Small Business Month Cyber Forums: Michelle Sparck (KTVA.com Exclusive)
On Monday, May 7, Bethel businesswoman Michelle Sparck was the guest in the first in a series of KTVA.com Facebook forums on entrepreneurship and the state of small businesses in Alaska.
Sparck, who founded skincare company ArXotica in 2006 along with sisters Cika and Amy Sparck, transforms hand-harvested wild Arctic herbs, berries and flowers into high-end facial serums, soaps and other products. The business sells its products worldwide, but remains based in Bethel.
Sparck joined us on May 7 for our first-ever Facebook Town Hall on entrepreneurship. Here's how the conversation went:
Welcome to the first-ever KTVA.com entrepreneurship cyber forum! Michelle Spark of Bethel is here to answer your questions on everything from rural economic development to startups: Six years ago, she co-founded ArXotica, which sells high-end skin care products made from Arctic botanicals. Post your questions here, connect with other entrepreneurs and join the conversation! We'll kick things off: Michelle, where did you find the inspiration for ArXotica, and what's your advice for transforming an idea into an actual business plan?
KTVA Channel 11 News Sparck - excuse us, Michelle...
Michelle Sparck Waqaa, hello! Thanks for having us (I tend to speak in third person plural, being a triplet)
Michelle Sparck The inspiration was in our backyard. Literally. The tundra. Gathering as children and throughout our formative years, the practice, the zen of it, the sustenance it provided was always inspirational.
Michelle Sparck A business plan is what makes your real and serious to outsiders, those that aren't just cheerleading your thoughts and wishes. A business plan, well, it means business and people (by people, we mean banks, investors, etc) tend to respond more to that kind of structure than just dreaming.
Michelle Sparck The Alaska Marketplace is a good resource for those of you wanting to get more structure to gel your idea. They have a good model online and that helps you shape and organize your ideas. But then again, you can get these kinds of resources from the SBA and a lot of Native organizations are offering these kinds of services or incentives.
KTVA Channel 11 News Read more about the Alaska Marketplace at http://www.ktva.com/news/small-business/Competition-Sparks-Growth-for-Alaskan-Small-Businesses-150522965.html
KTVA Channel 11 News Tell us a little about your products, and your research and development process...
Michelle Sparck Now realize, the Alaska Marketplace isn't only for Native businesses, it's designed to spur Rural Development. As long as you are intended to develop jobs and products in rural areas - you can make a go of it.
Michelle Sparck Our products. Well, we informed the world that we wanted to come out with a high end brand name company. We aimed for high quality ingredients, packaging and efficacy. Our mother helped us find a suitable name for that, Quyung-lii, which means, the potent one in Cup'ik. We picked a plant, berry and flower to represent our signature ingredients, then used glacier water from Eklutna and extra virgin salmon oil (for the Omega factor) from a company in Juneau that refines the oil for nutraceutical use. We came out with our debut product, Anti-Aging Skin Serum last March - but have formulated a 4-SKU line for this, a cleanser, toner and moisturizer.