging. You don’t get to formulate your own, but it’s a good starting point if you were on a shoestring budget like I was. As I wanted to differentiate myself and my brand, I only took their bulk product without their packaging and managed to reduce my quantities down to just 10 pieces per shade.

 

Jelly Pong Pong Cosmetics – My journey from $700 to a million in 5 yearsSmall Packaging Quantities & The “Overrun” Concept

Since I could not formulate my own cosmetics, I desperately wanted to at the very least, design my own packaging. This was going to give me shelf presence and make Jelly Pong Pong stand out in a sea of black and white brands. I spoke to a packaging manufacturer and discovered the “overrun” concept. Every production run would leave the manufacturer with 5-10% more packaging than what their customer ordered because the machines don’t produce the exact quantities ordered. There is almost always an overrun. Hence, my packaging minimums were overcome by negotiating very hard with suppliers to sell these overrun quantities to me at low prices. Creativity was key as this meant having to fit formulations with packaging which at first may not seem ideal for each other. But it worked out for the best as that meant I had a completely unique line of cosmetics that distinguished Jelly Pong Pong from all the other players in the niche market.

 

When all was said and done, it actually took me 2 full years to come up with the entire line of 50 SKUs. I then went about developing my own website, learning everything from scratch on Microsoft Frontpage. The final outcome was an extremely crude, but working website where I could take online orders.

 

Jelly Pong Pong Cosmetics – My journey from $700 to a million in 5 years

Susan Chyi

PR, That Lead To My First Wholesale Order

To get the word out about my new cosmetics company, I knew I had to do some serious ,public relations,. This was during a time when Facebook hadn’t existed and blogs were literally non-existent, so the only way to spread the word was through print media i.e. magazines. I will never forget the first time I had to cold-call a journalist to tell her about Jelly Pong Pong. When she asked what it was about, I could hardly utter a single word, it was that nerve-wrecking, mainly because I knew what was at stake (read : my entire ,business,!). After what seemed like hundreds of cold calls and a month of humbling hard work, I landed my product on the pages of Vogue UK. I remember the beauty editor then, requested 8…yes EIGHT… full sized samples of ALL the products I was pitching. Multiply that by 10 products, and you’re talking about sending 80 pieces, a hefty investment for a company functioning from home, with no guarantee of a feature. It didn’t matter what I spent to get the products to her, or the hours on the phone trying to even have a 2-minute conversation with her. It went straight into the beauty pages, taking up 1/4 of a full page which would have cost me $30k in advertising costs alone.

 

That lead to my first wholesale order with a beauty outlet called Pout that had 12 stores. With this exposure, other stores like Urban Outfitters came beckoning and I’ve never looked back since. Our turnover 5 years later hit $1 million.

Social Media & The Power of Celebrity

Today, we rely heavily on Facebook (www.facebook.com/jellypongpong,cosmetics,), Twitter and beauty bloggers whenever we have exciting product launches, events or other news about Jelly Pong Pong. After numerous requests on how I started Jelly Pong Pong with only a laptop in my 1-bed apartment, I finally began blogging about my journey, past & present, at www.,cosmetics,entrepreneur.wordpress.com. We have also recently utilized YouTube by posting tutorials on how to achieve red-carpet looks with a few simple products from the range

 

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_v9eZ0e3wIc&feature=channel_video_title

It helps put us in closer touch with our customers and to appeal to them in a relevant way that speaks to their lifestyle, rather than product, choices.

We also set aside 20% of our profits to increase our celebrity client base. This could be anything from sponsoring fashion trunk shows, participating in award shows, donating products to a celebrity-backed cause or sending products to their publicists and family members. Over time we’ve garnered a slew of celebrity fans such as Fergie from The Black Eyed Peas, Agyness Deyn, Olivia Wilde and Kelly Rowland from Destiny’s Child. Never underestimate the power of celebrity when selling your products as they are industry influencers who can make or break your company. Press love to write about them, customers love to imitate them. We therefore always have a budget to attract a solid base of celebrity fans that continue to support Jelly Pong Pong Cosmetics.

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