WCBC Review interviews Kirsten Kyllingstad of Forelsket.

In this episode we discuss the whirlwind of starting a business, beginning to sell products before the website is finished, and turning a hobby into a hustle.

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Forelsket

Cardinal:   Hello. And welcome back to another episode of WCBC review, where we put the spotlight on small businesses. Today, we are interviewing Kirsten Kyllingstad of Forelsket. How are you today Kirsten?

Kirsten: I'm doing well. Thank you so much for having me here today, Cardinal. My pleasure.

Cardinal: Oh, the pleasure's all mine and I have gotten to try your bath products before luckily enough for me, but let's go ahead and tell everyone what exactly is Forelsket.

Kirsten: Sure. So Forelsket is a high-end luxury bath products company. And Forelsket actually is a Norwegian word and there's no direct to English translation. And it means as a concept or loosely translated, I suppose the euphoria that you feel when you are first falling in love.

And so there's kind of two parts to that. We hope that when you use our bath products, that you are also feeling that feeling of euphoria, that feeling of Forelsket falling in love with our products. But also one of the major things about our products is that the focus of it is kind of this like transportation to another place to another country, especially as we've been stuck here in our houses for well over a year here now that idea of escape.

So all of our products in our various lines are based on different countries. And I am of Norwegian heritage, which is why that's my tip to Norway. And then within the products, you're going to get an insert that talks about the country in some kind of way. It could be a typography. It could be the culture, the people, traditions, something like that.

And we know that our memories are so tied to sense. Since. In the larger bird, but also sent as in the scent of something. I know that a lot of times I'll be walking and I go, Oh, it smells like Christmas. Like Christmas doesn't have a smell. Right. But there's something that's conjuring up a memory for us of, of Christmas time.

Say for that example. So the, so the sense with  with our products, actually are going to hopefully kind of take people back to a place maybe they've been before. And if they haven't been there, hopefully that scent can kind of also come and envelop them in a way that then they can imagine themselves being in this new place that they haven't been to before.

And that kind of helps to transport them there. And then with having that insert that also has some information about the place maybe that also helps with them feeling transported and. If they haven't been there before, hopefully some of that information on there, you know, might peak their curiosity in a way that then that place becomes a part of their bucket list.

Wow. I love it. I love it.

Cardinal: So. Why did you want to start Forelsket? Are you a traveler yourself?

Kirsten: Or I am, and I am actually a traveler. I like that you use that word. I really try to be a traveler instead of a tourist difference. And so I do like to go and do those things that I mentioned. See the people be a part of that culture or learn about that culture.

And There's touristy things I like to do of course. You know, when you go to France, you want to see the Eiffel tower, right? You want to do some of those things, but looking at it as being more of I would say like one with the place or going in humbly and wanting to, to learn about the place as opposed to just go and expect the people there to cater to me as an American.

So trying to go in humbly that way. My love of travel has the now infiltrated my life in a different way. I am a flight attendant for a major airline and I am based here in Portland. Which is great. Cause I live in Portland, so I don't even have to commute. And with COVID we all know about what happened with the airlines, right?

Like people stop traveling. So I actually went on a voluntary furlough. It was a nine month furlough. That started October 1st. So I have been home this whole time, just like everybody else going absolutely nowhere uh, dreaming of the day when we can. But it was good because then my son was home and he's six years old.

And so I was able to help him with school and be here. And those were all nice things. But I am never one to sit still. So usually I make products of some kind. Some kind of gift that I make for my family, every Christmas. So

Cardinal: I do the same thing. Well, there's magnets or cards

Kirsten: or all kinds of things! and I've done, I've done hand warmers with pie weights in there.

I very much like Martha Stewart projects. So I done a lot of those before. And and then I've made like little clutch purses. I don't know. I've made like a bunch of different kinds of things. But I made the handmade soap more than once because people really liked it and like requested it.

As a  Christmas gift, I guess. And then while I was home here on the furlough, I was, I had thought about making bath bombs for my family for Christmas, and I just hadn't yet. But I was looking at well, what can I do to maybe also be at home and have some kind of income stream. And then I just started thinking about, Oh, you know, I wanted to make you know, these bath bombs and like, maybe I'll start researching that a little bit more. I, I had thought about food, I love to bake. And so I thought about that and I was like, well, you know, the liability with people eating things. And then if anything happens and it just seemed like it was kind of a liability and insurance kind of sticky situation. So I was like, Oh, bath products will be easy, but there's a lot more that goes into it. Which I would say is probably the same for every small business owner, regardless of what they're starting. You always have this idea of like, Oh, it's this, like, I know there's like something, but it will be fine.

And then you start going and you're like, Oh, yeah, there's a there's these many. Okay. I gotta do those things. Oh, now there's these things and it's always a bigger undertaking, I think, than you ever think it's going to be when you first start. But there was something I thought of, I was like, well, I could do this and I could incorporate the travel this way and I could do that.

