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Sourcing and selling sustainable products - with Vic Wood - Greener Beauty
Episode 13818th November 2022 • Bring Your Product Idea to Life • Vicki Weinberg
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Today I'm talking with Vic Wood from Greener Beauty. Greener Beauty is an online store where you can find all the ethical, vegan and cruelty-free and natural beauty products that you love all in one place. 

Vic shares how she went about sourcing products for her business, ensuring that they meet her ethical standards and how the business has grown rapidly over the past few years. Vic now has a small team so shares the tasks she now outsources, and I was particularly interested to learn about the success she has had with Google Ads & Shopping.

We also talked about Vic’s Advent Calendar, which was recently featured on This Morning, her success at industry awards, and a cautionary tale about what happened when a larger company wanted to get involved. 

Listen in to hear Vic share:

  • An introduction to herself and her business (01:18)
  • Her inspiration for setting up Greener Beauty (01:43)
  • Researching and choosing what brands to include (03:30)
  • Sourcing products and working with distributors (04:06)
  • Navigating Minimum Order Quantities as a start up (04:59)
  • How she manages holding thousands of product lines (06:09)
  • The differences with finding new brands to stock now as an established business rather than a start up (07:03)
  • Making sure that all the products meet their ethical standards, are vegan, cruelty free and not tested on animals (08:59)
  • Creating the Greener Beauty Advent Calendar and ensuring it is plastic free (11:42)
  • Replacing Black Friday with Greener Friday (14:57)
  • Planting a tree with every order (15:52)
  • Her experiences with Feel Unique - a cautionary tale (16:09)
  • Her award wins (22:45)
  • Her process for entering awards (24:50)
  • How she publicises Greener Beauty, what has worked and what hasn’t worked (27:07)
  • Using Google Shopping (27:42)
  • Growing her team, and the areas that she outsources (29:52)
  • Managing and packing stock (31:25)
  • His number one piece of advice for other product creators (32:14)

USEFUL RESOURCES:

Greener Beauty Website

Greener Beauty Advent Calendar

Greener Beauty Facebook

Greener Beauty Instagram

Vic Wood Linked In

Awards Mentioned:

Natural & Organic Beauty Awards 2022

Who's Who In Natural Beauty

Health and Beauty Great British Entrepreneur of the Year

LET’S CONNECT

Join my free Facebook group for product makers and creators

Find me on Instagram

Work with me


Mentioned in this episode:

Get on the waitlist for my Group Product Creation Programme

Join the waitlist to be first to hear when you can join Create a Product to Sell and get a free 1:1 call with me when you sign up! https://checklist.vickiweinberg.com/waitlist

Transcripts

Vicki Weinberg:

Welcome to the Bring Your Product Ideas to Life podcast, practical

Vicki Weinberg:

advice and inspiration to help you create and sell your own physical products.

Vicki Weinberg:

Here's your host, Vicki Weinberg.

Vicki Weinberg:

Today I'm talking with Vic Wood from Greener Beauty.

Vicki Weinberg:

So Greener Beauty is an online store where you can find all the ethical,

Vicki Weinberg:

vegan and cruelty-free and natural beauty products that you love all in one place.

Vicki Weinberg:

So we spoke a lot about Vic's inspiration for setting up her business, how she,

Vicki Weinberg:

she went about it, um, sort of the vigorous testing she goes through for

Vicki Weinberg:

every product that lands on her site.

Vicki Weinberg:

We spoke about her Advent calendar, which is available to buy as

Vicki Weinberg:

you listen to this right now.

Vicki Weinberg:

We also spoke about an experience Vic had with another company earlier this year,

Vicki Weinberg:

a bigger well known company, and, um, shares a bit of a cautionary tale that

Vicki Weinberg:

I think we can hopefully all learn from.

Vicki Weinberg:

So I would now love to introduce you to Vic and for you to hear her story.

Vicki Weinberg:

So, hi Vic.

Vicki Weinberg:

Thank you so much for being here.

Vicki Weinberg:

Thank you so much for having me.

Vic Wood:

Oh, you're so welcome.

Vicki Weinberg:

I'm so excited to talk to you today.

Vicki Weinberg:

So let's start with you.

Vicki Weinberg:

Please give an introduction to yourself, your business, and what you sell.

Vic Wood:

Uh, so hi everyone.

Vic Wood:

My name's Vic and my business, or my baby, as I like to call

Vic Wood:

it, is called Greener Beauty.

Vic Wood:

And basically I'm like, someone called me the ethical version of

Vic Wood:

Boots once, which is quite accurate.

Vic Wood:

I sell lots of different brands of products that are all vegan

Vic Wood:

and ethical, um, natural and a lot of plastic free aswell.

Vicki Weinberg:

Amazing.

Vicki Weinberg:

Thank you.

Vicki Weinberg:

And what was your inspiration for doing that?

Vic Wood:

Yeah.

Vic Wood:

Um, when I first set up the business, um, so we'd been running for about five,

Vic Wood:

we'll be five years early next year.

Vic Wood:

Um, I'd been vegan for about five years at that point.

Vic Wood:

And, um, I was really finding it so frustrating because I knew all the good

Vic Wood:

products and I knew all the good brands.

Vic Wood:

Um, and being very passionate about natural beauty, which is not so

Vic Wood:

easy to find on the high street.

Vic Wood:

Um, I was having to shop in like multiple different websites.

Vic Wood:

You know, I'd have to get my deodorant from one place, my

Vic Wood:

toothpaste from somewhere else.

Vic Wood:

And I just thought like, I can't be the only person having this problem.

Vic Wood:

So it just sort of one day I was like, that's it, I'm going do it myself.

Vic Wood:

And you know, and luckily lots of other people have, have

Vic Wood:

found me and used me as well.

Vic Wood:

But initially it was for selfish reasons really.

Vic Wood:

I just set out for me because I wanted to, to have everything in one.

Vicki Weinberg:

No, that make, that makes total sense.

