Billy Taylor and Brook Harvey-Taylor, a husband-and-wife team from Portland, Oregon, are this year’s winners of National Small Business Persons of the Year.
Pacifica, their all-natural scents and cosmetics company, has become a massive success after pivoting their business.
This honour was announced today by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) as part of the National Small Business Week awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. Every year, the SBA selects a finalist from every state and U.S. territory, and from that group chooses a national winner.
The Taylors founded Pacifica in 1997 as a vegan candle and perfume company, and by 2008 they were bringing in $US12 million in revenue. But then the economy crashed and distribution channels changed. They decided to expand the company beyond scents and move into beauty.
But in order to make the change, Pacifica had to do something it had never done in its young history: Take on credit. They turned to Umpqua Bank in Oregon, which, with the backing of the SBA, was able to provide the crucial capital.
The beauty products launched last year and can be found at Target, Ulta, and natural-product specialty stores.
Pacifica has continued to grow. Revenue has increased 25% every year for the last three years, and it now has 110 employees.
Beauty “is an extremely challenging category with far more failure than success,” Billy Taylor tells Business Insider, noting how few companies have been able to launch natural beauty products for the mass market.
So, as entrepreneurs do, the Taylors decided to make the investment, put the product into the marketplace, and see what happened.
“It’s selling very well,” Billy says. “Most beauty brands are backed by massive amounts of marketing, so for a beauty brand to sell on just product recognition in retail is very significant.”
Also significant is the way Billy and Brook have been able to integrate their personal and professional lives. Billy says that he’d always imagined that he’d run a family business, and when he and Brook got hitched, they started dreaming up business ideas until they found one that stuck: Pacifica.
“We are a unique couple in that our lives can be completely intertwined, and we can deal with that,” Billy says. “We complement each others’ strengths and weaknesses. We just fit together.”
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