We recently caught up with Hugo, founder and owner of an online beauty, fragrance and cosmetics retail store. After completing an MSc in information systems technology, Hugo started a cosmetics and fragrance business. Hugo’s business started as an SME but has grown into a company that currently trades across Europe, Asia and the Americas and has attracted the interest of major vendors in retail cosmetics services. In today’s Entrepreneur’s Corner, Hugo shares how he transformed an idea into a business. He also gives advice to budding entrepreneurs looking to delve into the business world.
Aspiring Professionals Hub: Please can you tell us about your educational and professional background?
I am an MSc graduate in Networks and Systems Security from the University of Kent and a BSc graduate in Computing systems from the University of Northampton. I have extensive experience in systems architecture and security, network design and specification, programming and telephone and mobile computing and technology. I now provide IT solutions and services for major organisations as part of a large organisational network in the South of England.
What was the inspiration behind Just you business?
My mum was the biggest inspiration and the drive behind the business. As a child, I always liked perfumes; not just the scent, but the psychological effects and the structural design of perfume bottles. I remember my efforts as a young boy to create what I presumed would be the ‘perfect scent’ spending all my hard earned pocket money on fragrance oil…sadly it ended badly. However, I refused to be discouraged, my passion remained and now I can proudly say that I not only create great perfumes but I am also able to recreate scents that are unique and appeal to a knowledgeable clientele too.
How important has social media and networking been to your business?
I would say it has been very important to my business. As an online retail store, the core of the business is driven by online traffic. The impact and contribution of social media is immeasurable as new products and special offers are driven and publicised using this platform. I also find it gives my customers a feeling of clones and direct association with the business especially a business that caters for personal items like perfume and beauty products.
What are the challenges, if any, you face?
Starting out in any business can be a challenge especially having an understanding of the type of products and all the paper work that might be required, for example, legal documentation. In this type of business there are some specific challenges such as trying to gauge or anticipate customers’ tastes. I also found gaining access to the best suppliers in the market another challenge as atimes some of these suppliers work directly with other competitors in the market hence finding these suppliers and building a good working relationship with them is important. And the other thing, pricing!! Knowing what sort of pricing strategies and what the best prices in the market are, especially prices that beat the bigger competitors in the market.
Have you made any mistakes and what lesson(s) did you learn?
This is an interesting question. One mistake I can clearly remember is underestimating the size of the market and the amount of capital needed to get the business starting out and running effectively. Two key lessons I learnt in this business are: knowing when to stock certain products and at the right seasons as this can prevent non-performance of some products and loss of capital. The second lesson is also very important: conducting regular market research and running regular product performance analysis.
Who are your business role models, if any?
I never had any role models in the business world. I just had my interest and I followed it really.
Finally, what advice would you give aspiring entrepreneurs?
Think of what you love and genuinely have an interest in and go for it not what you think will make you money. Except if you are not planning on investing much of your time in the business.
For more details on the online fragrance store, purchasing your own specially scented perfumes or creating your own business, contact Hugo on +44 (0) 7821441313