And it just kind of snowballed and I have a very, very supportive husband who is really encouraging and really flexible with time. And, and that's one of the things you, you have to have to be a flight attendant is a supportive and flexible family at large because they really do all help take care of everything if you're gone.

And that same kind of personality really has helped with the business. Cause he's like, okay, what do you need? How can we do this? What can I help you with? And so that's, that's been really good. I think it's, again, more than what any of us really expected it was going to take in the very beginning, but we're all adapting to that.

And, and so to have that a supportive spouse has. Been unbelievably helpful.

Cardinal: Nice. So what was one of the biggest challenges that you encountered when you were opening up?

Kirsten: Um, I would say the biggest challenge is really the surprise things. Right. And so with, with the product, you think, okay, well here, I'm gonna, I'm going to make this thing and I'm going to sell it and I'm not going to have a storefront.

Right. So like, I don't need to worry about that. But like, you got to figure out a website and I don't know how to do that. So that's a big undertaking, but then it starts coming down to, although it's not food, that's being ingested because this is a product that's going on people's body, you have to look at all of that, the FDA listings and what, when you label your product, you have to label everything that's included.

The ounces. And all of that is really dictated on where it has to be on the label. What's the size of the font that you have to use. So you can't just kind of come up with this idea of like, Oh, I'll just have this picture on there. And it'll say this for my company name and we'll put it on. It will look great.

You have to think about all of those other legal kind of things. That can't, you don't really want them to appear legally. The thing where people are like, Oh, there's a bunch of like legally using jargon and all this kind of stuff. So it still has to look nice, but you have to include a lot more information than I, I ever thought.

And designing a website is a much bigger undertaking than I thought!

Cardinal: Yeah.  if you could start over, is there anything that you would have done differently?

Kirsten: Um, Everything was such a whirlwind, so I kind of had this idea. I was gonna start and just went with it. And the timeline that I had was so quick. That because I wanted to, to launch on black Friday for the holiday season and I decided I wanted to do this like the end of September. So we had to get a bunch of stuff done right away in order to launch and, and branding and coming up with the logo and testing all of the products. I tested so many different recipes to see what worked, what had the right consistency. What did I want to have colors. I wanted to use which sense I wanted to use.

There's multiple different lavender scents.

Cardinal: Absolutely

Kirsten: you, that they have the type of plant. And so to just really pinpoint what was it, even within, I know that I'm going to be doing a lavender scent and focusing on France for this line, but which lavender do I want? And so there's a lot of product testing.

And all of that was kind of happening at the same time as writing a business plan, talking to the people over at score about starting small business stuff and running stuff by them and all of that, that planning stuff, registering with the state and with the feds and all of those things, I think take a lot longer and it, and to do things without feeling rushed or worried, especially when you're trying to come up with a product at the same time, if you already are like, well, I knit sweaters and I know how to knit a sweater of the different sizes. I'm a knitter. And I have, I just need to get the different yarn or whatever, right. Or I make jewelry. I already make this jewelry. It's fun. And I just need to get the products, but, you know, it's just an earring.

So to come up with a whole recipe that actually works, it's just another layer. And so I think if. If I had really thought about it and planned more and had more of that lead in time, I think everything would have felt a little less chaotic because it's still a little bit of working and still trying to do the behind the scenes stuff to, to catch up to where you would need to be.

So, I suppose if I were to start over, I would take more time in the beginning, but I didn't.

Cardinal: Well, that's a very, you're giving me kind of Silicon Valley startup vibes of like, we're just going to hit the ground running.

Kirsten: We'll figure it out as we go. Yup.

Cardinal: So I am curious to hear about the role that the Internet's played in your business, because you mentioned that you don't have a storefront.

So what's the sort of role that the internet has done for you in this past year of 2020, especially.

Kirsten: So one of the nice things about the internet before I actually had my website, Launched I opened before I opened, if that makes sense. So it wasn't actually completed until March 1st, I think is when I kind of went live there, but I started selling things to people in the very, very end in November.

Like I said, black Friday. So I was having people Venmo or PayPal, or, you know, if we saw each other in person cause they were local, then, you know, do you want to give me a check or, you know, how do you want to work things? Some people named cash. Like I just, I had all different kinds of ways that I was doing that.

And. Once I started becoming more visible to strangers people who are seeing me on Instagram and Facebook and things like that. There were some people who were like, yes, I sure I'll Venmo, you know, that deal. But there were some people who then. We're ex expressed an interest, but never purchased anything.

And once I went live with my website and I reconnect with those people saying, Hey, just so you know, I'm on the website. Now you're out on the web now and you can go ahead and purchase through my website. And there were people who were like, Oh good. I've been waiting because they want it to pay online.

