- Tell us about yourself, a bit of background.
My name is Batya. I’ve been married to my high school sweetheart for 6 years now and we are blessed with a beautiful 1-year-old girl, Tsofia. I am passionate about design and creating profitable businesses that encourages social change.
Being a busy working mom I realised that I need to find ways of automating the hassle aspects of my life, freeing up time and headspace to focus on my family, friends, career and all that is important to me. I managed to do this for many aspects of my life, but I soon realized that there is a gap in the market when it comes to catering for some fundamental female needs. This is how my online subscription service Every28 was born.
Every28, www.every28.co.za, is an online subscription service for all our monthly feminine essentials. It’s really simple: You go onto the website and add items such as tampons, pads, shower gel toothpaste and more to your cart. We then deliver your essentials list to you every month. You are in control and can change your order, or cancel at any time.
We are busy women with better things to do. Every28 takes the hassle out of your monthly essentials shop in a convenient and discrete way.
- What were you doing before you started this business?
I was Director of Education and Outreach at the Museum of African Design where I headed up creative workshops for the public and facilitated skill development activities. I have also worked in Boutique Design Agencies as an Art Director and Concept Developer.
I saw a gap in the market that allowed me to come up with Every28. What prompted me to actually begin the Every28 journey was my desire to start my own for profit business that was able to support a not-for-profit that does real good within our community.
28Reasons is the charity side of Every28 and it focuses on Keeping Girls in School. We have a huge problem in South Africa where more than 6 million girls are currently missing school for 3 to 5 days per month due to menstruation. These girls don’t have access to sanitary pads and hygiene education is limited. We are actively working within the communities to educate girls and equip them with the products they need.
- Is your business full time or part time and why?
My business is full time. As it is still very new (think of it as the infancy stage where I am doing the round-the-clock feeds) I am micro managing every aspect. I hope that as it grows I will be able to automate a lot of the backend work so that I can solely focus on marketing and educating the public on the benefits and convenience of my product offering.
The beauty of running an online business is that the office is wherever you need it to be. This allows me to be available for my child and household while still maintaining a fulltime job. I do work at night if need be.
- Do you have a business plan? If so, can you share a bit about your strategy to make it successful?
One of the biggest holdbacks of launching an online store is that one can get trapped in the mindset of ‘everything needs to be perfect before I can launch’ which is almost impossible. So yes I do have a business plan, actually I have a few. The first was geared at launching, making sure everything was perfect enough to launch, while the second plan is a long-term plan – which is my constant marker and guide moving forward.
An important lesson I have learned that applies to all businesses, but I find extremely relevant for online, is that you need to stay flexible and adaptable. If I would have drawn up a business plan and stuck to it without space to change, I would never have launched and the business would never have been successful. The key is to have a business plan act as a compass, not the restricted route. I needed to allow for flexibility to make sure that I am servicing the customer correctly and not producing a service that I ‘think’ the customer needs.
- How do you get clients/ market yourself?
I have found that word of mouth has been the strongest marketing tool for Every28, as women trust their friend’s recommendations when it comes to female related products and services. Paid for advertising is also effective as this is a new service and people need to be informed about it.
- What’s your biggest challenge right now?
My biggest challenge is educating the South African public about this service and the benefits of online shopping. Every28 is a very new concept for South Africa and the difficulty is convincing people to try out online shopping when they haven’t in the past.
- Did you need a lot of money to start off? And how long was it before you made a profit?
I have launched Every28 with no financial backer, which means it had to be a VERY lean startup. I researched and learned what I needed to be able to build the website on my own.
America and Europe are very advanced when it comes to online shopping, there is so much available to the public that helps them build customised subscription services in a few days. It took me 3 months to figure out how to make this work for South Africa. I was in constant communication with the banks and payment gateways to figure it all out, and we did it!
Every28 is the first of its kind in South Africa. It is not a pre-packaged subscription where the shop stipulates what you will get in your box every month, but rather it is a fully customised cart with the exact products a person needs every month. It is also very different from regular online shopping as with online shopping from any other store, the customer needs to log on EVERY MONTH and reselect and purchase the products. Every28 is a subscription service, which means that the products chosen are then automatically delivered to one’s door every month. Products and quantities can be changed from month to month if need be, but there is the benefit of absolute convenience that once your cart is set it is off the ‘To Do List’ every month.
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