Vicki Weinberg:

And I think as you've probably found out, because you're experiencing

Vicki Weinberg:

that issue, there probably are so many other people out there with

Vicki Weinberg:

exactly the same thing because yeah.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah.

Vicki Weinberg:

I find that myself, you just can't get all the products you want in in one

Vicki Weinberg:

place because there is, there isn't like a, well, until you came along there

Vicki Weinberg:

wasn't like a boots for beauty products that were sustainable and ethical.

Vic Wood:

Yeah.

Vic Wood:

And it was, it was frustrating.

Vic Wood:

Like the amount of time I stood in various shops, like checking

Vic Wood:

labels and researching the brands, do they test on animals?

Vic Wood:

Who are they owned by?

Vic Wood:

You know, what is their ethical stance?

Vic Wood:

And it just like shopping became such a mission.

Vicki Weinberg:

I, I expect though that research is paid

Vicki Weinberg:

off now though, hasn't it?

Vicki Weinberg:

Because I was about to ask.

Vic Wood:

Oh, absolutely.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah.

Vicki Weinberg:

How you research products for your site and I guess having sort of gone

Vicki Weinberg:

through all that, which must have been quite painful, I guess that did give

Vicki Weinberg:

you a bit of a head start when choosing which brands you were going to include.

Vic Wood:

Oh, a hundred percent.

Vic Wood:

I think when we launched, we launched with about 35, 40 brands, which is

Vic Wood:

quite unusual for, you know, a startup business to have that volume of products.

Vic Wood:

I mean, you know, we've probably three folded that now, but, um, yeah, a

Vic Wood:

hundred percent, like when, as soon as the idea came to me, I knew exactly

Vic Wood:

what brands I wanted to start with.

Vic Wood:

So, yeah, it really did help.

Vicki Weinberg:

That's great.

Vicki Weinberg:

So it sounds like you, so you knew which brand you wanted, so how did you go about

Vicki Weinberg:

sourcing, of do the sourcing side of it?

Vic Wood:

Yeah.

Vic Wood:

Um, I think, honestly, I, I'm a very spiritual person, so for someone who's

Vic Wood:

not, this might sound a bit hippie, but I do feel that if you're on the right path,

Vic Wood:

that things will align and things will just happen as they're meant to happen.

Vic Wood:

And I was just very lucky.

Vic Wood:

Um, one of the brands I wanted to stock, um, I contacted their distributor

Vic Wood:

in the UK and do you know what?

Vic Wood:

He's been amazing.

Vic Wood:

Like I still talk to him on a weekly basis now, and he put me in touch with other

Vic Wood:

distributors and he's sort of, he almost handheld me to start the business up.

Vic Wood:

Um, so whereby I was like, I knew, knew what brands I wanted, I didn't

Vic Wood:

know how to go about getting them.

Vic Wood:

He was a big support to me, to be honest.

Vicki Weinberg:

Well, that's amazing.

Vicki Weinberg:

Um, yeah.

Vicki Weinberg:

And uh, and I'm just curious, and you don't need to sort of go into detail,

Vicki Weinberg:

but are you expected as a small business to, to buy quite large quantities or

Vicki Weinberg:

are distributors sort of okay at you just testing the waters as it were?

Vic Wood:

Yeah, I think it depends.

Vic Wood:

So some of the products we, we sell, we buy directly from the

Vic Wood:

brands, and brands tend to have a larger minimum order quantity.

Vic Wood:

Um, when you are shopping from a distributor, you tend to be

Vic Wood:

able to buy in lower volumes.

Vic Wood:

Um, and to be honest, that's what we tend to do because they're natural products.

Vic Wood:

We prefer to order more frequently from suppliers and make sure that

Vic Wood:

everything is fresh as possible and not keep a huge volume of stock.

Vic Wood:

So, yeah, I mean it, it very much depends.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah, that does.

Vicki Weinberg:

That makes total sense though actually.

Vicki Weinberg:

And I didn't think about the fact that obviously because they're natural

Vicki Weinberg:

products, they're not packed full of preservatives, so you don't want to have

Vicki Weinberg:

them sitting around for months or years.

Vic Wood:

No, absolutely.

Vic Wood:

So, you know, it's, it works really well to order in low volumes.

Vic Wood:

I mean, the brands that sell well, obviously you want to keep a larger

Vic Wood:

volume because you don't want to be ordering every other day.

Vic Wood:

Yeah, I mean it definitely works for us.

Vicki Weinberg:

And how did, I'm just, I'm sorry.

Vicki Weinberg:

I'm going, I'm asking so many questions that I didn't prepare you

Vicki Weinberg:

for, because I'm really interested.

Vicki Weinberg:

But given that now you stock, you know, more, presumably more brands than

Vicki Weinberg:

you started five years ago, I mean, you must have hundreds of SKUs now.

Vicki Weinberg:

How are you keeping.

Vic Wood:

Thousands!

Vicki Weinberg:

On top of stock management because this must be a full-time job.

Vic Wood:

Yeah, it pretty much is.

Vic Wood:

To be honest, we probably have, so we have around 5,000 product lines now.

Vicki Weinberg:

Wow.

Vic Wood:

So it is, it is a huge volume of stock.

Vic Wood:

Um, and it is a weekly job.

Vic Wood:

Um, and we are a very small team here.

Vic Wood:

We're not like a team of hundreds or thousands, you know, So it,

Vic Wood:

it does take up an amount of time to ensure that we have stock,

Vic Wood:

but that's just part and parcel.

Vic Wood:

As we get bigger and as, as we make more and more sales, I

Vic Wood:

think that will get even easier.

Vic Wood:

But for now, I mean, it's manageable.

Vicki Weinberg:

That's good.

Vicki Weinberg:

And obviously you've grown tremendously in five years in terms of even,

Vicki Weinberg:

even if we just, even in just terms of the amount of brands and,

Vicki Weinberg:

and SKUs that you are stocking.

Vicki Weinberg:

So how are you going about finding new products to add?

