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Inc. 5000 Entrepreneur & Store Owner Brian Esposito’s Tips on Growing an Online Business

September 20th, 2010 | Interviews,Online & Small Business Resources,Small Business,Small Business Tips | 2 Comments »

We came across Brian Esposito, the CEO of Avenue You Beauty Store,  last week and immediately knew we had to feature his great store on the KikScore blog.  Brian’s energy and passionate entrepreneurial spirit even comes across in his emails that he sends out.  We figured that the small business and startup community just needs to hear from Brian as he has so much to teach all of us.  Do not take our word for it by the way, his company was awarded by our favorite magazine Inc. the very prestigious honor of being listed as an Inc. 5000 company.  We are excited and honored here to not only have Brian share his thoughts with us here but also be one of our KikScore customers!

1. Tell us about AveYou and who you focus on serving?

AVEYOU is Your Unique Beauty Boutique.  We specialize in carrying some of the most exclusive beauty and personal care products in the industry.  Our entire concept is being all about you!  Our loyal online and in-store customers.  We focus on servicing beauty buffs around the globe.  With our extremely friendly domestic and international flat rate shipping rates we are able to put orders into our customers hands very quickly.  99.9% of all orders are processed and shipped the same day and are packed in our eco-friendly reusable AVEYOU personal shopping bag.  We are very big on personal experiences and sometimes that is very hard to accomplish with online shoppers.  Because of that we try as hard as possible to achieve that result when a shopper opens their AVEYOU box.  The box is carefully wrapped and all items are placed in the appropriate size AVEYOU Eco Friendly Reusable Shopping Bag.  Also included in that bag are samples, promotional items, coupons or special discounts on future orders, and of course the correct item(s) ordered by our shopper.    AVEYOU currently has one of the highest positively ranked feedback (check out the comments on Amazon!) in the beauty and personal care industry.  Our product selection is very important to our brand and image.  Because we specialize in very exclusive products, we try not to carry items that can be found at drug stores, discount stores, or supermarkets.  Because we do not discount or jeopardize the integrity of our brands, manufactures and vendors are at a point in our growth cycle where they want to be part of our company and be placed on our shelves, or web site.
2. How did you get your started selling online?

In 2002 we re-vamped our store and philosophy.  We created a new brand known as Avenue You.  The store was placed in Deal, NJ.  A very prominent and affluent area.  As the store opened in April sales were incredibly strong and stayed that way all summer long.  Come September we ran into a dilemma, as most of the town was filled with summer or vacation homes for those residents.  We needed a way to reach these customers all year round in order to survive.  It was then when I created and developed AVEYOU.com.  The site was mainly created to keep in touch with our local shoppers who were back to their winter homes for the season.  However because of the brands we carried any my passion for marketing and branding, customers from all over the world quickly began ordering at AVEYOU.com.  I knew we had something special and needed to be focused on and enhanced.  Because of how quickly we process and ship orders, people began talking and to this day word of mouth has been our best marketing tool.

3. What inspires you to grow the AveYou business?

Pride.  Whatever I put my name on I do all I can to ensure it doesn’t fail.  As a family owned and operated business you create a sense of home for the company and our employees.  As we began to grow and hire great employees, they also became part of our family.  We are at a point where we have created an incredible team of beauty consultants who each have so many different talents and strengths.  I have, and will continue, to do all I can to ensure each and every one of them will always have a job/home at AVEYOU.

4. If you had 2 lessons learned from your business that you could pass on to others about selling online, what are those?

