CLEARWATER — Natural Awakening Essentials has officially been given a small business makeover.
The winner of the Pinellas County small business makeover contest in July, the fledgling skin care product business has undergone a two-week makeover, receiving expert advice on multiple ways to better its business and sell its products.
The contest is the brainchild of the “Fab Five,” the self-named quintet of Pinellas County entrepreneurs who earlier this year partnered to create an alliance to share their respective small business entrepreneurial and networking skills.
Out of their partnership, the Fab Five small business makeover contest was born.
Natural Awakening Essentials was launched in early 2020 by partners Chelsea Chapman and Calen Molesworth, who had previously worked in the restaurant service business.
Laid off from their restaurant jobs by COVID-19, the couple brainstormed to create a line of natural, healthy facial and body products aimed at a young male market that loves the outdoors.
The product line: soaps, scrubs and serums.
“We wanted to make natural body products that men weren’t scared of,” Chapman said. “We also want to make products for younger men who live a healthy lifestyle, or maybe they’re outdoors and love nature, and want good products for their skin.”
Added Chapman: “There are a lot of products out there for women, so we really wanted to make something that’s out there for men, too.”
To start, the partners would sell their product online via their own business website: www.naturalawakeningessentials.com.
For the operators of NAE, entrance into the Fab Five makeover contest came about by chance.
While talking to a restaurant customer about their new online business, he suggested she contact Fab Five member Kaylin Ingram, a graphic designer and owner of Kay Coastal Designs.
It turned out to be advice well worth taking.
“I met her at a women’s day event where they displayed her business banner,” Chapman said. “And then I then saw the contest on their (Fab Five) Facebook page.”
The entrepreneurs submitted their application in time to make the end-of-April deadline.
In early May, the owners of NAE got the call that they had won.
Fab Five member Maggie R. Butler, co-founder of Local Union Consulting & Coaching, said the judges from the Florida Business Incubators were impressed by the owners’ online plans.
“They (the judges) liked that they were in e-commerce and showcasing their product online, with plans to grow as a business that was locally minded, and that the applicants really cared about what their business looked like and were very dedicated,” Butler said.
The Fab Five members spent one week with the NAE owners to provide business coaching and consulting, take new photos, and give insight into podcasting, web design, and graphic design.
The aim is to give the selected area business an image boost, said Ingram, who will oversee creating a new look and vibe for that business.
“We’re trying to give a business not necessarily a total overhaul, but a boost,” Ingram said. “Businesses that already have an established brand, we can come in and work around and re-boost that.”
It was time well spent, according to the two business owners.
“It was very encouraging and helpful to have this time with them, since it’s overwhelming to try to do everything on your own,” Chapman said.
Actual changes from their “Fab Five” makeover sessions included adopting a new business plan with a refined target audience that included swapping its market location from the Oldsmar flea market to Market Marie.
The makeover also consisted of two business coaching sessions, which included getting them on a new accounting system and connected with legal requirements for product labels. The result: a new logo, new product photos, headshots and a refreshed website.
Among the makeover advice was hands-on lessons on how to customize the marketing and merchandizing plans, and brass-tacks basics for running any type of business.
“We learned about making a business plan, making tough goals, keeping deadlines, being organized, and keeping your finances in order,” Chapman said.
Working with Butler, “My Computer Angel” owner Evelyn Dufner and Donnie Hathaway, a Palm Harbor-based real estate agent and podcast creator, the NAE owners worked to re-craft their marketing strategy to be more focused on the type of customer they’re going after.
“We learned on how to target our audience and what we wanted our brand to look like,” Chelsea said. “With that figured out, we were able to work with Kaylen and Jessica Veguez — owner of Dunedin-based Jess Veguez Photography — to work up something that really represents us and our brand.”
One photography lesson: how best to present your products online.
“Jess gave us some points on how to get better pictures with the lighting and shadows, the background,” Chapman said.
NAE’s owners also learned about upgrading product packaging to enhance eye appeal to the targeted customer base.
“I knew that we had really good products,” Chapman said. “But our old labels really didn’t maybe capture the eye of the customer we’re wanting to reach.”
In addition to the company’s online sales via its website, the two business partners also sell their products at outside shopper markets, including weekly locations in Clearwater and Dunedin.
“We’re trying to venture out a little bit, but still stay local — to just get our product out there,” Chapman said. “They’re not going to buy it if they don’t know it.”
The young entrepreneurs want, in the long term, to someday open their own physical store.
“We hope one day to have a storefront,” Chapman said. “We’re working it into our business plan — but when we started, it was in the midst of COVID-19 when a lot of businesses were shutting down, so that is why we started up more online.”
While running their own business requires a heavy workload and lots of responsibility, the NAE partners say they have no regrets about switching to this from their former restaurant-serving lives.
“We love it,” Chapman said. “Being able to do our own thing, to provide these products in your own community. This is much more fulfilling.”
For small businesses interested in tapping into the Fab Five makeover expertise — for a price — you can contact them via their website: The Fab 5 — Business Makeover (businessmakeoverpinellas.com).