From the flea market to stores nationwide: The Carol’s Daughter story

By Lottie Watts
Published Oct 29, 2020

This week on NRF Foundation All Access, Carol’s Daughter President and Founder Lisa Price joins us for “20 Questions.” She shares how she grew her business from a table at a church flea market in 1993 to a line sold by retailers across the country.

Here are just a few of the questions students at universities nationwide asked – along with Price’s answers.

How did you choose a target customer?

A lot of people know me for hair care now, but I began with body products. I could never find moisturizers that really took care of my skin. I thought, well, maybe I can make my own.

When I was successful, I shared it with other people. I then began to discover, as I did these different craft fairs and flea markets, that there were so many women who were looking for products for their hair.

At the time I was doing this, I wasn’t a student of retail. I was figuring things out as I went along. I discovered my target consumer was people who looked like me. I stumbled into a market where there was such significant need, and I did the best that I could to satisfy that.

How much money did you put into the company when it was first established?

Since I was a person that started the brand in a very organic way – that first flea market – the first investment that I put into the company was $100 to prepare for that day. The table rental was $25. I bought some flowers for the table. I had to buy my ingredients for the batch that I made that day that I sold. I bought a pretty tablecloth from someone selling these antique linens and it gave my table a nice look. That day, I invested $100 and started selling to people and getting money from people that I didn’t know, but then I just kept reinvesting.

What role does transparency play between you (the business) and the consumer?

For me, transparency is everything, and I believe it is for my consumer as well. She wants to know what’s in it, what is it going to do, how is it going to feel. I try hard to be as transparent as possible.

My company is Carol’s Daughter. I am Carol’s Daughter. My mother’s name was Carol, and I am her daughter, and very much woven into our business and the way that we go to market is the conversation between mother and child.

There are things that your mother will say to you that someone else won’t. When I speak to my customers, I don’t like to speak to her in big superlatives. I want to get into what’s going on in her life, what is it that she really needs and what can I realistically bring to her day to make it easier for her to do what she needs to do every day.

What was the biggest roadblock you found when moving your products into stores across the nation?

Some of the roadblocks that existed years ago don’t exist as much today. The democratization of the whole retail space due to social media and websites – and now the pandemic. Buyers don’t just sit in their home offices waiting for people to come and see them. Even before the pandemic, buyers were finding people on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest, studying the comments that the customers were making about them, and then venturing out and bringing those niche brands into their stores.

Based on your experience, what can we be doing as young entrepreneurs to set ourselves up for success?

Read, research, gather information and enjoy what you’re doing. Don’t overly focus on money as what success is, because there are so many different types of success that you will experience if you do this correctly, and not all of those have to do with money.

Money is an important measure, and I’m not discounting it, but knowledge, influence, relevance and authenticity – all of those things ensure long-term success and bring money with them. 

If you’ve missed any NRF Foundation All Access sessions this fall, you can find all the videos on our on-demand page – including “20 Questions” sessions with P&G Chief Communications Officer Damon Jones, The Home Depot Senior Director of In-Store Experience Jalal Hamad and PetSmart Senior Vice President of Merchandising Kristin Shane.

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