This week, we caught up with Dan of Ludden’s Natural, one of our great CoreCommerce entrepreneurs. As with so many of our stores, there is a great story and mission behind the brand.
1) What inspired you to start Ludden’s Natural Products?
A few years back, my father-in-law was diagnosed with prostate cancer. During that time our family changed our diet to one which consisted primarily of whole foods and raw vegetables. Are we 100% converted? The answer would be “No”. However, we had essentially altered our diet to become vegetarians (mostly). Over the course of a year we found numerous products which we used regularly as part of our daily diet. We then learned after a period of time, that my father-in-law was completely healed from his cancer due to his new healthy lifestyle. That inspired me to get the products we were using, plus many more, into the hands of as many folks as possible, at a very reduced rate. We don’t make a HUGE profit in this business. Our payoff is knowing that our customers are able to be healthier because of what we do.
2) Healthy living and clean eating seem to be topics that consumers are becoming more concerned with. What are your best sellers?
We sell over 9,000 products, but some of our best sellers are:
- Burt’s Bees products
- Bulk herbs
- Bulk loose leaf tea
- Cleaning solutions
- Coffee & tea accessories
- Essential oils
- Seed sprouters
- Apparel products made from natural organic cotton
3) How does Ludden’s connect with customers on a personal level?
We’re still growing, but we have tried and continue to experiment with many different ways of connecting with our customers on a personal level. Our primary means of doing this is through our Facebook page. Through this page we offer interesting coupons (including a mystery coupon), links to recipes, links to interesting articles and discounts. Quite often we spotlight a company that is a customer of ours. We love to help others grow.
Our whole look and feel is very “Americana”. We partnered with a wonderful artist who has provided us free reign to use his artwork on our website. As part of this we have a regular feature on our Facebook page that presents our fans with an image of an antique kitchen gadget, and they need to try and guess what it is. We plan to expand this “Americana” experience and hope to get customers involved by offering their memories and pictures of yester-year! We’ve also advertised in the 2013 “Farmers’ Almanac” and “The Old Farmer’sAlmanac”, which we felt was a great fit with our brand.
We’re currently working on building relationships with various bloggers in the natural products industry so that we can offer a top notch blog and offer the stories that our customers will find interesting. We’ll also be developing contests over the next year or so that will drive more customers to our business, and allow us to provide them with the natural products they need.
In addition to our efforts, we’ve taken up the challenge to raise money for various causes. This past March we helped raise money for Leah’s Front Line to help fight Cystic Fibrosis. We also hope to help Ultimate Goal, which is a non-profit that assists refugee families in the Nashville, Tennessee area. We’re not perfect in connecting with our customers, but we’re learning along the way, and we’re hoping to improve with each day that passes.
4) Were there any obstacles to getting Ludden’s launched as a business? If so, how did you overcome those?
As with anything that’s worth doing, there were definitely obstacles to getting Ludden’s launched. The first major obstacle was that I hadn’t the slightest idea what I was doing. There was a website to be built, an LLC to incorporate, local licenses to procure, resale tax issues to deal with regarding other states and more.
During this process I wrote a document listing all the things I’ve learned and all the mistakes I’ve made, which are plenty. I give this document to my friends and acquaintances when they show interest in starting a business similar to mine. They can then use the document as a guide to helping them start a business. I love to see Ludden’s grow and be successful, and I love to see others be successful in their business ventures as well.
5) What has been the most rewarding part of owning your own business?
The most rewarding part of owning our own business is knowing that we’re making customers happy, and providing them with a product they need! We have customers from all walks of life and from every part of the United States and Canada. We’re excited when we get new customers, and even more excited when we get return customers, because we know we’re doing something right!
Another rewarding part of owning your own business is building a recognized brand. It’s one thing to work for another company, but when you start your own, it ups the ante quite a bit. What an exciting venture it is to start and build your own business!
6) Do you have any advice would you give to someone who wanted to start a business but was intimidated by the process?
Keep plugging away! Anything can be accomplished through time and perseverance. The process can be intimidating at first, but as you start checking off various accomplishments, and get closer to achieving your goals, you’ll realize you’ve made it! Plus, after jumping over all the startup hurdles, you’ll be better prepared to handle those unseen obstacles that will come when you run your own business.
Whatever you do, don’t let your dreams die. After many mistakes, I almost gave up, but those around me said, “Don’t do it!”. Anyone who was a success had to make mistakes to become better. You’ll learn from your mistakes. I’m sure I’ll still make plenty of mistakes down the road, but I will learn from them and Ludden’s Natural Products will benefit.
Learn more about Ludden’s Natural here!