We were extremely lucky to chat with Lorraine Dallmeier about her journey into entrepreneurship and her six steps to building an online empire without using paid ads.
An award-winning CEO of formula Botanica, the organic cosmetic formulation, and business school, which has trained over 13,000 organic cosmetic formulators and ND beauty entrepreneurs in 177 countries.
She was voted the most influential person in natural beauty for 2020 and was awarded the digital achiever of the year for the cosmetics industry by Google.
Lorraine, can you give everybody an introduction, share who you are, how you started out, and explain this amazing online empire that you have built?
I'm Lorraine. I run formula Botanica, I'm a biologist, I'm a chartered environmentalist and I am on a mission to teach the world to formulate.
I run formula Botanica, the online organic cosmetic formulation school, training people how to make their own natural skincare and haircare using botanical ingredients.
I've been running the school for almost eight years now and I have 40 staff. We have over 13,000 students and graduates from 177 countries.
I was on maternity leave with my eldest son who will be 11 in a few weeks and I decided that I couldn't go back to my day job anymore, I had to work for myself, I couldn't handle working for other people anymore so I decided I was going to start my own business.
Why are you so particularly passionate about what you teach women to do?
I love formulation because it takes us right back to our roots. It's a skill that we've lost, that we've forgotten. The formulation is fun, easy, and empowering.
It disrupts the mainstream beauty industry, they've been telling us we're not good enough, we don't look right and we don't smell right. We don't conform to that - everyone is different and we can embrace our own beauty by reclaiming that power from the beauty industry and learning how to formulate ourselves.
It's also more sustainable because the beauty industry produces over 120 billion units of packaging a year and most of that ends up in landfills or in our oceans, by learning how to formulate for ourselves and making things as in when we need them we reduce the waste.
Now let's delve into your six steps to building an online empire without paid ads!
A big part of what we do is putting out content and I call it edutainment; mixing education and entertainment.
We write, we film, and we record content every single week that our followers want to read, listen to and watch.
We ask people what they want to know and answer their questions in our content.
We show up every week consistently on social media but also via our weekly newsletter - our most valuable asset is our email list and the direct connection with our followers that it allows.
It's all about consistency and SEO.
I've always believed that rather than delving into what Google says about its algorithm the best thing you can do is write top-notch content, make sure it's a good length and make sure people want to keep coming back to read it.
Consistency is king here; both in quality of content and the regularity of its appearance.
Start to consider SEO on each of your platforms - what do you need to be focused on within your content to stand out in that particular space.
I've created a really strong brand around formula Botanica and when I look at a lot of digital marketers online they often bypass that step.
They just go straight for the ads, the shortcut, and actually building that strong brand is something that makes a company unshakeable, so rock solid that if something terrible happened they would weather it because the brand is so established.
I have brand guidelines. I make people (my employees) read them all the time.
The very fact that I'm sat here on a green top in a green office, it's just all part of the brand. I live in every single component of it.
How we speak, the tone we use in the emails that go out, even on our help desk, the way we support people, the way the courses are put together, the way we show up for events; every little detail is determined by that brand.
Step 4 is all about the community.
It's the people who sit at the heart of all of this, in some respects they should be step number one.
I've built a really strong community around formula Botanica as has my team as well.
We have almost 14,000 students and graduates. We know so many of them and we get really excited by them because we know what they're doing. We wouldn't be where we are without these incredible people.
I've become friends with so many of them and they inspire me to do better every day, we are all part of this global green beauty movement and they're helping to drive it forward.
To do this we use Facebook groups. It sounds really simple.
We've built this incredible heartwarming community thousands of people have each other's back.
We have a big free networking group as well, which has almost 50,000 members, and that's incredible too - I now even have a community manager in place!
The fifth step to my formulation to building a global empire is the fact that I've made sure that we are viewed as thought leaders in our space.
People follow us because we teach them what natural means, what green beauty means and what clean beauty means with expert authority.
I have the podcast, Green Beauty Conversations, which is all about green and sustainable beauty, but I'm also constantly on summits, giving interviews, speaking to journalists, I'm out there all the time (as is my team), sharing our knowledge.
People view us as the people to follow because we hold opinions on things and we share those opinions. I make sure that they're always balanced and on-brand.
Form a network.
Get to know people; big players, small players, any players - people who also hold opinions and who are active in your world and your sector.
We have partnerships with NBC brands, with our graduates, with bloggers, with influencers, but also with the mainstream beauty industry.
It's because of networking that people don't see formula Botanica as Lorraine's little side hustle anymore they view us as a big accredited award-winning online institution.
What have you learned about yourself along the way through this process?
That is a great question!
So before I took on formula Botanica I worked all over the world, lived in multiple countries, worked in high-powered jobs and I ran all sorts of fantastic projects but I kept coming up against this massive glass ceiling everywhere I went.
You're too young. You're too inexperienced. It's too scary. You're too outspoken and in your face and you voice your opinions too much. It got to the point that it started to chip away at me, you start to internalize a lot of what you hear; when you're constantly told you need to do something differently you start to do it.
I now believe that the only way for women to achieve true gender equality in the workplace is by building something for themselves and driving it forward.
I know that I am more confident and more able and I believe in myself more than I ever have before because of the work that I've done here over the last seven years, and no one can take that away from me and I will never walk into a workplace ever again, where someone will tell me I'm too scared because I will eat them alive!
This was such a great interview. Following Lorraine Dallmeier’s proven process, you’ll not only be inspired but you will have tactical marketing you can apply to your brand right now, even if you have no marketing team or little marketing experience.
Click here to listen to my interview with Lorraine. I bet you will get even more gold by tuning in.
Until next time, friends!
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