Smart N Slim is a nutritional supplements company that offers its customers a natural way to feel better and lose weight. The company was founded by a 15-year nurse practitioner, Janet Robson, who has spent an entire career specializing in weight loss and integrative holistic medicines. Smart N Slim offers a variety of products that aid in healthier living – including B12 Lipotropic Complex in a liquid form, a line of herbal tea, body shapers, and anti-aging accessories.

Can you tell me about yourself and where you got the inspiration to create your product?

I've worked in a weight loss clinic for 15 years. In 2017, I decided to pursue my dream to create a supplement—I've been wanting to do this for the last 15 years, but I wasn’t ready. Now that I’ve got the experience, I thought it’s time to create my own product.

How long did it take you to get your product off the ground?

I started creating my proprietary formula for the B12 Lipotropic Complex in August 2017 and didn’t get the actual product produced until May 2018. I inquired with my brother-in-law, an entrepreneur, if he knew a manufacturing company. He was able to get me a few lists of manufacturing companies that I could connect with, so I selected a manufacturing company and secured loans to get my business off the ground. I told them exactly what I wanted—I didn’t want to sell just anything, I wanted to have a say in the product. I gave a lot of samples to my friends to try and evaluate what benefits it had.

Where are you selling your product?

I knew I wanted to sell my products through one of the major online retailers so I started there. They were very strict – tough to get in, especially with a supplement product, but I was really impressed with how they could help me reach a wider audience. They follow the FDA guidelines and certifications, so I needed to apply for my product to be listed on their marketplace through a separate process. Of course, one of their criteria is you've got to have a UPC barcode. That's how I started working with GS1 US, so I could put UPC barcodes on my products. The process was self-explanatory. My husband helped me follow the instructions available on the internet. He was able to get a 10-capacity UPC in one day.

What are your plans to expand over the next year? What does the future look like for your product?

This year, I have two focuses. First, I’m beginning to explore a drink supplement as an addition to my product line. I want to use the same ingredients and same formula, of course non caffeine drink. Secondly, when I started, I looked at selling my products through national supplement retailers and wholesale clubs, but the criteria to get onto their shelf was difficult for a small brand that’s just starting out. That’s partly the reason I started with the online platforms. But now that I’ve had a successful year and great experience, and only two online returns, I’m going to apply to those retailers.

What advice, if any, do you have to offer to other small businesses about your experience?

Do your due diligence first and make sure you are aware of how many competitors you have out there. You must know the product well. Always look for research to back up your product—that’s important to reaching consumers who are always searching for more information. Of course, there are ups and downs starting out, and it’s important to have the financial backing to be successful. Believe in your product and continue to explore where your product will go.

In this publication, the letters “U.P.C.” are used solely as an abbreviation for the “Universal Product Code”, which is a product identification system. They do not refer to the UPC, which is a federally registered certification mark of the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) to certify compliance with a Uniform Plumbing Code as authorized by IAPMO.