Vicki Weinberg:

Are you get, are you finding that businesses are coming directly to

Vicki Weinberg:

you now or are you still going out and looking or is it a bit of both?

Vic Wood:

It is, it's definitely a bit of both.

Vic Wood:

We get contacted and awful lot by brands who want to, to work with us.

Vic Wood:

Which is amazing, you know.

Vic Wood:

When you set up, you never think that's going to happen, but we probably

Vic Wood:

get about 10, 15 brands contact us a week, which is just incredible.

Vic Wood:

Um, and then we also, you know, social media's great to see what

Vic Wood:

other brands are out there, you know, the influences and people we

Vic Wood:

follow, what products they're using.

Vic Wood:

They, we quite often find out new brands through those people.

Vic Wood:

Um, so it's a real mix.

Vic Wood:

Um, I mean, I think we are quite unique.

Vic Wood:

I have super sensitive skin, I had really bad eczema as a child, and that's why I'm

Vic Wood:

really passionate about natural beauty.

Vic Wood:

Um, but what sets us apart from a lot of other brands is we test

Vic Wood:

all the products we sell first.

Vic Wood:

So if a brand contacts us, it does not necessarily mean that we will

Vic Wood:

definitely be retailing their products.

Vic Wood:

We get the products in, we test them, which is so hard.

Vic Wood:

Isn't it awful, Just having to use all these new products.

Vicki Weinberg:

What a terrible job.

Vic Wood:

Oh, so hard.

Vic Wood:

Um, and then obviously if the products are good enough, then

Vic Wood:

we would, we would retail them.

Vic Wood:

And that.

Vic Wood:

We don't retail or we test, I would say we probably only retail about 40% of

Vic Wood:

what we test just because, you know, we might not think that the price

Vic Wood:

point is right or it doesn't smell that great, or it doesn't do what it says

Vic Wood:

it's going to do, or you know, there could be loads of different reasons.

Vic Wood:

But yeah, we probably only take on about 40% of what we test.

Vicki Weinberg:

Oh, that's amazing.

Vicki Weinberg:

And I think that's also really good, um, for everyone to know that, you

Vicki Weinberg:

know, you're not just stocking every product and every brand out there that

Vicki Weinberg:

you are going through this process.

Vicki Weinberg:

And actually, in terms of the criteria, what other things are you looking for?

Vicki Weinberg:

So if a brand wanted to be stocked with you, um, what

Vicki Weinberg:

are some of the other things?

Vicki Weinberg:

Because obviously you don't, no animal testing and.

Vic Wood:

Yeah.

Vicki Weinberg:

Um, is it a hundred percent vegan products?

Vicki Weinberg:

What are some of the other things.

Vic Wood:

So, yeah, everything's a hundred percent vegan.

Vic Wood:

Everything is cruelty free.

Vic Wood:

Um, we don't have any brands that, um, have animal testing parent companies,

Vic Wood:

so they won't be owned by the likes of L'Oreal or Estee Lauder, or, you know,

Vic Wood:

Johnson Johnson, Procter and Gamble.

Vic Wood:

I mean, the list goes on, right.

Vic Wood:

I'm, I'm not going to tell you all of them, but yeah.

Vic Wood:

Uh, so we don't have any brands that are owned by animal testing parent companies.

Vic Wood:

Um, and we also don't sell any brands that sell in China.

Vic Wood:

Now, China's a bit of a wobbly one because there was the law change out there.

Vic Wood:

So for anyone who didn't know, for a long time, China have only

Vic Wood:

allowed products to be sold in China that were tested on animals.

Vic Wood:

Um, and recently that was changed, but it's not for all beauty products.

Vic Wood:

There are definite loopholes.

Vic Wood:

But we, we made a stance and we've decided we just won't sell

Vic Wood:

any brands that sell in China.

Vic Wood:

And until the law changes a hundred percent, that won't change.

Vicki Weinberg:

Well that's fantastic and it's great that, yeah, I think

Vicki Weinberg:

people, you're really giving me this sense that people can buy a view

Vicki Weinberg:

for so much confidence that you've done all the due diligence for them.

Vicki Weinberg:

Because I guess coming back to what you were saying earlier, um, you can

Vicki Weinberg:

spend a long time reading labels and Googling and trying to work out, okay,

Vicki Weinberg:

is this product actually ethical?

Vicki Weinberg:

And it's really nice to know that you've done all the work.

Vic Wood:

Yeah.

Vic Wood:

Yeah, and it is a lot of work.

Vic Wood:

I mean, when we sign up with new brands, we make them sign a contract

Vic Wood:

to ensure that any, if anything changes in their circumstances, but

Vic Wood:

as soon as it does, they let us know.

Vic Wood:

So if they're going to sell out to L'Oreal, that's obviously their choice,

Vic Wood:

but they have to tell us, and at that point, we'd decide not to sell them.

Vic Wood:

Even if it's my favorite mascara, it would be hard, but, that would be it.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah, no, that would, but that would be, yeah, hard and

Vicki Weinberg:

really sad as well, so I hope that, isn't it something that happens?

Vicki Weinberg:

I really hope that isn't something that happens too often.

Vic Wood:

It hasn't happened at all in the five years with me going, so it's

Vic Wood:

not something that I foresee because a lot of the brands I work with are

Vic Wood:

really ethical brands, so you know, they're unlikely to sell out to the

Vic Wood:

big, the big animal testing giant.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah, I would've thought so because I guess they're coming from

Vicki Weinberg:

a very similar place, aren't they?

Vic Wood:

Yeah.

Vic Wood:

Although, I mean, what I always find interesting is Anita Roddick with

Vic Wood:

the body shop, because she obviously sold out to L'Oreal and her plans

Vic Wood:

were to change L'Oreal from the inside, which unfortunately due to

Vic Wood:

her health, that never happened.

Vic Wood:

But, you know, ethical people obviously have a different stance

Vic Wood:

and everyone has a different way of doing things, so never say never.

Vic Wood:

I hope it never happens, but you never know.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah.

Vicki Weinberg:

So let's, um, talk a little, if you don't mind, talk a little bit

Vicki Weinberg:

more about your advent calendar.

Vicki Weinberg:

So, I know we're going completely off topic, but I know this

Vicki Weinberg:

has been a massive thing, but there's been a lot of hard work.

Vicki Weinberg:

So can you start by telling everybody what your adcent calendar

Vicki Weinberg:

is and then we'll talk a bit more about how you developed it?

Vic Wood:

Yeah.

Vic Wood:

Um.

Vic Wood:

My advent calendar, I have to say like, if Greener Beauty was my

Vic Wood:

baby, like this, this would be the main, the main part of it.

Vic Wood:

Like it takes so much time.

Vic Wood:

Um, I think this year I started working on it in April and I've decided

Vic Wood:

next year I'm going to start it even earlier because it still wasn't early

Vic Wood:

enough, which is ridiculous, isn't it?

Vic Wood:

The sun shining outside and everyone's talking about where they're going

Vic Wood:

on a summer holiday and I'm sitting looking at Christmas designs.

Vic Wood:

But we, um, so basically what I do is I pull in lots of different brands.

Vic Wood:

They're all brands that I love, they're all products I love, um,

Vic Wood:

the stipulation, obviously vegan, cruelty free, um, and ethical.

Vic Wood:

But with the advent coming, everything is plastic free as well.

Vic Wood:

Um, just because typically advent calendars generate so much waste, you

Vic Wood:

know, and they're normally in a really glossy box, and even though the box is

Vic Wood:

cardboard, it often can't be recycled.

Vic Wood:

Um, so everything is plastic free.

Vic Wood:

The packaging is fully recyclable, and yeah, so we just, it's

Vic Wood:

just all the products I love.

Vicki Weinberg:

And are they in mini version or are they, are they full sized?

Vic Wood:

No.

Vic Wood:

We do full size, so everything is full size in it.

Vic Wood:

So you get 24 full size products.

Vicki Weinberg:

That's amazing.

Vicki Weinberg:

So obviously with most event calendars, particularly beauty ones,

Vicki Weinberg:

you get miniatures, you might get a few full size products, but the

Vicki Weinberg:

majority of them are quite small.

Vic Wood:

No, no.

Vic Wood:

All of ours are full size.

Vic Wood:

Well, actually there's one that's the mini and that's a perfume,

Vic Wood:

and you get 10 mls instead of 30.

Vic Wood:

Just because perfume is such a personal thing.

Vic Wood:

I don't want to put in 30 mls and then for it just to be a waste, you know, if

Vic Wood:

the fragrance isn't right or something.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah.

Vicki Weinberg:

That does that make sense.

Vic Wood:

But yes, everything else is full size and the value of

Vic Wood:

the contents is over 350 pounds.

Vicki Weinberg:

What, and what does the calendar retail for out of interest?

Vic Wood:

Um, it's a hundred and seventy seven, ninety five.

Vic Wood:

So you're sort of paying half what the retail would be

Vic Wood:

for the individual products.

Vicki Weinberg:

It's a lovely gift as well though, isn't it?

Vic Wood:

Yeah.

Vic Wood:

I mean, the majority of the ones that sell are sold to men and it's for their wives.

Vic Wood:

Like we get gift notes added and all sorts.

Vicki Weinberg:

That's really lovely.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah, that's lovely.

Vicki Weinberg:

And so we are recording this, well, as you will know, but nobody else will

Vicki Weinberg:

know it in October, but when everyone listens to this, it'll be November.

Vicki Weinberg:

So, um, are we still going to be able to get hold of these in November or are

Vicki Weinberg:

they going to sell out, do you think?

Vic Wood:

Um, I mean, it's difficult to know.

Vic Wood:

Um, obviously this year with the climate that we're in, who knows?

Vic Wood:

We, um, the last we've only done the advent calendar for three years.

Vic Wood:

This is our third year.

Vic Wood:

Um, and we have sold out every single.

Vic Wood:

Um, but who knows?

Vic Wood:

We've, we've still got a volume of stock now left.

Vic Wood:

They're selling well and they're selling frequently, but as it stands

Vic Wood:

today in October, we still have stock.

Vic Wood:

And I'd imagine we still have a few left in November too.

Vicki Weinberg:

Okay.

Vicki Weinberg:

So if you're listening to this and you're interested, get over there quickly, I

Vicki Weinberg:

think is the message I'm taking from this

Vic Wood:

Yeah.

Vicki Weinberg:

So something else, obviously coming up

Vicki Weinberg:

in November is Black Friday.

Vicki Weinberg:

Now I know that you don't partake in that and that you do greener Friday instead.

Vicki Weinberg:

So can you tell us a bit about that, please?

Vic Wood:

Yeah, of course.

Vic Wood:

So, um, as an ethical business, it, Black Friday just doesn't

Vic Wood:

feel ethical to me at all.

Vic Wood:

Um, it's just about mass consumerism and discounting stuff that's not selling

Vic Wood:

and people just stock piling, sorry for my language crap, which just ends

Vic Wood:

up in landfill, which as, you know, planet faced and focused business.

Vic Wood:

I just can't subscribe to that.

Vic Wood:

So what we try and do is, um, I think we've done it for four years now, is we

Vic Wood:

plant, well every order, we, we, we have, we plant one tree anyway all year round,

Vic Wood:

but during Black Friday weekend, we plant 10 trees per order in the hope that it

Vic Wood:

would negate some of the carbon footprint of the other businesses out there as well.

Vicki Weinberg:

Oh, that's amazing.

Vicki Weinberg:

And I didn't realize you planted a tree per order anyway.

Vicki Weinberg:

You kept that quiet, but that's.

Vic Wood:

Yes, sorry.

Vic Wood:

Yeah, we've planted over, um, 13 and a half thousand trees so far.

Vicki Weinberg:

Wow.

Vicki Weinberg:

That's a huge impact.

Vic Wood:

Yeah.

