Adding a Personal Touch to Your Online Business through Blogs

As a little girl, Carmen Clara Cruz spent her days in the makeup chair of her mom’s beauty salon in the 90s, familiarizing herself with the products, the atmosphere, and the experience. Today, she’s the one-woman army behind CarmenClaire, a five-year-old local cosmetic brand specializing in makeup and skin care products for anyone from the non-girly girl to the makeup hoarder to the proud Pinay.

Adding a Personal Touch to Your Online Business Through Blogs

Makeup has always played a big role in Carmen’s life. From running around her mom’s salon to watching her tita, beauty queen Gemma Cruz-Araneta, put makeup on in their shared bedroom, Carmen grew up with a rich background on all things cosmetic. It’s no surprise, then, that she got into the habit pretty quickly – doing her own makeup in college, and starting a beauty blog at around the same time. This was her pastime and after-school hobby, but Carmen knew it had the potential to be much more. So when a friend of hers started reselling mineral makeup, her immediate thought was, “I can do that too.”

From there, she quickly got into the groove of reselling local beauty products, and even started creating her own makeup tools.  This was tough for a college student who didn’t have a lot of spare time, but that didn’t faze Carmen. She shares, “I went online, and I started looking for suppliers, and I started designing my own brushes – having them made and having them shipped over. I was doing that in college, so in the evening after writing all my Philosophy papers […] I would have to chat with suppliers online at three in the morning. And then I’d go to school, and in between breaks I’d respond to emails to approve samples.”

Her perseverance didn’t stop there. After graduation, Carmen decided to keep the brand going, finding more suppliers and establishing not only her brushes but a personal makeup line as well. She’s also gone from a solely online-based business to having a temporary pop-up store in POP by Retail Lab at the Power Plant Mall.

She’s got a bit of an advocacy going as well, since Carmen loves to resell products from indie brands all over the world, “that nobody’s ever heard of.” She prioritizes reselling from local brands, and most importantly she makes sure all her products are affordable – because for her, selling good-quality products at prices even students could afford puts the fun back in shopping, because it leaves fewer obstacles to buying what you really want.

If there’s one thing that’s special about CarmenClaire’s products – both the resold and the exclusive – it’s a personal touch. All her orders are sent out with a handwritten note, and she makes a conscious effort to befriend her customers even though she doesn’t usually get to meet them face-to-face.

She brings this openness and warmth onto her site as well. Having started as a beauty blogger, Carmen understands the reach and influence gained from the job title. On the CarmenClaire site, which is still her main selling platform, she maintains a blog titled Girlfriendly, which sums up the approachable, friendly image she wants to create for the brand itself.

“Having a blog and writing to your customers, especially in a very personal way, [I think] it helps a lot to build a relationship with them in a business where you don’t get to meet them,” she shares. Through Girlfriendly, she’s bridging the gap between customer and seller in a way that isn’t annoying or obtrusive, but helpful. She even adds her insight to the posts by tackling issues like feminism and cultural awareness, allowing her customers to “meet” the woman behind the brand.

Not only is she establishing relationships, she’s keeping her brand relevant by integrating her blog and e-mail list, so she can send the posts via online newsletters to her subscribers. This drives traffic and aids her search engine optimization (SEO), plus it keeps her satisfied customers up-to-date on products and promos.

More than anything else, however, Carmen shares that her goal in keeping up Girlfriendly is to empower her customers and enrich their lives, whether by offering some time-saving beauty tips, or by discussing the Filipino fixation on whiter skin. She acknowledges the importance of adding a personal touch when interacting with customers, especially on an online platform, where this is usually compromised.

When asked about the advice she would give to other online businesses, she shares, “You have to have a personal touch to everything. Blogging is such a personal thing. Especially if you’re a one-man show or one-woman show kind of thing, the more you let your personality or your brand’s personality show, the better it is for your business. […] If you’re brave enough to share who you are with your audience, then it will work out better for your brand.”

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