The only thing that I love more than an awesome and innovative business idea is watching that idea take off and "make it". Okay I lie, what I love even more is getting to know the business brain behind the idea. The person who is working hard and propelling his or her brand towards big and well deserved success. BiziBubble checks off all the boxes in that list by creating a service that women all over the world have wished existed for years. You see BiziBubble is an online, home-delivery service for feminine products. When founder Jackie Berlowski agreed to share her story via the Small Biz Spotlight series, we took the opportunity to ask her questions we bet a lot of you also wondered about how one grows not just a small business, but a business based on customized delivery in this specific industry.
How long before you began the process of launching BiziBubble had this idea been marinating in your head, and where did it come from?
The concept behind BiziBubble originated from a need that my girlfriends and I had over the years. We found that working long hours and having hectic schedules, always left little time for our “personal needs” during the day. I would often run a last minute errand on the way home from work, or even ask to borrow from a co-worker just to get me by. Over the course of a couple of years, I began to think about how great it would be if feminine hygiene items just showed up my door. It would be great if it was automatic so I never had to think about it or prepare before it reared its ugly head. Before BiziBubble was officially launched, it had been stirring as an idea for a few years that was slowly tweaked and perfected.
What were some of the most challenging parts of taking an innovative, where-has-this-been-all-my-life idea like this from paper to “real life”?
Some of the most challenging parts were how to hone in on the customization factor. A service like this provides so many skus (different types & sizes of pads and tampons), that it was imperative for women to feel like they are truly getting a customized and personalized package tailored to their unique needs. With so many brands and types available, we had to create a system that was easy to navigate, simple to check out, all while being a pleasant experience. Another challenge was the packaging. We spent a lot of time making sure the box they get every month would feel special. With such personal items being delivered, the BiziBubble packaging had to stay away from the traditional brown boxes and be presented in a way that was colorful, whimsical and made you feel excited when you saw it at your front doorstep. We created a unique design for not only the shipping box, but also for the “bubble” customers receive their first month. That first order we provide them with a lavender container with dividers that contains their order inside. Then each month, they can use it as their special place when they get their refills. Some have shared that they even use it for jewelry and make-up.
Let’s be honest: for some people, talking about periods or even referring to “that time of the month” isn’t the easiest thing. How do you deal with this side of your business?
While talking about “that time of the month” may be uncomfortable for some women, we have found that many women are quite comfortable with it as well. We are in the business of making this time easier for women, so they have been quite receptive to talking about it, asking questions and even sharing stories about “how they used to make their husbands run out for them” or “they forgot to buy products even though it still comes around every month.” We are seeing an open and truthful approach to the topic in general. I think the days of feeling like it’s something to hide are fading.
How are parts of your business already changing and evolving based on how you see it working and in action?
When we first launched our website we thought it was pretty clear on how to select the items they would need and how to customize their package. After growing our customer base and getting real feedback, we learned that it actually wasn’t set up in the most intuitive way. We have adapted to our website visitor’s feedback and really focused on making sure the sight and subscription process is easy to understand. We have learned that what we may think is pretty obvious in the design and development phase isn’t always as intuitive when you roll it out. We are constantly tweaking the subscription experience to try and keep it simple even though that is not always easy to do in reality.
How do you manage the packaging and distribution of so many deliveries? Is this something that you have outside centers assistance with? Did the packaging process always take place out of your home/office with a third party?
This was probably one of the biggest tasks and most exciting times as we grew Bizibubble. Our specialized and customized packaging requires a very hands-on approach for every order we deliver. Our fulfillment strategy is evolving beyond the early days of our home-based office where packaging and shipping originated to a scaleable model that allows for third party logistics as we grow. Overall we have to ensure that the quality and specialized experience our customers receive is never sacrificed for efficiency and cost. All subscription services have to balance the experience with the distribution and packaging challenges as they grow and we are no different. So we are extremely focused on this aspect during our current phase of growth.
Beyond their monthly delivery of monthly supplies, you also include other goodies in your customer’s boxes. Tell us about the idea behind BiziBonus gifts.
