High school dropout makes $12K a month
Perth-based self-taught entrepreneur Chloe Jayde Weinthal, the founder and CEO of self-made fake tan business Sahara Soul, became a successful businessperson at the age of 17.
Less than three years after launching the brand in February 2018, her business is pulling in around $12,000 each month and there is further expansion on the horizon.
But it wasn't an easy start. After dropping out of high school amid personal family challenges at the age of 16, she realised there was more to life than nine-to-five.
"I had a few unfortunate events in my life with family members passing away, and it made me realise the importance of chasing the life you want. It made me think about what I want in my life and made me realise the importance of chasing your dreams," she told news.com.au.
Ms Weinthal has grown the business into an e-commerce success that distributes around Australia as well as internationally - and there's a global retail partnership in the horizon that will take the business to the next level.
Coming from no business experience and starting out as an inexperienced teenager, Ms Weinthal said it was a steep learning curve. "It was really insightful, but I like to jump in the deep end," she said.
She had an at-home spray tan set up already - which she still has - and that's when she started to look into developing her own product which was the beginning of Sahara Soul.
It took about 12 months of research, finding the financial backing from a family member and creating the prototype before she could officially launch. She took the time to manufacture the product from scratch using a paraben-free ingredient base.
She has just two products - a fake tan mousse and facial tanning mist - which the self-made entrepreneur claims is different from other fake tan products on the market because of its brown base - different to the green, red or violet bases that most fake tan products have. "That means you can make the tan darker and you don't need to buy different shades, you can buy just one shade," she explains.
Things can go wrong, which she learned the hard way early on after she ordered her first lot of products from the manufacturer. "I laugh now but it wasn't funny at the time," she reflects.
"Our brand was all about being clean-lined and white, and when the first order came through, all 1500 bottles were black.
"We didn't have time to send them back to Melbourne to get rebottled, so I had my manufacturer send me white bottles and I manually, one by one, rebottled every one of them," she laughs. "I now double check every order I put through."
The small business is a team of only three - herself with an in-house head of marketing and an operations manager.
Sahara Soul rebranded a couple of months ago which has given it a boost.
It was slow growth initially in an already saturated market, but the real boom happened about 12 months ago - less than two years into starting the business.
Her products are now stocked in a few local salons in Perth, but the main source of income comes directly through her website, which she rebuilt a couple of months ago.
The website overhaul was part of a wider rebrand after feeling that the brand wasn't aligned with the business anymore. "It wasn't encapsulating the brand I wanted," she said.
It was a $6000 investment to completely overhaul the brand but one she says was very worthwhile. "If you don't rebrand as you go along you're not evolving," she explained.
It's seen the business grow even further in just weeks, now with an international retailer partnership on the horizon that has the potential to take the business to new heights.
Ms Weinthal turned away from wholesale to ensure the brand has its personal touch. "Every order comes with a handwritten note and with eco-friendly paper," she told news.com.au.
She said she is very grateful for having the freedom to work her own hours and not be chained to the daily grind of a nine-to-five job. "I am spontaneous, and I love having that freedom. I absolutely love it," she said.
While working your own hours has its perks - she can escape for a break "down south" whenever she likes - Ms Weinthal said she still puts in the hours. "Some days I work until midnight and get up at five," she said. "The harder you work the more you get back."
After starting the successful business as a teenager, she says that age is no barrier. "Starting so young is probably your biggest advantage because you have time to fail," she tells news.com.au.
Her advice to anyone else wanting to start out is to not be afraid to reach out. "There's no harm in sending a message to another business you have your eye on and not being afraid to reach out, to use your resources - and go for it."
She's experimenting with new products, expanding with a new a range of boutique home decor prints that are also sold through her website, and has plans to expand her all-vegan product range to include other skincare products soon.
Originally published as High school dropout makes $12K a month