Joyful Bath Co. seeks advice on finding investors

September 15, 2013
The entrepreneur

Rochel Roland found a way to combine two of her passions: baths and entrepreneurship. When she couldn’t find the quality products she craved, the corporate marketing consultant started experimenting with concocting her own bath products.

Roland grew her hobby into a new career path with her Bethesda-based Joyful Bath Co. LLC. She made her first sale at a church holiday bazaar in 2008 and participated in any short-term “pop-up” sales opportunity she could while honing her recipes and supply operation. By 2010, she had ramped up to participate in her first trade show. The trade show helped Roland secure her initial wholesale orders. Now her products can be found on several online retailers and locally in Whole Foods throughout the Mid-Atlantic.

The pitch

Roland

“Joyful Bath Co. offers all-natural personal care products for better bathing, including bath salts and soaps in six scents and natural fiber bath accessories. Positioned in a $209 billion market the National Marketing Institute calls “Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability,” Joyful Bath’s line not only meets a consumer demand for nontoxic bath products, we beat it by using healing ingredients that are good enough to eat.

“Joyful Bath products are available through joyfulbathco.com and a variety of retailers including Whole Foods Market, Giant Eagle Market District, Walgreens.com, Drugstore.com and Amazon.com.

“The goal is to create a consumer lifestyle brand that’s all about experiencing the joy of bathing — to feel good, unwind, get clean.

“I’m self-funded. The challenge is to take the business to the next level with broader distribution. What’s the best way to do that? I have considered opening a brick-and-mortar store in Georgetown or a similar location. With that, I am struggling with the funding conflicts all entrepreneurs know: The more you grow, the more money it costs to run the operations and support the growth. To take Joyful Bath to the next level, I’ll need to bring on an investor or a partner. And it’s not just about the funding — it’s about finding someone with the relevant experience. How do I attract the right investors?”

The advice

Elana Fine, managing director, the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship

“For Joyful Bath, a brick-and-mortar store is a risky and expensive proposition. As you know, the personal care products space is very crowded and it’s a very big a risk to open a retail store that relies heavily on location and foot traffic. You might generate the same daily sales volume at a pop-up location, with less expense and stress. Focus instead on improving your Web presence and online retail distribution. To scale up, determine what you can do and what you can hire someone to do cheaply. Continue to participate in as many pop-up retail options as possible, but hire people to help you.

“To get to the level where you do become attractive to big investors, you need to work to ramp up your distribution on your own. As you know, angel and venture capital investors don’t tend to invest heavily in consumer packaged goods. You’d really need to find a partner who shares your passion for bath products and brings either cash or distribution relationships to the table.

“Take a look at other companies that have had success and the road they’ve taken to get there. A great local example is Honest Tea; [founder] Seth Goldman had to really grow his distribution and prove the viability of his products before Coke and others invested.”

Reaction

Roland

“We’ve booked more pop-up events than ever for the upcoming months and plan to run [a crowdfunding] campaign to raise funds for enhancing our Web site capabilities, but I’m ready for bigger growth, now! So this ‘champing at the bit’ entrepreneur will continue moving forward and know that perfect investor partner is looking for a company such as Joyful Bath right now.”

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