Joining me on the show today is Jamika Martin, Founder of Rosen Skincare.
Named a World Changing Idea by Fast Company, Renewal Mill is an award-winning, next-generation ingredient company that fights climate change and global food loss by upcycling byproducts from food manufacturing into premium ingredients and products.
In this episode you’ll learn how Caroline’s been driving growth through LinkedIn as her primary channel, innovative ways to get startup capital and specific slack channels anyone in the food industry should join.
Please note, this transcript has been copy pasted without the lovely touch of a human editor. Please expect some typos!
Speaker2: Yeah, for sure. So I'm Jamika. I'm the founder of Rosen Skincare. Simply put, roses just really working to create the next generation of Masami Care. Really, our goal is to kind of make that mass like I'll just a cleaner, more enjoyable place to shop.
Speaker1: Mm. Totally love the more enjoyable bit there. I have actually already read this, so I know the story. But for anyone listening or tuning in at the moment, could you tell us the story behind your brand name.
Speaker2: Yeah. So my middle name is Rose, so that's where a lot of it comes from. Honestly, when I first started Rosen or Rose Gold Cosmetics and like my LLC is still under that name just because I always wanted to kind of keep the name. But pretty early on, this is like super early when I was like thinking about, like what this was going to be, it was really clear that there was just like didn't fit the vibe, didn't fit like the aesthetic that I wanted. Also, just like a lot of people thought it would be makeup. And so just like super confusing. And so I actually did a class in undergrad where we were able to work on the business was like, hey, I'm working on this right now. Like Westerners do is for the project. And fortunately, everybody signed on because I like working with business for like the whole quarter. And so we kind of like brainstormed a bunch of other names. And I think we ended up doing a Google form and one of them was Rosann, which actually originally came from like Brose Natural's Shorten. But I thought the Rosann was just a lot cleaner, super minimal, and then also was able to fit into a unisex kind of like branding and yeah, just like super simple and effective and able to be used in a lot of different realms. And so that's kind of like where the name came from.
Speaker1: I love it. I always think it's so interesting to understand the reasoning for the name and it's something that I actually have never asked before. So today's the day that I'm starting that OK? I always love to start at the beginning. Rewinding A couple of years back, where does your entrepreneurial journey start?
Speaker2: I feel like doing something entrepreneurial. I mean, in a full fledged way. Of course. Rosen That's kind of the first thing. But I mean, before that, I've always been fairly entrepreneurial. And I think after I started Rosann, I kind of realized that me and my cousin would try to make jewelry or try to make t shirts or all these different things. And like middle school, I have found a notebook from like fifth grade where I had all these pencil pouches or like those gummy things you would put on pencils. And I would sell them to people who are very early on, kind of like had that path. And both of my parents, they were like more like service-based, like landscaping, house cleaning, stuff like that. But they were kind of like obviously very entrepreneurial as well. So I think that's probably where a lot of that came from. None of it really obviously ever panned out. I think I had like a lot of ideas before I started Rosann, even in college. But for some reason I always, like, wanted somebody to cosign the do let's do it. And for whatever reason, I didn't do that with Rosen and I just kind of like the open and got started. But I've always had just a ton of ideas and thought it would be cool to do stuff, but more so from like a side hustle perspective and kind of just like shifted my focus with Rose and ended up diving in full force.
Speaker1: What was it that started getting you thinking about acne? Why the skin care industry?
Speaker2: Yeah, and I think this kind of is probably part of the reason why I ended up long-playing on my own and just kind of like going for it. But I have such close ties to the Acme space just because my own personal journey with breakouts, I've dealt with that once again for most of my life, pretty much breaking out fifth or sixth grade. Did all the dermatologist's, did all the citizens, pretty much all the treatments I did like ran the gamut of whatever they say is going to help freakouts. I tried it and I ended up doing Accutane twice, just like superintends prescription drug, trying to get kids clear skin and most steamworks most of time you don't to do it twice and very few times. Is it like you do it twice and you're still kind of dealing with it. And so that was kind of the space I was in. And really the key point of inspiration of like, let's do something about this, because of course they had all these ties to acne, but it wasn't like, I want to start something here. But I think it was after that second round of Accutane. I was in college and I just remember kind of like, all right, my skin is breaking out again.
