Clever Marketing by Kitchen Table Business

Shirley Jaffrey wrote me an email today, telling me her story how she started her business on a kitchen table and is now supplying the stars.

But she started her email like this:

A story on the BBC website yesterday “When did normal people fall so in love
with Tattoos” see link

There is no mention of her product in this BBC article, but she has associated herself with this article, more importantly the BBC. She got me to read her story based on this BBC link, since I’m not really into tattoos.

Here is some of what she emailed me:

“… I was a nurse of 13 years experience in all areas of nursing and a practicing aroma therapist, so using my extensive knowledge in health care and natural essential oils and emollients I created my blend, Tattoo Aftercare®, (Scots are also famous for blending skills!)

I was not working, my youngest child was a year old, my daughters were 11 and 13 and my husband was unemployed due to ill health. We had no spare money and were living on social security benefits, yet I saw the gap in the market and had a vision of seeing my product in tattoo studios around the world.

With a borrowed £400 and home PC a lot of determination and hard work and testing the blend on willing testers we began putting samples out to studios in the UK . From that we got our first few customers. We worked from home for the first two years blending hundreds and hundreds of jars of aftercare every day. We would then label and package them, with the help of my daughters, and sell them to tattoo studios. In the early days we lived off soup, (I now make great soup), so we could post out samples, turning back all money made into the company. Two years on we moved into premises but were still hand blending using a small stainless steel pot and kettle for pouring. Finally after hand blending over 70,000 jars we were able to have the product made at a manufacturer in Laurencekirk , Scotland , where it is still made toady.

We moved home from Balmedie in Scotland to Chester , England in 2003 so we could visit more customers and attend more tattoo conventions to raise awareness about my product.

Now seven years on we supply tattoo studios all over the UK and Europe, and use a number of distributors selling into Canada , Sweden , Czech Rep, and Indonesia and are in the process of securing a deal with an American distributor. To date over 400,000 people have used my product as an aftercare for their tattoo, many of them stars.

My company has had several magazine reviews and newspaper articles written about my success and personal achievement as a woman in business. In 2005 I was surprised to find myself as one of three finalists in the North West of England Business Awards 2005, Women in Business Category. My product recipe also won the BUAV first ever Gold Bunny Award in 2006 for not being tested on animals. My blend is made using the finest natural ingredients; It is 100% Natural contains no chemicals and is paraben preservative free and is the only aftercare in the world approved under the Humane Cosmetics Standard. ”

THIS is what I’m talking about when I talk about bootstrapping, work-life balance and all that. I love this story and I’m proud to be used for advertising, in this quint-essential bootstrapping marketing drive. Her last paragraph reads like this:

As we move our company forward and set up business links with companies across the world I believe my story can be seen as an inspiration to others who have the get up and go to begin in business and shows that hard work and determination can cross boundaries and countries.

I could not agree more, I hope Shirley is well on her way to business and private life success. A lot can be learned here and if you have similar stories, why not tell us about them? ST.

PS. Before I retire for the day with a nice glass of my favorite malt, I wonder what she means about the Scots and blending skills? Any idea anyone?

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