Is your business solving a problem your customer has right now? How do you know? Our guest today, Jennifer Hinds, and she shares with us how a problem she had with her make-up was also the problem for so many other women. She took her problem and started a business which, in turn, has turned out to be a great solution for so many other customers.
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ABOUT OUR GUEST:
Fed up with makeup making her sick, Jennifer Hinds decided to tackle the Goliath makeup brands and formulate her own from her kitchen. She navigated, inspired and innovated as she traversed the pitfalls of building a makeup business surrounded by a sea of big corporations. Jenn built a solid platform offering others the opportunity to own an independent makeup business. She made big mistakes and learned hard lessons but her focus and evolving vision birthed NAS Cosmetics an International/National Award-Winning brands.
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Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (00:00):
Welcome to the Multiply Your Success Podcast, where each week we help growth minded entrepreneurs and franchise leaders take the next step in their expansion journey. I’m your host, Tom DuFore, CEO of Big Sky Franchise Team. And the question as we open up today has to do with your business, and is it solving a problem that your customer has right now? And how do you know?
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (00:24):
Well, our guest today is Jennifer Hinds, and she shares with us how she had a problem as a consumer and decided to do something about it. And in doing that something about it, she started a business and has grown it, and in turn, her problem that she’s turned into this business is now able to solve the problem of so many other customers around the country and around the world in what she’s doing. So you’re going to want to listen in to this to hear how Jennifer jumped into a very competitive industry and is making great headway with what she’s doing. So let’s go ahead and jump into my interview with Jennifer Hinds.
Jennifer Hinds, NAS Cosmetics (01:05):
My name’s Jennifer Hinds, and I’m the founder and formulator of Natural Australian Safe, international award-winning makeup brand, NAS Cosmetics.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (01:13):
Great. Well, and for those that will end up listening to this, what is NAS Cosmetics?
Jennifer Hinds, NAS Cosmetics (01:21):
NAS Cosmetics is a makeup company, all Australian owned and Australian made.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (01:27):
Okay, perfect. And one of the reasons I was interested in having you on the podcast was really some of your background and story of starting the company. So you’ve got such a nice story to share. So I’d love for you to talk to us about what drove you to get into the cosmetic industry, especially given that it’s a pretty competitive market. So what led you to go into this?
Jennifer Hinds, NAS Cosmetics (01:54):
I was getting ready for work one day, and I’m in the bathroom, and my makeup drawer was so full of products that under-delivered, underperformed, were the wrong color for me, and I could barely get the drawer open. It was almost like I had to put my foot on the drawer below to pull that drawer out. And as I’ve looked into this abyss of makeup, I’ve just gone, if I hadn’t have been so stingy in the first place and just bought the right, or a really good brand, I wouldn’t be in this position now. So I thought, out with the old, in with the new. I did my research, and back then it was AKA I watched the TV commercials, and I looked at some of those images and went, I want to look like her.
Jennifer Hinds, NAS Cosmetics (02:41):
So I went out and I purchased myself a push up stick of, and please don’t judge me for this, it was 11 years ago, I know this is really expensive, but it was $90 for a foundation. I went, film and television, I’m in, I’m good for this. This is great. So I purchased this, but this one was not going in my makeup drawer. I wanted this one to sit on my shelf so everyone could see. I became a bit of a brand snob at that point, which was very short lived.
Jennifer Hinds, NAS Cosmetics (03:07):
So I wore it for about four weeks, and it was making me sick. And I took responsibility for that because I thought maybe by putting it on the shelf, the sun’s come in, which can deteriorate your product and kill its shelf life. So I took it back to the store four weeks later and I went, “I’d like another one of these, please.” And the woman said, “Well, why? There’s plenty in that.”
