The end of an era and the start of a new chapter…
It’s been a while since I wrote my last blog – I think it was around a year after starting Ava May Aromas, just after the madness of Christmas 2018/early 2019 had passed. To say a lot has happened since then would be an understatement and I don’t know that I’ll be able to remember it all, but I wanted to reminisce on some of the big things that have happened since I last ‘put pen to paper’. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the day to day and forget that every small step of progress adds up to big changes as the months and years pass by!
For those who are new to Ava May please head over to my first blog if you’d like to read a little more about how we got started. I talk about the very early days when rejection was the norm, when everything was made in my parents house, and how one little message to a certain Mrs Hinch changed everything.
Picking up from where my last blog left off I believe we had what we now refer to as Units 1and 2 and we were on the verge of acquiring Unit 3. Fast forward to date and we are about to take on Units 8 and 9 by the end of the month (August 2020). So I think it’s fair to say we’ve expanded quite rapidly with each unit we’ve acquired playing a key role in allowing us to grow the business.
Space has and continues to be our Achilles heel as we expand. Unit 4 (which we took on in April 2019) allowed us to create a designated packing and dispatch unit, for all orders, which truly was a game changer for our production team. Large lorries can easily access this unit and accommodate the multiple yorks, full of parcels we produce. It was great last Christmas, but this year we’re already concerned that space is still going to be an issue – we may need 2-3 pick-ups per day to accommodate what we anticipate to be a busy Autumn/Winter season. Unit 5 now accommodates our lovely bath bombs, released in August 2019, which also marked a new direction for Ava May Aromas. I am constantly excited by the opportunities for creativity and innovation in exploring the world of cosmetics, and we have some very exciting developments that I can’t wait to reveal to our customers. Unit 6, which we acquired in January 2020, is now the main hub for our office-based team, whilst Unit 7, our most recent acquisition, in spring 2020, is purely for storage. No surprises that it’s already full!
Fast forward to today (August 2020) and we have no intention of slowing down. Our planned take-up of Unit 8 will allow all of us, currently crammed into one room, to have a little more space, and further, allow for expansion of our team as we progress into 2021, with more senior key responsibilities becoming full time roles. Finally to round off the month we will also be taking Unit 9 which is an exciting acquisition for us as it’s in a spot we’ve desired for some time. Unit 9 will mean that we have 4 units in a row, which we can knock through together. From a production perspective, this is great news as it will mean we can create a seamless efficient workflow all in one space, rather than across disparate units on the site. We have our eye on a few more units, but for now it’ll be exciting to record the progress and development of the units. No doubt they will look very different in 6 months time and I can’t wait to share the progress with you on Instagram stories.
I’m sure it will come as no surprise that as Ava May has grown, so have the roles required to run it. Many of you are familiar with Daryl (my Dad and Business Partner), our Executive Assistant Maia, our Customer Service Manager Gemma, our Production Manager Tracy, and several others of our team who have been with us for most of our journey. Since writing my last blog, my Dad has now sold his previous business and continues to work with me at Ava May Aromas full time. I get asked all the time whether we struggle working together, but the truth is (touch wood) so far we’ve found it really easy. We’re very similar in character anyway (stubborn, strong-willed and very determined), where my younger sister is much more laid back and relaxed like my Mum. You may not see him very often, but please be under no illusion, this business is very much our project together. I really couldn’t do it without my Dad and I’m very grateful to have him by my side.
Another popular question I’m often asked is along the lines of what I have found hardest on this journey. There are many answers to this question, however, one thing I believe anyone who has grown a business can relate to, is the struggle of ‘letting go’. By this I mean allowing others to take over job roles that you used to do, but can no longer sustain single-handedly. The first experience of this for me was handing over the pouring of wax to our lovely wax team. Up until this point I made every single item and I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to our products. I can’t express how difficult it was to allow someone else to make the item you have spent many hours perfecting. However, when you have the right team it really does make it easier. Amongst our new additions we have Lauren and Emily, our Marketing Manager and Marketing Assistant, respectively, who are a great help to me. If you followed us in 2018 you will know how much I ran myself into the ground trying to keep up with Instagram and running the business itself. Having Lauren and Emily on the team has allowed me to regain the work-life balance that I desperately needed and really appreciate. When you have good people surrounding you and a team you can rely on it becomes much easier to ‘let go’.
Gradually it has become easier to trust in others, Gemma now does an excellent job of taking care of customer service – another area that is vital to any company. I think the key thing to remember is that there is only one of you and no matter how big or small your organisation. If you are struggling to consistently perform a task because you keep running out of time (be it production, accounts, customer service) consider stepping back and delegating it to someone else. It may seem like a scary prospect and potentially a costly investment at first, but if you forever limit yourself by not delegating, how can you ever grow and achieve bigger things?
Looking back, we have achieved a huge amount for a company that’s only just turned 2 years old and yet I still feel the best is still to come. We have so much in store for 2020 which we are so close to sharing with everyone. I’ll finally be able to get back to stories, showing you how much has changed and explain the challenges we’ve faced along the way. There are also several things on my list that I have in mind for the future. I can’t share them with you just yet but one thing that I doubt will come as a shock is our keenness to acquire our own warehouse in the near (ish) future. This will of course be a huge investment and a logistical nightmare, but I have no doubt we will find a way to achieve it – hopefully in the next 1-2 years.
There’s definitely a balance to looking ahead and focusing on the future, whilst remembering where it all started. We all have to start somewhere, everyone starts with 0 followers, and as one of my favourite entrepreneurs (Gary Vee) says;
“You should be embarrassed of your first attempt.”
I think the Ava May Aromas wax melt will forever have a special place in my heart. Prior to joining Instagram in July 2018 I didn’t actually know what a wax melt was but I introduced them to Ava May, having seen them grow rapidly in popularity. People can’t sample or try scents through a phone screen and therefore purchasing higher value items carries an element of risk if the customer doesn’t like the scent they purchase. The packaging of the wax melt is also a fond development for me. Having started with plain clams (no bow) and hand written bits of paper stuck on to show the scent within, it’s safe to say the presentation of the melts has evolved more than anything else. Eventually I was able to purchase pre-printed stickers with the scent name and introduce strips of ribbon tied into a bow, to showcase the clam. I can’t even remember what gave me the idea, I think it may have been my Mum’s suggestion. I thought (at the time) they looked good, however the ribbon was a time-consuming element and later evolved into the self-adhesive coloured bows that you see today. However, I’m never satisfied and I don’t believe you can ever afford to stand still, so keep an eye out as it will soon be time to reveal the future direction of our beloved waxes.