Ep. #1212 - Surviving Year One as an Entrepreneur
Today’s episode of Startup Hustle features Lauren Conaway and Victoria Campbell Osborne, Founder and Owner of The Scented Webb. They talk about surviving year one as an entrepreneur. Hear Lauren and Victoria discuss fragrances, scents, and why Victoria started The Scented Webb. They discuss making your value prop attractive to investors, why it is essential to know your why, and overcoming obstacles.
Covered In This Episode
Scent is one of the most potent human senses. They can evoke memory, bring up emotions, and affect mood and behavior. Scented Webb awakens scent decants that bring luxury and well-being to everyone.
Listen to Lauren and Victoria’s conversation about Victoria’s journey to entrepreneurship. They talk about scent memories and preferences and how fragrances differ from store to home. Victoria discusses why she started The Scented Webb, which creates personal signature scents. They talk about the challenges of a startup founder and how to sell the value proposition to investors. They also discuss overcoming obstacles and personal growth.
Surviving year one of entrepreneurship takes grit! Join the conversation in this Startup Hustle episode now.
- Victoria’s journey to entrepreneurship (1:03)
- The Scented Webb (3:31)
- Scent memories and preferences (6:43)
- How fragrances differ from store to home (12:58)
- Personal signature scents (16:13)
- Why Victoria started The Scented Webb (24:18)
- The challenges of The Scented Webb (31:14)
- Making your value prop palatable for investors (34:07)
- What is your why? (35:47)
- Overcoming obstacles and personal growth (39:17)
- Victoria’s go-to movies (43:44)
The nature of how entrepreneurs tend to engage with things, I think, we are the build the better mousetrap people. You start out doing something with the intention of it just being I’m just going to do this as a project. And then, you know, five years later, you look up, and you have a whole company behind it. I feel like a lot of the things that we get involved in starting with our curiosity, but our tenacity kind of takes it to the next level.– Victoria Campbell Osborne
I think every entrepreneur has to figure out how to make their value prop palatable for investors.– Lauren Conaway
Before you start, even with the idea in your head, before you commit $1 to this business. Ask yourself your why. Ask yourself why you want to do this and how committed you are to it because there are going to be days where that why is going to be the only thing that gets you out of bed in the morning. There are days when it’s going to be your bank account is not showing any positive reinforcement.– Victoria Campbell Osborne
You’re moving, you’re moving, you’re moving forward with experience. And that’s that, I mean, it’s a lesson, and they sometimes hurt a little, but that doesn’t mean that good can’t come from it.– Victoria Campbell Osborne
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Following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode. Apologies for any errors!
Lauren Conaway 0:00
And we are back. Thank you for joining us for yet another episode of the Startup Hustle podcast. I’m your host, Lauren Conaway, founder and CEO of InnovateHer KC. And I gotta tell you, friends, today’s episode of Startup Hustle is powered by FullScale.io. Hiring software developers can be difficult, but Full Scale can help you build a software team quickly and affordably. And they have the platform to help you manage that team. Visit FullScale.io or click the link in the show notes to learn more. All right, so today we have with us a founder that I have been wanting to talk to for a while. She has a really, really interesting sensory experience kind of business, and she’s an InnovateHer KC member. We have with us today Victoria Campbell Osborn, founder and owner of The Scented Webb. Victoria, thanks so much for being here on the show. Welcome.
Victoria Campbell Osborne 0:50
Thank you so much for having me. So excited to be here.
Lauren Conaway 0:54
Yeah, this is gonna be really, really fun. But first things first, I’m just going to ask the question, tell us a little bit about your journey.
Victoria Campbell Osborne 1:03
My journey as an entrepreneur started really early on my very first job. A lot of people had jobs at McDonald’s or, you know, some other kind of establishment that has a plastic nametag and a hairnet. Mine started out working for entrepreneurs. I lived in an area where, you know, dating myself a little bit, Blockbuster would not open a store. And so, a local couple decided to open a video store to serve the people in my neighborhood. And so that was my very first job. I got to experience the very David and Goliath nature of that enterprise. And I think the bug just stuck.
Lauren Conaway 1:48
Well, that’s incredible. And from what I know of your history, I know that that is not the first time you have served as an entrepreneur, and you have kind of an interesting background and that you’ve tried a lot of different things. Talk to us a little bit about that.
Victoria Campbell Osborne 2:03
So yeah, I grew up in a family of people who were always hard workers. And so I’ve always had multiple jobs. And so my those, you know, those hats have been very varied. I served as an educator, I also worked as on the Hill on Capitol Hill. As a lobbyist, I worked as a museum manager. I have worked as a consultant for the past 15 years, as well, as I’m a certified yoga instructor. I do a little bit of everything,
Lauren Conaway 2:41
You do a little bit of everything. And you know, I have found that to be true so often with entrepreneurs. And I think it’s because, by nature, we’re very curious people. We’re problem solvers, and we’re curious. And so, do you feel like you’re a curious person? Is that why you wanted to try a whole bunch of new things?
Victoria Campbell Osborne 2:57
I think part of it is the curiosity. But I also think part of it is the nature of how entrepreneurs tend to engage with things. I think we are the build the better mousetrap people, you start out doing something with the intention of it just being, I’m just going to do this as a project. And then, you know, five years later, you look up, and you have a whole company behind it. I feel like a lot of the things that we get involved in, start with our curiosity, but our tenacity kind of takes it to the next level.
