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Managing Your Business

Quoi Business Duo Focuses on Accessible Sustainable Healing & Community Outreach

Quoi Spotlight | Swyft Filings

There’s been a focus on sustainability in both personal and business practices in recent years. Many organic products usually come with a higher price tag because of the processes businesses need to go through to make products sustainable. This can make it harder for everyday people to purchase from and support sustainably conscious businesses.

Vicky and Marcus Pierre created Quoi, a fully organic and vegan wellness company, as a way to offer an accessible price point and deliver healing to everyone in their community. Vicky serves as the CEO, and Marcus serves as the COO. 

This female-, minority-founded business provides a variety of healing soaps through Walmart. They also focus on giving back a portion of their revenue each month to organizations in the area that serve Houstonians.

The husband and wife duo sat down with Swyft Filings to discuss their business journey, the lessons learned along the way, and advice for the future generation of business owners.

Tell us about Quoi. How did it start? What’s your mission/goal for your business?

Vicky:

We started Quoi because I grew up with a skin condition. After I married Marcus, I discovered he also has some skin complications. We were trying to find something healthy, organic, and sustainable to help us work through eczema and rashes. 

We decided we’d become our own solution. We created Quoi for overall health, beauty, and our organic healing soaps, but we’re also expanding into other beauty and health lines later down the road.

Marcus:

Our focus has always been to be an asset to our community. That’s why we ensure all of our products are vegan and organic while keeping them at an affordable price. Our partners sometimes get upset because products like ours typically retail for $20, but how reasonable is a $20 bar of soap? We try to keep our prices low and donate 10% of our revenue back to the Houston community. Our purpose goes beyond just making money.

Where did you get the skills and experience to start this organization? Or did they come as you started?

Vicky:

I think they came to be as we started. I worked as a therapist and decided I wanted to build my business and get my MBA. I’m still trying to figure it all out. Marketing, building a website, getting connections with different companies to market our product, and becoming known in the community are all skills we had to learn as we went along. 

While I think both of our respective degrees helped us through a lot of it, at the same time, we still had some trial and error. A lot of trial and error. 

Marcus:

We made many mistakes when we started, from not filing taxes on time to figuring out how often we had to file those taxes. Figuring out our sales and franchise taxes took some time, but we were dedicated to this. In three years, I can honestly say we are finally seeing our efforts pay off in growth.

What inspired you to start your own business?

Marcus:

To be honest, we just wanted to heal ourselves. I suffer from eczema, and she suffers from alopecia. Our main goal is to impact anyone in our community who suffers from these conditions and more. 

We don’t want to just talk about what we’re going through. We wanted to create something real and tangible, something our customers could hold in their hands and know that it would make a difference in their lives. 

We hope that knowing your product comes from someone also going through these issues translates through to our customers.

Along with the overall affordability of a sustainably made product, what else makes Quoi unique?

Quoi Spotlight 2 | Swyft Filings

Marcus:

All our products are based on combinations we make ourselves using 0 chemicals. When our soaps are yellow, that’s not yellow coloring. It’s ingredients like sage and lavender mixing with others to create that perfect color. 

We also use oil instead of preservatives. When you’re using our soaps, there’s nothing else in there besides what’s from nature. That’s our focus. 

Are there unique challenges you’ve faced as a minority-,female-owned business? What are some positives you’ve seen from being a minority-, female-owned business?

Marcus:

Our biggest challenge was entering the soap market with a unique identity. We had to figure out how our sales would tie into our mission and make sure that we stayed focused on our message through everything we did.

Vicky:

Oh yeah, there are definitely positives. Being able to partner with large brands like Walmart while being a woman representing my community, all while giving back, is so special. 

It’s also been impactful receiving testimonies from other women telling us how we helped save their skin because we understood what they were going through when making our products.

What part of this job do you personally find most satisfying?

Vicky:

I like the testimonials. They prove that what we’re doing is helping and making a difference and they make our customers feel real. We get to put a name and face to people buying our product, which is so rewarding.

What does your typical workday look like?

Vicky:

It’s a little different each day for both of us. I’d say one significant part is checking emails and making sure we’re responsive. I ensure our sales are going through and our vendors receive our products. I also handle responding to any unsatisfied customers to make sure our customers are heard and happy. We are all about quality over quantity. 

Marcus:

The goal every day is to figure out our next steps. The skincare market is as crowded as ever, so standing out among all the noise can be quite complex. Every day we think of new ways to improve and identify new faces that can push our message forward.

What’s been the most challenging aspect of starting a business?

Marcus:

Realizing people look at things on a surface level more often than not. Because our products are affordable, people think they aren’t top quality or made with care. On the flip side, if we bring the price up, people think, “Oh, you’re just trying to make money.” 

Balancing those two things and ensuring our cost is fair to our customers and us is a big job.

What’s the process behind creating your soaps? 

Marcus:

We choose our ingredients based on their purpose and health benefits. Each component is handpicked and measured against current research. For example, we now include plantain leaves in our black soap because they’re easy to blend with charcoal and they can reduce skin abrasions and inflammation.

How do you choose the scents and names for your soap? Do you work on that together, or does someone take charge? Do you have a favorite one or combination? 

Quoi Spotlight 3 | Swyft Filings

Marcus:

We work on the naming together. We feel like whatever we’re going to put out to our community should encapsulate everything the product is. We get samples, use them ourselves to get a feel for them, and then come up with the names together. We think about what we personally like as well as what our customers and community would like, and that’s how we come up with the names.

That’s why she ended up naming the citrus lavender soap “Tranquility.” It made her feel so good and relaxed.

