We had the good fortune of connecting with Sara Ferrer and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Sara, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
When I took Zoey Koko from part time side hustle to a full time career in 2021, my definition of business success fell into 2 buckets: either things were perfect or they weren’t. Whether it was the perfect product, the perfect marketing plan or the perfect strategy, the constant pressure I put on myself to not make a mistake ended up stifling my creativity, confidence and draining my energy. Then one day, while reading James Clear’s newsletter, he mentioned the concept of the 1 Perfect Rule that shifted my whole perspective. The 1 Percent Rule states that “over time the majority of the rewards in a given field will accumulate to the people, teams, and organizations that maintain a 1 percent advantage over the alternatives. You don’t need to be twice as good to get twice the results. You just need to be slightly better. If you get one percent better each day for one year, you’ll end up thirty-seven times better by the time you’re done.” It was my A-HA moment! Perfection was no longer the goal. The goal was just to be 1 percent better. From there, a ripple effect would occur and the outcome would be monumental.

With this new 1 percent mindset, the success of Zoey Koko exploded. We went from being in 1 retail store to 160 stores in less than 11 months. We’ve gained a loyal customer following who appreciates and values our all natural, fun bath and body products for kids. I was selected to pitch Zoey Koko live on the new USANetwork show, America’s Big Deal, on Dec 9th. The best part of rejecting perfection? I’m having fun and genuinely enjoying every moment of growing Zoey Koko, 1 percent at a time.

Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?

The Zoey Koko journey began when I left my corporate analyst career to pursue my passion for skincare and my dream of working in a spa. I was an esthetician for over 10 years at a Boston spa where I witnessed the power of self care and the role it played in boosting confidence, empowering oneself and making women feel good. During the conversations I had with my clients, I found out that many of them had young daughters, nieces or grand daughters who were beginning to dabble in bath and body products. In an effort to encourage self care, creativity and fun, these clients wanted to find the perfect bath and body product for their loved one, but were faced with many challenges along the way. The first was choosing the right product: do they choose the fun, colorful product that their loved one adores despite the fact it’s laden with synthetic ingredients or do they choose a product with clean ingredients that lacks visual excitement? The second obstacle was choosing a product that was age appropriate. The market was saturated with personal care products for 0-3 year olds and 13+ year olds, while “tween” girls, ages 5-12, were all but ignored. With 80% of young girls turning to bath and body products to express themselves and to boost confidence, I knew that there was an opportunity to fill the gap in the 4 billion dollar personal care space for kids. That’s when the entrepreneurial wheels started to churn.

In 2017, Zoey Koko was born. My first step at creating a safe, fun line of “tween” bath and body products was to create prototypes and to test these products out. I went to every kids event, gymnastics tournament and family friendly craft fair I could find in Massachusetts to gather product feedback. I discovered that the customer, usually mom, wanted a product that was Made in the USA and had safe, high quality ingredients. Her daughter, who would be using the product, wanted something that she could identify with: she wasn’t a baby anymore but not a teenager quite yet. She wanted to express herself with a sensory product that was whimsical, smelled great and had vibrant colors.

The grind to get Zoey Koko off its feet was exhilarating, yet exhausting. Keep in mind, I was still working full time at the spa while pouring every ounce of free time into Zoey Koko. In 2019, during a local craft fair, a customer inquired if I would throw her 9 year old daughter a spa themed birthday party using the Zoey Koko line. This request was the beginning of a thriving mobile spa party service that Zoey Koko would offer. These kid friendly spa parties were more than just manicures and pedicures, they were a means to encourage creativity, boost self esteem and ensure that every guest felt like a queen by the time the party was over.

Unfortunately, when the pandemic hit, the mobile spa parties were shut down. The spa I worked at was closed. I was faced with the prospect of either pivoting Zoey Koko or shutting it down, as well. The Summer and Fall of 2020 was challenging, to say the least. I knew people liked Zoey Koko once they experienced it, but it was challenging getting our products in the hands of our customer.  At that point, I turned to Bill Jensen, the owner of Darien Toy Box in Darien, CT. He was carrying Zoey Koko in his store and was the first retailer who understood the gap that Zoey Koko filled. The self care and tween space in toy stores was exploding and he insisted that toy stores across the country were searching for a line like Zoey Koko. He suggested that I align myself with a sales rep group to help build my retail presence. That conversation would transform the future of Zoey Koko completely.

In January 2021, Zoey Koko partnered with a New England toy rep group to help distribute our product. We went from being in 1 store to being in 40 stores in a matter of months. From there, we aligned ourselves with other sales rep groups across the country, resulting in 160 retail locations to date that Zoey Koko is sold in. The last 11 months has been a whirlwind. I’ve been an exhibitor at 2 trade shows this year, one of which resulted in Zoey Koko being picked up by a Canadian distributor who is now supplying our products to retail stores across Canada. Our website sales have increased by 7x and our partnership with the luxury kid’s e-commerce boutique, Maisonette.com, has expanded our customer reach.

With 2021 coming to an end, our journey is only just beginning. On Dec 9, I will be pitching Zoey Koko live on USA Network’s new show, America’s Big Deal, where I will be competing for a national retailer deal. The mere fact that I will be exposing tv viewers across the country to Zoey Koko products just in time for the holidays is surreal on every level. When I look back at what I’ve learned in the last year, the phrase “No guts, no glory!” comes to mind. This phrase is the mantra that my father, who immigrated to the US from Spain when he was 26 years old, would always say when things got tough. Only just a year ago, I wondered if Zoey Koko would ever make it. One year later, the Zoey Koko team of 6 women aren’t just making it, we are thriving.

There were no shortcuts to the success of Zoey Koko. We aren’t an overnight sensation. We didn’t just get lucky. Zoey Koko is the culmination of 4 long years of grinding, pivoting and resilience. So what’s my secret to success?

“No guts, no glory!”

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?

My favorite places in the city are as follows:

Food: Sabzi is the place to go for the best Persian kebabs. This small, intimate restaurant makes you feel like you’ve been transported to an Iranian grandmother’s kitchen who wants to feed you the tastiest Persian cuisine.

Outdoor activity: Mushroom foraging at the Middlesex Fells Reservation is a great way to get out, enjoy a nice hike and find some mushrooms along the way. Just be careful and know what mushrooms are for consumption and which ones are not!

At home activity: Sakanaya is your go to spot to make sushi at home. They have an amazing selection of sushi-grade fish and all the accompaniments to make sushi night a hit.

Drinks and small bites: Sarma in Cambridge has consistently good drinks and small dishes that are delicious. Their signature cornbread is to die for!

Icecream: If ice cream is your thing, look no further than Toscanini’s. Their ice cream is so creamy and flavorful. You can just taste the high quality goodness that goes into their unique flavors.

Day activity: The Isabella Stewart Museums houses fantastic European, Asian, and American art. Be sure to catch a musical event in the lush gardens when the outdoor temperature is just right.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My parents don’t deserve a little credit, they deserve all the credit. They have believed in Zoey Koko from the very beginning and have never doubted my ability to succeed, even when I doubted myself. My mom has always encouraged me to “just keep swimming” when the waves of life get rough, so here I am, keeping afloat thanks to her and my father’s unconditional support.

Website: www.zoeykoko.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/zoey_koko/?hl=en

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sara-ferrer-6371b5117/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ZoeyKokoFun/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-lv75fLmoU

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