Does your brand offer that je ne sais quoi that creates excitement about your products? Many brands struggle to develop that element of rarity needed to transform regular people into loyal clients. As you set to build  your brand from the ground up, ask yourself the following question: will my brand offer a unique concept, product or service? If the answer is no, then it is time to start thinking about how to create value for your future clients. 

Creating a brand that offers an exclusive concept and product is one of the greatest unexploited opportunities in the business world. Today, most businesses blend in and as a result the market is saturated with brands and products that do not offer a distinct point of view. Exclusivity is born when your brand’s values are so powerful and unique that customers crave what your business creates, and no other brand would even dare to try and replicate what your business offers. 

This is why many small niche brands have an advantage. The type of exclusivity that I am talking about refers to selling your products in relatively few spaces, letting your products speak for themselves, using word-of-mouth marketing instead of paid advertising, and providing a one of a kind customer experience. This doesn’t mean that you are excluding customers, it simply means that you are catering to those who want a high-quality and unique brand. These factors are crucial as they allow your customers to feel that they are part of a special group.

A niche business which has the essence of exclusivity is Nasomatto. This luxury fragrance company was founded by Alessandro Gualtieri. Nasomatto has built a renegade reputation by refusing to publish the ingredient list of its fragrances, as a way to create a sense of mystery. Instead the brand describes each fragrance by the feelings and emotions it is supposed evoke. Nasomatto doesn’t advertise and the fragrances can only be  found at handful of niche boutiques. Many of the fragrances are produced in limited quality, and only those in the known are aware that they must buy the fragrances as soon as they become available or risk not being able to buy them until the following year.

Nasomatto is a great example of the power of exclusivity.  This brand has built its reputation by word-of-mouth and it now has a huge following. Nasomatto’s loyal customers desire the brand and anxiously wait for any new product releases. Exclusivity has become the soul of this brand and a point of difference. Thus, remember that exclusivity can be the essence of your brand.  

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Building a solid brand is fundamental.  Without high quality products, it is hard to differentiate your brand and achieve long-term profitability. Products are crucial for a business, as they illustrate a unique point of view. Yet, it is imperative to make sure that your products convey credibility, craftsmanship, uniqueness and experience. Your products should inspire and excite customers. To do that, you need to start with the best raw materials. 

In a world dominated by social media, now more than ever, products have become multilayered. People care about the processes and raw materials that are used to make their favorite products.  The best products have remarkable creativity, a powerful heritage and/or the best ingredients or raw materials. These factors help to bring down people’s walls of indifference to create a loyal following for your products. Thus, I recommend that you pay special attention to the raw materials your brand uses for each of its products. 

Photo from Apis Cera Instagram

I recently encountered a niche brand that does just that. The brand is called Apis Cera (Beeswax in Latin). This brand prides itself for using the highest quality beeswax to create 100% pure embossed beeswax candles and organic honey soaps, which are entirely handmade.  Craftsmanship and quality are powerful catalysts for Apis Cera to differentiate its products.

The mission of Apis Cera is to restore candles to their former glory by making candles only with natural wax. This is no simple task considering that most of the candles on the market are made with paraffin, which is a derivative of coal, petroleum, or oil shale or stearin extracted from animal and vegetable fat. Apis Cera provides a niche alternative to mass produced candles as informs its customers that natural beeswax is non-toxic, non-carcinogenic and non-polluting. 

Photo from Apis Cera Instagram

It is fantastic to see how a brand like Apis Cera uses a simple and natural raw material like beeswax to make high quality, niche products and differentiate its brand. Respecting ancient traditions has allowed Apis Cera to produce products of excellent quality that are also eco-friendly. As this example illustrates, when building your brand, make sure you start with the best raw materials.  

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Simplicity is the Ultimate Path to a Brand’s Success

Focusing on simplicity can be the best path to find success, when building your own brand. However, simplicity is hard to achieve. It is not enough to just avoid the “more is better” trap.  Creating and growing a successful small business requires that you have a well thought out plan and strategy. Yes, this means that you should write down your business strategy so you can reference back to it when you feel like deviating. Your business must have a clear direction to move along the path to achieve every milestone needed for success. 