Lauren Conaway 3:31
I love that so much. And I would wholeheartedly agree. So talk to us a little bit about The Scented Webb, because I’m very interested in your business model. And then I know, you know, we’ve talked before about sent and sent memory and things like that. So talk to us about what moved you to start The Scented Webb and a little bit about what you do.
Victoria Campbell Osborne 3:50
Um, so you know, I used to joke when I first started that I was my best first customer. I love fragrances. And I think one of the things that we can universally agree upon is that it can be overwhelming to go into a store and try to figure out what fragrance to buy. It can also be very expensive. And so during COVID, one of the things that became abundantly clear, especially as everything was closed, was the prices weren’t changing, but the access to them was. It was becoming a thing where you were expected to buy a 400 $500 bottle of perfume that you had never put your nose to. And so it just struck me that that can’t possibly be true. That can’t possibly be the way there must be someone out there who is providing accessible affordable options to luxury fragrances and, you know, without expecting, you know, a monumental financial commitment. And, you know, in the best ways of most entrepreneurs, you go out searching for an answer and find out that you are the answer. And so that’s how it started.
Lauren Conaway 4:53
Well I love that and I love the fact that you’re you’re so aware you are the answer. I mean you’re in during an industry need, and I gotta tell you, I don’t know too many people who can invest 400 $500. And what amounts to a couple of ounces of fragrance like it’s not even that much fragrance when you get up into the the more expensive thing it is
Victoria Campbell Osborne 5:13
3.3 ounces. It is. Like when you sit when you say it out loud, people just can’t believe it. I’m like, yes, the pretty bottles only hold three ounces. Yes. And and
Lauren Conaway 5:28
How many people do you know that would be able to just do that sight unseen, or like,
Victoria Campbell Osborne 5:32
I guess? I mean, I smell you know, there’s a lot of people who do what we call blind buying who buy based on other people’s recommendations buy based on what they heard on TikTok, buy based on the lady at the counter said it would be nice. I think a lot of people though, to the contrary, feel burned by it, they bought bottles that just sit on their dressers collecting dust, they buy bottles that they get home, and they hate or, you know, my, the one that I think I speak the most to when I talk to people at our shows is they buy bottles that they really didn’t know what they were getting into. Because what they smelled at the store didn’t smell the same as what they got at home. And there’s a reason for that. But, you know, you don’t know that when you buy the bottle. And so ultimately, the ability to buy a sam a travel size, a sample gives people that that out like you’re getting it for under 35 bucks, you can figure out whether you really liked it or not. And if you want to really make that investment, there’s 8000 brands on the market. You can’t possibly try them all. But you also don’t want to commit to the ones that you don’t really like. So right
Lauren Conaway 6:43
because it because it isn’t investment. Yeah, I want to talk before we start exploring the business model, I actually want to talk a little bit about the why, why it’s such an important thing. So one of the things that you and I have talked about it, at least a couple of times is signature scents and the fact that so just for folks who don’t who might not know senses at our scent is actually our most prominent sense that’s related to memory. I can’t remember exactly what it’s called. But for whatever reason our brains detect and then are able to like file get into filing cabinets in our head related to scent memory. And I think I told you one time, you know, my my, I think about this a lot. So my grandma, she used to wear this Oscar de la Renta bodypower powder. This is when women of a generation used to wear talcum powder all over. And I’m gonna be honest, she probably used a little bit too much. But it was the scent that was just so pervasive to my memory of her. Like, I would just remember getting a hug from her. And she was very, you know, she was a bigger bosom lady, and she would give you a hug, and she would just envelop you. And she was gave the best hugs. And the scent was always not far behind. Like I smell it right now as I’m typing. Right. And that’s so powerful to people. It’s, it’s, and I want to talk to you a little bit about that because I know that you have some feelings on the subject.
Victoria Campbell Osborne 8:15
I do. I mean, I think one of the things that you know, like you said, it is our one of our most powerful senses. And it also is one of those things that it’s it’s beyond visceral in the ways that we relate scent to things that have happened to us. So you’re remembering it directly tied to your grandmother. And if I came in the room wearing that scent, you would immediately see her and feel her and hear her because of the scent. have tied to it. You know, it’s not always perfume for some people. It’s, you know, the first time you saw the ocean, you can remember the smell of the sea spray. Or if someone’s making fresh baked cookies, you automatically are drawn back to some memory of cookies in your life. We all have those scent memories. Yeah. And we also and we also have scent, scent profiles, there are things that we because of those things being so visceral to us, there are things that some of us like, and some of us don’t. And there’s really, there’s there’s really no convincing, like if someone hates the smell of fresh cut grass, they just hate the smell of fresh cut grass. There’s no convincing them. And so when you think about those two things, it’s the reason that buying fragrances are so personal, is really a thing where you can’t predict what someone will like, or not like until you have that conversation with them. And it’s it’s funny. When you think about how you buy fragrances at the department store. They’re selling them the way they sell clothes. Oh, well what color would you like, well, what scent Do you think you would like? Okay, well, so you that? Maybe? Maybe you won’t. I think one of the things that’s been a benefit of our businesses we spend so much time talking to people about what they really like and don’t like. And that’s, you know, that’s kind of our differentiator, like having that conversation about scent memory typically gives us higher satisfaction with people they walk away feeling like they got what they really wanted.