The first would be to be honest.  This was my number one asset and at some times biggest downfall when creating AVEYOU.com.  The beauty industry is still filled and mostly run by its originators.  These people are threatened and do not understand the internet.  When I would go after a line I would have to spend hours and sometimes even days convincing them that the internet is a great place to be and we are not a company that would never jeopardize the integrity of your brand by discounting, diverting, or by not giving it the respect and dignity it deserves.  I am not sure about other industries, but I can still say to this day that we run into problems with manufactures not wanting their brands to be sold online.  Every vendor or manufacturer we work with, fully understands our business model and are kept 100% in the light as to what we do and where we sell.  The 2nd lesson I have learned is be fully compliant with every aspect of an online presence.  Of them I strongly suggest having a privacy policy that is backed up by a firm or organization, run your emails in an ethical and CAN-SPAM compliant manner, and make sure your site is fully PCI compliant with SSL security to not only protect yourself, but to also protect your customers who are choosing you over the thousands of other potential sellers.

5. Where has AveYou focused most of its energy this year?

While we continue to gain market share with our online presence, we are looking to once again rebrand and re-energize our store location.  We are working on a brand new prototype store that will offer more of a studio feel where our shoppers can come in, try products, have makeup, mini-facials, and nails done.  The personal experience is crucial for our brand and image.  We want our customers to feel special and of course feel beautiful.  Having more types of fun energy filled services that can be done in our boutiques will definitely create a stronger bond between our customers and AVEYOU.  Once the new prototype boutique is finalized we are looking to launch more locations in areas similar to Deal, NJ

6. What do you see as 2 new trends in for small business and in your business?

A trend we are seeing is to be careful where dollars are being spent.  Using money wiser and in areas that have a successful ROI is overshadowing the riskier areas.  Another trend is tapping into more social media platforms and applications.  Combining sites such as Facebook with applications developed by Wildfire you are very quickly able to promote coupons, contests, and/or sweepstakes.

7. If your business/store could be any movie or movie character, what movie/movie character would it be and why?

I am sure this has been used a lot in many situations but it would have to be the movie Rudy and we would be Rudy.  Every day we are met with opportunities, but also challenges.  The challenges come in many shapes and sizes.  The fortunate thing to date is that we have been able to overcome those challenges and survive.  Even through the worst of economical times our company was able to grow and become part of Inc. 500|5000 2010 list of fastest growing private companies in America.

8. If AveYou could have a dream spokesperson for your company who would it be and why?

Aishwarya Rai as she is often cited by the media as the most beautiful woman in the world.  She would make a tremendous spokesperson for AVEYOU Beauty Boutique.  Having fans and admirers all over the world and with no negative news she would be exactly the type of woman we would want relaying our brands messages and image.

9. What is the biggest challenge that AveYou faces as a small business and how do you work to overcome that challenge?

As a small business I believe our biggest challenge is gaining trust in a potential new customer.  If a shopper sees a Macys logo or a Best Buy logo they are not going to question is this a secure company/site.  As a brand that is growing, we are not mainstream and are years away from becoming a staple in the beauty industry.  We overcome that challenge by gaining one new customer at a time.  Proving to that customer we are legitimate business, that is not going to sell their name to any third parties, is going to ship their order, their most private and intimate information is in a very secure area, and if there is any problems whatsoever with their order we will do everything we can to correct it and make it right.

10. Do you have any parting thoughts for our readers and the small business community?

I know it has been a tough few years, but if you have the capabilities and mental strength do not give up.  If you strongly believe in what you are creating or have developed stand behind it 100%.  Don’t let outside influences discourage your dreams or interfere with your visions.  All you really have in this world is your beliefs.  Take that vision, access all the tools you need, build the necessary team, and then make It happen.

Thanks Brian for sharing your thoughts.

Please let us know your thoughts on this interview with Brian Esposito.

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2 Responses

  1. BizSugar.com says:

    Inc. 5000 Entrepreneur & Store Owner Brian Esposito’s Tips on Growing an Online Business…

    Inc. 5000 Entrepreneur Brian Esposito, the CEO of Avenue You Beauty Store, shares his tips on being an small business and growing an online store….

  2. [...] More Inc. 5000 Entrepreneur & Store Owner Brian Esposito's Tips on Growing an Online Business We came across Brian Esposito, the CEO of Avenue You Beauty Store,  last week and immediately knew [...]

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