Speaker2: Let me go to Target and go to the army I like. That's where I shopped, where I could afford and where I knew. There's a lot of stuff for breakout breakouts like MySpace and pretty much seeing the exact same brand. So I shop since like 6th grade, like the same the same packaging, same formulas. And at the time, I mean, of course, we've seen so much go on in between now and then. But at the time there definitely was a lot going on within the beauty space and that was something I was personally interested in. And so I just remember being like, wow, there's literally so many cool brands out here. There's so much like whether it's branding or ingredients or all the stuff going on and there's nothing happening in the space. And like, I don't know, it just like made me feel like super bad about myself and my skin and also just like very inspired. It's like, why isn't there anything going on in this space? And that's what triggered this start to. Yeah, let's get working on this and let's try to tackle this industry.
Speaker1: Wow. And what year are we talking here to get some perspective?
Speaker2: Yeah. So when I kind of had that initial discovery that was like twenty sixteen. So I was a second year in college and basically I was set on that idea and play around with it. Think about it a little bit before like launching in twenty seventeen, which is what I ended up graduating college.
Speaker1: And to clarify, you didn't really have any background in skin care, right? You hadn't made or formulated products. You had no sort of formal training. You just got started.
Speaker2: Exactly. Yeah. My major was business economics, which is basically like how the economy works. Plus like two accounting classes. So it wasn't really like business, but UCLA did it in entrepreneurship minor while I was there. So that definitely helped with just the idea of starting a business. And it was at that point like I had this idea and then I didn't end up doing the mineable. I took some courses in entrepreneurship, I think like two or three, and then I ended up graduating. So I had like a little bit of a baseline there, but I didn't have cosmetic experience, obviously had a lot of experience on the consumer side of what I wanted to see and what my experience was. But as far as formulation and production and that was all stuff that I kind of just learned on my own, whether it's independent coursework or just like a lot of trial and error and just like continuing to do more research around it and figuring it out on my own.
Speaker1: Wow. Amazing. And I'm wondering what the people in your life around you were saying about this when you were kind of planting the seed like, oh, I'm going to start this business?
Speaker2: Yeah, I've been very fortunate, especially like my immediate family, my parents. I have been fairly independent even since when I was younger. So it was kind of like we trust you because like decision making. So go ahead and do whatever you want. I think the only thing that I would say was like, I don't even know if I want to say like negative or not fully supportive is like, oh, you should do this or you should go to a doctor or go get your MBA or things like that. And it's like, no, well, I'm doing something right now, splashier. I'm trying to figure it out. And so it was just kind of like not taken super seriously early on, which I think is totally understandable. And I think whether my immediate family or other folks as well, I had pretty much always done good in school. I graduated college early. Like I feel like there's a lot of trust in my decision making to me because a smart person like she's going to figure it out. And so I think I was very fortunate because I talked to people all the time. It's like, how did you convince your parents? Like, I graduated college and I was like barely making any money, trying to figure out how to pay rent. And so it was, of course, not what I expected when I graduated. And I have a lot of people who like how did you try to get them to understand? And like, I didn't really have to try to get them to understand. Everybody was pretty much supportive and trusted my judgment there. Nobody thought it was going to be like, this is such a good idea. This is going to take off. Like, I don't think anybody thought that by any means. But there's a cool that's cool. You're doing that like nobody really cared that much. And then, of course, as it grows, everybody's really excited and invested in the growth. But I didn't have a ton of pushback, which I think I was definitely fortunate for totally.
