The Adaptables: Featuring Shea Radiance.

Nov 12 2020 | Alice Wong, PayPal Editorial Staff

In this Adaptables episode, we sat down with Funlayo Alabi, CEO and co-founder of natural beauty brand, Shea Radiance in the U.S.

Shea Radiance creates luscious products inspired by the traditional uses of unrefined shea butter as an active ingredient. But with the outbreak of the pandemic over the past year, Funlayo was faced with major supply-chain issues, financial pressures, contract cancellations and more. To stay afloat, Funlayo developed an approach that proves she truly is one of The Adaptables.

Adaptables Episode Summary: Funlayo Alabi on finding your brand voice and connecting with your customers.

Decide your business will get through this. “Somewhere within all the panic, I realized that we were going to get through this. I made the decision that I wanted to come out at the end of this pandemic better than ever before. Now, I didn't know what this would look like, but I think starting with the decision that hard times always pass, even good times come to an end at some point, but that this is a season we just had to go through and we had to weather it. I think, with that decision, we started realizing certain opportunities that would help us thrive and survive even during this really unpredictable time.”
Give yourself a safety net, even if you don’t have to use it.As a small business owner, and especially as a person of color living here in the United States
, the problem of access to capital is always a huge one. Every time a growth opportunity presents itself, it's like, okay, how can we afford it? During the pandemic, the concerns about what the sales and revenues would look like and how people would be reacting was a big concern. But knowing that we had access to PayPal Working Capital* gave us a sense of we have some resources to work with if we ever need to reach for it. Fortunately, the online sales did pick up and they were good. And so that really gave us confidence to move forward. But I think always knowing at the back of your mind that you have enough resources as a small business owner gives you confidence to make decisions, to be able to negotiate knowing that you have the resources to really make things happen.”
Let your customers know you’re with them. “Realizing that we were going to get through this, we decided that we wanted to get through it with our customers. And so that's when we started having the Zoom and the Instagram Lives. And they were as simple as, ‘You know you really ought to get out of bed and take a shower. Even though you don't have to go to the office, it'll make you feel amazing. And when you do get around to taking a shower, you should really use Shea Radiance, our body wash, and moisturize with some of our shea butter cream.”

Invest in social. “We really started leaning into our customers' experience going through the pandemic. We had an Instagram live about the COVID-19, the extra bit of pounds everyone was picking up because they were home baking sourdough bread and doing all these things. 
Put yourself out there and trust your tribe will follow. “As a small business, you bring all of yourself into your business. And I think a lot of people don't want to do it because they're like, ‘Oh, my lighting isn't that great.’ I love my lighting isn't that great. Or, ‘I don't really know what to do or say.’ But people are looking for you, the essence of you. And one of the things I'm learning is that your tribe will follow you. When you put yourself out there and just share yourself, some people are going to be naturally drawn to you, and then they're going to tell their friends and they're going to tell you their friends. And you just want to make sure that you are providing good content and that you're being authentic, and that the service or product that you're bringing to market really your intention behind it is to help make people's lives better. And people can tell that and things begin to grow from there.”

Try new things. "I mean a lot of the world is changing so fast. It's really overwhelming sometimes. But why not just try things? Run some digital ads on Instagram and Facebook, just test the waters. Everyone is a beginner at one point or another. So just get started and you'll become more familiar with things the more you try them.”
Pay it forward. “I know a lot of people who are either physicians, nurses, people who worked in the grocery store who had to be out there working in a pandemic situation. And so a girlfriend and I, Chica from Day Mylane, decided to create care packages. People could nominate people that they knew to win these packages so we could send them out to them. And it was just something to put a smile on their face, to let them know that they deserve to be pampered. We had some body wash, some lotions and everything. And just a little care pack to know that we were thinking about them and that we appreciated all the work and sacrifice.”

If you found Funlayo's story as inspiring as we did, tune in fomore Adaptables episodes featuring small business owners who have not only adapted to survive, but to thrive.
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More recommended resources:

13 creative ways to keep selling in a pandemic.
Step-by-step guide: How to create a QR code to accept touch-free payments.
How to get started selling online quickly.

The content of this article is provided for informational purposes only. You should always obtain independent business, tax, financial, and legal advice before making any business decision.
* The lender for PayPal Working Capital is WebBank, member FDIC

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