Lauren Conaway 10:15
Yeah, well, and I do I do have a fun fact about scent and I this is just something that I read, like many, many years ago could not tell you, where’s the you’re gonna have to take my word for it. But they’ve done some studies, they have actually found that men tend to prefer food-based scent.
Victoria Campbell Osborne 10:32
Yes, they do.
Lauren Conaway 10:35
That like smell like chocolate chip cookies that I’m saying that sense that have underlying notes of foods, just recognize what’s a vanilla? Or, you know, I’m trying to think of some other ones like what are some other Sugar,
Victoria Campbell Osborne 10:50
Sugar? They have a, I mean, I jokingly tell people who comes in my counter this a lot. Men tend to favor again data, right? So if you think of like those Bonnyville lip glosses, we use all of those types. Like that, that is what they like, and they and they, they cannot get enough of it. That’s the sweeter the more Gourmand, the better. And no matter how much it cost. There are like $600 perfumes that smell like vanilla, that turn heads and a lot of that is preference. Yeah, it’s the way they were, you know, we’re talking about seminary. So if you think about the way that people came into their attractions, to the people that they like, or find attractive, that when they thought about people and what they you know, like started to figure out these are the kinds of people I want to date. Those memories are still there. What did your ideal person have? Oh, they smelled like vanilla and cream and you know, had like strawberry blonde hair? Oh my God, that’s the person and it translates
Lauren Conaway 11:59
as it’s really true, like the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Yeah, it kinda.
Victoria Campbell Osborne 12:07
Yeah, it is. It is. And you know, the thing that it’s hilarious that you say that because I was talking to another fragrance expert a little while ago, and he was saying how much he there’s a fragrance that that’s out that smells like apples, and he loves when his wife wears it. So that’s the reason I’m laughing because I’m like, Yo, I got I got like, corporate experience and anecdotal experience that yes,
Lauren Conaway 12:34
qualitative and quantitative. We actually have a marshmallow candle that like my husband uses nuts for like, anytime I light it, he comes into the room, and he’s like, Ah, you got my candle candle. And then he puts his like, face right up to it and sniffs out it, it’s adorable.
Victoria Campbell Osborne 12:49
And then there’s a marshmallow fragrance that came out a couple of months ago, that is marshmallows and pistachio. And men cannot get enough. Oh,
Lauren Conaway 12:58
my gosh, I love that so much. Well, so let’s let’s talk, let’s explore that just a little bit more. So one of the things that you mentioned that I thought was interesting is, you know, sometimes you go out to a store and you buy a fragrance. And it doesn’t, it’s when you bring it home, the remembrance is a little different from the actuality, like it doesn’t smell quite the same, it doesn’t last quite as long. Talk to us a little bit about that maybe maybe a little bit about how you help people find their signature scent as well.
Victoria Campbell Osborne 13:27
So the first part about why the scents don’t smell the way they do at the store has a lot to do with storage, and display, we go to department stores and we want to see the bottles, we want to see the fragrances that we’re getting into and we want to try them out. But if you like literally close your eyes and think about how fragrance is stored at a department store, it’s stored under bright lights, it’s stored. Typically with the caps off, it’s typically stored there for a pretty long time because they leave the testers out until they’re empty. And so they are going against like the first three rules of how you store your fragrance. You try to store it in cool dark places, you try to store it with a capsule on preferably in the box. If you’re not even using it right now. And literally use you store it in a way that tries to prevent it from further oxidation. So you know, you want to keep the cap on it. So that air is getting back in the bottle. And so as a result, the tester is usually the the source and the culprit of why it doesn’t smell like you smelled it at the store because the box is fresh. The box you took home is being stored properly. But the box the sample that’s on the wall probably isn’t. And so there’s the first part where it doesn’t smell the same. This is that most people when they try at the store, because they’re in such a rush, they try it on paper. How it smells on paper is going to smell fun to damp fundamentally different than how it smells on your skin. And so ultimately when people try it on paper and And then get it home and try it on their skin, it’s going to smell different. It’s just the nature of body chemistry. And so those two things are usually what leads to the most dissatisfaction. Especially, because now the bottles in your house. And so, yeah,
Lauren Conaway 15:16
it’s, it’s your way.
Victoria Campbell Osborne 15:18
And so and so what we do as a model is when people come to our table, we usually carry at least 100 different fragrances for them to try, usually about closer to 150. And we have them try the fragrances similarly to the way that they do in the store. But, you know, thing, number one we do is we keep very limited testers, meaning we keep a very small sample in our tester bottles, so that we constantly refresh that. So it really does reflect what you’re actually going to buy. Yeah, then, the second thing we do is we do test it on paper. But if you have more than 15 minutes, like for instance, if we’re at a show for five hours, we will fully let someone if they’ve committed to a cent sprayed on the back of their hand and walk around wherever we are, and then come back, because then they have the ability to see what it does on their body, as opposed to telling you, oh my god, it’s great, you should just buy that.
