Name: Alana Rivera
Business: Etta + Billie
When Alana Rivera began making apothecary products in her San Francisco apartment, she never dreamed she’d one day quit her day job to create Earl Grey soaps and poppy seed body scrubs. Four years after launching Etta + Billie, however, Alana was ready to turn her side-passion into a full-time career. Today, you can find Etta + Billie products at West Elm and in countless boutiques across the country. The company is officially a “wholesale” success (pun intended!), but Alana’s greatest pride is offering her employees a stable job with full benefits.
Alana will be selling Etta + Billie products at the Bazaar at this year's SOLD OUT QB Connect 2017 in San Jose.
Alana, tell us the story behind your business.
In 2009, I was a full-time recruiter at a law firm making body care products on the side. I didn't go to school for business, and I don't have a chemistry degree. Essentially I taught myself everything by reading books, taking a few classes and going to conferences.
I left my day job at the end of 2013 and moved into a studio where we manufacture all our small-batch, farm-to-bottle products: processed bar soap, lotions, body scrubs, skin balms, body oils and room sprays. We make every single Etta + Billie product in our professional space in San Francisco’s Bayview District. I think that’s pretty incredible
I find inspiration for the line in my favorite foods and drinks, and I convert those ideas into usable products. Everything we make reminds me of something else in my life that I love, like soap that smells like citrus poppy seed!
Where does the name Etta + Billie come from?
I named my business after my two incredible grandmothers who were both really smart and driven. They taught me about being adventurous and following your passion. Now I feel like I still have Etta and Billie with me every single day.
You’ve had great success as a wholesaler. Tell us more.
Before I quit my full-time job, Etta + Billie began to gain traction through wholesale. Our products were part of a special SFMade-popup in partnership with Banana Republic.
Those opportunities brought in our biggest orders to date, which pushed me to figure out how to increase our production. I learned how to pack and ship hundreds of bars of soap! That’s when I realized the only way to know if my business was viable was working full-time at Etta + Billie.
Today, about 65% of our business is wholesale, mostly through privately-owned boutiques and spas. We’re also in all of West Elm’s California stores.
What do you hope to gain from QuickBooks Connect?
I’m looking forward to connecting with a broader group of people outside of my local community. I love talking with others who work for themselves about the challenges and the wins of owning your own business.
I'm also excited about the educational opportunity. When it comes to the business side of Etta + Billie, I’m self taught. I want to learn how to push my company forward and grow as an individual business owner.
Any advice for small business owners just starting out?
Connect with your local business community! I belong to local and national business groups, and I’ve learned so much from them. The right group can really push you forward and help with support and resources. I think being engaged in a small business community speeds up the whole learning process.
Alana, what are you most proud of?
I’m really, really proud to be able to hire and give benefits to my employees (one full-time, two part-time). It's an incredible feeling to have a team supporting me and my business. I'm also very lucky to have friends who occasionally like to help package product!
Joining the QB Community connects you to others who, just like you and Alana, dare to work for themselves. (Find the Sign Up link to the upper right!)
Need more information? Here you go!
I just love Alana's story - how wonderful to follow your dreams like she is! I can't wait to experience her products at QB Connect.
Thanks, Leslie! I'm so excited to meet other small business owners at QB Connect.
I can't wait to check out your amazing products! I'm curious to know what local and national business groups you're part of. These are the type of networking opportunities my business partner and I need to explore. Thanks @ettaandbillie!
Hi Audrey - I look forward to meeting you next week! I'm a part of the following local and national organizations: