You might remember Brenda, our lovely former Account Manager. Since moving on from key2 (to Spain!) Brenda has set up her own online business. Here’s her story …
Is it easy to build an online business? I asked myself that question nearly a year ago from my Spanish coastal apartment on the stunning Costa del Sol.
I have always loved to learn; embracing the challenge to succeed. So, armed with a thirst for knowledge, a laptop, and a good wifi signal, I began my ecommerce journey of discovery…
As a former employee of the amazingly talented team key2creative 😊 I researched relentlessly and compiled copious market intelligence. Many a late night I stopped for a cuppa only to realise the clock said 2am! But I was driven to find out; to succeed.
In today’s world of online learning there are so many free webinars and course materials out there. In fact, there are so many ‘shiny objects’ it gets confusing and you have to keep focused on your goals and what you want to achieve. Keep a checklist of what is true for you and strategically plan your way towards ‘the big picture’.
My journey, by default, involved an earlier visit to Morocco. Such a vibrant and exotic land – just a stone’s throw (and ferry ride!) from southern Spain. I went with a Swiss friend I had met in Marbella six months earlier. We enjoyed discovering the meandering, bustling souks, and bought bracelets and beads and… argan oil.
I hadn’t heard of argan oil before but my friend, Marlis, insisted it was an absolute ‘miraculous’ ancient beauty secret known as ‘liquid gold’ and she had been using it for years. As she looked an age far younger than her years I eagerly bought a bottle and tucked it into my new leather bag.
Back in Spain I used the oil on my hair, on my face and body. And I was amazed by the results! Blemishes and age spots I had, were visibly fading. The oil felt wonderful on my skin and wasn’t at all greasy. I had previously used creams and always thought an oil would clog my pores. But not argan oil. It is full of anti-aging antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids. And it is 100% pure and natural as it comes from the nut of the argan tree.
So, with my new phase of online learning I discovered that Amazon was planning to launch in Australia. That’s great, I thought! An opportunity to scale in the future. I had decided I would select Amazon as my online selling platform in Europe and after checking various metrics I selected the product I was passionate about – 100% organic argan oil – and I chose to create my own brand: Beldi International www.beldiinternational.com Beldi is a traditional Moroccan word which embodies authentic and pure, premium quality products.
As a solopreneur I journeyed through the process of product and competitive research, pricing and other financial considerations, along with due diligence on a shortlist of wholesale suppliers. I eventually made my choice and began the process of negotiation, followed by bottle selection and label design.
I also opened an Amazon UK and Europe seller account. It was certainly a huge hunk of learning to begin with and continues to be one of update and change. I have always had patience and can report it gets challenged frequently! As Amazon had still not yet launched in Australia I tried to register. This proved to be quite a procedure, too – but I kept advancing, determinedly.
In the meantime, I researched my options and – keen to expand my knowledge – I created my own website. When I visited Perth over Christmas I called in to see the key2 team (as I always love to do!) and the most able-bodied Steve Page (who heads the IT team) happily volunteered to check over my website and helped with a few glitches I had encountered. He made it look so easy!
I kept advancing with my newfound knowledge and created an ebook, video and other social media channels: Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. This was totally new learning for me as all my previous roles had been in account management – not graphic design – but I have always valued and respected the creative process. It is indeed challenging yet amazingly rewarding.
It was a slow slog to educate myself but with the sunkissed waves of the Mediterranean Sea inspiring me from my laptop I eagerly devoured the worldwide web!
I learned about exporting and before long my first shipment was underway. To finally see my product listed on Amazon UK was an amazing realisation and sense of achievement. The process was certainly fraught with difficulties along the way but with each obstacle I remained determined to learn and move past it. Diligence and patience… belief and passion. I had the will to succeed and gave myself permission to do exactly that.
Understanding the Amazon backend seller metrics is a journey in itself… But again, the more you do the more you understand. If others had gone through this process then I had to step up to the challenge.
My first sale on Amazon was fabulously exciting! To finally see a ‘sale’ from all the hard work leading up to this filled me with incredible pride. But I knew this was just the beginning. I had to keep pushing forward and committing to the processes I had created.
And then Amazon Australia finally advised their infrastructure was complete and my request to become a seller had been approved. Fantastic! At last I could repeat the process to export from Morocco. It was exciting to track my shipment and as customs clearance was granted in Sydney I was counting down the days until the product would finally land in Amazon’s Melbourne warehouse. But alas, this was not straightforward and I was horrified to learn that my shipment was now winging its way to Singapore!
More intervention and contact followed but I can happily report Beldi 100% organic Argan Oil is now safely stored in the Amazon Australia warehouse and I have taken my first Australian sales. It continues to be a path of learning and growth – but on reflection I am so happy I took the leap of courage and faith.
What fills me with joy is not just that the product can help both men and women through its amazing natural health benefits (improving hair, skin and nails) but every purchase helps to support and empower the Berber women of Morocco. Through their women’s cooperatives, argan oil helps to improve their lives through fair trade opportunities – providing them with money and education so they in turn can help their families. Beldi also supports the Bayti Association, which helps to rehabilitate and reintegrate the street children of Morocco. It’s also good to know that the argan tree (Argania spinosa) is an indigenous and environmentally sustainable product grown in a UNESCO protected area of south west Morocco. There are so many wonderful benefits gained from using Beldi!
So, my advice to others based on my experience: take action – despite fear – and it’s amazing what you can create. Beldi International is now proudly positioned to provide premium quality eco-friendly products.