Jennifer Hinds, NAS Cosmetics (03:29):
And I said, “I know, but this one’s off.” So it was giving me headaches. It was making me nauseous, and it had this really bad odor about it. I said, “It’s off. You smell it.” She said, “They all smell like that.” I’m like, “No, no, you’re not understanding me. It’s actually making me sick.” And when I explained to her what was actually happening, she said, she stood there in the store and she went, “You’re overreacting.” Well, that was it. I hadn’t overreacted, but I did after that. So I had my two kids by my side at the time, and I threw my arms up and I did the five year old tanty in their store. And I went, “That’s it. I can’t be the only person allergic to your rubbish makeup. I’m going to make my own, and I’m going to do it in two and a half weeks.”
Jennifer Hinds, NAS Cosmetics (04:15):
I have no idea to this day as to why that even came out of my mouth, two and a half weeks. But I did get it very close. The only thing I really got mixed up with that was the word week and year. It was more like two and a half years. So I began that by going out and doing my research, real research this time, by surveying women in shopping centers, just to ask them what they would want from their ideal makeup. And so from there, I got myself a criteria list of what I needed to formulate to, so like, they’d come up with things like I want it to have sunscreen and I want it to last all day, I want it to be natural, I want it to have a really long shelf life, all these things. So I had this major criteria, and that is what I began formulating to in my kitchen.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (05:14):
Wow. Wow. What a story. So I mean, literally from one product, a bad experience, and took it and turned it into a business model. I love that. I love that. Well, and talk to me, one of the things you mentioned right before the show started here is kind of this new go to market strategy that you’ve been doing, a new opportunity you’ve been providing to people. And certainly, I love entrepreneurship. I’ve been in the franchise business most of my career and helping would be entrepreneurs. Franchising kind of helps give that confidence boost. And there are other alternatives to franchising, so I’d love for you to talk a little bit about what you’re doing.
Jennifer Hinds, NAS Cosmetics (05:56):
Oh, great. Originally, when I first started, I knew that I didn’t want NAS to be the same as any other brand. I knew it had to be unique. I didn’t create just normal makeup products. I created something very unique. So I wanted the brand to be unique. But as you know, in those early years of business you sort of spend all that time traversing the pitfalls of starting a new business. And for me, it was in an industry I had no knowledge about. So that question sort of got pushed to the back, and it wasn’t really until COVID really took hold here. And I remember talking to a friend one day, and I have friends and family who have been affected by COVID.
Jennifer Hinds, NAS Cosmetics (06:42):
I remember saying to her, “No, this is awful because people have lost their jobs. They’ve lost their careers. They’ve lost their sense of self. They’ve lost their sense of community. And I feel fortunate and I wish I could help, but I just own a makeup brand.” And there, boom, there it was, right there. That question, that nagging question right from the very beginning, had just been answered. I knew what I needed to do. So that’s when our workshop facilitator program really blossomed and was created. So yeah, this is a makeup workshop business. It’s a five star makeup workshop business.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (07:23):
And talk about the workshops. So how are you using workshops for some of your growth and education there?
Jennifer Hinds, NAS Cosmetics (07:34):
So I know that I couldn’t be the, well, I actually, I reckon I could guarantee that most women out there, like me, had a drawer full of makeup that underperformed, under-delivered, not the right color. But even though we try these products and we don’t like them, we know we’re not going to use them, we still slide them on into that drawer. And we do that for a really good reason. It’s because we pay good money for it. So why I do the workshops is because people get to try before they buy, like really try before they buy. And if done right, and done with the right products, as a business owner, you have a customer for life because you hit their pain points. You can focus in and help them.
Jennifer Hinds, NAS Cosmetics (08:24):
A five star workshop these days, they’re very different to what they used to look like. I started doing workshops seven years ago, and they did look very, very different. They were the days where I used to pack up my car with 10 makeup workstations, lights, stands, like display stands. I’d take stock with me. I’d take all this makeup with me. And I’d go to somebody else’s house, and I would take the time to set all this up.
