The best businesses are ones fuelled by a passionate entrepreneur committed to solving a burning consumer pain, where there is a driving force greater than financial gain.
In the case of Luna Nectar, Mia saw her sister’s allergic reactions to a hormone-based chemical lash enhancing serum and became determined to discover a better, natural way to achieve the same results. That this only the start of the story, but it definitely doesn’t end there. Founder Mia Fiona Kut was working in the film industry and launched her first attempts to solve the issue as a side hobby. She established Luna Nectar in 2017, since then has devoted herself to developing and building Luna Nectar, creator of 100% natural, vegan and cruelty-free lash and brow enhancing serum.
We had the pleasure of taking a moment out of Mia’s busy schedule to discover her entrepreneurial path to share her insights with you, our valued readers.
P: Pendulum Magazine
M: Mia Fiona Kut
P: We read the story about your sister's chemical-based lash serum that inspired you to start Luna Nectar; how did you feel certain that this problem was your calling?
M: It was more than just about lashes, it was about seeing the lengths and self-inflicted pressure that women go through to look a certain way. The media does an excellent job in keeping us in this space where being unsatisfied with ourselves is the norm. This issue in particular struck me harder than usual because my sister was quite young at the time; and her and her classmates were already feeling the need to use this chemical-based serum, which came with a possible cost to health. The lash and brow serum was only the beginning of my mission of implementing all-natural solutions for everyday skincare routines.
P: Walk us through your journey from having Luna Nectar as a concept to launching it as a business. You were working on the business in conjunction with your involvement in the film industry. What was the hardest part in the early stages of the company's growth?
M: Producing a movie is similar to building a business - except businesses come with 100x more moving parts! I started Luna Nectar as a side hobby while working in film, but the demand started growing pretty quickly. The hardest part was that almost every single thing in almost every department was a new skill I had to learn from scratch and be quick at - from getting regulations and licenses, building a streamlined shipping and wholesale system, graphic design, etc. A larger issue of it that is becoming more recognized in entrepreneurship is to keep a healthy mental state for yourself, as you are the one tackling all the small details and big picture problems and puzzles all day, every day. When you go down, the business goes down. Being proud of being 'busy' is outdated. There are healthier ways to manage the stress and work.
P: The brand Luna Nectar started as a niche skincare/wellness brand, and is now recognized by media outlets such as Brit+Co., People and Glamour - what did you do to get there?
M: I focused on building the brand, a good reputation for our products, and the community simultaneously. We sent out many free products to people that had platforms to share their feedback, we did collaborations with other companies, we made sure to build a community - both online with transparent education and locally through markets and events, starting with our hometown of Vancouver, Canada.
P: How has your company evolved since? How has your role evolved with the growth of the company?
M: Our company now has employees and works with contractors regularly, and I've built the company to run as digitally as possible - only 2 people are needed at our physical location. I used to do almost all operations, marketing, business development, lab management, and now I only focus on marketing and business development.
P: The brand is now sold online through the e-commerce platform and also through retailers. What are the different tasks you have to take on to maintain these two sales channels?
M: Have a streamlined system that can be accessed and maintained solely online that is easy for retailer customers to use as well. Our e-commerce and wholesale platform is integrated with our shipping system and department so everything is accounted for from start to finish.
P: What advice can you give to people who want to start their own brands? What are the first 3 steps to build an e-commerce platform, and the first 3 steps you would take to build an offline distribution network?
M: Do your research in the market - how does your product/service stand out? What will you be doing differently from the competitors? Be sure to have a clear brand identity and voice.
3 steps to building an e-commerce platform:
a) Ensure user ease of the e-commerce platform
b) Be sure to make use of applications that streamline your backend
c) Make sure your copy and branding are consistent, and implement call to actions.
3 steps to build an offline distribution network:
a) Build relationships with buyers and other companies that are a similar industry and size as yours.
b) Set up a streamlined system where all transactions are accounted for, and retailers can access as well.
c) Build a database containing customer information and analytics
P: What is the next challenge for Luna Nectar? Where do you want the company to be in 5 years?
M: We just obtained EU regulation, so we will be expanding in the European marketplace, as well as building up our presence in the current countries we are retailing in. We have new products on the go and want to delve into larger scale marketing, so it's all about preparing for the next phase. In 5 years, I envision Luna Nectar being a staple in the green beauty world - being sold at top retailers as well as handling volume through our e-commerce platform. We also hope to expand into consumable beauty goods.
We want to thank Mia for taking the time to share her insights on how she has built her business, and hope you took away some key learnings to inspire you on your entrepreneurial path.
Great stories and dreams can be triggered by a random life event or encounter, such as Mia’s case where she saw her sister’s lashes fall out after the use of the chemical-based lash enhancing serum. The difference with entrepreneurs is they do something about it. Do you have a similar drive and an itch to solve a consumer pain or problem that impacts you or people around you? Now is the time to take action.