Bö Essentials provides handmade Bath and Body products as well as fragrances for the home. Check out our interview with Thom Wells, owner of Bö Essentials, based in Newport News and read about his challenges, successes and advice for other retailers.
When was your business established?
Our company was established in 2000.
How many locations do you operate?
We have one store located in Newport News.
Describe your business and the services/products you provide
Bö Essentials provides handmade Bath and Body products as well as fragrances for the home. An additional service we offer is the ability to custom scent your products with our selection of over 300 aromatics.
Have you always worked in the Retail Industry? If not, what did you previously do?
I have always worked in retail in some fashion. Usually I am working the backend with marketing, and visual design.
Why did you decide to start your own business? How long of a process was it?
I have owned my own graphic design business for 22 years. I started it while in college and grew into the web market as well. Bath and body was just a hobby that I actually grew up with. I gave away bath and body products for Christmas and to clients as thank you gifts. The word spread and I designed a website just for my products and it took off.
What was your biggest challenge when starting the business? Why?
The biggest challenge for me was owning two businesses that involved a deep commitment. In the beginning, I remember making soap and building websites at the same time. My business clients would come to my store and after talking business we would talk about what fragrance they liked. It is hard to merge the two but now they work as one and my clients are the better for it!
What do you wish you knew then, that you know now?
Start off making your employees, even the 10 hour a week kind, take full accountability. No excuses, get it done. I have made so many excuses for my employees and I kicked myself in the butt every time.
What has been your greatest success as a retailer? What do you attribute that to?
Customer service has been the number one thing that I look for in a business and that is what I want my customers to experience. Many people do what I do, I want them to come to me for the intangible elements that only we have. We remember their names, their formulas, many times we know their children. I think the biggest measurement of success is at Christmas time. We get so many cards from our customers thanking us for one thing or another. We actually become a part of the family.
What is the best part about owning your own business? What changes has it brought to your life?
I like helping people on my terms. I have centered my business and my life on that. I live my life by the 7 Habits and run my businesses by the same concepts. I also get to share that philosophy with my staff. They all get the call on 7 Habits and are held accountable to those company beliefs.
As a retailer, what are some of the challenges that you faced? Which were the easiest to overcome, which are you still working on?
Controlling labor! The only thing that is 100% in my control and I just can’t master it.
What should others know about starting a retail business? What advice can you give?
Other members in the entrepreneurial community are waiting to be asked their opinion. We are a very opinionated breed! Get out there and find some people that you feel comfortable with and talk shop. I talk about my business all the time… I don’t know if the crowd is always listening, but I talk!
Owner: Thom Wells
707 Mariners Row, Ste 104, Newport News, VA, 23606