So I feel like. Having the online presence kind of works in, in different ways. You know, if you're on some kind of social media and getting recognition and being seen that way and driving traffic to your website, it's really different than to have the website that people might come across or might find on their own or word of mouth, that kind of way.

Or if you have an Etsy site that kind of takes people back there, That's fine, but having the actual website that allowed people to make purchases through a way that they are familiar with that, they're comfortable with purchasing things from companies and larger companies that, you know, you're purchasing something on Nordstrom.

It's just a conglomerate, right. You're used to doing that. If they're buying something from an independent local place. But they still don't know them. There's a comfort factor in, in the fact that they can then purchase through the website. And I think that that's really helped then to drive some sales for me as well.

And I think also it allows people to, to look at their own pace. You know, if I've got a post on Instagram, that's like, here's. One product or here's one product I'm focusing on this one thing. People don't really want to scroll through however many hundreds of posts you might have in order to see all of your products.

So to have the website and have everything there, it allows people to see everything. On their own time at their own pace and in the way that they, they want to do that because I have things separated out by countries and I have things separated out by product. So you can look at all of the bath bombs.

If you love bath bombs, or you can look at all of the bubble scoops, if you want to do a solid bubble bath Or you can be like, Ooh, Australia, eucalyptus. I love that smell. Like, what do you have available in just this one? Cause I'm not really interested in the Spain and the orange. I don't really like orange, but I love eucalyptus.

And so they can separate things out the way they want to, and just really focus in on, on what it is that they want to see. When they want to see it, people look at, you know, all times of the day, depending on what their schedule is. Yeah. That

Cardinal: makes total sense. So that kind of leads into my next question of what's your current number one way of getting new customers?

Kirsten: My current number one way of getting new customers is probably still word of mouth. I have a lot of repeat customers. So once people try my products, then they usually order again and They, they get them either just for themselves, but a lot of people have gotten things and then been like, Oh, this is really great.

I'll send this to this person and I can get this gift for this person. I also have flight attendants gift bags. So when you go on a flight, it's very nice to thank your flight attendants for their work, then throughout the fight for you. And. It is always good for you. And so I have these little packages where you can, can either just get a group of four bath bombs or four shower steamers did that, the travel sized bath bombs.

So they're one and a half ounces instead of the full size, which is about four and a half ounces. And then that just works as a nice way. They come in a little organza bag. Yeah, they can just hand them out. You just get on board and go. Thank you very much. I'm sitting in 32 F and they're always super, super grateful.

And so things like that, they're not really for that person to use. Right. They could get the travel size for themselves, but having that different option where people then now purchase them and given them to the flight attendants or somebody just got a graduation present for someone where it's just a box of everything all together.

So they kind of think start off with things for themselves. They try it and then. They get more things for themselves, but then they also start branching out and giving that to others as gifts who then, thought I really liked that. So then they become a customer. So it's, it's mostly spreading that kind of a way.

And I, since I just launched the end of November, what does that is that four months? December, January, February, March? Yeah. So just ended up. March was four months. And then my website's only been up for a month. So I'm still relatively young, I suppose, in the business world. But that, that I would say is, is the number one way is just people letting other people know.

Cardinal: Nice. That's really smart that you have the little gift bags. I like that a lot.

Kirsten: Well, because a lot of people give us treats, which are nice, but there's a lot of treats and some people are very grateful for it, but a lot of times they don't. Get ingested because people are like, Oh my gosh, I've gotten so many edible chocolates this week.

Right. I don't, I don't want to have them or I'm on a diet or I'm lactose intolerant. And so, although they're really appreciated in concept, I guess I would say as a gift, they're not always. Eaten, but everybody takes a shower so you can get a shower steamer and how like a spot experience in your shower.

Everybody's going to use that.

Cardinal: That's great. I do something really similar with my cards. I have about three and a half different businesses and one of

Kirsten: them, I know you're busy. Yeah.

Cardinal: One of them is a thing called Cardable Club and. It's so easy to market. Cause I just put the little Cardable  clubs stamp on the back and people give it out and then that's double the views of the customers.

The receiver looks at it and go, Oh, this is a cool card. And looks on the back and then goes to the website and disperses more. So

Kirsten: yeah, I love that.

Cardinal: It's fun, fun stuff. So uh, you are relatively young companies. We have said, I think that you've gone a really far away in just a few months. I would not have guessed that you had launched in November cause you have a really robust product selection.

And just the way that it's all displayed is really impressive. But I'm curious where you are wanting to be a year from now or even five years from now with Forelsket.

Kirsten: As well. I would love. To have somebody else doing payroll, all the information for the taxes. I know it's just me. I don't really have a payroll, but I, I still have to track everything.