Jennifer Hinds, NAS Cosmetics (08:52):
They’d ask their friends to come over for a bit of a catch up and a few wines. They’d turn up, and they didn’t even know they were coming for a workshop. So I could spend all that time trying to keep them where I needed them for the workshop. And it was just a bit of a nightmare, really. And I could come out of that with nothing. So out of necessity for me, I had to refine those workshops, and refine them I did, right down to five star.
Jennifer Hinds, NAS Cosmetics (09:18):
So they do look very different today. A five star makeup workshop is an exclusive event with a maximum of five people. And those guests pay for that five star experience. And they’re all hands-on. And the reason why we do them as hands-on is because we want those guests to be able to go home the next day and recreate their look. And that’s really important, that they can do that for themselves. A lot of your viewers will understand this, [inaudible 00:09:49] will probably say, yeah, been there, done that.
Jennifer Hinds, NAS Cosmetics (09:51):
We go to a hairdresser and we come out and we go, “Looking good.” But the next morning, when we wake up with our bed hair and can’t recreate that look, it gets very frustrating, very disappointing. There’s two reasons for that. One, we’re not a hairdresser. And two, we weren’t shown how to do it. Whereas with makeup, you don’t need to be a makeup artist. What you need is to know what suits your unique skin and how to enhance your unique features.
Jennifer Hinds, NAS Cosmetics (10:21):
And that’s what we bring into the workshops, and being hands-on and keeping it exclusive, what that does is a lot of people like to keep their cards really close. They don’t like to let you in, especially with what’s happening in the world today. So there’s a lot of psychology involved in the training for these workshops, because you need to be able to get people to trust you, to let you in, so you can truly help them with their issues. And again, once you’ve done that, you’ve got a customer for life. So that’s our workshops.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (10:57):
Yeah. Well, and I love this whole concept, that you use the workshop to really differentiate and make your business stand out. And with the workshop in and of itself here, it sounds like the customer is immersed in this experience and then that immediate application going back home. So I love that concept with this whole idea of the experience economy and really getting the hands-on. So when the customer comes in, there’s no commitment from them. Is that right?
Jennifer Hinds, NAS Cosmetics (11:31):
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (11:32):
Okay. I should say no obligation to continue purchasing. They come in for the workshop and that’s it.
Jennifer Hinds, NAS Cosmetics (11:39):
No, they don’t even have to buy product at the end of it. They really don’t. They’re not required to do any of that, but never had anybody not.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (11:47):
Yeah. Yeah. Certainly. Certainly. And how did this adjust, you mentioned with the lockdowns and the shutdowns and things going on during the coronavirus situation, how did you have to adjust with in-person workshops? How did that change?
Jennifer Hinds, NAS Cosmetics (12:05):
If we were in lockdown, obviously we’d just have to defer that time. It really wasn’t very hard to get around. You just have to reschedule.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (12:15):
I see. You just move it to another time and do it in that way.
Jennifer Hinds, NAS Cosmetics (12:19):
The workshops, when they book, because they’re so intimate numbers, they’re nonrefundable. However, with COVID you obviously take the time there to make it work. So we just reschedule.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (12:33):
And what about these folks who are coming in, as your system is starting to expand, people who are maybe interested in becoming a part of this, how are you expanding and growing? Are you teaching people how to do this, to do the workshops and run through it or to start their own business? Can you talk through that?
Jennifer Hinds, NAS Cosmetics (12:51):
Yes. So like I said, I had to refine my workshops, and when I did and got them to the five star, I just couldn’t keep up with the demand. And I’d even have guests coming here going, “Wow, this is great. I wish I could enjoy my job so much.” And the penny still didn’t sort of drop at that point either. So now, and a lot of them started out by, I’d contact those ones who said they were interested and say, “Hey, this is what I’m doing.” And they jumped on board.
