Interviews Start-up stories

Liselotte Wannijn on Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Transforming a Blog to a Beauty Line

Liselotte Wannijn
Founder of  SMPL Skincare
Founder of BeBio
Managing Director at HealthBox

ABOUT ENTREPRENEURSHIP
What is entrepreneurship to you?
It’s doing things I never thought I could do! It’s also a lot of hard work and a lot of doubt. It’s about never being completely sure you are making the right choice or doing the right thing. But when something works out… it feels amazing!

How did you get the idea for SMPL and a natural skincare company?
We first had an online magazine, bebio.nl, about living an environmentally conscious lifestyle. We got to test a lot of natural skincare products and write about them. Most of the time, we were impressed by the story the brand gave us, but when we got home and checked the ingredients, we often could not believe what was in the product. For example, it was not natural at all. The ingredients were natural, but not good for your skin. And the products were way too expensive. We already had a product on bebio.nl for our own natural deodorant rock. We got some great reactions and always wanted a product line of some sort. That was it: natural skincare. We just went for it.

How did you create it?
Willemijn and I brainstormed together about what our product line should be like. We tried to decide what was important and how we could be different. We started to search for a production company that also believed in 100% natural skincare. This was difficult, but after a lot of searching we found one. We got together with a creative branding company and they made our plans visually appealing. After this, we created the website and webshop.

You have a background in event management, editing, and copywriting as well as four years as an entrepreneur with Healthbox, Bebio and SMPL. How did you make the decision to become an entrepreneur?
I always knew I wanted to start my own company. It was my plan for the future. When Willemijn came with the Bebio.nl idea, it felt like the right time and combination. I didn’t have to think long before I said yes.

You are in a growth phase and have a product with great recognition among beauty and fashion magazines as well as experts. What are the key values and key steps for you now?
Our key value is to follow our intuition. If something does not feel good, we don’t do it. For now, it is most important that we keep focus. There is so much to do and so much we could do, but in this phase we really have to focus on sales. Up until now, we relied on a lot of investments in our products, in our brand, in the website, and on social media. Now that we have something we can sell. If that goes well, we can invest some more.

What is your main achievement you are most proud of?
Having good reviews is the most important thing. We developed our products to help people, and when we get great reviews and see people are really helped, that means that we achieved our goal. Also our sunscreen won a international award. So proud!

ABOUT BUSINESS
What kind of partnership did you build to grow your start-up?
Willemijn and I are doing it together. We are building our company ourselves. But of course, we can’t do it alone. We work with two laboratories that we trust and we hire some freelance help when needed.

What are your best practices while working with your partners and other businesses?
Also, follow your intuition. If something does not feel good, don’t work with that person or company. Also, make sure that you have it all on paper. Then you know what to expect and it clarifies the process. We learned this the hard way.

You have a very active blog on your product site and you have more than 10K followers on Instagram. How do you translate followers into consumers?
This is very difficult and something we struggle with. We try to involve our followers. Ask them questions and give them advice when they have questions. We try to make it more interactive. This way, we hope to build a community.

ABOUT LIFE
How are you managing growing a start-up, being a freelancer, your family, your friends and time for yourself? How do you manage stress?
The first few years, I found it very difficult to find some balance while trying to do everything. I was very stressed and could not relax. Luckily, now I know better what works for me. During the week, I have to focus on my work and taking care of my family. I don’t work late at night because I won’t sleep. I eat healthy and try to go to the gym. Keep it simple. During the weekend, I try not to work and do something fun with friends and my family. I can’t do everything anymore, and that is fine by me.

As a beauty entrepreneur, what is your beauty routine in the mornings and evenings?
In the morning, I wash my face with some water and our konjac sponge. I massage my face with one drop of our serum. After that, I apply nourishing cream and mascara. In the evening, I wash my face with our wash and massage a few drops of serum or an oil on my face. That’s it!

What are your favorite books that you would like to recommend?
I wish I had one! It is very embarrassing but I haven’t read a book in years. I always take one with me when I go on holiday, but I fall a sleep after only one page… My favorite thing to read now is the newspaper.

You can read the Golden Rules of Living of Liselotte Wannijn, here.

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