And right now I feel that I'm too small and the income stream is not as high that would really necessitate using. A product say like QuickBooks or something that organizes everything for you so much easier. So right now I am all about the spreadsheets and logging everything by myself every single day, so that I can have that ready for the accountant.

So I love. Somebody else to do all of that kind of stuff, or to have something a little more automated in that kind of way. And just, I feel like having maybe some more of the processes of everything. Seemed more streamlined. I'm doing, doing things kind of as orders come in and I run out of things like then I make some more of that.

I don't want those too.

Cardinal: Yeah. That happens to me all the time with the dang

Kirsten: cards. So, I mean, I have stuff, but like I kind of wait till it goes down and, and then I, like I said, I don't want something just sitting around and then it's, it's gonna run out of its expiration time. Just sitting here in my workshop.

I'd rather have the full expiration time. At this person's house so that they can use it. And it's still good. And it's not like been sitting here for a super long time.

Yup.

Cardinal: Because it's so much more being a business owner than just making your product or baking the pies or cleaning the homes or like whatever it is that people do so much back end things.

Kirsten: And that's the stuff you don't think about when you first start you think about just the doing the fun part. So

Cardinal: speaking of first starting, I know that you're relatively fresh, but the question that I like to wrap up every interview with is if you had a brand new business owner in front of you, what advice would you give them?

Kirsten: I would definitely recommend getting in contact with somebody at score. I have found them extremely helpful to talk to personally. Yeah. But also just looking at their website and the different workshops they have available, or, you know, articles, information, you can kind of read links that they have that point you in the right direction for what's a like an, an outline on an outline.

What's the word, like a checklist. They have a checklist of like, here's the things you need to do and they can. Link you to, here's where you need to register for this state. Or you can ask questions. Well, how, you know, how do I do this? Is this a good idea? Or what's this? And they're all retired business people that are just volunteers and they're just there to.

Help you really? And the only thing they ask in return is that you show up to your appointments, which seems fair, but you know, just doing the research or doing, doing your due diligence before you start. And then coming up with a plan, I don't think, you know, when you start seeing how much it actually is, that goes into it.

I don't, I don't ever think that then that should become a reason that somebody goes. Oh, this, this is too much for me. I don't know how to do this. And then stop. I definitely think you've just go. Oh, okay. This was more than what I was thinking or what I was expecting. I can still do this and now. I'm going to come up with a timeline or I'm going to come up with my checklist and do things in a way that I can do them in a way that I'm comfortable.

And if I need help, I know I can reach out to these other professionals who are there to help me along the way. They'll read your business plan and give you feedback. You should have a business plan because if you ever want any kind of backing from any kind of investor, they're going to want to read your plan.

Gotta  have plan, and there are some people who were like, I'll just make some extra money and I'll sell some things and have no plan. And, and then I think what that does for you is you are always a person selling some things to like some friends you don't then actually have a way to transition into.

A professional business moving forward because you haven't given yourself the foundation to get there. So your planning can happen quickly. Like mine was fast and furious. You can do it if you have more time. Great. But you got to put the time in. Into the boring part that none of us want to do, which is that foundation and the start to really help set you up and propel you into the future.

Cardinal: Some great advice. You're not the first one. Who's pointed people towards score. It's a great resource. I also really love the SBDC small business development center. They're pretty awesome too. So we are wrapping up here and I am wondering where can people find Forelsket?

Kirsten: Perfect. So I have a couple of different ways that you can find me.

 What we want you to do is discover Forelsket.  You're going to be discovering Forelsket you're going to be discovering Spain, or discovering France or discovering India.

So one of the things that you remember then is to find me, what you're going to look for is a website. And we are Discover Forelsket dot com and then there's going to be the same handle for both Facebook and Instagram as well. So you're going to be at discover Forelsket, and that's where we are for right now.

Cardinal: We'll have all of those linked below so people can easily go check out your shiny new site.

So go check out Forelsket, and I hope that all of your business dreams come true.

Kirsten: Well, thank you so much. Thank you for having me here today.

 Thanks for listening to WCBC review, where we put the spotlight on small businesses. WCBC review is made possible by small business owners, listeners like you, and Genuine Growth Marketing. We use ethical marketing tools to help small businesses genuinely grow. This podcast is produced, edited, hosted, and published by me, Cardinal Marking.

Do you know, a small business owner who has a story to tell, email me at info at WCBC review.com. If you enjoyed this episode, visit us at WCBC review.com for more or subscribe, wherever you listen to podcasts. Earn a special place in my heart by reviewing this on apple podcasts. Find choice quotes the best clips from interviews and a heads up on upcoming episodes by following us at WCBC review on Facebook or Instagram. Or connect with me, Cardinal Marking on LinkedIn. Until next time this is Cardinal Marking wishing you genuine growth.

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