Hi Ike, thanks for being on YHP today.
It’s my pleasure - thank you for the opportunity.
Can you give me a bit of background to yourself:
I read Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at University. Following graduation, I went into finance as I felt it was an ideal environment to develop commercially useful skills.
By the end of my first year, I had been exposed to key business areas such as branding, leadership, and, of course, raising capital. My degree has been worthwhile because I can get involve in product formulation (chemistry) and product design (engineering).
What is Showerella?
Showerella is the place to discover unique products to create memorable and stylish parties. Our initial focus is revolutionising the Hen Party market. As the average age for first time brides rises, so do their desire for classy hen parties.
To cater to this trend, I created a range of party activity kits as an alternative to mundane party experiences. Our first product, the Scentelier Perfume Bar, was launched in December 2012. Inspired by an 1880 jewellery box, Scentelier contains glamorous perfume making essentials for women who want a sophisticated and memorable bridal shower or hen party. The Scentelier Box Set contains all that is needed to host a stylish perfume party for 10, 15 or 25 guests - no instructor necessary. Guests make their own perfume at the party and each take home their new scent creation in a personalized perfume bottle.
Where did the idea come from?
A few years ago, I offered to host a bridal shower for my cousin. Her wishes were clear - no tacky tutus or neon signs. I was more than happy to oblige but struggled to find a luxe yet unique Bridal Shower Activity or Hen Party game. Tapping into my Chemistry background, I designed a perfume-making activity as the entertainment for the party.
The guests loved it and I began to get asked to host other activity bridal showers and hen parties. On receiving numerous requests from brides-to-be further afield, I created a ready-made version of my bridal shower activities to post out to them. I sent them in plain pink boxes yet brides would email me photos of what they did with their boxes after the party. I realized then that my Activity Box Sets was not just another product but a treasured part of an unforgettable day.
How do you balance being an entrepreneur and working full-time?
The reality is many entrepreneurs have to do so until their business fully gets off the ground. Sara Blakelydid; as did Wendy Tan White. It would certainly be easier to run my business if I worked on it full-time but at the moment, I have a relatively good balance between being employed and being an entrepreneur. The key is to commit time consistently and spend at least a few hours each week to developing the business. There have been times when I have been swamped with things to do and I’m still trying to master the art of ‘under-promising and over-delivering’.
How is the business funded?
I pitched the idea to two friends; they both loved the concept of Showerella and instantly saw its potential. A few other friends heard about my idea and got in-touch about investing. It turned into a little bit of a bidding war and I ultimate chose to have my sister and a childhood friend as co-founders and investors. Our combined investment provided the seed capital needed to get Showerella off the ground.
What challenge have you found hardest when starting a business?
Like many other startups, we initially found it hard to get publicity for the business. We focused so much energy in creating our product and launching the brand that we left the marketing and PR until after we launched! My founding team has numerous strengths – creative design, copywriting, operations and finance but sadly, PR is not one of them.
How did you overcome that?
We attended a wedding fair last October and went up to the stall of the UK’s most widely circulated wedding magazine. We introduced ourselves and pitched the product. They liked us and invited me to their offices for a product demonstration. I had emailed the same magazine a month prior but my email probably got lost in the hundred of pitches they receive each day. Email works for smaller media outlets, but for bigger publication, I would argue that it’s better to meet them in person or send physical product samples.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
The best advice I’ve ever got was “the world is colder than you think, you must light the world on fire – your fire”. Yes, it helps to have talent, idea and money but without self-generated passion, it’s hard to create a successful business. Most young entrepreneurs think their product is game changing and that the press/customers would love and adopt it within seconds of hearing about it. In reality, this rarely happens. For us, it took time to get buyers attention, several emails before we caught the eye of magazine editors and several iterations of our website before we got to ranked highly on Google for our keywords. Entrepreneurs don’t just create and sell things; we are about changing our part of the world. Without fiery passion, it is all too easy to give up too soon.
What resources have you found useful when starting your business?
I first caught the entrepreneurial bug at university when I founded a jewellery business with my sister. The business broke even within a few months and I sold my stake 2 years later. Since then, I’ve built up a decent business library of over 100 books. My top books for Branding/Marketing/Promotion are: 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, Bright Marketing, The Advertising Concept Book and Write to Sell.
What does the next 12 months hold for you?
The response to Scentelier has been positive so we have started working on launching our full party range. At present, we are speaking to a number of media publications and potential stockists. We also recently launched the Showerella Associates Program which gives wedding and event planners and other wedding suppliers the opportunity earn commission when they refer Showerella to their brides. Our vision is to become UK’s answer to Martha Stewart –by creating original products for the Hen Party and Bridal Shower market before expanding into other types of parties.