Britni M. Ricard, Founder and CEO of Cota Skin
Some of the leading companies in the nation pride themselves on being formed in basements and in the kitchens of homes—tech companies, agencies, and beauty businesses alike. Britni M. Ricard, Founder and CEO of Cota Skin, prides herself on building her business acumen at a public library in New Orleans, Louisiana. With a desire to start a skincare line, no industry experience, or access to a personal computer, Ricard capitalized on her tax dollars – and maxed out her library card to teach herself how to start a business.
At the library, Ricard taught herself how to acquire a trademark, form a Limited Liability Company (LLC), marketing fundamentals, and crowdfunding. She also educated herself on how to create skincare products. After honing the basics and raising $3,000 through a raffle she hosted, she decided to quit her job as a hostess and pursue her dream of launching a skincare line in honor of her late brother, Chevez “Cota” Ricard.
In 2019, Ricard launched Cota Skin. Nearly three years later, she is making millions and helping customers transform their skin with her products and Cota’s face washing regimen. Just in case you’re wondering, yes, Ricard still owns a library card and wears it proudly on a keychain.
Honoring Cota and Keeping His Skincare Routine Alive
When Ricard speaks of Cota, you can hear the love for her brother radiate through her smile. She describes him as lively, funny, and fashionable. He was also the person who helped her keep her skin clear.
Britni and her late brother, Chevez “Cota” Ricard.
Britni M. Ricard
“I think many people misunderstand when I speak about the regimen Cota shared with me. They think that I have a formula that he created. And that’s not it. It’s a simple step-by-step regimen that he had to maintain his skin,” said Ricard. “He used a cleanser, moisturizer, toner and would go on about his business. But, the funniest thing about him is that when people would ask him about his skin, he would tell them that he used baking soda!”
Years later, Ricard has kept Cota’s routine and decided to share it with the world through her line. “He would always talk about how he couldn’t wait to see his name in lights and on billboards. Cota Skin is inspired by him, especially because this (owning and operating Cota Skin) is something that I could see him doing later on in life,” said Ricard.
While there is still no baking soda in the ingredients, her brother’s love is formulated into the products.
Getting Skin In The Game
While starting a business with no money is easier to do now more than ever before, there are still barriers to entry across industries. Ricard said that she found her process to be strenuous at first.
“It was like I had to go back to school while working a full-time job. While I was educating myself on skincare, I was also educating myself on how to launch, manage, and run a business properly.”
“When I launched Cota, the product was basic. I went the private label route and didn’t get into the process of product formulation. Toward the end of 2019, I started to educate myself on product formulation and learned that I could create my own formula,” said Ricard.
“Many times, people think that they can buy a product and sell it as their own. It’s not that simple. You need to educate yourself on the product, marketing, trademarking. You don’t want to build a brand and find out later that you can’t use it. Or, later on, find out that you have to shut down your operation because someone has sent you a cease and desist letter,” said Ricard.
In addition to adequately forming a business, she shared there were several barriers that she had to overcome to be taken seriously and thrive in the beauty industry. “I needed to set myself apart from being considered ‘just another skincare company.’ My biggest barrier was creating a formula that actually works. I spent months trying to get it right, thousands of dollars on materials, research, and lab development,” said Ricard.
To her benefit, Ricard’s investment has yielded a high return. Beyond the dollars and cents, creating a product that could deliver results for her customers is what’s important.
She also began to learn about branding. “I learned about what’s appealing to the eye. From there, I designed my packaging. When people don’t know where to start, my advice is to go into a store and see how other things are being marketed,” said Ricard.
Questions that can guide you during that process are:
- What’s going on?
- What are these brands doing that I’m not doing that I need to start implementing?
Growing an Audience That Converts to Customers
Despite once being impacted by the digital divide, Ricard has built her brand as a businesswoman and established an online presence for Cota Skin. With 128,000 followers on her personal Instagram account and 257,000 on the Cota Skin page, she has fostered a unique relationship with her audiences.
“I do a lot of influencer marketing. But what I want people to understand is that having influencers market Cota Skin is a small part of my strategy. Getting someone with a large audience to promote our products is a borderline commercial method that people have been doing for years,” said Ricard. “When it comes to making sales, your brand has to be ready. Your packaging, customer service, and shipping all play a role in growing and converting an audience on and offline.”
Being strategic is essential.
“A lot of people don’t know that you can’t use before and after pictures in sponsored ads on social media. Therefore, when I have a promotion, I instruct my social media manager to post our best before and after pictures five minutes before a sale goes live on social media. I know our audience is coming. And I need them to see those pictures as soon as they get there, as opposed to having to search to my page to find them,” said Ricard.
Talk about a pro tip. Here’s another one. Don’t throw sales often.
“I put my business in a position where I don’t need to throw sales. People confuse the need to throw sales with making a profit. You might not be getting any orders because you’re advertising to the same people. So, your problem is not that you’re not getting any sales. The problem is that you’re trying to sell to the same people,” said Ricard.
If that’s the case, then it might be time for you to grow your audience. “I’ve always focused on getting ‘my next level’ audience. That’s why my business has been able to scale.”
Reaching The Million Dollar Mark
While Ricard doesn’t consider herself an overnight success, she has achieved significant accomplishments since launching her business. Reportedly, she has earned $1.8 million in a quarter. And just this past Black Friday, Cota Skin grossed over a million dollars in sales.
“Black Friday was crazy. I used the entire month of November to promote the sale. When I first opened the site at noon, our customers went crazy. We took in over $500,000 within one hour of the sale, and the numbers kept rising throughout the day. I anticipated many orders because it was our only sale of the year. I knew our consumers would stock up on the products they loved. Before the sale started, I went live from my personal and business pages and engaged with my people. I talked to them about products and even demonstrated our new hyaluronic acid mask,” said Ricard.
“By the end of the workday, I checked my sales, and we were at $800,000. It was only 6:00 pm. We had done exceptionally well that morning. I was tired from preparation and packing orders. But, I was so thankful to God, my consumers, and my team.”
Her team was persistent. A part of their strategy was to send an email blast every two hours to remind customers of the 24-hour sale. “I had an automatic email blast set to hit my nighttime consumers. I think businesses only focus on the consumer base they have during the day a lot of the time. Not me. I went live again at 10:00 pm and engaged with my nighttime consumers,” said Ricard. “When I woke up the following day, we had hit over a million dollars, but the deal wasn’t over until noon. So, I went live AGAIN and sent out last-minute reminders to let them know the sale was coming to an end.”
Cota Skin received 777 orders and grossed 1.3 million in revenue on that day.
Motivated by her success, Ricard encourages others to realize the importance of self-education, grit, and determination.
Source by www.forbes.com