Using pop ups to achieve 500% YoY growth with Blomma Beauty’s Karen MacDonald (episode 279)

Karen MacDonald is the founder at Blomma Beauty. She founded the business in 2018 to help customers find all natural and organic beauty products. Karen’s clearly found a successful formula as the business is growing at 500% year on year.

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Getting Started

Karen was a retail buyer for many years and worked for a variety of types of retailers including Fenwick and QVC.

She started her career in the middle of the recession which was a really interesting time for both bricks and mortar, but also for businesses who were switching to eCommerce. Karen became interested in organic beauty products when she herself made the switch from a conventional high street beauty routine to organic and natural.

Immediately she had trouble finding products. She knew there were many brands coming to market that fit the bill, but they weren’t easily accessible and so Blomma was born. From the beginning, Blomma Beauty was conceived as a business that would do pop-up and events to connect with customers and compliment their online offerings.

Almost 90% of people buy beauty in a physical retail space and Karen recognized that those experiences were an important part of the customer journey. 

About Blomma

  • Based in London
  • Selling to the UK mainland Europe, America and Canada.
  • Events are based in London
  • Started on Word Press Platform
  • Runs Shopify Now

Favorite Shopify Widgets

  • New GDPR is handled natively by Shopify 
  • SEO Optimizer
  • Reviews add on

Prioritizing Education

QVC is an example of a company successfully selling products virtually and Karen points out that they are absolute masters of product education.

At Blomma she tries to convey a similar experience by saturating the website with education and most ingredients have a clickable link that leads customers to in-site details about those ingredients. Creating informed consumers is a great way to empower consumers to make the best decisions for themselves.

Because Blomma carries upwards of 40 brands, Karen says that she doesn’t feel like she has to do a hard sell because they have such an incredible spectrum of products. 

Buyer Background

Karen jokingly refers to herself as a trader, not a maker, but being a buyer is an undervalued skill. Karen says most buyers exist on a spectrum, which includes some who buy on instinct and others who make decisions on data and analytics.

Most are a blend of the two extremes and success can be found with any variety of approaches. 

Running Lean

Currently, Karen is doing almost everything with some help from her partner who is in Marketing.

She is looking at outsourcing the event planning in particular, as they’ve done 11 events over the course of the past 18 months. Karen was able to connect with a sustainable event planning company who she is hoping to hire on soon.

Currently, she is doing the pick pack and ship herself which she says is fairly easy since the products themselves are quite small and fit nicely into two standard size boxes. She also tries to do direct dispatch whenever possible to minimize shipping and also to enhance the customer experience. 

Planning a Pop Up Top Tips

Karen’s biggest piece of advice: don’t get bogged down by tiny details!  At her first pop-up, she says she had a checklist for everything and was really anxious to make sure everything was planned exactly. It ended up being ultimately unnecessary.

  • Maintain good relationships with vendors and guest by using clear communication
  • Visualize the event both from the brands and customers POV

eCommerce Book Top Tip

eCommerce Traffic Top Tip

  • Pop-ups have been Blomma Beauty’s best marketing channel.

Tool Top Tip

  • Later—an app that allows you to schedule Instagram posts and allows for link in bio

Growth Top Tip

  • Don’t underestimate the total cost of shipping. Blomma uses all sustainable packaging but shipping itself is very expensive

Interview Links

Related episodes

  • Plotting a 3 month Growth Strategy with Simon Driscoll from UXB Skincare
  • Competitive advantage and selecting suppliers with Matt Edmundson of Jersey Beauty Company
  • Influencer Marketing to grow a Subscription eCommerce business to $17m – Live Glam’s Dhar Mann

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