Vicki Weinberg:

That's amazing.

Vic Wood:

Isn't it great, Isn't it great?

Vicki Weinberg:

That's really great.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah.

Vicki Weinberg:

Thank you.

Vicki Weinberg:

Um, something else I'd like to talk about if that's okay, because I did see

Vicki Weinberg:

this on, I think I might have seen this on social media, but you do say, if you

Vicki Weinberg:

don't want to talk about it, is, I know that there was a big retailer earlier

Vicki Weinberg:

this year that you had, um, you know, that you really went into business with.

Vicki Weinberg:

Um, yeah.

Vicki Weinberg:

Is that something you don't mind sharing and obviously only go into as

Vicki Weinberg:

much detail as you feel comfortable?

Vicki Weinberg:

Because I just think it might be quite eye opening for other

Vicki Weinberg:

businesses that are listening.

Vic Wood:

Yeah, I'm, you know what, like, I, I'm totally fine

Vic Wood:

with sharing it because I, I don't see why you would hide it.

Vic Wood:

That's their policy and that's, they approached me.

Vic Wood:

Um, but I, I was approached by Feel Unique, who are one of the

Vic Wood:

biggest, you know, UK beauty retailers in, you know, as it stands.

Vic Wood:

And they wanted me to set up a shop in their shop.

Vic Wood:

And I'd have my own page and the products would look the same to the customer.

Vic Wood:

Um, and what they would do is they would take commission off everything I

Vic Wood:

sell, and then they would send me the orders and I would send them out like

Vic Wood:

they'd been ordered from my website.

Vic Wood:

Um, now I asked a few questions because it all looked very normal.

Vic Wood:

In the emails that, that were going back and forth at the beginning, and I

Vic Wood:

don't know, this is where my spiritual side comes in because it was almost

Vic Wood:

like someone whispered it in my ear.

Vic Wood:

Um, and I said to them is, is there a contract in place that if, if I bring a

Vic Wood:

brand on board and they sell really well, is there anything to protect my business?

Vic Wood:

Um, and basically it turns out that if I, if I came on board with

Vic Wood:

all the brands I was selling and some of the brands sold well, they

Vic Wood:

would just buy them in themselves.

Vic Wood:

And then I contractually can't sell them because they are then sold by them.

Vic Wood:

So they were basically using me and my stock to test out

Vic Wood:

what brands were selling.

Vic Wood:

Which just, it's, it's just so unethical.

Vic Wood:

I mean, that is how you, in my opinion, that's how you screw

Vic Wood:

small businesses over, you know.

Vic Wood:

It's just.

Vicki Weinberg:

Absolutely, because I mean, let's face it, their, they're

Vicki Weinberg:

competition, well, not competition, they are kind of competition anyway.

Vicki Weinberg:

As in, if you've on their website, presumably you'd still have

Vicki Weinberg:

your own website going as well.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah.

Vicki Weinberg:

So you would be, Yeah, that, that's really.

Vicki Weinberg:

I'm trying to think of the right word.

Vicki Weinberg:

They mean unethical or part of unethical, but yeah, it seems to me

Vicki Weinberg:

that they knew that you would be at a disadvantage and they didn't really care.

Vic Wood:

No, no.

Vic Wood:

And I mean, worst case scenario, I come on and I start signing up with their

Vic Wood:

website and I list my 5,000 products.

Vic Wood:

And let's say I've got a hundred brands that I retail, and they

Vic Wood:

all sell well, they'll just get all those a hundred brands.

Vic Wood:

You know, and their marketing power, their business power, their budgets,

Vic Wood:

everything is so much higher.

Vic Wood:

I think they'd put me out of business very quickly.

Vicki Weinberg:

I think so too.

Vicki Weinberg:

I was just about to say that they could effectively just

Vicki Weinberg:

take everything you were doing.

Vicki Weinberg:

And do it for themselves and overnight your business is gone because suddenly,

Vicki Weinberg:

because there will be people who I don't actually do, you know, I don't shop on

Vicki Weinberg:

Feel Unique, so I don't know if they do sell any ethical products at the moment.

Vicki Weinberg:

Um, but let's assume that they do.

Vicki Weinberg:

Let's hope they do.

Vicki Weinberg:

So there might be people who are already buying bits and pieces from there anyway,

Vicki Weinberg:

and then suddenly they can get everything they're buying from you over there.

Vicki Weinberg:

I'm not saying that you won't have loyal customers who'll stick with

Vicki Weinberg:

you because I'm sure you will.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah.

Vicki Weinberg:

There are also other types of consumers who are going to be like,

Vicki Weinberg:

well, I'm on Feel Unique anyway, so yeah, I'll just fill my basket

Vicki Weinberg:

here because it's more convenient.

Vicki Weinberg:

So yeah, that's, yeah, that's really not on, is it?

Vicki Weinberg:

Um, no, and I thank you for being honest and sharing that because I

Vicki Weinberg:

do think it's eyeopening because we all like to think, well I certainly

Vicki Weinberg:

do as one of life's optimists.

Vicki Weinberg:

I like to think that there aren't people out there trying to take advantage of us.

Vicki Weinberg:

But of course there are no.

Vicki Weinberg:

And also I think it was great that you asked that question as well because

Vicki Weinberg:

it's all too easy to get caught up in the excitement of something 'Oh

Vicki Weinberg:

i'm being approached by this brand and they want to do this of me'.

Vicki Weinberg:

And obviously it would be huge for you, but as you said, it would've

Vicki Weinberg:

been only lasted five minutes.

Vic Wood:

Yeah, I mean, it, it potentially would've, it potentially

Vic Wood:

would've made my business.

Vic Wood:

I mean, their, their turnover is millions and millions each year, you know, which

Vic Wood:

is nowhere near where I am currently.

Vic Wood:

And I did, I got very excited when I saw that email come in.