The gifts are really what make this subscription service unique. Yes, women NEED those feminine hygiene products monthly, but what they really look forward to is the BiziBonus they get each month. We found an opportunity here to not only give them what they need, but to include items that make them feel good right when they need it most. We pride ourselves on finding items that are unique, up and coming, boutique products that you won’t find on any store shelf. They are special items from companies across the country including Hawaii. Bonus gifts can range anywhere from $12-$45 in value that our customers get free by being a member, and introduces them to new products they may not have known about.
Do you yourself reach out and do the “ask” for the BiziBonus gifts? Is this another outreach of your business you’ve had to master?
Yes, I personally do the outreach for all of our BiziBonus items. I like to research the items that we feature because I find out as much as I can about the product, the company/founder and the story behind their business. I always like to hear about how another business owner got to where they are now and what makes their products special. I’ve learned that good relationships go a long way. It’s all about cultivating those relationships and helping each other out when you can. If there is a company/product that proves to be a good fit for our BiziBubble customers, then I like to feature more than one of their items.
Where do you find that most of your customers find you? Press? Referrals? Social Media?
In the early stages most of our customers heard about BiziBubble by reading about us on-line or in a magazine article, or seeing a story about us on TV. Nowadays customers discover us in a variety of ways. Many are referrals due to the enthusiastic customer base we have. Those customers are also active on social media which exposes us there. We have learned that you can’t passively expect customers to find you just because you have a website. You have to work very hard in all aspects of PR and marketing to expose yourself to new potential customers.
Your blog is relevant and regularly updated. How do you manage this and work it into your busy life as a small biz owner?
I have found as a business owner it is imperative to set aside time just for all marketing & PR initiatives. This includes our blog. This is another great way to keep our current customers engaged while providing quick tips, interesting lists, or brand comparisons to new customers. I come up with topics that I would like to write about, then usually once a week I will tackle one of those topics for our next blog entry. I then post the blog on Facebook or Twitter, which always drives new people back to our website. I usually make time for the blog in the middle of the week, when I set aside time just for marketing.
What have been some of your biggest successes as an entrepreneur during this journey? What are some triumphs (big or small) that you’re proud of?
One of my biggest successes as an entrepreneur are the relationships I‘ve created with our BiziBonus partners. This element sets us apart and makes the whole experience something more valuable. The BiziBonus gifts are not tiny samples. They are high-quality, sizeable products that we are able to offer our lucky BiziBubble ladies. Also, I am proud of our appearances on national TV. We were fortunate to be featured on the nationally syndicated show called “Right This Minute.” We were also featured on the “Balancing Act” on Lifetime Television.
What have been some of the biggest surprises that being an entrepreneur has led to?
As an entrepreneur I am often surprised how there never seems to be enough hours in the day. With thinking about and executing different components of the business daily, it seems like there are always more things to get done and sometimes 24 hours is just not enough!
If you could look into a crystal ball five years into the future, where would you like to see BiziBubble?
Five years from now I would like to see that a subscription service like BiziBubble is now the new norm for monthly products such as feminine hygiene. That their buying habits have changed and they no longer need to go to the store. Five years from now, a majority of women would get their monthly needs through the convenience of on-line and BiziBubble will be at the forefront. I’d also like to see a few other divisions under BiziBubble, but we’ll have to keep that to ourselves for now.
What if someone out there reading this interview also dreams of taking an amazing idea or innovation concept they have and turning it into a business?
I would advise anyone who has a concept they believe in to follow through on their business dream and make it a reality. No one will believe in it if you don’t. However, it’s more than just having an idea. It’s learning the steps to execute and a lot you will learn along the way. It takes time and patience and the ability to adapt. As an entrepreneur we often want things to happen yesterday. I have felt that many times and still do. I always remind myself that it takes patience, and taking the right steps is better in the end than rushing and taking the wrong steps. I continue to learn new things every day. You will learn to have a sharper business mind, to be a creative marketer and to perfect your business for what’s best for the consumer. Plus, life is too short not to give it a fair shot. You’re the only one holding you back…go for it!