This path starts by recognizing that you, as an artisan and business owner, and your small business will experience roadblocks or limitations. Therefore, every time you decide to implement a piece of advice or make a decision that will impact your business, you should ensure that this is only done to advance your business on the path to achieving stated goals. The key to success is to make simplicity a priority, but you must stay focused when growing your brand. This means that you must maintain your business on course and avoid unnecessary traps. 

Keep it simple and stop complicating your brand’s path to success. Many of us have seen how brands change course when distracted by the latest trend. By trying to please everyone, brands diversify their product selection with unnecessary offerings. Complicating your business plan only creates customer confusion. The last thing you want to do is to overwhelm your customers with unwanted products or confusing concepts.  

Concentrate your efforts on developing a strong, yet simple business. Remember that just because something is trending, it doesn’t mean that it is a right option for your business. Offering a brand with a clear and concise mission will do more for your business than anything else. I believe simplicity starts with a clear strategic goal to guide your business.      

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Sustainability Empowers Brands

Creating, growing, and running a brand are no easy tasks. It takes confidence and determination from small business owners and operators to achieve their dreams and find success. Although these are great qualities, brands have found that they are not enough to attract customers that are now more concerned than ever about the environment and the world that surrounds them. Brands are beginning to understand that they have to be more proactive than reactive. As such, some small businesses have placed a greater focus on sustainability and the environment.

Now a days, more and more customers want to know where their products come from and if the raw materials were sourced in an ethical and sustainable manner. These customers care about reducing waste and the social and environmental impact caused by the products they consume. In an effort to embrace sustainability some small brands are now sourcing their ingredients and raw materials from co-ops, bio-dynamic farms, or growing the ingredients themselves. 

This is the case of a small skin care brand from Hawaii called Mahalo Care. The creator, Maryna Kracht, developed a high-performance skin care brand made 100% with natural ingredients provided by the earth and not made in a lab. To develop this sustainable brand, Maryna, utilized her knowledge of herbs, botanicals and aromatherapy and combined this knowledge with ancient Polynesian traditions and rituals. To limit the environmental impact from creating these products, each of the Mahalo Care products is crafted and poured by hand at their private studio in Kauai, Hawaii. Furthermore, embracing sustainability meant ditching plastic containers since the brand was created. Instead, Mahalo Care decided to attract customers concerned about the environment by only using etched bamboo bottles and jars.  

Video from Mahalo Care Instagram Account

This perfectly illustrates how a brand can be empowered by making sustainability a priority. As consumers’ desires evolve, it would be beneficial for all brands, but in particular small brands, to start rethinking their business strategies and make sure that sustainability goals are being implemented. To attract loyal customers and achieve business success, just as Mahalo Care has done, uncompromised commitment to sustainability is crucial. Therefore, remember that sustainability empowers brands. 

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I recently read a quote, which inspired me to stand out and take risks to achieve my dreams. The quote goes like this:

“Go the distance. Do it with grace or do it ugly, because some days that’s what your best looks like. It only matters that you go the full heart distance.” Author – Anna Blake

This quote reminds us of the importance to go the full distance, to fight for our goals and not give up.  Sometimes, this means that we will have to take risks, be different and stand out because we are experts in our own niche. The following are three steps that small business should follow to go the full distance. 

1. Take Risks  The status quo is not an option. Doing one thing really well is great, but you cannot ignore other elements that can make your business unique. You can create loyal customers when you step up your game and surprise your customers with a unique value proposition. You do not want your customers to lose interest in your brand. 

2. Be Different and Weird  Don’t be gimmicky, but make sure you stand out because you offer a unique product or service. If you want your business to be truly unique, do the opposite that your competitors are doing. This is your business; you have the power to challenge conventional wisdom when you focus on your strengths and do something different. 

