Aine Kennedy had been building a loyal following on Instagram and TikTok, and when she launched her first cosmetics product in February 2022, her posts soon started going viral.
For the first six months after launch, Aine promoted the product exclusively on her social channels. Her TikToks have had over 40 million views and counting. A single ‘behind the scenes’ video she produced got nearly a million likes on Instagram. “We were doing no paid marketing. It’s all social media, so it’s vital to our business,” Aine says.
That business is the Smooth Company, which combines Aine’s background as an entrepreneur and experience from working in the beauty industry. She had sensed an opportunity to develop a hair taming wand to make it easier for girls to slick back their hair, after researching the market and discovering there wasn’t an affordable product like this in Ireland, the UK or Europe. She spent nearly two years developing and refining the concept and the Smooth Stick was born.
Aine admits the nature of the job means she’s always on her phone. “Oh, I’m on social media all day. My screen time is not OK!” she laughs. “In the morning, I’m on my phone checking have I replied to customers or comments. And then it’s also important to see what’s trending because I might need to create content that will pick up on that.”
Can you build a brand while fulfilling orders?
Building a brand on social media takes time, but as the orders started reaching more than 80 per week, she began to see there was less time in the day for creating new content, updating her social channels and messaging customers.
Until recently, she had been fulfilling all orders from home, with her grandad Billy often helping out (and starring in many TikToks in the process). So Aine had a decision to make: she could keep packing and posting every order by hand, and risk losing out on sales opportunities – or she could get valuable time back by working with a fulfillment provider.
Time is money: the challenge of every small business
“It got to a stage where it was unmanageable. I was spending all day packing orders, doing picking lists, so I wasn’t able to dedicate time to social media. When you run a small business, you have to wear all the hats. I was handling fulfillment, but if I want my business to grow, I needed to outsource that,” she says.
Aine’s boyfriend works in logistics and knew about TBM Solution’s warehouse in Dublin. After a visit, she noticed it already stocked other cosmetics brands so she sensed there would be a good fit with her business. She was also impressed with the team’s personable approach, and she switched all fulfillment for the Smooth Stick to TBM Solution.
That decision quickly paid off, saving valuable time and money. Aine no longer has the headache of logging on to the postal service portal to enter every order manually. It used to take hours for her just to do a few international orders, and as a sole trader she couldn’t negotiate bulk discount rates. “It was costing me more money than the customer was paying,” she says.
Passing on savings to customers
Now, she’s able to offer free shipping for orders over €25, which she could only have done by working with TBM Solution. Anyone paying a visit to the Smooth Company website sees a prominent banner with the offer straight away, and Aine says this has helped to increase her sales. “A lot of small online businesses see abandoned carts because of high shipping rates. TBM Solution have much better shipping rates than what I was getting, so I can pass that saving on to my customers,” she says.
Aine had always taken care to personalise customer orders with branded teal envelopes and hand-written notes. In a business where small details count a lot, she hasn’t needed to give that up, even when working with a larger fulfillment company. “It’s really important for me to keep the connection with my customers, and TBM Solution still do that personalisation from their warehouse,” she says.
TBM Solution also made it easier to deal with large retail customers which tend to order in certain carton sizes of 12 or 24. “TBM have those boxes, and they can take all the stress out of managing that,” says Aine.
In the short time since launching, Aine has had hundreds of orders from all over the world. Her office has a map where she puts a blue pin for every country she’s shipped to. Right now, Ireland is her biggest market, followed by the UK, US, Canada and Australia, but Norway is also a popular destination. She’s even shipped products as far as Chile and Peru. “I’ll never get there but at least the Smooth Stick will!” she says.
Aine is sure she made the right decision to outsource pick and pack along with shipping to a dedicated provider. “If you’re a small business, wondering ‘should I or shouldn’t I go with a fulfillment centre?’ You get your time back, which is invaluable if you want to grow your business. The Smooth Stick is about making your day run easier – and that’s how I feel about TBM Solution.”