Lauren Conaway 16:13
One of the things that I think is important to highlight here is the fact that yet another factor in how scents actually work with your body, it’s related to your body chemistry, yeah, I could spray scent on my wrist, and you could spray the same scent on your wrist. And it’s going to react with our body’s chemistry a little differently. So it’s gonna come through a little differently. And so that’s actually why from it, and you’re the expert, but I’ve heard that the tester is like folks who are there to like, put the tester on you. They recommend that you spray it, and then yeah, like you wait at least a few minutes that it can kind of seep in and do its thing. Because your body chemistry has a big effect on exactly how acidic or how, you know, basic, different smells, right, yeah.
Victoria Campbell Osborne 17:01
And a part of that is the limitation of what can happen. Typically, at most department stores, the challenge is going to be again, people have the mindset of I want to get in, I want to get out, that’s not what I’m really here to do. If you spray it in, it’s not in the context of your life. So I’ll give you an example. One of the other complaints is it didn’t last long, the smell like it was going to be so great at the store. And then it only lasted an hour. A lot of that has to do not only with your body chemistry, but how and where you spray it like application also matters. So it becomes a thing if you only spray it and test it on the back of your hand for five minutes in the store. Is that going to be an accurate reflection of what it might look like for six hours at your workplace? Not necessarily. And so having conversations about how to apply it having conversations about how to really test it become critical. And it’s you know, it’s it’s one it’s one of the best parts of my business. But as a as an entrepreneur, it’s sometimes one of the things that I do really struggle with, like we really have great conversations and consultations. But that conversion time is high, because we’re taking the time to help people get fragrances that they really, really, really will love.
Lauren Conaway 18:14
Yeah, well, and so yet another thing that you and I have talked about is like our personal signature scents. And so I think I’ve expressed to you that like one of my hopes I actually wear the same I recently switched. But that was actually a big decision for me because I try to wear the same scent consistently because I do want people to like catch a whiff of something and think, foreign, you know, just because again, scent memory is so important, like so many individuals, but in particular women love to have that that signature, that scent that they go through time and time again, where they feel comfortable, and they feel not only comfortable, but they feel like it projects who they are, what they’re about. And I love that because I you know, in a world where we are inundated with people and ideas and content, like finding ways to stand out and ways to feel unique and confident in our own skin. Amazing, powerful thing, right?
Victoria Campbell Osborne 19:16
Yeah, yeah. And so I mean that confidence, you know, fragrances not only have scent memory, but they have activation memory, right? Like they have the ability to transport you to places definitely like you thinking about your grandmother, yeah, but they have the ability to transform transform you like literally make you feel like more of a boss when you wear them or make you feel more sexy when they also have this really unique, innate ability to help people transcend things like you’ll you know, people will put on a scent. It’s just like putting on a black dress and you know, our red dress. It’s like people put it on and it helps them get over, like be feelings of insecurity or fear or doubt. And so that’s one of the reasons that finding your signature accent is so important. It literally is the thing that you’re saying when I put it on, this is me. And so, for a lot of people, that process gets complicated when they go to the store, and there’s nobody to talk to, or the price is $500. Or they get a tester that doesn’t smell like what they want. And so when I talk to people about signature scents, we really do start off. I mean, you know, I hate to say it this way, but we really do start off with a trauma, like, what were experiences with fragrances you really didn’t like, like, what what are some things you really hated? And then tell me the time that you thought you smell the absolute best? Actually, when you ask that question, the answer goes so far beyond the brand, it usually has a story attached, you know, nine times out of a 1010, there’s a person attached, people will tell you these stories about how this fragrance made them feel. I know you have like you want that one set, but for me, I go at it maybe a different way it is probably because I’m in the business, I try to just smell spectacular. Whenever I walk into a room like people you do,
Lauren Conaway 21:07
like for listeners at home, we don’t have smellivision yet or anything like that. But I will tell you from firsthand experience that Victoria always sounds always smells magnificent. When we run into each other, like, I always feel weird, because I want to come up to you, and I just want to sniff you.
Victoria Campbell Osborne 21:25
And so and so a lot of that is, you know, partially, you know, in my line of work, but a lot of it is I am really truly committed to, you know, their sense that I definitely love I definitely have my own signature, but there are ones that I am committed to believing that anything can truly make you feel that way anything can give you that power, mentally believe that it can like I literally don’t like you know, there are people who have written off home notes because they’ve smelled it and it has, you know, been like, oh, I can’t possibly wear anything that smells like Amber, because every time I smell Amber, it just, you know, makes me think of, you know, old women and garbage shoots or, you know, yeah. And so literally, you know, when you start talking about it, you start realizing that there’s other things that factor into that. And so it becomes a real conversation of, you know, us really getting, you know, out of our own way about our own comfort and things. Oh, I don’t wear that because they said that that wouldn’t work on on, you know, women like me, or that seems too bold. For me. That’s the one I really love when women say it seems too bold for me, why does it seem too bold for you? Like is it is it because that someone said that, you know, they could smell you coming across the room and we can change that I can help you change your scent bubble? Yeah, it’s not so big or, or that one. I really like it, but it’s a little too light. Okay, well, we can change that we can find something that has a little more oomph behind it that has the same notes like literally, it’s a conversation, just like picking out that dress that helps people kind of find their way into it.
