Business Breakdown: April 2020

A summary of TERRA's revenue, strategies, and other musings during April

I’m a bit behind on providing a recap of April, but for good reason — TERRA’s growth has been absolutely insane the past 6 weeks.

I entered a partnership with Greetabl, fulfilled an order with my first retail shop, had my first $1,000 month of revenue, learned how to manage and organize inventory and production more efficiently, and created a new collection of limited scents! All of this while balancing my day job… what a month.

Greetabl

For those who haven’t heard me screaming through my tweets about how big of a deal this is, well, shit’s about to get real. Greetabl has captivated me with their brand for about 3 years now. It’s funny, because I discovered them as I was searching for a new job a while back — little did I know that I’d partner with them years later.

This was an opportunity I had been waiting on for a couple months before I received a confirmed YES, but then it happened. And it was for an order of 800 candles. I literally cried and could not function for a few hours until it all processed in my head.

But wait! That’s not all…

This was for their Best Mom Ever candle. An original candle of theirs. Their regular supplier was not able to accommodate, and they thought of me to step up to the task. I was beyond flattered.

I never mass-produced candles before, and I had 3 weeks. Next thing I knew, I had a UPS semi-truck pulling up to my boyfriend’s apartment and we were unloading almost 1,000 pounds in candle supplies.

It was a make-or-break experience. Do I truly love candlemaking or will I be frustrated and unwilling by the end of this? Happy to say that I love it — I love it so much and the fact I don’t have an 800 candle order to fulfill this month disheartens me a bit.

However, I currently do have a continued partnership with them and I am forever grateful. This catapulted TERRA.

Retail Stockist

Around the same time of the Greetabl partnership, Katie from Dear Mushka reached out to me about collaborating to create custom candles for her shop. UM, YES, OFC!

Together, we pulled branding from her shop and my labels, to create a perfect blend of both of our businesses. She chose 3 scents and I specially-made 72 candles for her.

Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, I never was able to reach out to local shops about carrying my candles. So, having Katie reach out to do just that, made me realize that I can still grow TERRA’s exposure even if it is only online for the moment.

$1,000 in Revenue

I did it! That first $1k is truly remarkable. And that’s without the Greetabl order. I nearly doubled my revenue from the previous month and I just can’t believe it.

Because while I was busy working with Greetabl for almost the entire month of April, my shop was steadily growing and running itself in the background.

I sold out of my entire Spring Collection, just in time to launch my new summer scents during May.


What a month. Special thank you’s to everyone who has purchased from or supported TERRA in any way possible. I’m looking forward to seeing what May brings — I say this as May is almost over…

xo, Dianna

Business Breakdown: March 2020

A summary of TERRA's revenue, strategies, and other musings during March

I should’ve started writing monthly reviews from the beginning, mostly to admire the growth of TERRA — but hey, better late than never!

Today ends month 3 of being in business and March has been absolutely unbelievable in all the best ways. I crushed a couple goals I had set for Q1, rebranded, launched a new collection, and approached every opportunity with open arms.

Q1 (Jan - March) Goals

  • Reach $500 in revenue ✅

  • Gain 500 followers on Instagram ❌

  • Gain 175 likes on Facebook ❌

  • 3 custom/bulk orders ✅

These are all vanity metrics, but I’m proud to say that March alone hit one of these out the park by far. For Q1, I incurred $980.18 in revenue! That’s just ONE candle away from the glorious $1k milestone! And if I were to count that one time I exchanged a candle for dinner from my friend Bri… then, I did it 😏

But March made up $667.50 of that total - that leaves me speechless.

I also hit my goal of producing 3 custom/bulk orders. One isn’t reflected in the revenue as it hasn’t processed yet, but since the order came through over the past weekend, I think it should still be included as part of my goal-hitting.

The 1st order was for a woman who owns a photography business. She purchased 12 to give as a gift for clients. The 2nd was for 10 candles and they were given as gifts during a bachelorette weekend. And the final bulk order was a wholesale purchase for cycling studio in New York. They purchased 36 candles to sell as retail!

I’m also currently sitting on some huge news… which is not yet confirmed to happen, but either way, I’ll be happy to share about it once I receive the final answer.

Aside from the sales goals, I unfortunately didn’t hit my social media goals in March. But that’s alright, I got quite close with Instagram being at 428 followers right now. Facebook is behind around the same with 111 likes.

Most of my sales come from Instagram at the moment, so I’m not disappointed whatsoever.

Rebranded

If you’ve followed TERRA’s journey since the beginning, then you would have noticed I rebranded the look of my labels. You must have, because I have not shut up about how much I love them since I did so!

