Tanya Droege is the owner of SeaLuxe Co., but is better known for her infectious positivity and down-to-earth business approach. I met with Tanya on her sailboat in Sidney, British Columbia, to discuss how her company, just barely two years old, has products in over 100 stores Canada-wide. This year Tanya will be attending the Etsy Made in Canada market in Vancouver and the One-of-a-Kind Christmas market in Toronto – two noteworthy milestones for SeaLuxe.
As Tanya and I skirted around the Gulf Islands, her gaze would peer out past the boat as she talked about her source of inspiration. She explained that what started off as an appreciation for sea life soon turned into a product line for local markets. SeaLuxe is an ocean-inspired line of bath and body products that incorporate organic ingredients, such as seaweed, for their medicinal properties. Tanya’s business idea was simple: create products that are ethically based, high quality and affordable. Often easier said than done, but Tanya’s resourcefulness coupled with her product’s strong aesthetic appeal has gained much attention in a short period.
Tanya explained that she wanted to create products that even a struggling single mother could afford – something she remembers all too well. “I want my products to be a reminder to take time for yourself and allow for meaningful self-care, but I wasn’t always a business person, I had to learn that part”.
One of Tanya’s biggest learning curves was figuring out how to price her products for wholesale. After Island-ish, a Nanaimo based company reached out to sell SeaLuxe products, she realized that this was something she had very little knowledge about. “In my pursuit to be affordable, I was also under-cutting myself –something I didn’t want to do”.
If a private business coach is not affordable, Tanya recommends Indie Retail Academy. Here she gained invaluable insights into what retailers want, how to sell products to retailers and price products appropriately. Indie Retail Academy has a free starter kit and line sheet that will get things started.
However, Tanya’s biggest advice is to get a business coach as soon as possible–even for a seasoned entrepreneur. She claims it’s what allowed her to put systems in place, bounce business ideas, and keep her on track with manageable projects. Tanya has big dreams for SeaLuxe Co. but realized that it wasn’t possible to do them well all at once. Her business coach shaped a new mindset that got her always asking: “Is this going to be repeated? And if so, can I make this into a system? Moreover, the most helpful question that changed her thinking about her business was: “If my business were to double in size, where would it fail?”.
These questions began to change the way Tanya approached SeaLuxe. As of late, she has created comprehensive systems for every aspect of her business: inventory and restock spreadsheets, customer relationship management, social media scheduling and so forth. What seemed like an exhaustive list of documents has now allowed for the efficiency to have her products carried in stores across Canada. As she began to grow, she even created a formal process to communicate with new customers. Her highly personalized approach was often too time consuming. Seems obvious, right? It isn’t always, and Tanya suggests that this may be the caveat that prevents a company to successfully expand. Tanya has a “Master SeaLuxe Document” that she refers to for nearly everything business related.
For Tanya it’s not about keeping resources a secret. “There’s a great advantage in helping other entrepreneurs. If I could recommend one other thing, it would be to not get caught up in all the competition.You can all benefit and will likely do much better than you expected through referrals and establishing a community of mentorship."
I asked Tanya if she could share the apps and programs that have worked for ‘systemizing’ SeaLuxe and she happily disclosed part of her business toolkit:
Social Media: Buffer and Jasmine Star –learn how to build a brand and schedule your posts. This is a particularly important for days you will be busy or away on vacation.
CRM: Pipe Drive –allows you to communicate with customers proactively. No one wants to be forgotten.
Accounting: Xero –a user-friendly way to figure out your finances.
Shipping: Net Parcel –cheaper and will guarantee you less headaches than Canada Post.
These programs are just part of the bigger picture, but have played a large role in getting SeaLuxe to where it is now. And according to Tanya, this is just the beginning. Ideally she would like to see SeaLuxe grow into an educational platform for environmental stewardship, which will demonstrate how business and the environment can mutually co-exist.
Additionally, we can look forward to new product releases later this year. SeaLuxe will release a new deodorant with biodegradable packaging and a lip balm before Christmas. In 2018, the long awaited at-home seaweed face spa will be released -something Tanya has wanted to create from the start of her business and has meticulously crafted – we’re excited!