Lauren Conaway 23:02
Well, and I love that. And one of the things that we’re talking about here is how we can express confidence around things you even said it like, what are the things that can give you power? And friends, I gotta tell you that one of the things I hear from entrepreneurs, so often is how difficult it is to build a team, especially a team, a tech team. But here’s the deal. Finding experts, software developers doesn’t have to be difficult, especially when you visit full scale.io where you can build a software team quickly and affordably. Use the Full Scale platform to define your technical needs, and then see what available developers testers and leaders are ready to join your team. Visit FullScale.io to learn more. We are here today with Victoria Campbell Osbourne founder and owner of The Scented Webb. And we’ve spent some time talking about the importance of scent and how scent memory is really important. And we’ve talked about all of these things. But one of the things that I really, really want to get into with you, Victoria is the fact that you you’re a relatively new entrepreneur, at least in this venture. I mean, as you said, you’ve kind of been entrepreneurial your whole life. And you’ve kind of dipped into different things and tried different things that I want to ask you why The Scented Webb and why now from a business perspective.
Victoria Campbell Osborne 24:18
From a business perspective, I think it was a two fold decision. The first was really driven by accessibility and affordability. You know, fragrance is a 60 billion actually almost approaching $70 billion industry. And it’s one that really has so little black and brown representation in it. But both on the ownership side and the maker side. And so, you know, that was one part of it, but the why now was also a conversation of it just struck me as you know, kind of insane that there was no real way to try something out before making an investment. Smith, you know, I jokingly say, if you were going to, you know, get married, you’re going to date the person first, right? You’re not going to just, and so and so I, you know, I tell people all the time, you know, date the sample, marry the bottle. Right like, like it was really a conversation providing that opportunity and that option to people, people really didn’t and by people I mean me as a consumer, as a lover, as a person who genuinely enjoys fragrance, it was really hard to realize that there were just so many things that I wouldn’t have access to. Because no one felt that there was a reason to give it to me affordably, or to show me or to show me makers outside of the names that everybody knows, like, you know, if I say Chanel, or if I say Burberry people already have feelings, and, and, you know, probably sent memories associated to it. But there are amazing brands from other parts of the world that people just never get access to. And so, similarly to my yoga stuff, I, I approached it from a standpoint of how can I make this something everybody can have access to. And so, it that that was, you know, it was a no brainer, this is an easy way to do that the now, I think after COVID, a lot of people started or during COVID, people started thinking about, you know, what, like, how to solve things like we had a whole lot of time to think about how to solve things. And we also had a whole lot of time to think about where our passion lies, and what we do. You know, as entrepreneurs, we’re often very fortunate that we get to work every day on things that genuinely light us up from the inside. It just just seemed, you know, kind of disingenuous to know that there was this place or space, where nobody really had taken the time or opportunity to really engage with people in person. There was lots of places online that did kind of similar things to what I do, but it was still no engagement. Like, no one’s asking you the questions. No one’s really, really like it or not, no one’s kind of taking the feedback, and trying to kind of help you forward in like not spending money in ways that you regret. And that’s the I think that’s the biggest thing about my industry that really hasn’t changed much from its inception. Everyone probably listening to this has had some experience with fragrance, where they think about it, and they feel like oh my god, that was such a waste of money. Like I just I can’t even believe like whether you spent $5 or 500, just like that again. And you know, it’s one of the things that I pride myself on that I’m really happy that people don’t have that experience when they work with us. So
Lauren Conaway 27:46
yeah, and I love that too. And I think that personal touch is what is so great about The Scented Webb. I mean, the fact is like, you can go online for those of you who do not read the quote unquote, ladies magazines, just so you know, you can pick up a magazine at the newsstand or you can go on to like a Cosmo website or something like that. And they’ll have they there are actually a ton of fragrance quizzes. Yeah. Right. And they’re gonna ask you like, do you like floral notes? Do you like sweet and crisp? Do you you know, oh, to 12 letter,
Victoria Campbell Osborne 28:18
which is like a whole nother game. Right? But how many people I mean, unless people are fragrance enthusiast how many people even know what them I don’t even know you
Lauren Conaway 28:27
tell me if I like notes.
Victoria Campbell Osborne 28:32
It’s, it’s, it’s one of those things where it also gets back to you know, this ongoing thread about scent memory. If I say Oh, it smells like vanilla. If you’re a fragrance person, that means something totally different to you than a person who has no clue about fragrance. Oh, it smells like vanilla extract.