Speaker1: And I imagine that kind of confidence from other people in you really lifts your own confidence as well, because there is no people questioning you or being like, oh, are you sure? It's a nice bit of a boost. I guess you could say.
Speaker2: Yeah, for sure. I think that I definitely always had that for my family or from people who are close to me. And then I think I don't know, I've just always felt like very powerful and very competent, like able to make those decisions. It's just been a product of just like how I was raised.
Speaker1: Amazing. So what were the key steps for you in getting started and building the brand?
Speaker2: Yeah, so super early on, I will say, look, that time before I graduated with just me, like, what's going on? What am I doing? What is this idea? I think the key things that kind of came in after I launched, I say launch just kind of like when I went into a full time, but I didn't have any customers or anything like that. But I think the key steps there for me early on focusing on marketing and stuff like that, I think I tried to do all the things. And then I was like, you know what? I'm going to focus on Instagram. I got to focus on influencers on Instagram. And having that focus allowed me to just get a little bit more dialed in with, like returns. And what is marketing look like and what makes sense? That was definitely a crucial step for me. I remember early on doing a lot of things and I have a tendency to like, think things through and through and through, like I know it's fact. And then it's like when I say it out loud, I'm like, oh yeah, that's a good point. Like that I should do more that there's just this time. And I was sitting with a mentor right after I graduated and she's like, OK, so like you have five customers, like where did they come from? Like, you know, we keep getting traffic from YouTube. But I had sent a friend like a package and she did a YouTube video on it like months ago.
Speaker2: And then she's like, OK, so keep doing that. And I'm like, oh yeah, that's a good idea. So that was very crucial for me to just like really focus in and understand where you're coming from and replicate that. And then I think the next thing was I spent a lot of time trying to figure out our brand and who we were. And of course, it's iterated so much from the early stages. But I ended up working with the consultant early on on that, which is very hard for me because, like, I have a lot of money. But it was just like that was such a reassuring experience because I felt like I continue to run circles around, like this is who we are. This is what we do. This is who I serve. But like, I couldn't ever say it very succinctly and I couldn't clearly articulate it to people. And so once I worked at that person, I felt like everything was like very clear like this, who we are. This is what we do and this is who we serve is easier to have those conversations. And I just felt like when as the brand continued to get tightened up, it was just easier to reach more people and kind of expand from there. And so I would say those are the core areas that really impacted our growth. And our trajectory was just focusing on marketing and understanding who we were as a brand. Mm.
Speaker1: That's so interesting. When you say you worked with this consultant, what kind of consultant is that. Is that like a brand consultant. Oh yes. And how did you find that person. How did you even know what to look for.
Speaker2: No, I think I mean I'm very fortunate. It kind of like fell into my lap. So I wrote when I graduated, I did a summer accelerator, started this program. I obviously and they have lots of resources and they also have a summer accelerator. At the end of that, we did a pitch and this woman came up and those kind of like I do branding and consulting services and things like that. She has kind of pivoted and she has a lot of business coaching. I literally still work with her to this day, but she was like very into branding and all that stuff early on. And so she came upon me and then it was just like so perfect because I wasn't really thinking about it honestly. I was consistently thinking about branding, but I was not really thinking about somebody to help me in that space. And so it was just so beneficial and I didn't really have to look for her. And now so often people are struggling with branding. I will recommend that to them because I just remember during that accelerator kind of continuing to flow through, like, who are who are we? Who are we just thinking about it? And like, I knew it, but I couldn't turn it down. And I just did a few sessions with her and it was just like me rambling about who we were and all this stuff for like thirty minutes. And then she's like, OK, cool. Like this is who you are. And it just cleaned it up and made expanding the brand or tweaking it so much easier from that point forward and just like so crucial. But yeah, very grateful for it. I think it definitely made a difference when it came to how we talked to our customers and how we kind of marketed and stuff like that.
