5 Keys to Growing From Side Hustle to Top National Retail Leader
Wholesale is a hugely competitive space, with thousands of new and long-established brands constantly vying for partnership and prime placement with top national retailers such as Walmart, CVS and Target. I’m proud to say that the company I founded in 2014, pH-D Feminine Health, now offers products at all these retailers (and many more). However, the road to this success wasn’t an easy one.
In my experience, there were a handful of key actions that I can now pinpoint as pivotal to our record of success. With these actions in place, we grew remarkably quickly — from a side hustle and a passion project to a nationally recognized retail business serving millions of customers across the nation.
This list of tips is by no means complete nor exhaustive. On top of all this, you’re going to want to take many other important business actions, including strategizing with intention, establishing a business operating system, and staffing appropriately, among other measures.
But when I think back to the most impactful steps I took on our journey, a few stand apart from the rest:
- Crystallize your origin story. Have you ever interviewed yourself? If not, I recommend trying it out. Write a list of questions you would have for an up-and-coming entrepreneur. How did you first get the idea for your product? In what way are you disrupting your market? What aspect of your product are you most excited about? Once you have your list of questions, give thorough time and attention to your answers — and put everything down on paper. Then use these responses to crystallize and fine-tune the origin story of you, your company, and your extraordinary products. Humans — including the buyers that ultimately make decisions for major national retailers — unfailingly respond to a great story. Make sure you have one at the ready.
- Gather potent testimonials. As you begin to sell your products, whether that’s direct-to-consumer (D-to-C), through Amazon.com or via other channels, gather testimonials from satisfied customers. This usually requires nothing more than asking politely, following up when needed, and incentivizing in small ways where it makes sense. Try to understand the challenges of your customers and how exactly your products are solving for those pain points. How are your products making your customers’ lives better, easier, more vibrant? These testimonials will be invaluable as you begin to make your case with retailers about why your product — over the hundreds or thousands of other possibilities — should be stocked on their shelves.
- Build up measurable success. When we were first putting the word out about pH-D’s product line, we were only available D-to-C through our website and on Amazon. We spent some time building up a customer base there, and were soon able to demonstrate that our products were growing in sales month-over-month, and that customers were returning for additional product. These metrics were useful in meetings with large retailers, when we were expected to back up our origin story and anecdotal feedback with hard data.
- Invest early and deeply in your sales team. If there’s one thing I never regretted spending money on, it’s the development and growth of our expert sales team. If anything, I would go back and invest more resources in them from an earlier date — those investments may have helped us to scale even more quickly. My recommendation to you is to engage at least one sales expert, and preferably a team, prioritizing those with relationships with national buyers early in your growth trajectory. This investment makes all the difference.
- Banish imposter syndrome. I have a biology background and 20 years in the pharmaceutical industry. I'm by no means an entrepreneurial whiz. In fact, I’ve never even taken a business class. And when I began growing my business I was the primary party responsible for everything from inventory management to graphic design to forecasting. It was overwhelming and humbling — and I frequently found myself battling my own imposter syndrome. Frankly, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking you’re not good enough, smart enough, capable enough. But I never let those demons win. In fact, I went out of my way on a daily basis to beat them down. I used affirmations and other self-development tools to get my mindset right, and my personal motto soon became “faith over fear.” Without my triumph over self-doubt, I could never have reached my current level of national acclaim.
When I counsel fellow women entrepreneurs, especially those early in the process of ideation, concept development and launch, these are the keys I come back to again and again. I can honestly say that these five actions created my road map to national status, placement in top national retailers, and remarkable returns. I’m betting they could do the same for you.
Unsatisfied with the lack of holistic feminine hygiene and wellness products on the market, Deeannah Seymour co-founded pH-D® Feminine Health in 2014 with the introduction of the brand’s best-selling boric acid suppositories. Today, pH-D has successfully helped millions of women while becoming one of the best-selling feminine hygiene brands.
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Unsatisfied with the lack of holistic feminine hygiene and wellness products on the market, Deeannah Seymour co-founded pH-D® Feminine Health in 2014 with the introduction of the brand’s best-selling boric acid suppositories. Having spent two decades in the pharmaceutical industry, she wanted a better alternative for women- and it had to be backed by research. She examined dozens of clinical studies on the use of boric acid vaginal suppositories to help with feminine care and decided to make them available to the millions of women like herself who needed them.
Deeannah partnered with Mark Faulkner of Vireo, Inc., a manufacturer of holistic products for people and pets. Vireo began making and distributing pH-D Feminine Health Boric Acid Suppositories, and it was an instant success becoming the top-selling product in its category on Amazon.
Today, pH-D has successfully helped millions of women while becoming one of the best-selling feminine hygiene brands. An independently held, woman-owned and women-run business, pH-D Feminine Health’s suppositories have been so successful that one bottle is sold every 30 seconds. The brand is available nationwide at over 37,000 retail locations including Walmart, Walgreens, Target, CVS, Kroger, Meijer, Dollar General, and more.