Lauren Conaway 28:49
Like yeah, you’re thinking of vanilla extract, and perfume or perfume or something totally different. And we’re complex smell Yes,
Victoria Campbell Osborne 28:58
yes. And so and so a lot of the quizzes while you know they’re they’re very fun I do them all to actually like that but but but they often are talking about things that people really don’t relate to in there every day. Like they’re like
Lauren Conaway 29:15
fun, but they’re not extremely useful. There are
Victoria Campbell Osborne 29:19
tons of fun and I love the ones that say tell us about your signature scent so we can tell you how you know what kind of person you are in the bedroom or what kind of boss you are in the office place. Oh, I was like I didn’t know that but thanks but yeah, but it’s Yeah, and I think the other thing is is that gets back to the overwhelm that people feel you know when they go to a department store you’re staring at a wall of like 150 fragrances How do you make sense of that like like, like the bottles are cute and and then the bottles can sometimes be confusing. You know I love there’s a sent home by Karolina Herrera called Good girl. If anyone’s ever been in a store it looks like a high heeled shoe is really cute. But here’s the thing. They’re all like high heel shoes. They every, every version that comes out looks like a high heel shoe. It’s just a different color. So if you were a person who walked into the store and said, Hey, I really liked that fragrance that my son got for me last Christmas, it looked like a high heeled shoe. Which one? Which one did they give you? Did they give you the right one did they give you the one you really loved. If you couldn’t remember the name, like those kinds of conversations just are hard for consumers. And I don’t think people kind of, it’s nice to have that signature. And it’s nice to have that thing where people know that’s your brand. But for a person about to spend $160 on a bottle of perfume, they want to make sure they got the right one. And so this is where having more gentle conversations that are based, assuming that you know nothing about fragrances. If you do, then the conversations, you know, with me get really hilariously funny, because then we start talking about notes and signatures and all of this. But for people who just genuinely want to buy something and smell good. That’s where we that’s where we start. We don’t want people to feel overwhelmed, we want there to be joy. Joy is a birthright. And this should be a part of that. Like you should be able to just smell good. Just Just enjoy it and listen uncomplicated.
Lauren Conaway 31:14
Feel better? That is? Yeah. Well, so talk to us about the business side of things again, like what? What are some of the challenges that you have come up against? I mean, you and I have at you and I have actually had conversations about this, as well, as some areas of areas of opportunity for the centered web. You know, you’re it’s a relatively new business. I’m not gonna say super new, but no,
Victoria Campbell Osborne 31:42
one just, we just had our first anniversary. So we’re trudging along. Yeah, um, you know, I will say that one of the biggest areas of opportunity for us and one that I work really hard at is sourcing. We are in, we are a disrupter to our industry. Our industry wants you to buy a full bottle, they want you to commit, they want to get married on day one, right? And so sourcing to be able to provide people with the opportunity to try before they buy is a difficulty because, you know, the brands are not necessarily interested in that in that model. And so that has been a consistent area of growth and opportunity for us. The other is one that I don’t think many people think of if they’re not entrepreneurs, or business owners, but I am one of those rare businesses where I have to give away stuff to get you to buy it. That is a that is a value prop that is not particularly attractive to investors. But it’s the nature but it’s the nature of my business. Could you imagine you walking up to me and me just showing you a pretty bottle and saying, hey, just buy it. It smells great. That wouldn’t work, right? Yeah, people, most people who sell T-shirts can just kind of point to the wall and be like, do you want to blue or red medium or extra large. But in my business, I really do have to have these intimate conversations about something that people feel really strongly and passionately about. And I have to give it to them before they will forge before they commit. And as a small business owner, that can be particularly challenging because you are sometimes taking a little bit of a gamble, you know, you do the cost analysis to one extent, but you can never know what someone’s gonna like or not like, based on the conversation, you know, we’ve previously had about people being very specific about what they love. And so yeah, those are two of the biggest challenges.
Lauren Conaway 33:48
Well, and you said that, you know, there are aspects of your business model that investors don’t necessarily like, which, you know, I think every entrepreneur has to figure out how to make their their value prop palatable for investors. Yeah, but are you seeking outside investment right now talk to us a little bit about that. What are the what are the plans?
Victoria Campbell Osborne 34:07
Yeah, we we we definitely have made it more palpable by you know, part of it is just people not realizing this is a thing. Yeah, yes, this is the thing. And there’s companies earning millions of dollars doing this thing. I swear to you, it’s a real thing. It’s a real job, Mom, I swear. And then the second thing is, yeah, we are seeking, you know, collaborators, partners and potentially investors. I think, you know, as we grow, there’s there’s plans on the horizon for store placement. We currently are in two boutiques in the area. And we also do a lot of partnerships with other brands. I think that has been one of the unique or one of the more unique things that we’ve done in the first year that that is not typically on Azure building. People aren’t necessarily saying yes, let me go out and get a brand partner, but it was very organic and have Been very naturally and has helped accelerate the growth of the business. So that’s been awesome. I think one of the real key indicators of, of what has been a shift, you know, going into year two, is how much that customer service component has mattered to customers. You know, consultations are always something that we have offered from the very beginning. But the growth of that, and the amount of return investment and return on customers that have come from those conversations has been, you know, exceeded every plan. That was on paper, when when this business started. And so that is something that we’re definitely actively exploring and seeking financial backing to do.
Lauren Conaway 35:46
Yeah. Well, and that’s, I mean, it’s a very complex process. Now, I’m going to ask you to, we’re going to back it up a little bit, we’re going to take the 10,000 foot view, yes. I’m really, really curious, you know, you have experienced growth in a time when it was always difficult to have a startup and have it grow and be successful. And in fact, 50% of startups fail before the end of the first two years, and you’re already halfway through it. And you’re you’re continuing forward and moving on. And so I want to ask you, can you give the entrepreneurs out there, maybe, you know, not everybody is going to start a scent related business, not everyone is going to start, you know, The Scented Webb, but what are some things that you’ve learned? What is some advice that you can give to them? Beyond? Just keep going? I mean, first of all, that’s my advice. Yeah, that’s just keep going, just keep going, going, going, like it’s gonna, it’s gonna be hard. And it’s gonna be the best thing that you ever do that makes you feel like beating your head against a wall. Yes. Just keep going. So that’s my advice. But what’s your advice to the entrepreneurs out there who are maybe thinking of starting a business or who were in the very early stages?
