Nature’s Bar Co is a company dedicated to crafting quality skin and hair care products using high-performance ingredients that nourish your skin while being earth friendly. They ensure, to the best of their ability, that the ingredients are naturally sourced, sustainably produced, cruelty-free, and ethically traded.
A product is only as good as the ingredients used to make it. To this end, Nature’s Bar uses the best ingredients to make the best safe and effective skincare products available.
Follow along to learn how this company started with a single thought of the founder, Mrs. Vivan.
Can you briefly describe your business?
The name of our business is Nature’s Bar and it is all about natural skincare. We started by making hand-made cold processed soaps, but until now we have grown to include facial toner, face and body oil, facial serums, body butter, body scrubs, and facial masks in our range of products.
When did you decide to become an entrepreneur and why did you choose this type of business?
Prior to getting started, I had no idea that I could have or run a business even though I have an accounting background and a master's degree in international business, but my mindset was that I could not really start a business. This is due to the business types that I was exposed to where you see people owing to one another, so I just didn’t have that belief. But, when my mentor, Myles Munroe, passed on I started reading his books while mourning him and listening to his podcasts, and I remember one of his podcasts when he talked about time and all that you could do with your time even though you have a 9 to 5. After listening to him for a period of time, my mind actually started changing, and I started thinking that even if I don’t have my own business, I could do a franchise to be part of the business chain.
Fast forward to a few months later, in December, I was in Dubai for a holiday. My friend was shopping for toiletries and another friend, and I just followed her. There I saw this really beautiful bar of hand-made soap. It was nicely wrapped with a ladybird on it. Normally, the first thing to do is to smell it, and it smelled so good. The first thing that came to my mind was to ask for the franchise of this product since this type of business was not so familiar back in Nigeria. When I went back home that evening, I was so excited. The company that produced the soap was located in Spain, so I had to do a little research on Instagram to get their contact information where I would send my message. In the process of searching for them, you open videos and a lot of articles which basically informed me that I could make soaps by myself. I still sent the message to the company that I was interested in franchising their products in Nigeria. Right after sending that message, I was back on Google reading all the articles and viewing the videos on how to make my own soaps. In the morning, I shared with my family that I will open a business, and I was now aware that I could make soaps.
I had been in that phase when I was detoxing from using toxic products and using only natural products for my skincare, and I was using a really nice skincare brand at that time. Skincare was already on my mind, but for personal reasons. When I saw all the processes about it, like cold processing soap making, how you could do it on your own and how you can ensure that your soaps are clean and healthy, I was fascinated. And exactly that night, I got the idea about the company that I would open and the name would be “Nature’s Bar”, where you can come in and have a cater of options when it comes to skincare. The next morning I went out with 200 dollars and I bought my first set of ingredients for this dream.
The rest is history. I went back home from the holiday, I kept on studying, downloading recipes, and buying the equipment that I needed. And in about 3 months' time, I made my first batch after studying carefully how to create a harmless product. Later I went to London to study in Little Soap School. This is how the business started. The first two bars of soap I bought in Dubai in 2014, I used them very carefully. I opened the second one very recently.
How many employees do you have?
Actually, I have been making soaps myself from 2015 until 2021. Then I hired a production manager. Prior to that, I had other staff that handled the packaging, marketing, and sales. But in terms of production, I was doing all the production. Starting from last year, I had to train and get staff for the production of the soaps to handle the demand from our customers.
Do you have a physical store or operate online?
Our first store was the Instagram page. We open an Instagram account and start posting pictures of our products and processes. After hearing really good feedback from family and friends, since they were our first customers, I started to understand I was doing a good job. There was a particular friend who claimed that my bar was better than most companies in Nigeria and she ordered a full batch of products as a bridal gift. That’s how we officially started selling.
We used Instagram as our sales channel for over a year until we got our first office space in 2017. Since then, we had an office space, but the model of the business is that we engage with customers online through social media, Instagram, Facebook, etc, and we have a website as well. Customers can reach to us via all these means, and then we deliver to them since we are partners with a delivery company as well. We are shipping to every state in Nigeria and our products have gone as far as London, Malaysia and Texas.
