Roslindale entrepreneur launches skin care line Eu2Be
Charla Jones calls herself a “serial entrepreneur” not because she’s earned millions from the businesses that she’s created, but because she’s driven by innovation, can take chances, and has actually experienced the benefits of positive risk-taking.
Case in point: Her first attempt at starting a business was Annabel’s Ice Cream, which she and a friend established in the 1980s. Today it’s a thriving small business located in cozy Portsmouth, N.H.
She’s helped to start up dozens of other businesses since then, including a very successful San Francisco-based marketing communications firm. Her specialty is integrated marketing communications, a service that she continues to provide even though she’s ventured out on her own to startup Eu2Be, a collection of skin care products promising to serve a unique need in the skin care market.
“One of the things I discovered in the focus groups that I did around Eu2Be,” said the Roslindale resident, “was the amount of time that people spend on themselves, like when they’re getting ready to go to work in the mornings or into their lives. It’s about 10-to-20 minutes, and it’s a very important time. It’s when we give attention to our skin. We wash our face, oil and lotion our skin. I saw a unique opportunity to design a product that could be used during that time.”
But Eu2Be is for the consumer seeking a deeper skin care experience, explained Jones. “It’s really a product for people who are aware of the fact that global warming is upon us and that our skin is under enormous stress. It’s our largest organ and it performs malfunctions, and it needs nutrients. These products were created with these things in mind.”
Eu2Be includes a liquid wash, an oil and a lotion. It gets its name partly from Jones’ great aunt Eugenia who taught her much of what she knows about inner and outer beauty. “Eu” is also the symbol for the mineral europium, which carries an illuminating effect. The last part of the title, “2Be” is about aspiring to be beautiful.
“Eu2Be includes 15 different moisturizing oils that provide nutrients to the deeper layers of the skin,” said Jones. “It’s not superficial at all. I specifically wanted a product that would help new skin cells thrive and give a nice glow to the skin. People who have used it are already saying that they can see the difference.”
But like any business owner, what Jones wants is to get more people to experience the skin moisturizing effects of Eu2Be, a task that might prove difficult since she’s trying to run a business that deals with the senses through an online retail model.
“You have to really think in innovative ways about how to engage technology with humanity,” she explained. “People can’t smell or sample a product online. So I’m not mistaking technology as an ‘and all’ answer here. Technology offers tools that put your passion and vision into action. They activate, and help you realize things. I’m not sure that they provide direct answers, but they do help to facilitate problem solving.”
Several of the problems that she dealt with had to do with the very thing that she’s relying on to help her flourish, like the website and its functionality.
“Initially, I made a choice for a site that was based on something near and dear to my heart, it’s design,” said Jones. “This site had a great template, and I was ready to go with it. But when it came to facilitating sales, I discovered that while this company had a great design it didn’t have the best integration to the stuff that really mattered, like my bank and the way that sales happen, which is connected to how to track inventory, and how to communicate with customers all around the sale. So I had to completely move everything to another site and compensate for the loss.”
The technology also made it possible for her to cut operational costs. She thought she needed to hire an individual to build her site, but after a few online searches, she found what she needed. “There are great websites tools out there that are so easy to navigate that you don’t have to be a web master to get them up and going,” she said.
And though she has made a few key investments, like hiring a graphic designer to help with the imaging and a writer to carve out the message, she runs a considerably lean operation.
“Online tools are also not the only answer,” Jones explained. “If I had stayed with that first website, I would be in major trouble. I thought through my decision on how to engage a consumer — a consumer who really likes to have a sensuous experience with the product is the consumer that I want to reach, so I needed a tool that would help me to facilitate that. I’m not a computer geek or a technology guru. I’m not someone who’s online 24-7, playing around with all these tools. I’m more interested in the people who have this problem that my product can solve. That’s where my focus is.”
Jones said it’s not about the bright shiny object but more about what one is able to do with those tools, and what fits into one’s infrastructure. “You can take the best technology, but if you’re not able to fold it into what you’re doing then it’s not workable. You will spend most of your time trying to work on the technology problem instead of working downstream to the customer.”
Establishing a customer base and then building momentum from there has been key to her efforts since conceiving of Eu2Be two years ago. In those very early stages she held a number of sample sessions that helped her understand the target market and even finalize the scent for Eu2Be. At this stage, Eu2Be is on the market and making its official launch in difference cities, like last Monday’s launch in San Francisco.
“I don’t have a retail store,” said Jones. “So I have to get out there, meet with consumers, show them what I have, and prove its value.”
On Friday Eu2Be launched at Joanne Rossman, a specialty boutique in Roslindale Village. Other city launches are planned to take place in the coming months. Find out more about Eu2Be online at www.eu2be.com.