Kristin Fraser Cotte is in the business of creating some amazing, organic beauty products.
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She was kind enough to be featured in one of entrepreneur interviews.
Tell me about your current business, Kristin. What are you doing exactly?
The Grapeseed Company is focused on "Botanical Beauty from Wine" -- we make organic beauty products from grape seed oil, a byproduct of wine making. The business is based in Santa Barbara, California
We also launched an organic dog care line this year called Dirty Dog Organics. Those dog products are being sold both in the retail marketplace and in bulk to dog spas for organic grooming.
Our products are sold wholesale in 20+ states, to spas for use in treatment, online, and we will start exporting to the EU this year.
When did you start the business? And what were you doing before this?
I started the company in 2004.
Before that, I was a Learning Specialist- diagnosed learning disabilities and worked with teachers and families.
We have a great start-up story that people can read about on our website.
This is my second business. I started a swim school in my teens that ran for 10+ years before I sold it. Selling the swim school gave me the startup capital I needed to start this company.
Who are your main competitors? How do you compete against them?
Main competitors are other small businesses that make natural bath & body products. We have a niche in the marketplace by not only being natural and organic, but making our products from a byproduct of wine.
We are a green company by every definition and also cross in to the wine industry. We are also located in Santa Barbara, a well-known wine growing region, so we market the fact that we are using local, sustainable ingredients.
How has your experience in running the business been different from what you expected?
It's become second nature to me, and become part of who I am. I love the flexibility and creativity behind it, but also have committed to working my butt off to make it succeed. I love what I do and would not change it for anything!
Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
No, I am so grateful that I have been able to grow my biz organically. Bootstrapping it is the way to go! Start small without loans or investors- that's the best test and least risky.
That's smart. You can control your own destiny and you force yourself to make smarter decisions because it's all your money. So what else have you done that has helped you to grow the business?
Media outreach has been very important to us. No one can speak more passionately about your product than yourself. You don't need expensive PR agencies to get press. You just need persistence, passion and a great product.
What advice would you give to somebody else who wanted to start a similar business?
Join organizations and support groups to help you. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Everyone starts somewhere and no one has all the answers.
Read whatever you can get your hands on. There are a number of blogs and professional services you can access for free or on a trial to promote your biz.
That's great advice, Kristin. Thanks so much for sharing your entrepreneurial experience with us, and good luck in growing your business.