Vic Wood:

But, yeah, I'm glad I asked the question too.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah, so I think that's such a good point to sort of

Vicki Weinberg:

make sure that you really go into the fine print and perhaps even, you

Vicki Weinberg:

know, if you're not confident doing that yourself, find someone else.

Vicki Weinberg:

Because I'm sure we, I'm sure there are people out there that can do this sort of

Vicki Weinberg:

thing for you of, if you're not confident enough to know, okay, what should I be

Vicki Weinberg:

asking and what should I be asking to see?

Vicki Weinberg:

I'm sure you can get someone on board to, to help with this as well because, um,

Vicki Weinberg:

and were they out of interest, willing to negotiate when you sort of said 'Okay,

Vicki Weinberg:

that's not on' what was their response?

Vic Wood:

No.

Vic Wood:

So I actually approached them and I thought, you know what, if, if

Vic Wood:

we can do two years where I have the exclusivity on the brands that

Vic Wood:

I'm selling, that I'm bringing on board, that you can't stock them.

Vic Wood:

And they refused flat out right.

Vic Wood:

They just said, we won't, we wouldn't, we wouldn't sign a contract like that.

Vic Wood:

Hmm.

Vic Wood:

And that was the end of the conversation because I'm, I'm

Vic Wood:

not, I'm not going to join.

Vicki Weinberg:

No, of course not.

Vicki Weinberg:

That I'm just, I, I am still quite shocked that because it, because based on that

Vicki Weinberg:

it does seem that, yeah, there was no intention of this being a negotiation.

Vic Wood:

Right.

Vicki Weinberg:

Which is, which is a shame because actually I think I generally

Vicki Weinberg:

and I'm not just saying this because I'm talking to you, but I genuinely think you

Vicki Weinberg:

would've bought something to them as well.

Vicki Weinberg:

And obviously they could see the potential because they asked you.

Vicki Weinberg:

So yeah, it is, it is a shame it had to end that way.

Vic Wood:

Yeah, I mean I'm, I'm glad it did though.

Vic Wood:

I mean, if I'd signed up, I think it was earlier this year this happened,

Vic Wood:

if I'd signed up, my turnover and the volume of sales coming in

Vic Wood:

and out would be much higher now.

Vic Wood:

But God knows what would've happened in a year's time, you know?

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah, I think, I think you're right.

Vicki Weinberg:

It would've been perhaps great in the short term, but yeah

Vicki Weinberg:

long term, as you said, it could have destroyed your business.

Vic Wood:

Yeah, I think it probably would have done if i'm honest.

Vicki Weinberg:

That's, yeah, that's really, really scary.

Vicki Weinberg:

So let's talk about some happy things.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah.

Vicki Weinberg:

Because I have seen that recently you have had loads of award wins.

Vicki Weinberg:

I'm not exaggerating when I say loads, am I?

Vic Wood:

No, no.

Vic Wood:

It's been an amazing year.

Vic Wood:

Yeah.

Vicki Weinberg:

Tell us, tell us about some of the awards you've

Vicki Weinberg:

won and how they came about.

Vic Wood:

Um, so it's, it's kind of been mind blowing to be honest this year.

Vic Wood:

Um, you can, obviously, we are on video.

Vic Wood:

You can see all the awards behind me on the wall.

Vic Wood:

I must have about 15 frames up there with different awards now.

Vic Wood:

Um, this year probably the biggest win for us was best online retailer

Vic Wood:

with the natural beauty retail awards, which is huge because, um,

Vic Wood:

businesses that have won that in the past have been really big retailers.

Vic Wood:

So for a small, independent, like myself to win, yeah, I mean I still

Vic Wood:

remember the evening that I heard and I just screamed so loudly.

Vic Wood:

My poor neighbors were probably like, because I was at home, what is going on?

Vic Wood:

Um, so yeah, that was a really big one that was, um, put together

Vic Wood:

by the people who run the natural organic products events in London.

Vic Wood:

So it's, it's a very prestigious award, um, in the natural beauty realm.

Vic Wood:

And then I also, for the third year running recently found out I'm on the

Vic Wood:

Who's Who of Natural Beauty, which is like a top 25 list of the most influential

Vic Wood:

people in the, in the natural beauty world, which again, you know, it's.

Vic Wood:

The winner.

Vic Wood:

Every year I've been in it actually the woman who runs Weleda,

Vic Wood:

the leader in the UK has won.

Vic Wood:

And Weleda obviously such a massive brand.

Vic Wood:

So, you know, it's so great to be placed in that.

Vic Wood:

And, um, I'll find out next month, although if you are

Vic Wood:

listeners it'll be this month.

Vic Wood:

Um, I'll find out sort of towards the end of November how I did, because I'm

Vic Wood:

a finalist for the Health and Beauty Great British entrepreneur of the year.

Vicki Weinberg:

Oh wow.

Vic Wood:

So yeah, busy, busy awards, really busy.

Vic Wood:

It's been amazing.

Vicki Weinberg:

And it's a lot of work as well, because obviously entering these

Vicki Weinberg:

awards takes a lot, takes a lot of work.

Vicki Weinberg:

Is that something you ma I'm just curious, is that something you're doing

Vicki Weinberg:

yourself because that is a lot of work.

Vic Wood:

Yeah.

Vic Wood:

Um, it's interesting actually.

Vic Wood:

So I refuse to pay for awards.

Vic Wood:

I, I think any award that's worth it is not paid for.

Vic Wood:

I think there are exceptions.

Vic Wood:

I think some of like the beauty shortlist awards, if I created my own products,

Vic Wood:

I'd probably pay for those to go in because they're a prestigious award.

Vic Wood:

Um, but like the best online retailer, they actually contacted

Vic Wood:

me and asked me to enter.

Vic Wood:

They'd obviously already, yeah, they'd obviously already decided.

Vic Wood:

And it was very easy.

Vic Wood:

I just had to put in contact details.

Vic Wood:

And that was kind of it.

Vicki Weinberg:

Oh, okay.

Vicki Weinberg:

So it wasn't like pages and pages of forms.

Vicki Weinberg:

Oh, that's good.

