The Art of Tinkering
With so many small businesses mushrooming in the Klang Valley, we at gradmalaysia.com were naturally a little curious about people who seem to be guided by their entrepreneurial spirit. It made perfect sense to us to seek a few of them out, and share their stories with our readers.
Trushna Patel is one of them. A businesswoman by day and business broadcaster by night, she launched Tinkerberry (www.tinkerberryspa.com) with the hopes of recreating the spa experience at home.
‘Tinkerberry was born out of my penchant for making and trying out handmade skin and hair care products. At the time, I had been dealing with a bad skin breakout and wanted to swap my skin care routine to an all-natural one. My initial idea was to create ‘Spa in a Jar’ - a line of bath and body products that are clean, simple and preservative-free. The prospect of it got even more exciting when I started researching online and saw the wide array of such products in overseas markets, and very few in the local market.’
Tinkering with an idea
Trushna’s personal skin dilemma was a blessing in disguise as it led her down the path to starting her own line of bath and body products. But she confesses that it was a painfully time-consuming process at first.
‘The hardest part was formulating the recipes, which I began sometime in June 2014. This process alone took almost 2 years! We were trying batches after batches of formulations, just to get the products right. What sets Tinkerberry’s products truly apart from the rest, is that our products are formulated to be ‘self-preserving’. This means that our products can actually last a few months without preservatives. They are also designed for those with allergies or sensitivities, mothers-to-be, or lactating mothers who need to watch what they apply to their bodies. We are fully transparent about the ingredients we use.
It was also just as tough trying to secure the specific ingredients we wanted, some of which we have to source from overseas.’
Another challenge, she adds, was testing the market. ‘It was hard to know if there was a demand for an all-natural, preservative free range of bath and body products. There is a high demand for these sorts of products in the US, UK and Australia, but every market is different. Furthermore, there aren’t all that many purveyors of handmade natural products in the Malaysian market currently. That being said, it gave me the first mover advantage. This meant that I could make and sell unique products that are not in the Malaysian market.’
The fruits of labour
Trushna’s efforts and dedication in maintaining the quality of Tinkerberry products bore fruit when she was offered to showcase her products in M+ Natural Remedies outlets in Bangsar Village, Atria Shopping Gallery and Da Men Mall. This meant that she could no longer view her business as a purely online venture.
‘The transition from running an online business to showcasing my products in actual stores was tough! The perks of having an online store is that there isn’t any physical inventory. We just make our products as and when they are ordered. But selling in a physical store means that we have to ensure there is always adequate inventory. This means multiple trips to multiple stores to deliver the products, and naturally, more paperwork!’
‘As for marketing, we have to come up with brochures and exciting displays to help us explain the brand and the products. But having Tinkerberry products displayed in physical stores is a boon, in a way. Customers can have a feel of our products prior to purchasing. This is something they can’t do if we only offer our products online.’
Two cents’ worth
As with any endeavour, passion and dedication play a big part in ensuring success. Trushna agrees with this notion. ‘Be in a business that you are passionate about. You can be passionate about the products or an idea, but don’t do it for the money or the name. Running a business is a lot of work and takes a lot of patience, especially if you are new to it. Passion and the interest to keep learning is what that is going to keep you afloat.’
And like all things, there is a learning curve as well. Every business is unique, and has its own story to tell. ‘There is no one-size-fits-all strategy for a successful business, so be patient and be willing to learn. You never know if the idea you once thought was “too out there” will be the idea that will bring you success.’