Jennifer Hinds, NAS Cosmetics (13:15):
So the idea now is that they purchase a business and they start their own. So in that package, there’s so much support. Support is really paramount in business. And I know how tough it is to start a business from scratch in an industry that you don’t even know anything about. And I don’t recommend it for anybody. I’ve gone through my massive learning curves and made mistakes. And I’ve been through that unimaginable yuck of starting a business. It’s so tough. So yes, support is absolutely critical.
Jennifer Hinds, NAS Cosmetics (13:57):
And the very first thing that we did, that NAS actually did, was we removed all of our products from general retail outlets in support of our facilitators. So our facilitators are our priority. Now, don’t get me wrong. That was a monumental decision, especially when you’re already established your brand in the market. And that wasn’t an easy one. And don’t think for a moment that I didn’t try and talk myself out of it because I did try. But then there was the whole getting the whole team together as well, like getting the right team, and it’s not just a normal team. You need a team who can not just help the business, but help the facilitators.
Jennifer Hinds, NAS Cosmetics (14:37):
So in our support also, as well as taking all the products out of general retail, we also recognized very early on that one of the major problems with makeup is choosing the right color foundation. It can be really challenging sometimes. And as a facilitator, that might be a bit daunting. So we’ve designed a professional quiz that allows the guests to actually choose their color prior to even coming to the workshop. It makes facilitating super easy. And as a business owner, you get that tool as well. So that was another part of our support.
Jennifer Hinds, NAS Cosmetics (15:12):
Then there was our Facebook support group. Now, that’s absolutely brilliant because it’s a community of other business owners supporting each other as entrepreneurs, while building a business, because nobody’s actually in competition here. So everybody throws around different ideas and says what they’ve done, what worked, what didn’t. And everybody builds from that. So that’s really good.
Jennifer Hinds, NAS Cosmetics (15:38):
Then there’s our digital resource center. So we created a whole digital resource center. For those people who are technophobes, have got no idea what they’re doing, this just brings it all in and makes it really nice and simple for them. So that’s a place where they can download videos, brochures, application things. We’ve even created social media event covers and all the content. We’ve given them the best scripts and practice for before and after their workshops, social media templates. It’s all done from so much in that resource center.
Jennifer Hinds, NAS Cosmetics (16:16):
Then our other piece of support is we also offer a NAS cosmetics email account. We offer and set up NAS Cosmetic social media profiles. And as if that’s not quite enough, we actually even offer a fully integrated eCommerce NAS cosmetics website. And it’s all done for them. And it’s a replica of the NAS website. And what’s more, it gives them instant credibility because it carries all of our five star reviews, which is just gold for them.
Jennifer Hinds, NAS Cosmetics (16:47):
And then the two other monumental things that we also offer is we offer 12 months of paid ad campaign development. And also, they get 12 months, if they choose to, they can have 12 months of mentoring with me. So we are fully supportive, and we want to support the facilitators because we want this to work for them. If we didn’t want this to work for them, we wouldn’t have pulled our products from general retail.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (17:15):
Yeah. Yeah, I think that’s a really big move that you took there, to really eliminate that channel conflict that would naturally exist. Ultimately you want product distribution, and I really like your focus on focusing on those facilitators and being willing to take that risk, to pull it from retail and other outlets, and say, no, no, we’re going to focus on our facilitators, on the people who are selling this, so that they can really thrive. And what was the reaction when that happened? What was the response from the facilitators?
Jennifer Hinds, NAS Cosmetics (17:53):
Oh, I think that’s been a major thing for people, is I think that was a catalyst for people getting in with us. They can see that we are there to help. They understand that they are our primary focus, totally our primary focus, which is just great. I mean, but we knew right from the word go that we could help people who’d lost jobs. We could help people who’d lost careers. We could help people who had lost sense of self-worth. And we do that by building a new community for people. And that’s what we’ve done.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (18:29):
Yeah. Well, Jen, this is a great time for us to transition here in the show, where we like to make sure we ask every guest the same four questions before they go. And the first question we like to ask about is, has there been a miss or two along your journey and something you’ve learned from it?