Vicki Weinberg:

But I guess you still, I mean, are you still having to keep on top

Vicki Weinberg:

of what awards are coming on and what you want to be in the mix for?

Vic Wood:

Um, to be honest, I don't really pay a lot of attention to it.

Vic Wood:

I'm too, you know, for all your listeners who run a business.

Vic Wood:

Especially at Christmas time, it's just way too busy to keep an

Vic Wood:

eye on what's going on in terms of what awards are coming up.

Vic Wood:

So I mean, if something crosses my path and I think, oh, I'd quite like

Vic Wood:

that, then I might enter, but I don't, I don't go out of my way really.

Vicki Weinberg:

That's really reassuring because of all the success, success

Vicki Weinberg:

you've had, you could be mistake, you know, as I was thinking, gosh, you must

Vicki Weinberg:

be putting a lot of time into this.

Vicki Weinberg:

So it's really reassuring to know that you're not putting tons of time and effort

Vicki Weinberg:

in, but you're still doing, I mean that, that says a lot about your business,

Vicki Weinberg:

yourself and your business, to be honest.

Vicki Weinberg:

But that's.

Vicki Weinberg:

Thank you.

Vicki Weinberg:

That's really good to know.

Vicki Weinberg:

Um, and I guess all of those award wins, have they helped with the

Vicki Weinberg:

other things like PR opportunities?

Vic Wood:

Um, I could probably use the PR more, to be honest.

Vic Wood:

I'm not, my, my background is beauty and it, so, so far from marketing

Vic Wood:

and PR and everything else, so I'm sure I could do more with it.

Vic Wood:

Um, I have got a little bit of local press from it, but that's

Vic Wood:

kind of been about it, to be honest.

Vicki Weinberg:

That makes sense.

Vicki Weinberg:

Um, and I think as well, because we all have our, we all come,

Vicki Weinberg:

depending what background you come from, I think we all have the things

Vicki Weinberg:

that we are naturally good at.

Vicki Weinberg:

That, and those tend to be the things that we spend the majority of our time on.

Vicki Weinberg:

So how are you getting the word about your business out there?

Vicki Weinberg:

Is it mostly social media or what or what are you doing to, to

Vicki Weinberg:

spread the word and find customers?

Vic Wood:

Um, it's a bit of a mix to be honest.

Vic Wood:

Social media, definitely.

Vic Wood:

I mean, in this day and age who couldn't be.

Vic Wood:

Um, we also do things like Google ads.

Vic Wood:

The shopping ad campaigns, I mean, as a product based business,

Vic Wood:

you couldn't not be on there.

Vic Wood:

I mean, that's, that's, that, that's probably generates,

Vic Wood:

you know, apart from returning customers, I would say that probably

Vic Wood:

generates 80% of our new customers.

Vicki Weinberg:

That's really interesting.

Vicki Weinberg:

As I've obviously spoke to probably, I want to say, hundreds now of

Vicki Weinberg:

product businesses and you are the first person to specifically

Vicki Weinberg:

talk about Google shopping really.

Vicki Weinberg:

Which isn't to say, isn't to say nobody else is doing it because I'm

Vicki Weinberg:

sure other businesses are, I just think it's something that perhaps

Vicki Weinberg:

people aren't talking about or it just doesn't occur to them, or maybe

Vicki Weinberg:

I just haven't asked a question.

Vicki Weinberg:

Um, but that's really, that's really interesting.

Vicki Weinberg:

And are you finding that that's effective for you?

Vicki Weinberg:

Oh, you are obviously are.

Vicki Weinberg:

How is that something that took time to, to get working for you?

Vicki Weinberg:

Because when I was selling products, I dabbled with Google

Vicki Weinberg:

Shopping and I, I actually found it quite hard to get conversions.

Vicki Weinberg:

Um, is it something you've had to work on or being fairly

Vicki Weinberg:

straightforward from the start?

Vic Wood:

I would definitely say it's a dark art.

Vic Wood:

Um, as a business owner, I am already short of time, so it's one of the

Vic Wood:

things I think, you know, why attempt, especially when you're playing with money,

Vic Wood:

you know, why attempt to do something that you're not really sure about.

Vic Wood:

So I do actually outsource that to a, a Google ad specialist

Vic Wood:

and they run my accounts.

Vic Wood:

I have been between agencies before and you see, you know,

Vic Wood:

the return on ad spend drop.

Vic Wood:

So I would say, you know, if anyone wants to give it a go, it's definitely worth it.

Vic Wood:

But I would definitely say find someone who's, who's, you know,

Vic Wood:

local to yourself, who's got a good reputation and who can do it for you.

Vicki Weinberg:

That's really useful.

Vicki Weinberg:

Thank you.

Vicki Weinberg:

Because that was definitely my experience was I just couldn't

Vicki Weinberg:

get my, my head around it really.

Vicki Weinberg:

And.

Vic Wood:

No, and I've tried and I can't either.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah, no.

Vicki Weinberg:

And I'm, you know, fairly adept at other sorts of advertising,

Vicki Weinberg:

but that I just, I couldn't work.

Vicki Weinberg:

So that, yeah, that's, that's quite reassuring for me personally, but

Vicki Weinberg:

also really good advice for people.

Vicki Weinberg:

And I think it sounds, for anyone who's interested in it but has been

Vicki Weinberg:

thinking 'Oh, I'm not sure because I don't really know how it works'.

Vicki Weinberg:

I think finding an expert is definitely the way to go.

Vic Wood:

A hundred percent.

Vic Wood:

Yeah, it's very complicated.

Vic Wood:

And if you, if you had all the time in the world, you could

Vic Wood:

probably sit and learn it.

Vic Wood:

But as business owners, who, who has time for that?

Vicki Weinberg:

None of us.

Vicki Weinberg:

And that actually brings me on as well as you mentioned that

Vicki Weinberg:

now you have a small team.