3. Remember, You are the Expert You can build credibility with your clients when you become an expert in your niche. This can be achieved by never compromising the quality of our craftsmanship and sharing that passion and knowledge with your clients. They will notice and with time trust will be built. This is a very powerful tool that will help you go the distance because loyal clients will help you spread the word and they will refer other people to your business.   

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Rarámuri women, embracing culture, fighting oppression, and creating businesses

Let’s talk about culture! As the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively, culture is a crucial element of society, industries, businesses, and brands. Sometimes, the path to strengthen culture is through the unwillingness to conform to contemporary ideas and social pressure. When this happens, people unite with the goal to challenge the forces that prevent them from achieving economic advancement and hinder their social expression and traditions. For some, it is an act of rebellion while for others it is a way to survive and uphold their traditions. 

This is the case of the Rarámuri or Tarahumara, who are a group of indigenous people from northern Mexico. The Rarámuri are located in the Sierra Madre in the state of Chihuahua, Mexico. As is the case of other indigenous communities, the Rarámuri face displacement and other hardships, which are usually exacerbated when they stand out. However, Rarámuri women have been fighting assimilation by making their indigenous dressing style something to be proud of and a part of their everyday life. 

Photograph by @malinfezehai

I was born in Chihuahua, Mexico. As a child, I remember admiring the bright and festive Rarámuri dresses, whenever I saw an indigenous woman. Rarámuri women sew their garments by hand using a dressmaking tradition that dates back to the 1500’s. The women wear beautiful, bright, ankle-length frocks. They are proud their traditions. They know their blood is Rarámuri and they have no reason to be ashamed of that.

Rarámuri women are challenging the notion that they need to conform to standards imposed by other cultures or societal pressures. They want to be seen as Rarámuri and only wear Rarámuri dresses. By doing this they have preserved their identity and now some are monetizing their crafts and skills. They are hand-sewing their bright, floral dresses and selling them to be able to support their families, pay their bills and allow their Rarámuri traditions to stand out. Unfortunately, oppression continues and some companies that buy the hand-made Rarámuri products do not pay the artisan women a fair price and they continue to struggle. This needs to change in order for the Rarámuri community to advance economically and socially.    

Photograph credit to my mother –
Martha Delgado

The purpose of this blog post is not only to illustrate the importance of embracing our culture, but to also to shine a bright light on this wonderful Rarámuri women, who are building their business, while staying true to their traditions.

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Did you know that there are approximately 1.4 million LGBTQ+ owned businesses in the United States? These LGBTQ+ businesses contribute over $1.7 trillion to the U.S. economy.  It is time to start shinning a light on these businesses that help build equity and strengthen equality. In the joyful spirit of Pride month, I want to share with everyone one of these businesses, which is set apart for its product quality, creative design, and inspiring heritage.

Go out, explore, discover, and live is the motto of Kyle Hatfield, the creator and owner of American Hatfield (Hatfield1981). This business was built on Kyle’s passion for design and décor, while inspired by the trips, sights, smells, and adventures of his life. American Hatfield is located in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma and offers an eclectic blend of handmade products, which include home goods, candles, and apparel with a vintage feel. 

Photo from Hatfield1981 Instagram Account

With American Hatfield, Kyle found a niche in the middle of Oklahoma by not settling. He took the risk of following his dreams, quitting his factory job and setting on an adventure to create and open his own mercantile and provisions shop. Now, American Hatfield is one of the 1.4 million LGBTQ+ owned businesses in the U.S. making a difference. It is businesses, like American Hatfield, built from passion and pride that strengthen equality and pave a path for other members of the LGBTQ+ community to follow.   

Photo from Hatfield1981 Instagram Account

Dedication, passion and the understanding that settling for something less than what we aspire to create is not a viable option are the three (3) key elements that make this LGBTQ+ owned business stand out. Sometimes we have to find the courage to take risks and pursue our dreams. This takes commitment, but it is the first step to enhance and promote LGBTQ+ visibility in the business industry. 

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