I love a classy and simple look, with a pop of color — and I nailed it. My candles look like they would fit right in at any retail shop and I’m positive the rebranding helped a lot with sales this month.

Along with the rebranding, I also focused on product photography and how my candles are perceived during March. I made sure that every post on Instagram included a CTA and some form of intriguing content. Whether it be providing education on the eco-friendly factor of my candles or an inventory update about what’s currently left in stock.

And finally, I also updated my website to bring everything together. Photos, copy, and pages have been given a little extra love this month to really share TERRA’s mission and values. However, I still want to do a complete redesign of the website eventually, but that’s on the back-burner for now.

New Spring Collection

During January and February, I only carried two scents: Citrus Basil and April Showers. This was my initial launching collection. I am so proud to say that I sold every candle from my inventory and used that revenue to not only release new scents, but also a new product entirely.

I knew from the beginning that I wanted TERRA to expand into more of a home/lifestyle shop than just candles. This is why I chose a name that could be generalized rather than niched down. For example, I catch people saying ‘TERRA Candles’ which is fine! But not the big picture.

Anyways, I released linen sprays, which I thought made the perfect duo with candles. Candles tend to be a luxury purchase, and you definitely don’t want to burn through it within 1 week. So, to extend the scent, linen sprays are perfect to keep the fragrance alive in a more cost-effective way.

So, from keeping an inventory of only 2 scents with 2 size varieties, I scaled all the way to having an inventory of 13 different products!

  • 4 scents of candles

  • 4 scents of minis

  • 4 scents of linen sprays

  • 1 collection sampler

I expect the current Spring Collection to be available until mid-to-end of April, and then I will be releasing a whole round of scents for Summer.

Opportunities

I had a few opportunities arise during March. Some unfortunately had to be cancelled due to COVID-19 (completely understandable) but I am still happy to have been presented with them.

The first was my decision to take part in a vendor event here in St. Louis. It’s an in-person market fair that features local woman-owned businesses. The event doesn’t take place until the first weekend of May, but I sent in my vendor fees and eagerly began planning my booth this month. Sadly, the event soon cancelled — however, I was able to put my fees towards holding my spot for their September event.

After that, I was approached to be included in a pop-up shop event in SoHo, New York during mid-April. This was in the works about a week before shit hit the fan with COVID-19, so with due diligence, the event was cancelled. Again, while I am saddened for my business to be affected by the pandemic, I am still so proud to be able to be acknowledged for these opportunities.

The third event that I was able to be included in was actually born out of COVID-19. It was a virtual shopping mall built by Elliot. Built using only a Google Sheet, this mall was impressively detailed. You can find TERRA on the ‘fancy as fuck bathroom’ floor.

Erin and Marco were the masterminds behind this fun shopping experience and I’m honored to have been included in it. Especially during this period of isolation in the world.

Takeaways

Overall, March was a HUGE month for TERRA. And for myself, I learned a lot. Not only with marketing and everything I’ve mentioned above, but also with day-to-day operations. Such as organization. I have a corner of the living room that is essentially a warehouse right now.

I’ve also learned how to improve packaging after a customer unfortunately received a broken candle in the mail.

Can’t learn if mistakes never happen, right? Thankfully, the customer was extremely understanding of the situation and I was happy to refund them, replace the candle, and send a little extra gift to make up for it all.

Launching in January gave me proof that I can sell candles. March gave me proof that I can grow this business.


I’m open to any questions, suggestions or feedback. Leave a comment below!

xo, Dianna

The tweet that went viral.

This is supposed to be a weekly reflection, but I think starting this newsletter with a background of the initial idea and the process of how I started is appropriate.

The Idea

For those who know me, I’m sure you’ve heard this story a million times, but bear with me. So, having my own shop isn’t exactly a new thing. For about 6 months of 2016-2017, I handmade and sold bath bombs.

How I got into that was a complete accident; I was quite broke one holiday season and needed to DIY some gifts. I gave the women in my family and friends some bath bombs that I had thoughtfully and carefully whipped up, and everyone absolutely loved them.

They said I should sell them… so, I did. Even managed to sell a batch to a spa in St. Louis. That was a very proud and defining moment for little 23-year old me with zero knowledge of running a business.

Sidenote: This is a trip through memory lane for me! I tried to dig out some old photos and instead, managed to find my old shop’s Instagram is still active. You can see it in all its glory 😍

Extra sidenote: All those product photos were taken on my iPhone 7!

Well, that shop was a huge trial and error — albeit, for the short time it lived, successful. However, in 2017, I then left to travel abroad for 2 years.

It wasn’t until a few months ago, in November 2019, that I decided to return home. Okay, great, we’re almost up to speed!

