“No matter what, do not go into the yoga products business,” they told Gemma and Georgie. “Ryan’s already got that one.”
Sisters Gemma Pearce and Georgie Mayhew did it anyway, undaunted by the warnings of the crowd. Based in Australia, Gemma has been a professional ballet dancer – a career with a notably short shelf life. Georgie is a mom with a background in education and training in the vocational sector. Together, they have built Ajna Wellbeing. (Ajna means “intuition,” “perceive,” “command,” or "beyond wisdom" in Sanskrit.)
Their path to a million-dollar brand began with a lot of YouTubing to learn how to make this new venture work. When they came across Ryan’s videos, they noticed something different from all the hype out there. He stressed the importance of building a brand and an audience rather than just throwing some products up onto Amazon and hoping for the best. Rather than searching for an untapped market, the sisters decided to go with what they love: eco-conscious products to promote better living through holistic health.
For them, getting more training, support, and mentoring meant traveling halfway around the world. They attended the workshops and listened to the call recordings rather than turning their schedules upside down to join the live calls. Even with those challenges, Gemma and Georgie are now building a business that is richly rewarding on so many levels. They know they made a wise choice in launching this company together.
Plus, as Gemma shares, “After only a couple of meetings in the Backroom, the value we’ve gotten has become evident in a few different ways. Obviously, you get great tactical business advice if that’s what you’re looking for. But much more powerful are the connections and friendships you make and the personal growth you experience from being around such inspiring and genuine people.”
When you think of all-natural, organic, sustainable, biodegradable products and packaging, your first thought might not be China. But that is exactly where the sisters found their supplier. These qualities were non-negotiable for them – that eco-friendly aspect is right at the core of their business. They have built a strong relationship with their supplier. She understands their standards and even communicates with other factories on their behalf when necessary. Having simpatico feet on the ground makes doing business offshore a lot less stressful.
Of their product line, Gemma says, “We love our products, and we always strive to create things that we would use ourselves. Since we essentially represent our target audience, we tend to just make products that we like. It’s fun! Obviously we look at the numbers and viability of the product, but at the end of the day we trust our instincts, and focus on the brand as a whole.
“We particularly enjoy the design aspect of product development, and although we outsource a lot of the technical parts of the process, we still like to have a lot of control over the final product. Our products are constantly evolving as we learn the ins and outs of the manufacturing and sourcing process.
As we move forward, we’re looking to produce more products that will serve our current customers and help them to achieve their goals of living a healthier, happier life, in a sustainable way.”
That relational perspective carries through to their marketing and customer service as well. While using Amazon as their initial primary distribution channel comes with significant limitations on how they interact with their buyers, Gemma and Georgie are building a presence they can control better via Shopify. There, they offer lots of resources their customers can use to learn how to use their products.
They have worked hard to build an audience on Facebook and Instagram, engaging with them, responding to their comments, getting their feedback, and doing all they can to make customers feel like part of a community they have a stake in. It has also worked beautifully to build relationships with influencers who align with the brand’s values. These influencers share Ajna Wellbeing products with their own followers, often including their products as prizes in yoga challenges, which has dramatically sped up the process of spreading the word.
In fact, as Gemma shares, “Ryan was generous enough to meet up with us after the last Backroom meeting and discuss options for scaling our business. We were also joined by a friend of Ryan’s who happens to be an influencer in our space, and who gave us some really valuable insights into how we might approach partnerships with big influencers, and her thoughts on our future product ideas. It was an amazing experience and we were pinching ourselves after it happened! I said to Ryan that it felt very surreal to be sitting at a cafe with him and this incredible influencer, both people who we admire so much, when less than two years ago I was watching all of his YouTube videos at home and being inspired to start our business.”
The sisters advise, “With those influencers – and with everyone you have contact with – you must treat them all like customers and build a good relationship with them. This is not transactional; it’s relational. Be interested in what your target influencers share on their own pages. Have conversations about what they want from the relationship, and then trust them to handle the messaging, so it is truly authentic.”
Their approach is truly working. Customers resonate with the company’s values: Be brave. Be authentic. Live your truth. They are absolutely delighted by the experience of unboxing their purchases. Included in every shipment is a collection of stickers and a seed card – brilliant ideas that serve to extend buyers’ enjoyment while also serving as a reminder of their favorite holistic health company.
Additionally, Ajna Wellbeing partners with One Tree Planted. For every product sold, they plant one tree to battle deforestation around the world.
Because they have connected so well with their audience, Gemma and Georgie have little trouble getting reviews the old-fashioned organic way. While they use a follow-up sequence for their buyers, the whole process starts by making products so good that their customers love their purchases and are excited to leave glowing reviews right away.
No business is without its challenges. Success breeds a whole new set along the way. For Gemma and Georgie, most of the challenges they have encountered are on the logistics side, getting the products from China to the United States. Sometimes suppliers miss shipments, creating inventory management nightmares. For example, in Q4 of 2018, their first holiday season in business, they had no idea what to anticipate and nearly ran out of stock. Amazon lost some of their inventory and packed the wrong product for some customers. The ensuing complaints left them scrambling to make everything right for those holiday buyers.
Challenges aside, though, the sisters are right on target with their plans. From the outset, they kept hearing about a timetable of twelve months to a million dollars – and they reached that milestone. They determined to outsource any area they weren’t personally confident in handling and found that choice led to getting even faster results. After all, as a business owner, there is never a shortage of tasks to handle.
Their plan right now is to keep growing the business for a few more years and then looking for an eight-figure exit. They credit participating in the Backroom with opening their eyes to what is possible and normalizing those outcomes because they have watched others accomplish what they aim to do.
Georgie recommends outsourcing wherever you can. If you can find someone who can do a task better than you can, let them. That’s important if you want to speed the growth process up. Focus on your brand story and relay it to customers at every touchpoint, so they are wowed every single time. Create an amazing product and stay true to your brand. Get the support and guidance you need.
Gemma adds that it is crucial to become a good problem solver. There will be problems! Embrace them and grow. Problems nudge you to become creative. If something doesn’t work the first time, find another way. Everyone’s path is different. What works for one does not always work for everyone.
For years, Gemma and Georgie lived in different countries – even on different continents. They never got to spend much time together. But now, they work together every day. Their parents are supportive and want to help however they can. In fact, their dad even came to CapCon this year with them.
To sum it up, they would have you know that this path is completely achievable and normal. They love creating the change they want to see while making a positive impact in the world.