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Meet a Nurse Built A $1 Million Business Selling Baked Goods To New Moms by Elai - Inventions - Nurses Arena Forum

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Meet a Nurse Built A $1 Million Business Selling Baked Goods To New Moms by Elai by Idowu Olabode : November 26, 2017, 07:43:56 PM
When Wendy Colson, RN, noticed that many women in her breastfeeding support group in Carlsbad, Calif., needed help keeping up their milk supply, she began baking nutritious bars for them, including a blend of lactation-supporting herbs such as moringa and fenugreek in her recipes.

The bars were so popular in the support group, which she named Milk & Cookies, that she began selling them—and soon had a 94% reorder rate.

With some of her fans in Milk & Cookies encouraging her to sell the bars to a larger market, Colson began toying with the idea but put it off. The veteran neonatal intensive care and post-partum care nurse is a busy mother of three girls ages 11 to 16 and, in addition to the pro bono support group, also founded Latching with Love, a private practice in San Diego to help new mothers with lactation.

After her mother passed away in 2014, Colson decided to commit to growing her nutrition bar business, Colson Health, investing $50,000 her parents had left to her.

“I decided I don’t want to live with any regrets,” she recalls.

Today, her fast-growing, one-woman business Colson Health brings in $1 million in annual revenue and is profitable. She is part of a fast-growing trend toward ultra-lean manufacturing, in which it is increasingly possible for an individual or small team to accomplish what it once took a much bigger company to do, thanks to the ability to automate and outsource certain processes.



Colson’s success in breaking the $1 million revenue mark puts her in an elite group of solo manufacturers. The U.S. Census Bureau found there were 91 nonemployer manufacturing firms generating $1 million to $2.49 million in revenue in 2015, the most recent year for which statistics were available.

“It kind of happened accidentally,” she says. “Every time there is an open door, I’m one of those people who just walks through it.”

So how did she grow the business so quickly? One reason was that she professionalized her efforts early on.

Don’t try to do it all yourself. To make sure she could keep up with demand and meet commercial standards, Colson outsourced the manufacturing of what she named the Boobie Bar to a company called a co-packer in Los Angeles. A co-packer is a contracted firm that handles tasks like packaging food products for clients.

“You can’t sit around cooking if you are really going to drive this to $1 million,” Colson explains. “I knew what it took just to get out 100 bars to that weekly support group.”

Looking for the right partner could be helpful to the many nonemployer manufacturers who have hit six-figure revenues and are looking to scale. The U.S. Census Bureau found that in 2015, there were 29,982 nonemployer manufacturers generating $100,000 to $249,999; 9,840 bringing in $250,000 to $499,999 and 4,530 with $500,000 to $999,999 in revenue.

Target a broad consumer base. In a business that caters to clients in a particular stage of life, such as new moms, there is always going to be some attrition as they move on to the next phase. That means owners need to give careful thought to building a strong customer base.

One way to do this is by making sure to tap into the largest possible group of customers who are in the phase of life where they will use a given product. Colson, for instance, made sure the Boobie Bar had widespread appeal among nutrition-conscious new moms, including those with dietary restrictions. The bars are vegan, Kosher, and gluten-free and don’t include common allergens such as dairy, eggs and soy. They also address common nutritional needs of new moms and, for instance, are rich in iron, notes Colson.

Get proof of concept. Colson put up a simple website to sell the bars in May 2015. “I didn’t have any marketing budget,” she recalls. Her daughters helped with office tasks.

Colson was not certain what the outcome of her investment would be, wondering if the early success of the bars was because the women in Milk & Cookies knew her and saw her every week.

To her surprise, sales took off by word of mouth, giving her evidence the bars would sell beyond her support group.

Keep trying to grow your platform. Looking for a way to build a sustainable business, Colson began reaching out to big box stores, letting them know about her success in selling the bars online.

Colson’s decision to invest early in polished packaging helped her on that front, allowing her to show the stores she was serious. “You can’t just walk in with your home-baked product in a brown paper bag,” she says.

In less than a year, Colson persuaded buybuy BABY and Babies “R” Us to carry her bars across the U.S. The product is now in about 700 retail stores, is slated to launch in Walmart on January 8 and is sold in birthing hospitals, as well. On Amazon, a package of six bars currently sells for $15.99 to $22.99, depending on the flavor.

Stay flexible. Colson has had to scale up her thinking as she has grown her company. “I’m learning business as I go,” she says. For instance, she tweaked her original home recipes so the bars have the necessary shelf life to sell in stores.

Colson finds the business has helped her work toward the same goal that inspired Milk & Cookies: Helping each woman in her orbit breastfeed for as long as she wishes.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, followed by continued breastfeeding as complementary foods are introduced for one year or longer. This can be challenging for some moms for reasons ranging from inhospitable work environments to trouble producing enough milk.

“If her goal was one year, and at 9 months she is worried about her milk supply--and eating one Boobie Bar a day helps her get to her goal, I feel like a million dollars,” says Colson.

Although growing the business has been an exciting adventure for Colson, it’s not without its challenges. One is cash flow—a common one for startups. Although Colson Health, which makes the Boobie Bar, is profitable, Colson continually reinvests what she earns in the business.

“I don’t think there is a textbook on business that can prepare someone for all of the ups and downs that happen,” says Colson. Fortunately, she says, her husband’s paycheck covers the family’s bills, giving her the financial freedom to keep investing in growth.

Many people start one-person businesses with the idea of creating a job for themselves. Colson is a little different, in that her ultimate goal is to sell the startup she has begun to scale.

“I feel like there’s a parent company out there who can probably take the Boobie Bar to a level I couldn’t take it on my own,” she says.

If the day comes when someone acquires her firm, she says, she’ll happily return to her previous lifestyle, helping mothers one on one.

Source : https://www.forbes.com/sites/elainepofeldt/2017/11/26/this-nurse-built-a-1-million-business-selling-baked-goods-to-new-moms/#59d28d43726d

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