When I was away traveling, I was in love with all the freedom I had… but one thing was missing. During those 2 years, I realized how much passion I had for the act of making something physical. The process of making bath bombs and trying to sell them was insanely rewarding. Unfortunately, nothing was able to fill that void inside of me and I craved to be able to do that again.

Now being home, that was all that was on my mind. Once I was all settled in and adjusted, my mind immediately went to ‘what kind of shop should I run?

It didn’t take long before I decided to start with candles. Honestly, it took just 2 minutes. This was something that I wanted to get into during the time I made bath bombs, but time didn’t allow.

The Challenge

After deciding that this is how I want to spend my free time at home, I knew I needed to push myself somehow. Thankfully, I understand my strengths and weaknesses, otherwise I’d be sitting around doing nothing. And you know what, that’s okay to do that sometimes 😜

But my biggest fault is that I have too many ideas. I am not kidding, if I glance up from my laptop right now and look around, I think ‘oh, I could sell coffee and tea, why don’t I try to handmake notebooks, or why isn’t there an app to notify me when Friends is on TV? Oh wait, that’s called a TV Guide… maybe I could remake that.

My point is, a lot of the time I get fixated on the ideas of wanting to do something rather than actually doing it.

My solution to this: putting my thoughts out there.

If I put my thoughts out there to the public, then I will actually get shit done. It’s how I hold myself accountable. My Twitter has 1.9k followers, if I tell 1.9k people I’m going to do something, then holy fuck, I better actually do it.

This tweet is probably why many of you are even reading this post right now. The reason why I gave myself a challenge was because I wanted this idea of something huge to become very little.

The process of launching, managing, marketing and scaling a shop is a lot to take on. And I want to add manufacturing the products for it, too? I clearly have big ambitions.

But when I limit myself to only spending $100 for just 30 days, that huge process seems to disappear. It helps me focus only on what’s necessary to begin.

It’s also extremely low-risk. This is something I learned from my previous shop; I naively jumped right into that and probably spent $500 on materials because I wanted to make every product idea I had.

Starting as small as possible is definitely ideal when you’re unsure of whether it will take off or not. I can handle a $100 loss and I’m happily willing to dedicate 1 month of time for a personal project that excites me.

3rd sidenote: Someone suggested this concept should actually become a known challenge, and I think that’s fucking awesome. There’s even a hashtag! So proper 😍

Agustín Silveira @agusalt_96
Today I started the #100and30 movement created by @diannamallen I am validating
squidstartups.com an MVP development agency. My first step was creating an ad on Linkedin. I will spend around $25, still have $75 to go. 🚀SquidMVP development, by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs.squidstartups.com

So, how did my personal challenge turn out? I succeeded!

Yesterday was day 21 out of my 30, and I received a Shopify notification during the morning which pushed me over $100 in profit.

And the best part of it all? I haven’t spent $100 yet.

  • $8.56 - domain

  • $42.96 - manufacturing materials

  • $29.00 - Shopify ‘Basic’ plan

Total: $80.52

The Execution

This is where all the fun began! And honestly, I was pushed quite quickly into it…

This question put me into a mini-panic. I was still only one day 1 of my little challenge! I had bought the domain at this point, I had some brand identity mapped in a notebook, but I did not have a shop.

I didn’t have a website, I didn’t have any products, so what could I do? I definitely was not about to miss out on my first customer.

Within an hour, I signed up for a free trial of Shopify, scrambled to build a website as minimally as possible while trying to give it somewhat of a branded appearance, and create a mockup product.

The website took maybe 20 minutes to pull together, I wasn’t worried about that at all. I cared about the mockup product; it needed to look exactly like what I would actually sell.

I think I did a good job 👇

Obviously missing something, but labeling and packaging is my task for this week 😝

So, how do you sell a product that doesn’t exist? Pre-orders, my friend.

I made sure to portray the website as a shop that hasn’t launched yet, with products that will be shipped at a later date rather than immediately.

Which is fantastic because I can sell products while not feeling rushed to manufacture and fulfill orders. This also gave me time to test my product and ensure I’m happy with selling it someone.

And for what it’s worth, my mom loves the candle scents 💛

I’m really proud of pushing myself into this. It’s not easy, I’ll tell you that. Every action in this early phase is quite strategic because it could lead to wasted money or time. I spent an hour the other day calculating the same 4 basic math equations over and over to make sure it wouldn’t lead to wasted product. That’s just how it is sometimes 🤷‍♀️

Running a shop and being able to create tangible products is honestly where my heart lays. I expect this to be a very long journey until I hit numbers that won’t go right back into materials and supplies, but I’m excited for the ride until then.

Thanks for reading!

xo, Dianna


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