Victoria Campbell Osborne 36:55
I think one of you know, I’m, you know, it’s one of the tried and true tropes that people say about when you run a business, but one of the things that has been the most helpful to me is the community around me. I am new to Kansas City, New ish, I guess I should say, and starting a business in a town where this isn’t your hometown, or you don’t you haven’t lived here long enough to kind of know everything about the town, take some take somewhere with all. And so and so building community of whether it be fellow entrepreneurs, whether it be looking out for resources to support your business is is a critical and key component. The advice that I would give is, is probably a little more unexpected is it’s really, before you start, like even with the idea in your head before you commit $1 to this business. Ask yourself your why. And not the why of I want to bring fragrances to people because it’s affordable. I love fragrances and I want to do it. Ask yourself the question of why you want to do this and how committed you are to it. Because there are going to be days where that why is going to be the only thing that gets you out of bed in the morning. Yeah, there are they there. There are days when it’s going to be your bank account is not showing any positive, positive reinforcement. The last show was garbage, your inventory didn’t show up on time your bottles arrived broken. And you’re gonna have to say, Oh, my God, as I sit here with the snot bubble, while by doing if you have the answer, ready? Yeah, my answer sits on my bathroom mirror, I see it every morning, to remind me of why and if you can have that, why a lot of the rest of this stuff kind of just works itself out. I’m not and I’m not saying it works itself out easily. Like this isn’t an opponent of Pollyanna story. But it does work itself out in a way where you get the let’s call it the steam to keep the engine going, like you’re like, Okay, I know why. And I just got out patient. And then the best advice is a little more, you know, it’s a faith belief for me, was meant for me as mine. Right? So there’s going to be days where things did you know I didn’t
Lauren Conaway 39:12
any other one is who is for me is for me and remain? Those are my two mantras. Yeah, and
Victoria Campbell Osborne 39:18
so and so and so, you know, a lot of it is you it’s especially in this culture, you look at Instagram, and you look at, you know, what you might see in a, in a Business Journal, and you see people who are doing things and you’re like, well, they managed to do that it the, the, the attraction to comparison is so so like, present that, you know, you sit and you look at all of this and you’re like, Well, why am I not doing better? Or why is it not going the way that I planned or why can I find these things? And you know, these are valid questions. Don’t let every don’t let anybody make you believe that you’ve thinking these things are invalid. But where the problem is, is they’re not you. They’re not you. They’re not I’m going to do it the way you do it, your path is not going to be their path. While there may be some things that have similar steps and moments and milestones, yours is going to be totally different. And so once you kind of divorce yourself from that comparison, and just kind of stand in the shoes of where you are and what you’re trying to do and your why, like staying in your own way, it just gets so much easier for me. We’ve been in business for a very short time. And when I sat at the end of the year, and had to do all of that, you know, was look back on the year and see what we did. I look back on the list of what we did. And there are businesses who have been in business 15 times longer than me who haven’t done any of that. Yeah, I’m sure that that is a a, you know, that’s that that looking back on it. If you had asked me a year ago, well, what are you going to be able to say you did in a year, I wouldn’t have put half the things on the list. You just never know. And so like leave yourself open to the possibility of what’s for you. Like leave yourself open to it, like leave yourself open to oh my goodness, there could be so much on the other side of this fear and insecurity and comparison and doubt if I just stick to my why. And then I stick to my business mission. Let’s see what happens. And I’m telling you the let’s see what happens at least in my experience always is better than what I thought it was always better than what I thought it would be so that when
Lauren Conaway 41:21
you look back on those hard times and it’s like okay, did that suck? Absolutely. But there’s a point of pride that comes out like I I challenged that demon and I won and we
Victoria Campbell Osborne 41:35
we lost all our bottles a week in the first eight weeks we ordered bottles and we waited for them and we were slow was you know watching the tracking like they’re coming it’s gonna be awesome. And what we got was a box of glass confetti, the boss and ultimately, you know, you’re a new business you don’t have a lot of capital you’re looking at the thing that you need to sell the thing that you sell this is not this is not an oh my god I wish it had turned out this way this is the what are we putting the juice in if there is no bottles, so we so we bought replacement bottles because we had to like we you know we had commitments we had shows scheduled we had to get it out. So okay, well buy these these these cheaper not so great, not very attractive replacement bottles will make a pretty well we’ll go see them up. The replacement bottles have been the bottles for the last eight months, the replacement both of the bottles that are the bottles, and they work
Lauren Conaway 42:32
and they weren’t made the whole thing work and
Victoria Campbell Osborne 42:36
and that’s the point you gotta get, you got to get past it, you got to get past it. And it’s it’s not because there was not a moment where I sat literally with a box between my legs, just looking down at it. Like you got to be kidding me. Like literally like, this is what it’s gonna come to like, we’re not even out of the gate yet. And we don’t have
Lauren Conaway 42:55
it as an entrepreneur and you’re gonna have countless moments like that. Like, is this where I just throw in the towel? And it’s like, no, because the entrepreneurial spirit within us dictates that. We’re problem solvers. We’re creative makers. We’re Dreamers. And so so just just keep going,
Victoria Campbell Osborne 43:12
You’re moving, you’re moving, you’re moving forward with experience. And that’s that I mean, it’s it’s, it’s a lesson, and they sometimes hurt a little but that doesn’t mean that good that good can come from it.
