Women in Business – Surviving the First Two Years: ” Come up with a clear picture of what you want your company to look, hear, and feel like. ” Interview with Ashlee Dozier

Interview with Ashlee Dozier, owner of Anuket Luxury Apothecary, on her experiences being a woman entrepreneur.

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Please tell us a bit about yourself, and describe your company.

Hi! I’m Ashlee Dozier, the owner of Anuket Luxury Apothecary. We are a fine fragrance company in Florida offering natural luxury alternatives to traditional fragrance products. I spent a decade working in public health and higher education, until I started working for myself in 2013 after losing my job due to budget cuts at the CDC. In 2016, after exiting an abusive relationship and handing over one of my businesses, I embarked on a four-month solo backpacking trip to rediscover my independence and rebuild my confidence. Little did I know, my investment into myself would lead me to a passion for a new business and a total career change. With no plan or itinerary, I ended up in Egypt, where a cruise down the Nile River and a stop at a local perfumery led me to the discovery of Egyptian fragrances and pure papyrus oil. From this experience, Anuket Luxury Apothecary was born, importing rare single-source fragrance oils from Egypt and hand-bottling them in Florida. Since launching in 2019, Anuket has swiftly expanded to include five other natural fragrance oils and a multitude of products and accessories for the self and home. The brand continues to grow, with other hand-crafted products coming soon. 

What has been the most challenging thing you have faced in the first two years of operating your business? How did you overcome it?

We opened in the summer of 2019, so we hadn’t been open long before Covid hit. As you can imagine, it was a HUGE challenge for us to navigate! Having a clear goal for my business and a willingness to adjust and evolve was a huge part of Anuket surviving the trials of 2020. At the time, we had been focusing on wholesale to retailers, until they all closed during the pandemic.  We had to quickly find a way to increase our sales online. I was able to pivot towards digital marketing and increase our e-commerce presence, which luckily was really successful for us. 

What are some of the biggest digital marketing challenges you have faced to date? How have you overcome them?

Initially, I was running Anuket completely by myself, so it was a lot to keep up with while juggling all the other aspects of the business. Digital marketing is a crucial part of any e-commerce business, so I had to be sure I wasn’t letting this task fall between the cracks. I used my passion for mentorship and education and decided to take on an incredible team of interns who help run our marketing efforts while gaining invaluable experience and access to my network to help them with the next steps in their careers. With them managing our digital marketing, I’m able to focus more of my time on developing new products and expanding the business so we can continue growing.   

Please tell us what led you to the path of entrepreneurship. 

I fell into this business accidentally because I just happened to find something I was passionate about. Before starting Anuket, I owned two other businesses that didn’t bring me much joy. I always had the desire to work for myself, but I never knew what that could look like. It seemed scary and unstable to me. However, after losing my job at the CDC because of budget cuts back in 2013, I realized that even “stable” careers can have their ups and downs. It was then that I decided I had to just go for it! After losing my job at the CDC in 2013, I was introduced to an opportunity for a virtual franchise with a skincare company and saw that as a great way to start my own business with minimal start-up costs. At the time, I was in a relationship with someone who worked in the pharmaceutical sales industry. He couldn’t handle all of the accounts coming in on his own, so I started my second business to manage wholesale pharmaceutical products for national organizations. Before I knew it, I was running two businesses on my own. Unfortunately, I had been ignoring the emotional abuse that was occurring in my relationship, and it only amplified once we began working together. In order for me to protect myself, I handed over the company and moved out of the home we owned together six months later. Because I still had my skincare company, which I was able to work from anywhere, I realized that it was the perfect time to fulfill a lifelong dream of traveling around the world. So I set off on a four-month solo trip with a backpack, one-way ticket, and no definitive plan or itinerary. It was the best decision I’ve ever made in my life. It led me to amazing people and places, and serendipitously an amazing product that, little did I know at the time, would later become the basis for my third business and a whole new passion for luxury fragrances. 

What are the three most important things every woman entrepreneur should do, when first thinking about starting a business?

Research is really important. It’s amazing to come up with a business idea you love, but you want to ensure it’s something other people are willing to pay for. Learning what gaps you can fill in the market and what audience would use your product or service goes a long way in building a successful business. Thinking hard about your branding is another big one. Come up with a clear picture of what you want your company to look, hear, and feel like. There’s a ton of competition in nearly every market, so finding a way to make your brand stand out is crucial. Lastly, I’d say create an MVP to get started ASAP and then refine and grow as you can. You can expand your business over time, so you don’t have to launch every product or service right from the start. Focusing on a signature product helps you start building your presence as a brand, so then when you refine your product or expand your business you’ll already have a loyal customer base to sell to. 

Are there actionable steps a woman in business should take to ensure that her company is successful in two years?

It varies based on the industry, but I’ve found being the face of your company to be one of the best approaches you can take. People maintain relationships when they feel that they know you, and they want that relationship with a person, not a company. This helps to develop the trust that will keep them loyal and returning. It’s also important to really focus on marketing, networking, and collaborations. They’re a great way to help expand your reach and grow your business quickly by exposing your company to audiences you might not have reached otherwise.

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