IDA Success Story – Jasmine Tran, Founder of Essance Skincare, Portland

In 2011, Jasmine Tran had been working for many years in the lab of an Oregon skincare manufacturer when, in the wake of the slow recovery from the Great Recession, her position was cut. She decided to take her product knowledge and create her own formulations that use essential oils and natural ingredients. When it came to getting her product to market though, Jasmine notes that she had to learn a lot on her own.

“MESO [Microenterprise Services of Oregon] helped me figure out whether I’m doing what I need to do to continue to grow the business,” Jasmine explains. MESO put Jasmine in touch with the Portland Development Commission’s peer-learning program, the Interise Streetwise ‘MBA’. “After that program,” Jasmine notes, “I decided that I have to figure out how to bring in more sales. I can buy all the equipment and all the tools, but what’s the point if there are no sales? So I figured, why don’t I grow the sales first and worry about the equipment later.”

With a solid plan in place, Jasmine identified how the IDA could help her meet her goals. She used part of her matched savings to hire a contractor to help her develop her brand story, by which people can identify and relate to the company. Jasmine explains “I didn’t understand how important that was, when you create a company.  Now I realize that’s a critical part.”

With another portion of her IDA, Jasmine experimented and ran some test trials to investigate which online ads yielded results and which didn’t. Jasmine notes, “I learned that for the most part, certain ads don’t work. It’s a waste of money. But the ad I used for Amazon was actually very good. Every time we put the ad on Amazon, we had sales coming through.”

In the year since she opened her IDA in 2015, Essance’s sales doubled. But Jasmine is working to increase her company’s profits by ten-fold. “In order to meet our goals, we have to look at different ways and strategize,” Jasmine states. “It was really helpful to have MESO and the Portland Development Commission give my company resources and support.”

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