Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
I’m Nick Bey and I run Bey Moss, an e-commerce platform that sells products infused with Chondrus Crispus or, better known as, sea moss. Our flagship product started with sea moss gel, which was used as a food additive. Our customers are men and women concerned about their health and using beauty products that are safe for your skin.
Bey Moss started on January 1, 2020, and has made over $800,000 to-date with less than $10,000 overall in ads. Our customers realize that they are investing in their health when they consume our products.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
My first entrepreneurial endeavor began with running and operating my tech company Relevant Systems which focuses on designing and developing digital products since 2015. My expertise and background is in computer programming, operations, and management, as well as creatively running graphic designs for everything from logos to labels to promotional materials for a variety of companies.
Bey Moss co-founder, my wife Charmaine Bey, is a popular TV personality from the hit reality show, “VH1: Black Ink Crew Chicago” and radio personality. Her expertise lies in sales. She has over 1M followers across her social media platforms and her followers are our largest target market.
We heard about sea moss from a famous rapper and businessman, Nipsey Hussle. He spoke a lot about a holistic teacher named Dr. Sebi and his teachings and how important superfoods like sea moss are to include in your lifestyle. When Nipsey Hussle passed away, it shook up the entire world, and a lot of the words that he said before he passed started going viral.
We started to see people selling sea moss infused products, including a family member who got the idea from a friend. I asked my wife if she wanted to try selling sea moss to our followers because it seemed like sea moss really does work for people. We wholesaled the sea moss and just put it on our Instagram stories.
The “aha” moment came when we sold out of our first batch of inventory. At the time, this was an entirely new business and industry we were going into. With my branding, digital, and start-up expertise coupled with Charmaine’s sales prowess and her growing influencer status, I know we could build this into something big.
We validated the idea and products through reviews and feedback. Through this process, we began to see the way our product was changing people’s lives as it continues to do. The validation also comes from generating our revenue with little marketing, which proved the need outweighs the want. Luckily at the time, before starting Bey Moss, Charmaine and I were both financially secure from what we’ve accumulated in our separate businesses as well as from being on TV for 4-6 seasons that we were able to bootstrap Bey Moss with our own money.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
When it comes to creating great and safe products for the community, I consult with my health and nutrition writer on staff for new ideas and recipes. After selecting the product we would like to move forward with, I source the bulk packaging for the product. The bulk packaging, as well as the formulations, are sent to our manufacturing facility in Texas where they start to manufacture the product.
With the content and the label dimensions I then have my writer create copy for the product label, webpage, and promotional materials for social media. I then give that copy to my designers which they execute and get the labels printed and sent to manufacturing. When they have the labels, product, and packaging they bottle the product and ship it out to our facilities in partnership with Shopify Fulfillment Center.
Once the inventory has been received, we put the product live on our website hosted by Shopify.com and post our promotional materials on our social media. This is our in-house plug and plays model.
Failure is my best instructor, it's how I’ve been able to learn swiftly and adapt to avoid the same mistake.
Our start-up costs were $200 for the wholesale sea moss we purchased which we sold all together for $2,000. We scaled the company for the first 6 months from just sales alone. Our costs for legalities came later down the road and have been under $10,000.
Describe the process of launching the business.
We started the business officially in September, having already launched our website on January 1, 2020, taking payments through Cash App for the first three months. We started seeing customers immediately on Cash App. In our first month, we made $10,000.
Our strategy within the first three months was simply to promote the brand using our social media channels by educating our followers about sea moss, its benefits, and how to use it. This is the strategy we used when we first started all the way to this moment - focusing on leveraging our social media following to build a Bey Moss community.
We are currently in our fourth round with Shopify for $60K - the first 3 rounds netted at $80k from March to October. We also took $40K from Wayflyer for BFCM which we also paid back within a few months. In total, we’ve paid back 150K out of 180K thus far and are expected to pay off all debts by the end of 2020 while still being profitable.
The biggest lesson learned from the process of starting this brand is how to start a brand from scratch and make it sustainable. The key learnings I’ve been able to glean through this launch process will allow me to transfer that knowledge and curate other new brands and companies with the same plug and play model in the future.
What I also learned is that using other people's money is a valuable resource. It opened up the possibility of being able to partner with the right people that can invest in our brands for equity and give us debit/credit lines to focus on going above and beyond in inventory and marketing.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Social media is extremely powerful and learning who your customers are allowing you to know how and who you need to connect to them. What’s most important is having a product people can't refuse, and then designing it to make it most appealing. No matter where you are in life or your business if you make sure those two things are handled correctly you’re off to an amazing start.
For the first 9 months of the company, we did not do any ad campaigns whatsoever. Our increases and sales and traffic came from increasing our visibility on social media. As we use ads now and find amazing ways to get across to our customers, having a talented ad manager is a key to getting huge returns on ad budgets. This is what a lot of companies lean on when they have zero social media presence.
