What Happens When You Get That ‘Big Break’?

Etta + Billie Soap

Have you ever dreamed of getting that ‘big break’ in your business? You know – landing a feature in the perfect magazine, being asked to sell your products at your dream venue, or perhaps having a fabulous celebrity singing the praises of your brand?

I bet you have… but is the big break really something worth chasing? Will it make that much difference to your business in the long run? Is it even possible to foresee the effect it might have?

Meet Alana, who owns Etta + Billie, a small bath and body product business based in San Francisco. Alana knows first-hand the effect a big break can have on your business, and the things you need to consider if such an opportunity comes your way.

Can you tell us a little bit about you and your business?
I’m a 31 year-old small town girl who owns a crafty business (and still has a day job), living in San Francisco with my husband. I am food obsessed (and always have been, just ask my mom), I love paging through magazines, reading on the bus, taking walks in my neighborhood, and bargain hunting. I have never considered myself a creative or crafty person so it still surprises me sometimes that I found a creative outlet in soap making and am building it into a business.

My business is Etta + Billie, where I make bath and body products with sustainable, natural ingredients that nourish the skin and look good enough to eat. I source items from across the globe, working to support small and local businesses whenever possible. I utilize my old school knowledge of the beneficial properties of herbs, botanicals and essential oils to infuse all my products. I named my business after my grandmothers, Grandma Etta and Grandma Billie.

What was your ‘big break’ moment, and how did it come about?
My big break moment was when I was invited to participate in a Pop Up shop inside the Banana Republic flagship store. This all came about because I am a part of an organization called SF Made, a non-profit dedicated to promoting and supporting manufacturing businesses based in San Francisco.

Etta + Billie was selected from hundreds of local manufactures to be featured in the Banana Republic Pop Up, which turned out to be a smashing success for everyone involved. The holiday Pop Up shop did so well that they decided to re-open for Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, plus they invited me to sell some of my soaps online. The shop continues to be a success and my soaps sold out online within a month. I am so excited to see what the future holds.

What happened to your business and revenue after this occurred?
My business revenue has continued to increase and I’ve received many other offers to sell in stores across the country due to SF Made’s pop Up Shop exposure.

Would you do anything differently if this happened over again?
If this happened all over again, I would work on forecasting my inventory needs months and months ahead of time.

Would you actively seek out opportunities like this again, or rather spend your time focusing on other aspects of your business?
I think it is vital to get some ducks in a row before you attempt to get big accounts. As I mentioned before, I would have prepared myself ahead of time for an increase in production, i.e. purchasing additional equipment and supplies. I would also have prepared myself financially, time management-wise, and gotten my press materials together (I know I should already have these together but I don’t!). At the end of the day, if the opportunity for something big comes your way you should take advantage of it.

Have you had a ‘big break’ moment in your business?

I’d love to hear what it was… and ¬†how it has affected your business long-term.

3 thoughts on “What Happens When You Get That ‘Big Break’?

  1. I haven’t had a big break moment, and while it would be awesome, I think it would also be anxiety-inducing. Like Alana talks about here, not having the inventory and the press kit and all that – not feeling ready – would stress me out! But I wonder if there is a time when you’re really ready for it.

  2. yeh, I could use a break… But hey, not all of us get noticed. And still we manage to survive and thrive. This was an interesting article. I never thought about what I would do or plan or organize for such a break because i am quite sure it will never come. Now at least i have something to play with on those rare moments I do consider the what if….

  3. Yes, I’ve had a big account come calling. It was two years ago and it was a huge order from a huge company for 1,000 pieces. I wasn’t ready, but I figured everything out and completed the order on time. Whew! I also got into two major magazines that same year. It was trial by fire. Or three trials by fire.
    What I learned was mostly about time. One or two minutes spent doing something on a piece times 1000 is actually a lot of time. When you just make a dozen or something it isn’t that noticeable, but it adds up. So, I’ve learned to cut out those steps that aren’t essential, or to figure out how to make it faster. For production work thats that the game you have to play or you’ll just burn out. I also learned that I’m not good at project management (it’s good to know your weaknesses) , and that I should at least double my time projections. Finally, I learned that days off, even when you think you can’t, are key to staying on top of things. You actually need to rest your body, you’ll work better when your rested.

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