Client Interview: The Orange Owl / Akshata Nayak
Date Posted: 02/19/2014 | By:
Today we talk with the owner of the Orange Owl – based in Vermont and purveyor of 100% vegan, handmade, eco-friendly and natural skincare products.
The chief owl – Akshata Nayak – was born and raised in the city of Bangalore in southern India. She moved to America for her graduate studies in late 2003, earning a Masters in Biochemistry and, a few years later, a Masters in Applied Clinical Nutrition. Later she opened Orange Owl and is finding real satisfaction in manufacturing and selling highly targeted products in definite niches.
Us: What’s the thinking behind the name Orange Owl?
Akshata: It’s the bright and wise choice! The owl is for wisdom and the orange expresses the brightness. Plus I just like orange – it makes me happy.
Us: We’re talking to entrepreneurs all the time. What business lessons have you learned that you feel like sharing?
Akshata: Know your customers. I didn’t come in with a marketing or business background – I just was making products that pleased me. Then I realized how passionate my customers are, especially those who are vegan and those who love hand made things. It’s critical to take their needs and desires and interests to heart. Basically, I stopped making the business about my preferences and made it about theirs.
Us: Yes, we’ve heard it said that your customers tell you what business you are in!
Akshata: Precisely. I’ve streamlined my range of soaps from fourteen to eight. Those eight are ones that my customers adore. The ones that sell better, the scents that are purchased again and again, those are the ones I market now.
Us: What makes your products stand out? You sell lip balms and soaps and bath salts and body butters. . . .
Akshata: And I added body scrubs in late 2012!
Us: right, there are lots of Orange Owl options – what makes them stand out from the other body care products out there?
Akshata: I have really great designers I have worked with to make the packaging convey the personality and promise of the company. They’ve given me fantastic ideas. And that branding extends down to the table skirts we display on at the various shows and events we participate in.
The label has made a huge impact for us. We love that it’s also recyclable and that has taken off really well.We absolutely attract a particular kind of buyer. We are sold by specialty stores, independent retailers and they want to satisfy their customer – who is often vegan, very eco-conscious and loves hand made items. Our brand summons those qualities up, by being a bit quirky and very fun and young. People love the owls and the orange color is bright and sunny.
Us: Where are your products distributed?
Akshata: We sell directly nationwide – we do not go through distributors. Our retail sales have gone into the UK and Australia as well – we’ll ship to wherever we get orders online!
Us: How do folks find you?
Akshata: Via shows. And via Facebook. I encourage our customers to send us the names of stores they’d like to see us sold in. And then we contact those storeowners and perhaps send them some samples to try.
Us: What makes you happy with Leapin’ Lizard Labels?
Akshata: Your quality is amazing. And your customer service is awesome. What matters is the relationship you build with a vendor. I like that you were persistent, striving to meet my needs on the lip balm labels even when I asked for more and more revisions. You worked until you got it absolutely right on for me.
I will do all my small production runs with Leapin’ Lizard. Your colors are true and your materials are good. No complaints whatsoever.
Oh, I also like your business ethics. I could tell just from our conversations at the start that you were good people.
And hey, wouldn’t an owl just naturally get along with a lizard?
Find the Orange Owl here: www.theorangeowlshop.com