What I Wish I Knew – Dimitar Vasilev, co-founder of Clarity Blend
Dimitar and Veronika Vasilev are the husband and wife team behind Clarity Blend, which creates aromatherapy blends to help busy people relax.
They created the business because they wanted to reconnect with nature, having worked in busy, corporate jobs for a number of years. They launched Clarity Blend during the pandemic, having found that they had more time to rediscover their passion for aromatherapy. Veronika completed her clinical aromatherapy certification and now together they create blends that remind them of growing up in rural Bulgaria.
They applied for a Start Up Loan from Virgin StartUp to get the business off the ground and their aromatherapy blends are now stocked in numerous shops – and are even available to purchase using Virgin Points via Virgin Red. We caught up with Dimitar to find out more about their journey and what they wish they’d known sooner when starting the business…
Experiment before you start
Both of us came from quite corporate backgrounds that were very procedural in a way. So initially I would say we spent a lot of time planning and planning. We probably should have started going out to market, speaking to customers, meeting people. We could have started this a lot earlier. It really helps to get to know your customers a lot earlier, and it helps to know what they think of your product. You don't have to have the next five years mapped out. It felt like we spent a lot of time thinking that we couldn't do that, but in hindsight we probably could have.
Be very careful about cashflow
Especially at the beginning, and a business like ours that is very inventory intensive – we have the oils, the boxes, the bottles, the packaging and labels. You don't necessarily know that when you first start out and it's very easy to just spend all your cash. Ordering in smaller quantities with flexibility is very important at the beginning. Be careful with every penny you spend.
Know your audience
At the beginning we had an assumption of who our customers might be. We started aligning our marketing and our messaging to that. But actually, when we discovered who was buying our products, it wasn't what we thought. We ended up paying for rebrands pretty early on, which of course was a costly and timely exercise just six months after we launched. So, after that, we took a lot of time getting to know our customers to make sure we were getting it right. We have visualisations and profiles that go into great detail on who are customers are and they're on the walls so that we never forget.
Find a mentor
As soon as possible, find yourself a mentor. It doesn't have to be a formal relationship. We had a mentor through Virgin StartUp, and it was equally important as the Start Up Loan we received from them. We had access to a very diverse group of people and an expert mentor. But it could just be a friend, family member or colleague. It's just really important to find someone who's willing to help you in the early days of your business.
Inspired to start your own business? Visit Virgin StartUp for advice, guidance and Start Up Loans.