My favorite soap is “If You Know, You Know.” I love the scent of it, and it makes your skin feel so good. 

Vicky:

My favorite is our lavender soap because not only do you want an effective product, you want something that’s going to be calming and good for the senses. 

Since we live in such a crazy world, treating yourself by escaping for a little bit is nice. It’s good for your skin and takes care of your mental health. It’s definitely a two-in-one. 

Have you considered other body care products, like lotions or body wash?

Marcus:

The issue is that there’s not a fully organic market for certain products yet. We’ve tried samples, but they end up having to have preservatives. Despite that, we’re still working to ensure the production of these kinds of items matches our mission. 

We will have a vitamin C serum coming out next year, though, which is really exciting!

Have you ever been surprised by the success of a particular product? How do you try to recreate that success or the success of any item in general?

Vicky:

Our most successful product is “If You Know, You Know.” We try to get it out to the community by collaborating with other influencers who’ve tried the product and love it. Showcasing people who have tried it is how we spread the word about our best sellers to our online community.

How would you say social media has changed the game for entrepreneurs?

Vicky:

Back in the day, an advertisement would take thousands of dollars to reach potential customers. Now, social media lets us collaborate with other influencers and promote our product locally and to friends and family for free.

I think social media has been so impactful and pivotal when starting an online business. It’s the primary medium we use to establish our presence and say, “Hey, here we are. We are offering this truly organic product that’s sustainable at an affordable price that you may not have been able to find otherwise.”

Marcus:

I want to remind people that just because you don’t have “a lot” of followers doesn’t mean you’re not reaching the people you need to reach. I think sometimes there’s too much focus on getting those follower numbers, but there’s no attention to the actual sales. 

If I can get 40 people who purchase from us fairly regularly, I have direct engagement when compared to 2 million followers that aren’t active with business. 

Many people tie beauty brands together with Instagram. Have you found that to be accurate, or has there been another website or medium that has been surprisingly good for advertising your brand?

Marcus:

Believe it or not, we’ve discovered that the influencers that work the best for us are random people who love the product. Our most significant success with these types of influencers has been on Tiktok. 

Some of our videos have been seen by more than 500,000 people because the algorithm isn’t always based on your following. We got to take a fun approach to promoting our products and saw an immediate spike in sales from it. It gave us a chance to reach people we never thought possible in a creative way.

What’s one thing about marketing or growing a beauty-related brand that might surprise people not in the industry?

Quoi Spotlight 4 | Swyft Filings

Marcus:

Some people are too focused on trying to teach, and that’s a big focus on the Instagram model. Many people, especially after COVID, want to have fun. They want to see fun things. 

When thinking about purchasing their products, consumers don’t always want to see some formal promotion like a model using a bar of soap in the shower. You have to remember not to take yourself so seriously. Focus on the everyday life experience to show a direct connection to your product.

Do you have any advice on getting your products to retailers other than your website?

Marcus:

The information is out there if you look hard enough for it. If you’re not sure, there are plenty of mentors to get you to learn how to get your stuff to retailers. It’s pretty easy nowadays, to be quite honest. 

Retailers are seeing that the Amazon model works, with regular folks using Amazon as a middleman to get their products out there. Ordinary people don’t have to worry about stocking items in a warehouse or any of those tasks. Just start an LLC and give it a try.

We chose Walmart over eBay, Amazon, Shopify, Google, and Bing because we realized Walmart supported us the most over any platform. Once we realized that, we decided we would be exclusive with them. 

Vicky:

Staying loyal to them has worked in our favor. Working exclusively with them, we’ve seen a spike in sales. I don’t have to worry about keeping an inventory for eBay or keeping an inventory for Amazon; I can ship my products to the Walmart distribution center and know that my products will get sold. It’s made the process easier for us by far.

Another point we focus on with that brand loyalty to Walmart is accessibility for our customers. You can pick up our products while you’re grocery shopping or just getting your day-to-day things, or have Walmart ship them to your house. It gives our customers options.

How do you give back to the community?

Marcus:

We are donating 10% of our revenue. We give back by investing in companies that serve the community. Let’s say for our first quarter, we make X amount of dollars, we take 10% of that and pick a community organization that serves a great purpose, and we donate that 10% directly to them. 

We hope that by donating to them, we can help them continue making a direct impact on the community around us. 

Our focus lately has been on women’s shelters. We’ve focused our efforts there because there was a lot of violence toward women during the pandemic. We wanted to provide the funds necessary to provide care in our community. 

Where do you hope your business will go in the next five years?

Marcus:

Over the next five years, our dream has always been to pass down whatever business we create to our kids. We are in the process of building other businesses, but the goal is to pass them down to our children for them to continue them on their own. 

Our son participates a lot already. He’s only 6, but he participates in coloring and naming the soaps. Hopefully, in the next five years, he can run it. He’ll be 11, and I think he should be able to do it himself. Let him take care of this so we can do our own thing. 

We want to continue the legacy of helping others help themselves for years to come. 

Do you have any advice for female entrepreneurs/business owners?/What’s your advice for the next generation of young, black female business owners?

Vicky:

I would say find one thing and stick to it. Make sure it’s something that you love. Know your why, and then reach out to as many people as possible. 

It may seem hard in the beginning but keep working at it. Know that your life and business are a journey; you will only get bigger and better if you believe in what you’re trying to achieve.

 

You can support Quoi by purchasing one of their healing soaps through their vendor Walmart, checking out more of their story on their website, and keeping up with what’s new on their social media!


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