Tell me a little about yourself?
This is a very loaded question, but I am 61 years old, and a graduate from University of Arizona with a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts. I didn’t have much focus as to what I wanted to do with my life so I dabbled in computers, accounting and then ultimately in mid-level management for a major newspaper in Phoenix, AZ. Much of who I am, is a result of using common sense and learning along the way. I have been married to my husband for almost 30 years and I have two daughters and 4 dogs. I am a “techie” in that I love electronics and gadgets. I love to cook, knit, read, create art, and travel.
Please tell us a bit about Soft landing towels?
Soft Landings Towels is a product that we have sold for 28 years. Through much research and development we came up with a product that we thought would lend itself beautifully to the Beauty and Spa industries. It’s the perfect towel for any beauty application because it is soft, absorbent, lint-free, and captures dust and glitter plus any creams, lotions, or masques.
What was the idea behind Soft landing towels?
To introduce a solution to a market segment that was not adequately served. Upgrade the service and provide a better experience not only to the service provider but to the consumer as well.
How would you describe the products you offer?
A sizeable disposable towel that is lint-free, absorbent, soft, and unique to the beauty industry. We provide these in packages of 75 count size 16×16. Also available is 4×4 squares which if folded into half twice yield a 2 x 2 which is awesome as a brush wipe or for taking off nail polish. One square takes off polish on 10 fingers. It can used for waxing, under eye protector when doing lash enhancements and useful when taking off chemical peels or creams.
In your words, what makes your business unique?
I would say that Soft Landings is unique because there are no other disposable towels on the market like this. We believe that each and every client is our partner. We want to provide them with the tools to succeed and help them to make a difference for their client.
What was the turning point that led to your success?
I credit my success of Soft Landings with a few things. Mostly social media. Because I am severely hearing disabled, I have always had the limitations of talking to people on the phone and understanding what they are saying. I don’t do well in group settings because it’s loud and I need to read lips. But Facebook changed that for me. As I learned to navigate my way through Facebook, adding friends and friends of friends, I offered to send out free samples of our product to gain a “soft presence.” Slowly but surely, I gained a following that loved the towels. I coined the phrase “are you a softie yet?” and now everyone hears this and wants to get in on the action.
Another big big success for Soft Landings is Nail Talk Radio. Without NTR, I would not have been able to be where I am today. I am a sponsor and have been for the last 5 years. Their mention of our products each week, has garnered Soft Landings a global presence. I engage my softies in meaningful dialogues. I comment on their statuses, I offer words of wisdom, and I always network everyone together to learn from each other.
How important is hygiene and the use of disposable products in your industry?
I believe that using disposable towels is in itself hygienic. You are using one towel per client or service and disposing of it. It reduces the laundry load and keeps the products of acrylic, gel, chemical peels, creams, waxes and oils from sticking to the terry towel, thus possibly transferring to other towels during the wash cycle. Most of my clients believe that using Soft Landings towels is multipurpose and helps to keep their stations free of dust, glitter, and other applicable products.
Where do you see yourself and your business in the next 5 years?
I would like to become an international phenomenon and have a soft presence globally. Eventually I would like to add other products to our line because I have the knowledge about “the tools to help you wipe”.
What’s the toughest feedback you’ve ever received about your product and how did you learn from it?
Every product garners criticism. For the nail techs: One that comes to mind is that the e-file would catch the towel and become frustrating for the tech. This becomes a matter of getting used to positioning the e-file in a way that won’t allow for that catch. Another one that I have heard is that the grit of the file would also catch the towel. Every tech has to figure out their style and ways of using products so that they work with each other. For the Esthetician: The towel did not retain the heat as long as a terry towel does. True but… if you have the opportunity to use a microwave instead of a towel warmer, you can get the towel to stay warm up to 2.5 minutes.
What is the biggest challenge as an Entrepreneur and would you recommend starting a business to anyone?
I have been entrepreneurial most of my life. I have started two companies in the last 14 years besides the one I own with my husband. I think everyone should at least try to own your own business. There is a wealth of knowledge out there to help one get started. My biggest concern would be to avoid taking on too much debt. That alone will be a downfall. Pace yourself and grow your business small. Take your time.
What’s your biggest challenge in educating consumers about your product?
One challenge is that people are afraid to offer constructive criticism. People let their egos get in the way of learning and adapting changes to better themselves. If you are secure enough with yourself and can separate yourself from the personal aspect of your life vs. your professional, you may learn something new and others will respect your willingness to listen and learn.
How empowering is it to be in the cosmetics and services industry?
I am amazed and in “love” with the beauty industry. Never in a million years would I have imagined to be connected with big giants in the industry who are well revered. I have learned so much from people that it truly is a blessing that I am going down this path.
What advice would you give to other small business owners today?
et your goals within reach. Do pay your bills on time. Be respectful to others and don’t air your dirty laundry to your employees or co-workers and especially on social media avenues.
How would you characterize your marketing strategy?
Strictly with social media. Get out there, friend everyone, stalk their profiles, add nice comments, get to know them, chat with them on facebook after awhile. Don’t come off as being too arrogant that you cannot chat with someone for 3 minutes.
What advice can you give someone in the beauty industry on branding their own image?
Find something unique that is “you”. Ask your friends what 3 words describe the best about you or your talents. Then put your creativity hat on and come up with a slogan and feed off of that. If you are multi talented in several areas, use words that have a big impact. And use all kinds of social media tools available to brand your product. And don’t be afraid to ask for help. Someday soon, someone will ask you for help and you can pay it forward.
What advice would you give nail-techs and make-up artists looking to market using Social Networking sites?
Keep your professional life and personal life separate. You want your customers to know that you are serious about your profession, and that you aren’t complaining or bragging, or disrespecting others. When I see nail techs posting about how so and so did this and using the “wtf” expressions, it disgusts me. I know that social media is a way to freely express yourself, but don’t degrade yourself by attacking others and complaining about others. Use private chat with your friends. In other words, “don’t air your dirty laundry in public”.
How effective has Twitter, Instagram and Facebook been in marketing your brand?
I can honestly say that if it wasn’t for Facebook, Soft Landings would not be where it is today. Due to my hearing disability, this social media application single handedly allowed me to introduce my product without having to leave my house. I call myself a cyber stalker because I know more about my peeps and their lives then most business owners. I make it a point to comment and talk to my softies. I really do care and it shows because I am there to talk if they should want to. I am not really a big user of twitter so I can’t comment too much about the success of twittering for Soft Landings. But I do need to mention that if it wasn’t for Nail Talk Radio every Sunday night, I think the success of my business would have taken much longer to achieve. As other social media sites pop up, one cannot avoid the successes that these brands afford us.
If I tweeted three people who have used your product, how would they describe it?
Soft, absorbent, big, lint-free, durable, “I’m a softie!”