Small indie companies are sometimes also called etailers. They are usually owned by 1 or 2 individuals, that make handcrafted items. Before the internet, such businesses would generally sell at craft fairs and holiday markets, but the internet has allowed them to have a permanent storefront, albeit virtual. Some have their own websites, while others sell through etsy.com.
I have found some wonderful bath and body products through etailers over the last two years. There are also jewelry etailers, and crafts etailers, but the ones I have ordered from are all bath and body.
I have received many questions from my friends who have not heard of etailers, so I did a mini FAQ below:
Why order crème brulee body cream from an etailer when I could just buy the Laura Mercier version?
I got into etailers for three reasons: 1. ingredients 2. cost and 3. custom scents. Many etailers use very natural ingredients and make their own bases, so I know exactly what I am putting on my skin. Since many etailers make their products in small batches, I also know the products are fresh and have not been sitting on a shelf in a store for months.
Also, cost wise, the etailers I have found (and many other ones out there too) cannot be beat. For example, Skindecent (who carries a LM Crème Brulee dupe) charges $8 for a 4oz jar of her wonderful Whipped Moisture cream, which you can purchase in the Crème Brulee scent. No contest, especially when the Laura Mercier version is chockfull of chemicals.
A word on custom scents: etailers are wonderful about blending scents at your request – for some the scent blending is their creative passion within their business.
What is customer service like?
By and large, ordering from an individual or a small business means that CS is great. Many etailers include a personalized note with your order, along with samples of other products. Sadly, some etailers are not that professional. The best way to protect yourself is to read reviews on MUA or this blog or other blogs (check out thedrydown.blogspot.com) and see what other people’s experiences are.
So etailers use all natural ingredients, right?
Sadly, no. If this is really important to you (as it is to me) read ingredient listings on websites and email the owners for more explanations on ingredients.
The only etailer I have found that is all natural is Flour City Bakery. But many of my favorite etailers, like Skindecent, Cleanse your Soul, Coconut Hut and Jeanne’s Bath Shoppe have a large array of products, some of which are natural and do not have parabens or sulfates.
How long does it usually take to get an order?
Most etailers take between 1-4 weeks to ship out their custom made products. I strongly encourage you to NOT order from an etailer that does not have a turnaround time posted on their site. That is generally bad news.
How do I pay?
Most etailers offer paypal, credit card checkout or will even take a money order mailed directly to them.
- Do a bit of research on the etailer and the products.
- Order samples and small sizes at first, and figure out what you like.
- Do sign up for mailing lists. Generally that means you have access to coupons and special offers, but it also gives you a sense of the business you are dealing with.
- If you care about natural products, look for etailers that use Germall preservative (derived from natural products) or essential oils as preservatives.
- Do let your products “cure” for a few weeks when you receive them. Sometimes, the products are so fresh that the scent oils have not had a chance to really blend and strengthen.
General Disclosures & Disclaimers