Jennifer Hinds, NAS Cosmetics (18:47):
No. No. It’s all been really smooth sailing. Okay, no, it hasn’t really. Yes, straight off the bat, I can think of a couple of things. My first one was about seven years ago, decided to do the whole employee thing. And I took on a person to be our national sales manager. And his job was specifically to get NAS into distribution centers within Australia. He’d had 30 years experience in the industry. He had all the right contacts.
Jennifer Hinds, NAS Cosmetics (19:27):
And for him to come on board, he had two things that he really wanted. The first one was he wanted to work autonomously from home in another state. So we agreed to that, gave him a very handsome wage, along with phone and fuel card and all the rest of it. He was with us for roughly about six months, five or six months. And he knew where we were financially, purely because of his second condition, which I’ll talk about in a moment, he knew where we were financially. So he wasn’t doing anything. There was always an excuse for something, his car broke down to go to a meeting, or whatever it was.
Jennifer Hinds, NAS Cosmetics (20:07):
And I ended up saying to him, “Look, if you want to get paid this week, you’ve got to go out, just to salons even, and just make your wage for me to pay you.” Never really heard back from him again. Most bizarre. But his second condition, what really made that so much larger for us, was his second condition was in order for him to work for us, we had to make sure that we were totally stocked up because to get a contract with one of the distribution centers, we had to prove that we had everything there. So that meant going out and buying thousands and thousands of products, hundreds and thousands, hundreds of thousands of packaging.
Jennifer Hinds, NAS Cosmetics (20:54):
So I got a small inheritance when my parents passed. So we used all of that. So we had used totally everything, because this was it for us. We really thought this was, you know, it was really going to … He came very well recommended. So we’d used all the money, and yeah, that was just, it was a huge setback for us. But what did I learn from that one? Yeah, I learned that my management skills suck, really sucked. I call it burned and learned. So that was our first big mistake, because we got left with holding all this stock and all this packaging and well and truly out of money.
Jennifer Hinds, NAS Cosmetics (21:40):
The second one that we did was we ordered 40,000, I don’t know if you know what they are, they’re 30 gram sifter jars. It’s to hold our powder products. And I ordered them direct from China. And when I ordered them, my mistake was I ordered through a trading company rather than a manufacturer. And the difference with that is a manufacturer, when they get an order, they oversupply and then they’ve got leftovers. So what a trading company does, they go around to all those different manufacturers and pick everything up.
Jennifer Hinds, NAS Cosmetics (22:20):
So this trading company’s gone to all these different manufacturers, picked up these 30 gram jars, and then gone, oh we need 30 gram sifters. So they went to other companies, picked up their 30 gram sifters. And then I got it all shipped to my manufacturer, my contract manufacturer here in Australia. He proceeded to fill them. And then what we realized was those jars, because they came from different places, some were transparent, some had like a brown tinge to them. Some had a yellow tinge to them. And the sifters didn’t fit. So I got people, I got customers coming back, going, “My powder fell all over my bathroom rug,” and I’m like, “Yeah, right.”
Jennifer Hinds, NAS Cosmetics (22:59):
Then it happened to me and I’m like, “Oh, oh.” So then we spent like three weeks going through thousands of products, just opening them and lifting these sifters to see if they were loose or not. And the jars weren’t cheap, but to have them filled as well, wow, that was just a massive loss.
Jennifer Hinds, NAS Cosmetics (23:19):
So what did I learn from that one? If you’re going to deal with China, you have a quality control company on the other end, before they’re shipped out. So yes, lessons, but lessons learned as well.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (23:31):
Yes. Yeah. I like how you describe that, the burned and learned. Yeah, that’s memorable. And how about on the other side? Share a make or two along the way.
