Sometimes business ideas are sparked unintentionally. This was the case for Sean Dorsey and Marissa Randolph, the co-owners of Peroma Essentials.
COVID-19 disrupted the world, but it did not stop Dorsey and Randolph’s willingness to begin building their Baltimore-based business in 2021. Dorsey disclosed that Randolph’s all-natural hair care products inspired them to embark upon a new undertaking.
“One day, I smelled a pleasant fragrance in Marissa’s hair and asked her what it was. She explained that it was a hair oil recipe she created and had been using for a while. I recognized the quality of the product and convinced her to start a business. Subsequently, she studied how to manufacture skin care products, and we started a business,” Dorsey said.
Randolph added, “While everything else seemed uncertain, it was as if there was no better time to start Peroma. I was employed as a correctional officer when we decided to begin this venture. All activities were canceled inside of the facility, so there was no better time for me to continue my research and create the products that I now sell every day.”
Peroma Essentials sells all-natural products, including skin oil, hair oil, body scrub, facial scrub, body butter, shampoo, soap, beard oil, beard balm, beard wash and beard butter.
Dorsey further explained that he has a film, music production and graphics design background, in addition to having an MBA.
“Therefore, we combined her [Marrisa’s] manufacturing expertise with my skills in branding and marketing to create Peroma Essentials. Marissa manufactures the product, and I handle all branding, marketing, and packaging,” Dorsey said.
Their initial customer base began with family, friends and co-workers. The savvy business owners used customer feedback to fine-tune and enhance their product. After the launch of Peroma Essential’s website, Dorsey said that he and Randolph began to generate additional customers.
In recent years, beards have become popular again. Peroma Essentials’ Beard Kit is exclusively for the male population. However, men are not the only ones who purchase it.
“Our most popular product is the Beard Kit, which has garnered significant attention, especially from women buying it for their husbands or boyfriends,” Dorsey said.
He added, “Other popular products include body scrubs, body butter and facial scrubs.”
Baltimore has become a hub for creative and entrepreneurial people who embrace a startup mentality. Dorsey and Randolph grew up in East Baltimore. The lower-middle-income neighborhood was plagued by crime during that time. However, community figures guided them in a positive direction.
“We learned strength, resilience, creativity and ambition despite the challenges. We aspired to be business owners based on these experiences,” Dorsey said.
The business owners currently vend at different locations, including Mount Vernon Marketplace every Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., at 520 Park Avenue in Baltimore, Maryland. Additionally, products that are crafted by Peroma Essentials are sold online at http://www.Peromaessentials.com.
By day, Dorsey, a U.S. Army veteran, works as an IT operations manager. Randolph works at a podiatrist clinic. Aside from the pandemic, a big decision that small business owners like Dorsey and Randolph often must make is determining if a side hustle should be a full-time or part-time job.
“Balancing work and owning a business is very hard work but can be done. I often create lists of tasks that I need to complete as soon as I end my workday. This can be lists of products I need to make or which ingredients to pick up on my way home,” Randolph said. “One of our biggest goals is to be able to live a comfortable life while focusing solely on Peroma. Continuing to work while owning a business comes from the need to have a contingency plan, just in case the unforeseeable happens.”
Their primary goal is to expand nationwide with multiple locations, offering all-natural skincare and educating people about wellness and healthier lifestyle choices.
Dorsey added, “One vital lesson is the importance of excellent customer service and support. Building strong relationships with customers can make or break a business. Effective time and resource management, along with structured planning and execution, are crucial for success in running a business.”
In the interim, Dorsey and Randoph diligently push closer to their entrepreneurial goals by consistently working to grow their brand by vending and simultaneously selling products online.
“The most rewarding aspect is selling products that customers value and appreciate. Their positive reactions and repeat purchases are incredibly fulfilling,” Dorsey said.