Lauren Conaway 43:24
Absolutely. Well, Victoria, we have come up against the human question. Are you ready? Yes. Okay, so I was gonna ask you one that was related to scent and then I was like, No, I don’t typically ask human questions that are related to the conversation that we just had. Plus, you have peppered this entire podcast with awesome like scents and names to look out for and things. I’m not going to ask that question. The question I’m going to ask you is what movie and try to just pick one but if you mentioned a couple, no big deal, but what movie can you watch time and time and time again and still love every time?
Victoria Campbell Osborne 44:01
Okay, so I will say three. Okay, I will say I will say the popular choice that everybody will nod their head to and say yeah, I could do that. So that would be Shawshank Redemption. I can watch over and over.
Lauren Conaway 44:13
super intense movie. I love that.
Victoria Campbell Osborne 44:19
But it’s but it’s but I but it’s one of those things that if it pops up on TNT, it’s just gonna be on till the end. I’m just gonna leave it. Just don’t watch it. And then the second one. Then the second one is one that probably no one’s ever watched. But literally I could watch it every day and never tired of it. It’s a French movie called Amelie. It’s just a very it’s just a very sweet love story and it just always puts me in a more romantic and hopeful mood and I just love that movie that movie. Like Like you said you weren’t going to ask me about a scent related thing but like literally you can smell that movie. You can smell know the
Lauren Conaway 44:56
Atmosphere is so beautiful. Now I have not seen it. It is as it is in French,
Victoria Campbell Osborne 45:01
Lauren Conaway 45:05
delightful, quirky, little Julie. I just love watching it because it’s like hopeful weird, I don’t know.
Victoria Campbell Osborne 45:14
Like, you can’t you cannot leave that movie, watching her on the end on that bike and just not feel triumphant
Lauren Conaway 45:23
railers that’s not a spoiler,
Victoria Campbell Osborne 45:25
She just wants a bike, you know, she’s got a bike. And then the third and then the third one is kind of a weird choice of movies that you can watch over and over again. But there is something about Aladdin. The original version, the animated version. original animated was, and yeah, you know, I think what it is, is, especially as an entrepreneur, it’s one of those movies that somebody had to get over themselves, right? Like, like Aladdin was in this movie. And you know, you got these three wishes, like do what you’re gonna do with it. And like, literally, he had to make a decision about where he stood in the world. And I feel like it’s one of those messages is one of those movies with a message that you don’t realize until after you watch it, that a message. Um, so yeah, that is definitely another one that I watch quite a bit. Oh, wait a minute, and I left the big one out. Is that Robin? Robin Williams is another movie because he made me remember
Lauren Conaway 46:32
Is it Good Will Hunting? Yeah.
Victoria Campbell Osborne 46:37
Think about it until I say his name. But yeah, that’s that’s an honorable mention. I can take it definitely not washed out with but yeah, Aladdin.
Lauren Conaway 46:43
All right. Well, I’m with you on Aladdin. So I read somewhere of the Disney director like they actually had hours upon hours. Basically, Robin Williams is the genie taco. Improv through the whole thing. And so they’re somewhere out there. They’re like hours and hours and hours of Robin Williams as Genie.
Victoria Campbell Osborne 47:06
Release. Yeah, we need that release. We need that release.
Lauren Conaway 47:08
Absolutely. Well, hey, Victoria, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us. I loved learning more about your business. I hope your listeners did as well. But it has been a delight to talk to you, friend.
Victoria Campbell Osborne 47:20
Thank you so much for this opportunity and continued success to you and Startup Hustle. This is great.
Lauren Conaway 47:27
Awesome, well, something else that is great, friends. If you need to hire software engineers, testers or leaders, Full Scale can help. They have the people in the platform to help you build and manage a team of experts. When you visit FullScale.io, all you need to do is answer a few questions and then let the platform match you up with fully vetted, highly experienced software engineers, testers, and leaders. At Full Scale, they specialize in building long-term teams that work only for you. Learn more when you visit FullScale.io or check the link in the show notes. Alright, friends, we are so grateful that you come back to us week after week. And listen, we love telling founder stories, and I’m going to ask you what I generally ask at the end of an episode. Tell us what you want to hear. Go to StartupHustle.xyz suggested guest. We would love to meet more founders and figure out how to get into new markets. We want to know the topics that you want us to talk about. We do this show for founders. This is a show by founders for founders. And we do this for you. We want to give you relevant, useful, timely information. So just let us know. Go to StartupHustle.xyz, and make your suggestions. You can also find us on social channels, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram, keep an eye out for those channels as well and just give us your feedback. We want to cover what you want us to cover. Again, we are just so grateful that you keep coming back to listen to us week after week. Keep on doing it, and we’ll catch you next time.