Vicki Weinberg:

So can we just talk a tiny bit, um, before we finish up, about how you've

Vicki Weinberg:

grown your, your team and the things that you, um, things that others do for

Vicki Weinberg:

you versus what you're doing yourself?

Vicki Weinberg:

Because I think a lot of the owners that I speak to are still running the businesses

Vicki Weinberg:

by themselves or with a partner.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah.

Vicki Weinberg:

So it's quite interesting to know what, what growing and

Vicki Weinberg:

expanding the team can look like.

Vic Wood:

Yeah.

Vic Wood:

Um, I mean obviously it's also limited by budget as well.

Vic Wood:

Yeah.

Vic Wood:

Of course as you grow you can outsource more, which is a, is

Vic Wood:

a point I'm looking forward to.

Vic Wood:

Um, but I mean, for me personally, I know the limitations of

Vic Wood:

what I can and can't do.

Vic Wood:

So while I've got an IT background, expertise is not website building.

Vic Wood:

So I have a team of developers that I work with.

Vic Wood:

Um, I work with a marketing chap who does my Google ads.

Vic Wood:

He also does social media ad campaigns for me.

Vic Wood:

Um, and I have an accountant as well, because, you know, year end accounts.

Vic Wood:

Who wants to be doing that?

Vic Wood:

Um, no.

Vic Wood:

No.

Vic Wood:

And I, I also work with a social media expert aswell who's, who's helping me

Vic Wood:

build my social media following and the interaction rate and things like that.

Vic Wood:

So that's really helpful.

Vic Wood:

And then I have a couple of people in house who help with things

Vic Wood:

like packing orders, like the day to day, unpacking stock orders,

Vic Wood:

ordering stock, that sort of thing.

Vic Wood:

So, yeah.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah because as we mentioned earlier,

Vicki Weinberg:

stock must be a massive thing.

Vicki Weinberg:

And I guess, yeah.

Vicki Weinberg:

Where actually, um, do you actually have a facility for, so all the stock now?

Vic Wood:

Yeah, so we are based in a warehouse in Little,

Vic Wood:

Little Hampton, in West Sussex.

Vic Wood:

Um, and we actually share the warehouse with two other businesses,

Vic Wood:

which is lovely because then you've got a bit of a community as well.

Vic Wood:

Although they do, they're both vegan bakers, which is very

Vic Wood:

tempting a lot of the time.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah, I can imagine.

Vicki Weinberg:

Oh, that's amazing.

Vicki Weinberg:

And I'm assuming that your team has, has grown over time and as you've sort of,

Vicki Weinberg:

sort of had the budget and also the, I guess the need to to outsource part of it.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah, definitely.

Vicki Weinberg:

Well, thank you so much for all that you shared today, Vic.

Vicki Weinberg:

Um, and I'm going to have links to everything over in the show notes.

Vicki Weinberg:

People can go and take a look at your site and have a look at

Vicki Weinberg:

the product range that you have.

Vicki Weinberg:

Um, I have one final question which I ask everybody who comes on, which is, what

Vicki Weinberg:

would your number one piece of advice be for other business owners particularly?

Vic Wood:

I think those looking to create a maybe, perhaps not a similar

Vic Wood:

business in the sense of it being a vegan business or an ethical business,

Vic Wood:

um, but a business in which you're selling other people's products, perhaps.

Vic Wood:

Um, one piece of advice, I think if I could go back and do it all again,

Vic Wood:

I'd probably work out a way to work with experts from the beginning.

Vic Wood:

And I know that makes it difficult because it's not always the budget to do that.

Vic Wood:

But the challenge is, you know, you could spend five years doing your add campaigns

Vic Wood:

or your own accountants and it just, it just will take you so much longer.

Vic Wood:

And it's more, not only, it's the time thing, it's also the efficiency thing.

Vicki Weinberg:

That makes sense.

Vic Wood:

So I, I would say, you know, do your best to invest as much as you

Vic Wood:

can on getting the right people on board.

Vicki Weinberg:

I think that makes total sense because often you can

Vicki Weinberg:

end up redoing things as well.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah.

Vicki Weinberg:

I had the experience with my website that I made myself and I used Website

Vicki Weinberg:

Builder and it looked okay, but when you think of the time, you know it's

Vicki Weinberg:

still not free and it takes time.

Vicki Weinberg:

And then, yeah, years later ended up having to get someone to build a

Vicki Weinberg:

completely new one because it just, you know, for many reasons wasn't working.

Vicki Weinberg:

Um, and it is a bit of a false economy, isn't it?

Vicki Weinberg:

Whereas re really, if you can get something right from the

Vicki Weinberg:

start, it does set you up better.

Vicki Weinberg:

But also, yeah, just reduces all that.

Vicki Weinberg:

I think it's mostly the time element, isn't it?

Vicki Weinberg:

Just the the time that you waste by yeah attempting to do everything.

Vicki Weinberg:

And I do know that budgets don't always make it possible, but I think, I think

Vicki Weinberg:

that's good advice that if you are able to invest, and I think it is.

Vicki Weinberg:

Thinking of where, where any budget you do have is best spent as well.

Vic Wood:

Definitely, yeah.

Vic Wood:

It's really tricky.

Vic Wood:

I think, um, when we first launched the website, I think since then we've had

Vic Wood:

four different versions and it just, like you say, it just takes time and effort.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah.

Vicki Weinberg:

Well, thank you so much for that and for everything else that you shared.

Vicki Weinberg:

I found loved talking to you, hearing more about your

Vicki Weinberg:

business, it's been really good.

Vicki Weinberg:

Thank you.

Vic Wood:

Thank you so much for having me.

Vicki Weinberg:

Thank you so much for listening right

Vicki Weinberg:

to the end of this episode.

Vicki Weinberg:

Do remember that you can get the full back catalogues and lots of free resources

Vicki Weinberg:

on my website, vickiweinberg.com.

Vicki Weinberg:

Please do remember to rate and review this episode if you've enjoyed it,

Vicki Weinberg:

and also share it with a friend who you think might find it useful.