Our ad manager places ads on Instagram, Facebook, Google ad words, and manages our 20,000 email subscribers. Along with running ad’s we also do a lot of SEO optimization with the copy we have on our page so that when people search sea moss, Bey Moss comes up first. We get a lot of shout outs on social media through word of mouth as well.
My wife’s popularity on social media allows her to make friends and social partnerships with like-minded influencers which allows us to stretch the visibility across their platforms as well. We’ve also signed up with OtterPR to handle all our public relations. They were able to secure our Yahoo Finance, Business Insider, Medium.com, and many more publications which is great because it validates who we are and what we aim to do.
My Relevant Systems designers are on the clock designing cool social media graphics for us to post on our personal Instagrams as well as Bey Moss’s Instagram which now has 60,000 followers. All of these strategies create new customers and bring existing customers back. Currently, we only sell through Shopify and locally in Chicago, but we will be expanding to Amazon top of the new year to target Amazon’s customer base.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
The future looks great. We have paid off more than 85% of our loans all the while being profitable. The majority of profit margins for our products are 70% and we’re currently averaging ROAS: 5.07 Social media is 60,000 business, my personal is 200k and Charmaine’s is 1million.
The majority of our distribution is through Shopify Fulfillment Center and we also partnered with Cloud Kitchen here in Chicago to be able to distribute our products through food platforms like DoorDash and UberEats. Our operations consist of social media marketing, customer service, and curating new products and branding strategies. This part of our plan is expanding, building virtual brick & mortar stores in our leading cities so customers don't have to wait for shipping is our next goal. We also plan on expanding our brand by growing into places where our customers can find products.
Short term goal is securing investors that can scale up Bey Moss 10x and give us a credit line that can fund marketing initiatives and inventory for Amazon, Wal-Mart, Target, Whole Foods, and more. Long term goal is to create brands in different categories but still parallel to Bey Moss. We’ve created Aqua Bey which is alkaline water infused with sea moss and Beyssentials, an organic beauty line infused with seaweed. We’re at the forefront of a whole new health and wellness brand to serve every need!
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
We hit the ground running quickly so we can also fail quickly. Failure is my best instructor, it's how I’ve been able to learn swiftly and adapt to avoid the same mistake. There’s always something new you can learn and incorporate to help sustain your business so it’s important to be aware of all the resources out there. Lucky for us we started a business dealing with your overall health months before the Covid pandemic. Our product became a necessity for those at risk, frontline workers, and the elderly.
What brought us to this moment was taking on the responsibility of keeping people from getting sick. Through that process, we had to go through real-life moments like my wife’s mother passing away due to her health conditions, to my wife delivering her first child after and while the Covid lockdown began. We stayed strong and resilient throughout the entire process to now be at a point where not only is the company highly investible but we are being sought out as phenomenal operators that can build something from scratch.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
The platforms we use the most is Shopify to collect payments and host our website, Instagram and other platforms to sell, Photoshop and Adobe to create our designs, Slack to communicate with the entire staff, and Wayflyer, Shopify Capital, and Fundbox for the capital. Shopify fulfillment to fulfill our orders, Google Drive to hold all our content, and Mailchimp to manage our subscribers.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
The Law of Success by Napoleon Hill is my favorite book. This book truly broke down the laws on how to be able to get what you truly desire. The power of a Master Mind, where you surround yourself with like-minded people with the understanding of that one desire. This is magnetic and allowed me to open my POV.
Another book I really loved is Contagious by Jonah Berger. This book is important for all those who want to have an idea about making things go viral or understanding the power of word of mouth. I learned a lot about how people operate and why communication travels so fast sometimes.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
My advice for other entrepreneurs would have to be “GO!” It doesn't matter what age you are or where you are in life, you should do whatever your heart desires. There’s nothing wrong with working for someone your whole life but there’s also nothing wrong with being an entrepreneur and hiring staff to carry out your dreams. You have to be able to start somewhere and there's no reward if you’re not taking any risks. Everyone’s reward(s) in life is out there somewhere waiting for us to capture it. Go!
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
At this moment we are looking for more customer service reps that understand how to streamline this sector using technology. Also looking for a bonafide assistant that's going to help me align all my goals and duties so I can scale myself up.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Want to start your own business?
Hey! 👋I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
We interview successful business owners and share the stories behind their business. By sharing these stories, we want to help you get started.
Interested in starting your own business? Join Starter Story Premium to get the greatest companion to starting and growing your business:
- Connect + get advice from successful entrepreneurs
- Step by step guides on how to start and grow
- Exclusive and early access to the best case studies on the web
- And much more!
Did you know that brands using Klaviyo average a 95x ROI?
Email, SMS, and more — Klaviyo brings your marketing all together, fueling growth without burning through time and resources.
Deliver more relevant email and text messages — powered by your data. Klaviyo helps you turn one-time buyers into repeat customers with all the power of an enterprise solution and none of the complexity.