Speaker1: Mm. Yeah. That's so interesting. And I think it's like it's great when you can meet those kind of people who you can tell them all the thoughts and they'll just like whip it up into a nice little package for you and be like this is the concise version of what you're saying. And he has it back. So you understand it really clearly yourself. I love that. Yeah.
Speaker2: The most amazing people, because I feel more often than not, I'm kind of just like, am I clear like this? This makes sense. I feel like I'm trying to explain stuff and so I can just like wrap it up in the Bozo's helpful. Totally.
Speaker1: I feel like you're speaking my language. That's like something that I really struggle with as well. When someone asked me the direct question around certain things, I can be like, of course I know it. Like inherently I know it, but I don't know, like that quick one line kind of thing. So interesting. Yeah. I want to dig a bit further into the marketing side of things. I'd love to talk about marketing on the show, especially in those early days when you are really trying to figure out what's working. I know you mentioned influencer marketing. You obviously mentioned the YouTube thing. What were the kinds of. Key drivers for growth in the beginning, more specifically.
Speaker2: Yeah, so the YouTube thing, I think, influenced us in terms of like influencers and what that meant really for the first year, year and a half. All I did was focusing on Instagram and gifted influencers. And that's all I focused on. I tried stuff with Facebook ads. I didn't know what I was doing. It just very easy to dump money there. And when you're bootstrapped and you're not making a lot of money, even five bucks a day is like if I keep doing this. And so it was just like super risky. And I know. And I was like, I'm going to pull back a little bit more about what I'm doing. So, yeah, we literally just consistently posted on social. We would do some partnerships with brands. I don't think we did a ton, but we would try to do like bundles or clubs or things like that with other brands. I would try to reach out with brands and influencers. I always tell people, like my partnerships were always a little bit bigger than where we were just to increase the likelihood of working together. Still have that increased reach. Five thousand followers, maybe that's seven to ten thousand dollar range as far as brands or influencers. I was reaching out to I wasn't going after people with 50 hundred five thousand dollars just because there was less likelihood that they're even going to respond to me.
Speaker2: And then also there's less likelihood they're not going to do a gifted post. They're going to need to get paid and they're much less likely to just draw your product if you're like, who is this brand? And so that was pretty much all I focused on. And I would say, you know, I remember kind of like starting with a handful of influencers, and then I remember having a list like I'm going to send out 10 packages this month and sent up 15 this month and just like slowly scaling that up because it was working for us and it did a good job of getting us a point where we were more consistent. I'll say I think the first month I made money, I think we made like seventeen hundred bucks online. And then I think probably in that first year, year and a half, we probably got to see like eight or ten thousand a month in revenue was kind of like where we were sitting at and that was all just like gifted influencers and keep in chugging on Instagram. We didn't have these Twitter, we didn't use Pinterest, we didn't do anything. I think I had like maybe just got started with, like, retargeting Facebook ads for Zeppelin. No YouTube influencers. Yeah, that was kind of like all we focused on.
Speaker1: Just to backtrack one second, when you say the bundling and doing partnerships with other brands, do you just mean like putting co branded stuff online or them just being like, hey, we'll do a package that you can buy with their products in your products online?
Speaker2: Yeah, so a few things, I mean, one, I believe it was within that first year, a year and a half was kind of like a physical bundle. So they sent me a bunch of their products and we put together like one of our serum's and one of their face scrubs and like sold those as a kit. I would do giveaways with brands. It was a little bit later on. But something that ended up doing pretty well for us, too, was always with influencers, but only on their page, like we weren't running giveaways all the time. But like we would have people running giveaways on their page all the time just to increase our reach and our following. And so that was something that did well for us. But yeah, for bundles, kind of like giveaways or a physical package together with another brand name.
Speaker1: Got it. Cool. So interesting. And so if we think about obviously that's a few years in the mix here. But if we just think like big picture, what were the kind of quantum leaps that you were able to make when it comes to marketing and really accelerating that growth and becoming that snowball effect?
Speaker2: Yeah, I think that really honing in on the influ