Businesses across the US are celebrating National Small Business Week 2021, a tradition spanning over 50 years. Created by the Small Business Administration (SBA), May 5-May 11 is a time to recognize the contributions of entrepreneurs and small business owners in the US. And this past year was unlike any other. US small businesses remained resilient despite facing the unique challenges of COVID-19.
This week is our time to appreciate just how vital small businesses are to the nation. According to the SBA, there were 31.7 million small businesses in the United States as of last year. That’s 99.9% of all businesses! Annually, these small businesses create 1.5 million jobs and account for 64% of all new jobs in the US.
Suffice to say, US small businesses play a large role in supporting the economy — and National Small Business Week is the perfect time to celebrate their contribution. We want to take this time to spotlight some of the hardworking entrepreneurs and small business owners who buy or sell their products on Alibaba.com. Keep reading for their inspirational stories.
In 2016, Rashee Gupta found herself in between jobs. She started a blog, MrsGuptaSquared, and wrote about her past experience as a makeup artist while sharing her knowledge on makeup techniques. Rashee wanted to see more diversity in the beauty industry and offer women of color high-quality pigmented products, so she decided to create her own makeup line after picking up lots of traffic. Rashee took some business classes and did research. Soon after, she learned about Alibaba.com.
Initially Rashee started using Alibaba.com as a buyer to source packaging and materials for her vegan and cruelty-free makeup line. She later decided to try selling her products on Alibaba.com in January 2020 when business had slowed down.
Selling on Alibaba.com helped Rashee expand her business both internationally and domestically. According to Rashee, “MGS Accessories was in the red before we joined Alibaba.com. Sales were very slow. Now, we have the opposite problem. We’re so busy we can’t keep up!” She’s excited to continue growing her brand on Alibaba.com and make MGS Accessories known around the world “to magnify the beauty that already exists.”
Formerly a DJ and musician, Kheedim was unimpressed with the kimchi options available on supermarket shelves. He asked his mother for her traditional kimchi recipes, and the idea for “Mama O’s” was born.
After Kheedim made his first 50-pound batch of kimchi, he received an inquiry from a local Brooklyn butcher shop. Kheedim tasked himself with creating a company. He got the job done, manufacturing and distributing his fresh kimchi and keeping up with the demand for a few years. But in 2019, he sought out more affordable and environmentally friendly packaging options.
Kheedim discovered a manufacturer on Alibaba.com who helped him switch from glass jars to a more-compact, recyclable plastic packaging. Kheedim was able to save an estimated US $100,000 (pre-tax) in packaging manufacturing costs. And because the packaging is more compact, he ships more products at once, significantly reducing shipping costs for his distributor and retailer customers. Kheedim is now a buyer and a seller on the platform as he opened an Alibaba.com storefront for Mama O’s Premium Kimchi to sell to the world.
Necia always had a passion for cosmetics and beauty, but when she developed serious chemical sensitivities in college, she struggled to find clean beauty products that did not trigger unpleasant reactions. Many products that market themselves as clean still had harmful ingredients in small enough quantities that they were not legally required to be listed.
In 2012, Necia started her own company, Blessed and Anointed Beauty Services (B.A.A.B.S.) Beauty, to address needs of other women like herself and solve this industry problem. B.A.A.B.S. Beauty offers a full line of cosmetics, selling only allergen-free products with clearly listed ingredients. As Necia was researching ways to expand her brand and more efficiently run her business, she discovered Alibaba.com.
Necia began using Alibaba.com to source bulk packaging and branded items, including makeup bags and shipping supplies. This helped B.A.A.B.S. Beauty reach a new level of success by streamlining the product development process and keeping her costs competitive with larger beauty brands.
Necia has found a successful niche in the industry as a truly clean cosmetics company. Necia’s hard work and determination resulted in not only sustaining her business, but growing in these uncertain times. As a minority-owned and women-owned business, Necia’s ability to block out negativity and look for a way forward allowed her to ramp up her ecommerce store, plan for future product lines, and prepare for heat moments in the market. Since starting B.A.A.B.S. Beauty, Necia has proudly been able to call herself a successful entrepreneur and a business owner.
Karmic Seed was founded in December 2018 by Neena Gupta and Arpan Soni who met in India. The two had a vision of creating products that went full circle — made from nature and ultimately go right back into the earth — and identified a market need in the US.
Karmic Seed creates sustainable products made from agricultural waste to reduce single-use plastic and restore the environment. The company works with local rural villagers in southern India to develop 100% biodegradable, organic, and chemical-free kitchenware products, such as areca palm leaf tableware, wheat drinking straws, and coconut bowls.
While Neena and Arpan researched a myriad of platforms where they could list and sell their products, they decided on Alibaba.com because of its strong community of US buyers — their key target. In less than one year, Karmic Seed was profitable. The company now sees roughly 65% of its overall sales stem from Alibaba.com.
When talking about their experience, Neena said: “As a newly launched startup, Alibaba.com has given us immense opportunity to flourish in the US market as well as abroad. Our business has seen tremendous growth since launching, thanks to Alibaba.com. We have a lot of gratitude for Alibaba.com and would 100% recommend it to other businesses looking for a way to reach the US market.”
Geoﬀery Stern started Voice Express over 24 years ago to embed the emotive power of the human voice into objects, such as flower bouquets and teddy bears. What started as an idea led to the invention, creation, and patenting of a self-playing audio chip — and eventually video screens — that are now embedded in everything from smart toys and picture frames to advertisements, books, magazines, and more.
Geoﬀrey has been a longtime Alibaba.com customer, sourcing products and packaging from quality global sellers. When he saw that the B2B ecommerce marketplace was open to US sellers in July 2019, he knew he could access new bulk demand for his products.
Since being a seller on Alibaba.com for almost two years, Geoﬀrey has built and fostered relationships with dozens of new customers and expanded his product oﬀerings. During the early COVID-19 shutdown, a major mall-based Voice Express customer closed its stores, severely disrupting Geoﬀrey's business. He then decided to double down on digital sales and even developed a new product and opened up a new market in response to an Alibaba.com customer inquiry. Voice Express now oﬀers a long-playing USB programmable audio card and is addressing the demand of 3D sonogram studios who capture and embed fetal recordings into plush bears for fathers and family who are not able to join the mother for medical scans.
This week's #B2BTuesday Tip:
Wondering how to promote your small business during National Small Business Week? One way to generate some buzz is through a social media campaign highlighting your story, your customers, and your employees.