Emily McNabb Butler bought The Good Hippie from a friend, who founded the company. Her friend was a massage therapist, and she had been making homemade body oils for her job, without using creams and lotions that are pumped full of chemicals and harmful preservatives.
Now, Emily McNabb Butler owns The Good Hippie, which is based in Austin, Texas. The company continues to produce homemade skincare and beauty products, which do not use chemicals or artificial preservatives for ingredients. Instead, the company only uses real ingredients to create useful products.
At The Good Hippie, Emily McNabb Butler believes that bathing and skincare is a “ritual,” which “should be a time of indulgence.” Whenever you take a bath, or do your skincare routine, that is your time to “breathe deeply, and nurture [your] body and mind.” So, The Good Hippie’s products allow you to focus your attention completely on your personal indulgence. These products contain ingredients “that have been carefully selected” because of their special properties that can “enhance, nourish, and protect” your skin.
Emily Mcnabb Butler and The Good Hippie prides themselves at producing products that do not have parabens, sulfates, artificial ingredients/preservatives, fillers, harmful chemicals or preservatives, and plastic packaging. Their products are also made from 100% vegan ingredients, and are shipped in glass containers.
Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Emily McNabb Butler: I got my degree in dance performance, moved to NYC where I got certified as a yoga instructor to heal my relationship with my body (being in front of a mirror in a leotard your entire life has its consequences), and started pursuing healthier alternatives in self-care. I moved to Austin and met the founder of The Good Hippie, and she and I became friends quickly! When I met her, she was hand-writing every individual label for every product. Needless to say, the company has grown significantly since then! The founder of TGH moved on to start another very successful business and wanted someone to purchase TGH. Of course, when she told me that, I told her that the company had to “stay in the family,” so I pulled together loans and funding and bought the business from her. After watching the company grow, and loving the products and everything it stood for, it seemed like such a natural step to pick up where she left off. I started growing the company, rebranded the look and feel, and launched 14 skus since taking over in 2018! I’ve been in the spa world for several years as a side gig to my dance career but needed to step away from the stage and concentrate on my other passion- healthy, sustainable living!
Jerome Knyszewski: What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
Emily McNabb Butler: I’ve had SEVERAL since starting, but my real A-HA moment was when I connected with so many other amazing female entrepreneurs in Austin. I felt like I could really make a difference and not just be another brand. There truly isn’t, at least on my side, the feeling of competition with other women or business owners that own companies like mine. There’s room for all of us to make a difference and we’re all trying to change the world. And we NEED each other to make that happen.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
Emily McNabb Butler: COVID-19 has been the most challenging time. I know that’s the answer you’ve received from most business owners. But this is my second year of owning the business, and I was expecting to grow and hit the ground running this year (maybe even make good $$), but alas, the world stopped turning right before SXSW and that’s when I realized I was in trouble. As far as giving up- I wanted to. A lot. But I know I never would and never will and that’s a testament to the amazing women I have around me. My drive to continue things was the progress I’d made so far and the belief that all of the deals we were making or finalizing at the beginning of the year will appear again in 2021. I’ve been hanging my hat on those opportunities that still linger but have been postponed. Also, I have an obligation to our nonprofits for which we want to raise money during these hard times. It’s not just about me. It’s about setting a good example for my fellow entrepreneurs, pushing for my family, working for the non-profits, and ultimately helping change the beauty world dynamic for the better.
Jerome Knyszewski: So, how are things going today? How did your grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?
Emily McNabb Butler: Things today are still rough. Grit and resilience come from my village and their brainstorm sessions and passion to keep pushing helps. We’re now entering the holiday season and we all want to see our friend business owners succeed. There are more opportunities now than before and we wouldn’t have seen them through if we weren’t working together to keep the lights on. I’d do anything for my community, and they’d do anything for me. It’s really beautiful.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
Emily McNabb Butler: Packing orders and never noticing when someone ordered TWO or THREE of a product and I only mailed one. This happened a lot. I spent a lot of extra money in shipping fees in my first few months of owning the business. But you live and you learn! Plus, my customer base is amazing and so gracious. Other than that, small “whoopsie,” I got a lot of challenging questions that forced me to continue my education in very specific corners of the products. Now I know that I will only ever use Vitamin E that’s derived from soy rather than wheat to protect my client base with Celiac Disease or gluten intolerances. It’s little things like this that only make me a better business and make the products even more amazing.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you share a few examples of tools or software that you think can dramatically empower emerging eCommerce brands to be more effective and more successful?
Emily McNabb Butler: SHIPSTATION! Gotta love them. And an inventory system that helps you price your products with acceptable margins and reminds you to pay yourself.
Jerome Knyszewski: As you know, “conversion” means to convert a visit into a sale. In your experience what are the best strategies an eCommerce business should use to increase conversion rates?
Emily McNabb Butler: Bundle things together! Offer two sizes! Have a product that is truly made better by using another product- but only if this is necessary. I’m not a big believer in making people spend more if they don’t need to. But when you have quality products that really make a difference, you’re doing your customer a favor!
Jerome Knyszewski: Of course, the main way to increase conversion rates is to create a trusted and beloved brand. Can you share a few ways that an eCommerce business can earn a reputation as a trusted and beloved brand?
Emily McNabb Butler: Reach out your base often. When someone leaves a review on my site, I always reply to them personally and directly thank them. If you’re a regular, I will also throw in a free sample or small product too to show my appreciation! All of my thank you cards are handwritten, and I’ll always go back to see what that customer purchased last time. If they’re purchasing something different or something was only a one-time purchase, I ask about it! I always want to check it and nurture my relationships with customers. It’s the perk of being small!
Jerome Knyszewski: Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to create a very successful e-commerce business? Please share a story or an example for each.
Emily McNabb Butler:
- Get a professional to help you set up the platform. Sometimes it’s worth the money so you save time and it’s done right! I’ve spent many nights crying over my website, and I finally break down and get a professional to help. But I’ve wasted a week and a lot of tears!
- Photos. Get good photos. If you have a product-based business, make sure they’re in front of a white background because many wholesalers or other platforms will request it!
- Get an email list going. We don’t have the privilege of foot traffic, so you have to get everyone’s attention in a different way.
- As much as I hate it, get a social media account to connect with your community. When I’m active on social media, I can see the difference in my site traffic.
- Be patient and gentle with yourself. Reach out and ask for help.
Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?
Emily McNabb Butler: You can find me on:
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!