In 2009, the husband-and-wife business team of Billy Taylor and Brook Harvey-Taylor hit a dangerous point. The year before, they’d brought in $US12 million in revenue, but they lacked a solid foundation.
The recession and an unexpected change in distribution channels hit their Portland, Oregon-based candle and perfume company, Pacifica, really hard.
They needed to do something drastic or they’d lose their business.
They realised that the only hope for their company’s survival was to reinvent it, so they took on $US1.5 million in credit and invested in a new direction.
Billy says that Pacifica was able to go “from surviving to thriving” because it found a new market while retaining all of its distributors and customers. Earlier this year, the US Small Business Administration (SBA) recognised Pacifica’s rebirth by crowning the Taylors as the Small Business People of the Year.
When the couple founded Pacifica in 1997, Billy says, they didn’t have much competition for their all-natural fragrances. But by 2007, the field became crowded.
Rather than become a completely different company, the Taylors decided to introduce a new line of products that fit their mission and ethos. Last year, Pacifica broke into the beauty industry with a line of cosmetics.
“You need to know what you can offer that no one else can,” Billy says. “Ask, ‘Where’s the white space?'”
By extending into a new market while keeping their core philosophy of using all-natural ingredients, Pacifica retained its strongest retailers, including Whole Foods, which the Taylors had the good fortune to develop a relationship with back in 1998, before it became the giant it is today.
Pacifica now presents itself primarily as an all-natural cosmetics company, and it’s been owning that niche.
Billy says that Pacifica is scheduled to bring in about $US24 million in revenue this year, and although they’re still recovering from that hit five years ago, they have been increasingly profitable for the past three years.
When they won the SBA award in May, Billy says it helped motivate the team. “It’s been inspiring to get recognised for taking the direction we took a risk taking.”
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