Scaling Your Business, Entrepreneur

Bootstrapping a Brick and Mortar Business with Amber Budd

Episode 135: Show Notes

Today on the podcast we welcome Amber Budd. Amber is a self-described skincare nerd and the founder and creator of her own skincare line, Amber Budd Skincare. Starting out with just a $500 loan, Amber left her job at one of the best spa’s in the country and founded her own. She has since managed to scale her clients from only ten to hundreds by growing her business one small step at a time. In Amber’s industry, the client return rate is 20%, but Amber, on the other hand, knocks that figure out the park, seeing an 80% return rate with her clients! Amber’s customer care philosophy is “take the time to nurture every client relationship”.

Today on the podcast we welcome Amber Budd. Amber is a self-described skincare nerd and the founder and creator of her own skincare line, Amber Budd Skincare. Starting out with just a $500 loan, Amber left her job at one of the best spa’s in the country and founded her own. She has since managed to scale her clients from only ten to hundreds by taking her business one small step at a time.  |  The Strategy Hour  |  Think Creative Collective

Today, we find out how Amber found a manufacturer, got her products approved by the FDA and grew her skincare line from just an idea. We will also find out how she bootstrapped a brick and mortar business and the strategies she has recently implemented to grow her business even further! Amber reiterates the importance of taking one small step at a time and the value of consistent, steady growth in your business and client relationships. So get your notebooks out, put your feet up and let’s get ready to hear some strategy!

The Early Days Of Amber’s Business

Amber owns Amber Budd Atelier, a skin spa in Burnsville, Minnesota and also owns Amber Budd Skincare, which is a skincare line for people who want results without a 13-step skincare process. Amber became an Esthetician about five years ago and was working at one of the largest spas in the country. She was reading business books on her downtime and took a lot of great notes! When the opportunity arose for her own suite space, she jumped at it. She had very little savings, so had to take the whole process one tiny step at a time. The process of developing a skincare range was a little different. Amber went to about 20 labs until she found one that suited her business by not testing on animals and having high-quality ingredients. We’ll get into that process later, but for now, let’s find out how she started her business…

Building The Capital For Her Business

Amber started with $500 she borrowed from her (then) boyfriend which she paid back and lived very frugally for a couple of years. Everything she earned went back into her business. She brought a few loyal clients with her from her job at the spa, did a couple campaigns on Facebook and did a Groupon, which Amber admits was risky! At the end of the day, it was really all about word of mouth when it came to growing her client base. She focused heavily on SEO in the first couple of years and got herself onto the first page of Google for every category she wanted to be and soon her business started to grow.

Find Out How Amber Scaled Her Client-Base

The average return rate in Amber’s industry is 20% but Amber had a really good return rate of over 80%. This is because Amber places a lot of emphasis on her consultations and really takes the time to consult with her clients. She gets to know what their wants are and what’s going on in their life. She gives all her clients a welcome packet and sends cards on their birthday or when they get married. Time and time again, people have said to Amber, “I feel taken care of.” This is important in a business where your hands are literally on people! It’s about trust and human connection. There is something to be said for that in all business practices. She started off with ten clients and today, just a mere three years later, has over 100 clients which is very rare for a brick and mortar business.


I just like to take care of people because they are taking care of me and my dreams.
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Why Amber Decided To Create Her Own Product Line

When Amber was at school, she discovered she was a real skincare nerd. She loved the science of it, ingredients and started reading dermatology journals for fun. She worked with six other skincare lines before opening her own. When Amber started her own spa, she soon realized that there were often holes in the products she was using and was having to send clients somewhere else to get what they needed. About five years ago, Amber started researching what products her customers were asking for the most and those were the first ones she built.

She went through about 20 labs before finding one to work with. She started building the products then getting them FDA approved with Health Canada. The process of finding a lab can be a long one. Amber was able to narrow this search process down by doing her research and finding out what their systems were. She wanted to be hands-on in the process and find a lab that aligned with her business values, i.e., no animal testing and high-quality, approved ingredients. At the moment, Amber sells her products online and within her own spa space.

Up-Scaling Your Business With Tools And Systems

Amber will be moving into her own space very soon. A space that is six times larger than her current space and with private rooms. She will have a renter in the space, a woman who offers services different to Amber, but within the same field such as eyelash extensions. Her strategies for upscaling and making this transition smoother are using tools such as Smarter Queue and optimizing her social media platforms. Amber is also now a Trello addict and is using Trello for Business.

In the next year, Amber plans to hire a receptionist to have someone assist with the admin duties of the business. When using Trello, Amber has a yearly board set up and a card for each business. The cards have helped her with orders, shipping and even brainstorming! Using an online booking system has also been a huge time saver for Amber, allowing her to have some distance from her clients. Another tool Amber has utilized is Fiverr, which she used to get a graphic made. This was a great investment for her since she couldn’t afford a graphic designer or a VA.


  • The early days of Amber’s business and the story of how she got started. [0:02:40.1]
  • Building the capital for her business and how Amber started with only $500. [0:08:22.1]
  • Find out how Amber scaled her client-base and went from 10 clients to 100! [0:11:19.1]
  • Why Amber decided to create her own product line in an already saturated market. [0:14:22.1]
  • Up-scaling your business with tools and systems; Amber’s tricks of the brick and mortar trade. [0:25:22.1]

#TalkStrategyToMe [0:32:40.6]

  1. Learn who your ideal client is.
  2. Plan your social media in advance.
  3. Make a master list of your marketing ideas.



Amber Budd

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Amber Budd Peterson is a self-described skincare nerd, and the Founder of Amber Budd Atelier™, a skin spa in Burnsville, MN, and Amber Budd Skincare™, a growing line of professional grade products for busy women who want radiant, youthful skin, and don’t want the hassle of a pushy sales person, with little to no knowledge of how our skin works. Instead, she offers one on one consultations and skincare lessons to tailor results to you. Amber believes everyone can have good skin, they just need a professional to help them uncover it. A licensed Esthetician for 5+ years, and a makeup artist for 20+ years, Amber has worked with ESPN, Mike Tyson, the PGA Tour, Bikini Pro and Big Brother contestant Amanda Hanson, Caitlyn Jenner, Dainty Obsessions, Style Me Pretty, Oprah Magazine, Fast Company, and more. When she isn't working, Amber can be found hanging out with her husband and their fur-baby, Henry, or singing karaoke, eating tacos and drinking champagne.


  • The skincare industry

  • Bootstrapping a business

  • Breaking into a saturated market

  • Brick and mortar business




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