Most early-stage businesses will either focus on selling directly to customers (B2C) or to businesses (B2B); the usual advice is not to spread yourself too thin. Erika Tamayo, though, has taken a different approach. She launched her protein-powder brand Hermosa while working as marketing director for Barry's fitness studios in the UK. It was, she says, ‘out of necessity’, for a high-quality protein powder that was tasty, ethically produced and not marketed exclusively to men.
Listening to the market
When Barry's clients kept asking if they could take the tubs of protein powder home, it was clear that there was B2C business potential. ‘People don't come to Barry's every day, but they want the shakes every single day,’ says Erika. She decided to take the leap and open up Hermosa sales to customers two years ago, with a dedicated online shopping platform. To get her plans in motion, Erika hired a head of B2B to manage business clients and free up her time to focus on B2C sales and marketing. ‘Who you hire is key. I brought on someone who can take initiative, and I give her freedom to manage it like her own micro business,’ she says.
Building brand awareness
As sales began taking off, Erika looked for the most efficient ways to build brand awareness. She quickly realized that she might have missed a beat by not selling to more fitness studios, and that growing two ‘micro businesses’ side by side could, in fact, be an asset. So, she started supplying boutique studios and upscale gyms around the world. Now, as people are becoming more conscious of their protein intake, she's also looking to work with cafes and restaurants. ‘It helps with visibility, revenue and production. The bigger the quantities that I can order, the more important I become to my suppliers,’ explains Erika.
Having a clear positioning
Erika has also made a point to select her customers carefully – whether that's other gyms or individuals. ‘The price point is high, so it has to be high-end gyms that are on-brand for us,’ she says. Similarly, she stays away from high-street retailers and keeps B2C distribution exclusive to her website, aware that her customers are people in the know and who would pay a premium for health and fitness.
Keeping things lean
As well as keeping headcount low – Hermosa has just a single, part-time employee – Erika vouches for the power of lean operations. She manages her B2B operations, for example, on Google Docs. On the B2C side, she avoids splashy marketing in favor of events or social ads that can bring ‘the most money with the least amount of investment’. Offering the shakes after events at Barry's studios is one example.
The key lies in keeping things lean, setting priorities and having a mission. In Hermosa's case, that's about promoting an active lifestyle, healthy eating and mind and body recovery. Bootstrapping can work, says Erika, if you play to your strengths. ‘Every entrepreneur needs to look at their cards and play the game based on what they've got.’