We have a physical store only in Abuja and partner with another store in Lagos to deliver our products, but our customers can easily shop online. This business model actually was a blessing during Covid when te customers could not come to physical stores, but they can easily shop online for their favorite products.
What is the best advice you have received from your mentor about business?
I have had several mentors while running my business because the thing I have come to realize in the business is that before you come pushing to the next level, you would usually have to have a change in the way you think, in your goals in your mindset. My first mentor said something that stuck with me and made me start the business because I realized that I had more to offer. He gave a story about the graveyard being in the chest since they are people who die with their dreams and visions that they never brought to reality. It made so much sense because all through my life, if you were to ask me, I was never a person that was going to start a business, and I had no clue about making skincare. My inclination would have been toward fashion more than skincare. This was a totally different sector for me, but actually, that challenge has made me and developed me.
Another of my mentors that I have come across is Jim Rohn. There is something he kept saying: When you change, everything around you changes. I applied that to my life personally and also to my business. When we have a meeting with my staff, and we have a challenge, and we are trying to decide what to do. Instead of looking out for excuses or whom to blame, we have the mind that if we change, meaning that if we change the way we offer our services, our pricing or the quality, it all starts with us, so when we change, everything around us changes. Sometimes the change can be the target of the month, and we usually will either meet that target or come really close to it. But before that, if we hadn’t had that mindset shifts that everything is possible, we would usually be comfortable with the previous sales that we have been having.
These are the two things that have stuck with me and helped me personally, in my career and in my business. To keep this mindset, I expose myself to new things, go to training, buy every new book on soap making. With more information I change, our products change, improve and adapt.
When did you first learn about Loyverse, and how did it influence your business?
I started the business in 2015. One day I listened to the phrase: “Accounting is the language of business” and “What is not measured does not grow”. At that point, we were using invoices for our customers. We didn’t have a system that at any time I could check my numbers and see how the business is going.That allows us to see who sold what, have customer data. Also, for some reason I was looking to offer my customers some kind of reward for the purchases in my store through points and all. I had checked through the market and was not really getting what I wanted or what I found cost a lot of money.
I remember that at the beginning of 2019, it was the first week of the year, very early in the morning on Saturday. I woke up, and I was like “God, I need something. There must be a software out there for me to help me record sales, capture customers’ data (their emails, their names) and also be able to reward them with points”. I went to Google after praying, I googled the keywords about customer points, and Loyverse came up. I checked and saw that for $5USD/month I could do all the things I needed. I didn’t think twice. That very day I signed up and it has been a beautiful journey since then. Why? Because it gave me all the things that I wanted.
Loyverse has also been one of the reasons the business started growing immediately. I would attribute it to Loyverse because immediately I was able to measure, I was able to see the growth, to have customer data, we were able to start rewarding customers with points and sending their invoices. The important thing was that the staff had their own login and I had my separate login, we could track what each person was doing. Since I am an accountant, I loved that I could indicate the cost and prices for each product to see the gross and net sales. By doing this, when you run the report at the end of every day, week or month, you see what your profit is. Many businesses have money coming in an out but they aren’t really aware if they are making a profit or a loss. With Loyverse, you can see this data and have everything under control.
Loyverse helps us keep track of products that aren’t really selling using the Sales by Item report and we take informed decision on how to push or improve a certain product so that its sales will grow.
We have a policy to reward the best customers at the end of the year. Loyverse helps us identity easily the customers who have made most sales during the year and we contact them to reward them. It is very easy to track the performance of your employees, how many receipts they issues or how many customers they signed up, and reward them appropriately.
Do you track stock of your items?
Yes, of course. And we have activated Low stock Notifications so that we are always aware when the items are low in stock. Loyverse has helped us in the inventory management as well. We produce a certain amount of stock and we are aware of these numbers and can track all the movement. At random times, I would do a check to reconcile the physical stock with the stock that the system was showing.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
My first advice is if you can think about it, you can achieve it. The greatest battle is in your mind. Having only one stream of income is risky, it is almost a death sentence in this economy. I would suggest to anybody that is thinking to start a business to actually start, start small, start with anything you have, but most importantly: Start. Secondly is to keep improving yourself and make use of resources out there that can help you. One of these resources is Loyverse. It is customer friendly and economically friendly for a company that is just starting.