Using a personal credit card to propel the business, the Ciccone sisters identify the best spa products from all over the country and beyond to assemble stunning, social media-worthy bath kits.
Tara and Desiree Ciccone
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Tara Ciccone, a 10-year public relations and media professional living in New York City, realized that she was ready for something fresh and clean. The epiphany occurred while in the tub, gazing at the plank – a bath board – holding her soaps and products. It looked similar to a beautiful charcuterie plate lined with an array of cheeses, fruits and pâtés that diners would photograph and put on Instagram.
It was an “a-ha” moment. “I got out of my bath, called my sister and Bath Board Baby was born,” says Ciccone. “Our goal was to make bath boards as cool as charcuterie boards, if not more!” The sisters got to work, dedicating themselves to connecting with companies that were either woman- or minority-owned and good for the planet.
Bath Board Baby identifies the best spa products from all over the country and beyond to assemble stunning, social media-worthy kits. “I’m a bath connoisseur and a lover of all things self-care, while Desiree, my sister, is a health and wellness fanatic,” says Ciccone. “But we also opened the business as a way to stay connected during COVID. We officially launched on March 22, 2021, so we’re still in the baby business phase, but it’s been so much fun.”
To shift to the next stage of business development, the Ciccone sisters are using a credit card to finance the costs involved in a very young start-up.
See related: From shower thoughts to a successful business
Bath Board Baby is still so new, what have your recent weeks been like?
Being someone who never started their own business before, and had little to no recollection of my college business classes, I assumed this would have been easy-peasy. Not true.
We hand-picked our vendors, vetted them, ensured that they understood our mission and were on brand. Lucky for us, they were all selling on one wholesale platform. Perfect, right? Wrong.
I didn’t realize that in order to purchase wholesale, I needed to officially register my business, even at these small quantities. So that spun me into a panic. I scrambled to make my business an LLC and touched base with all vendors to help me make my shipping dates.
Were you surprised by any of the expenses involved in realizing your vision?
Yes! There were so many that I didn’t think of in the beginning. Etsy was more expensive than I thought, but it was the shipping, which is so expensive, that really caught us off guard.
Regular expenses, too, like what we spend on marketing (such as Facebook ads) and purchasing products, plus the web domain hosting and email accounts – they all add up.
See related: 9 common small business costs
Can you explain how you’ve been using credit cards?
A big reason we used credit cards was to buy the bulk of our wholesale products. Without a credit card, we would not have been able to launch the business. Down the line, we’re looking to optimize certain aspects like cash back to pay our bill.
I’m a loyal Chase customer and was excited to check out their Chase Freedom Flex℠ card, so that’s what I got for the business, even though it’s a personal card. I knew we were going to spend way over $1,500 in our first quarter, which automatically got us 5% cash back. Plus, I love that there are no annual fees.
I’m the primary cardholder and Desiree is the authorized user. Whatever purchase we make, we justify it by the points. When we got the first round of cash back, we said, “Oh yeah, we’re going to do this!”
See related: Best startup business credit cards
Are you usually leveraged or do you remain debt-free?
Being a new business, we are bound to have some debt in the beginning. Whatever we make goes right on the card to pay it off. We keep our costs relatively low, ensuring to get the best deals and not spending unless we really believe it’s worth it.
Is building and keeping good credit important to you?
It definitely is. When you have good credit, it makes other processes like opening your own store or any bigger plans a little less stressful. Our strategy is to keep the credit card balance low. In fact, we pay it off as we go so we can buy more and eventually make a profit.
See related: How to build business credit
What are the future plans for the business?
I’ve been scrubbing Etsy and obscure marketplaces to find the products, and the boards themselves are made by a great craftsman in Vancouver Island, Canada. By November, we plan to launch a full à la carte e-commerce service with products curated by us, as well as the ability for customers to make their own kits. We’re launching a subscription service in the Spring of 2022.
But that’s not all! We will also be launching a podcast sometime this summer where we will highlight our vendors as well as other wellness and business professionals.
Any advice for entrepreneurs who are just starting out during this crazy time?
Do it! I always wanted to start my own business and, truthfully, I was just too scared to do it. If sitting in my apartment for 13 months has taught me anything, it’s that life is way too short to not go for everything you want.
Related or not, when you’re choosing a business partner, that person has to have the same values as you – and you need to know how to talk to each other.
Have you learned anything about credit cards that you want to pass on?
It’s all about staying on top of things, cross-referencing and keeping good records. If you’re organized, you can see if something isn’t right and you can clearly see where costs could and should be cut.
Oh, and if you’re sharing a credit card, it’s important to communicate. We have a spreadsheet with all of our charges and review everything together. Since I’m the primary cardholder, Desiree asks me before buying anything.