In 2010, Sophia Barry began her entrepreneurship journey with Wisdom Wellness.
Her holistic personal training business helped clients examine not only diet and exercise but also patterns of sleep, causes of stress and other habits. After securing a few clients, she visited the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at UW-Milwaukee. The staff recommended the First Steps to Starting a Business class, which then led to her experience in the Entrepreneurial Training Program (ETP) in 2011.
Staff assisted Sophia with financial projections and cash flow strategies and the class gave Sophia the help she needed to create a business plan. The company was very successful offering one-on-one consultations, but the format change to group seminars and events gave Sophia more time with her family. Some of the group events hosted by Wisdom Wellness were make-and-take parties at which participants could create their own personal care products. The oils and other offerings at the parties segued nicely into Sophia’s next business adventure: Scentsory Bath and Body Boutique.
Scentsory Bath and Body Boutique
Sophia went back the SBDC and with Jason Mueller’s help was able to map out a strategy for the Scentsory. The Oconomowoc store opened in 2017, and then soon moved to Cedarburg in 2018. Sophia said, “I pleasantly surprised myself at how well I could create space and design an aesthetic.” This ability to brand and market became a cornerstone of Sophia’s success.
She realized that “experience” was the selling point she needed to compete, especially with online retailers. Customers often commented on the cute, welcoming design of the store. Sophia offered events and hands-on experiences like birthday parties and a custom fragrance bar. Her personal touch services like home delivery helped her business continue to grow.
She advises anyone just starting out, “Don’t feel guilty about asking customers to engage on social media, write an online review or give contact information. They feel valued and the business expands its customer base.” Scentsory got more than 135 five-star reviews in only two years which was immensely helpful in selling the business in 2019.
The new owners wanted to add e-commerce and a repeat order delivery service and Sophia is staying on as a consultant to help with products and events. But she is turning most of her attention to her third new business: Elevate Business Consulting LLC.
Accomplishments with UW-Milwaukee SBDC:
- Cash flow strategies
- Business strategy
- Business plan
- Financial projections
Elevate Business Consulting, LLC
Elevate offers hands on help with designing physical business space, brand refinement, customer experience management and strategic goal setting. It allows Sophia to use many of the same skills she honed working as a coach at Wisdom Wellness. “I modified the personal wellness inventory to use with business health. I help clients define functional goals and reach strategic deadlines.” Her face-to-face, phone or video sessions help clients establish brand identity. She explained, “I help business owners with marketing, networking, customer experience and cohesive design and branding.” She likes to translate national trends for the Midwest market, helping clients recognize the consumer climate and spending habits and see the opportunity for growth in Wisconsin.
She realizes a business may only have one opportunity with any given customer and knows the value of making the experience a positive one. She also views continuing education as a vital element to keep the health of the business going strong. Taking classes like ETP and consulting with the SBDC keep Sophia aware of the “brass tacks on what needs to be done.” She said, “No one person can do it all, so the SBDC is an amazing free resource. They offer guidance, like mathematical projections and analytical insights that may not be one owner’s strengths.”