Jennifer Hinds, NAS Cosmetics (23:43):
A make or two. Look, I would have to say, look, a make would be this just is this national business program of makeup facilitators, makeup workshop facilitators, that really has, it’s helped all of our team grow as well because it’s such a rewarding business. And we see that with our facilitators, because when you know you are helping somebody in a workshop, you just, you blossom, because you see them transform, and when they transform, they feel good. And if you look good, you feel good. And if you feel good, you even walk taller. It’s very rewarding. So therefore, once we see our facilitators rewarded, we feel rewarded because we know what we are doing is such a good community thing. So yes, definitely that one.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (24:44):
Great. And how about a multiplier? Have you used a multiplier along the way as you’ve grown?
Jennifer Hinds, NAS Cosmetics (24:50):
Oh, totally. I’ve got a couple of those. I do meditate every morning and I also do the EFT, which is the tapping as well. So I have got a coach who does the tapping with me. So just to rid the cortisol and help me just focus. It’s very specific. But yes, definitely those two. Yeah, different [inaudible 00:25:19] together.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (25:20):
Yeah. Well, and the final question we like to ask every guest, Jen, is what does success mean to you?
Jennifer Hinds, NAS Cosmetics (25:31):
Success for me means freedom. And when I say that, I mean freedom for all of these people who take on, like all of our facilitators, success for me means I’ve been able to help other people. And I’m a people person so I really, yeah, success is knowing that you’ve helped other people. And especially, especially right now in this crisis, knowing that people are hurting and people need support.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (26:03):
Jennifer, thank you so much for a fantastic interview and sharing your journey and your story. And let’s go ahead and jump into our three key takeaways.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (26:13):
So the first takeaway out of the interview with Jennifer is when she talked about how she decided to do a direct to consumer survey. It was maybe an unofficial survey, but it was a survey nonetheless, where she was asking women going into these various stores and businesses, what did they like? What did they want in makeup and in product? And she found out. And so that’s what led her to creating a product that was all natural and had a long shelf life, and educating women on how to apply this. I thought that was fantastic, with this very focused customer centric focus.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (26:56):
Takeaway number two is that she pulled all of her product out of the retail market in order to not compete with her facilitators. I thought that was a great takeaway. She realized to say, I’m not going to have competing market segments between my facilitators and between retail. I’m not going to have these competing segments in going at it. I want to be focused. And I think that was a testament to her original idea of building out a business that was customer focused. She did the same here. I thought that was a wonderful takeaway.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (27:33):
And takeaway number three is when she talked about hiring the wrong person, and it sounded like she hired someone early on that had a great resume, a great background, the right quote pedigree to help her get to where she wanted to go. But she realized that maybe she didn’t quite have the management skills yet and leadership skills that she needed to harness that skillset in that person. And who’s to say, anyway, based on how she described this person, that maybe it was just not the right fit.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (28:07):
And now it’s time for today’s win-win. So today’s win-win is really about this idea that sometimes solving a problem that you have is actually solving the problem for someone else as well. And if you can figure that out, I think that’s the gift and genius that entrepreneurs bring to the market, is being able to help solve that problem. And if you are running your own business, it’s been a while since you’ve looked at your product or service lineup for a while, or maybe you’re the leader at an organization or in a large company and you’re running a division or a department, you can still focus on developing and answering that question, what problem am I solving? What problem am I solving for my customer?
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (28:56):
And really take a critical look at that. You may find in doing so that you’re able to create some new products or new services along the way. And take a lesson we learned from Jennifer here, that she solved a problem and she asked for feedback from the customers or prospective customers. And she did the same with her facilitators when she started growing and expanding.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (29:18):
And so that’s the episode today, folks. Please make sure you subscribe to the podcast and give us a review. And remember, if you or anyone you know might be ready to franchise their business or take their franchise company to the next level, please connect with us at bigskyfranchiseteam.com. Thanks for tuning in, and we look forward to having you back next week.