“We had no money and we couldn’t pay the payroll taxes, and we had to let people go because we couldn’t meet our obligations,” Fulton-Kendrick said. As a result, the Internal Revenue Service placed a $127,475 tax lien on James and Sara Fulton. They are working out a payment plan that they hope to have finalized by the end of this month, Fulton-Kendrick said.
Vivant’s sales fell to about $1.5 million in 2009, 2010 and 2011, but are now on the rise again, and are expected to come in at about $2 million for 2012, due to the retail expansion, Fulton-Kendrick said.
“We want to build up to $5 million,” she said.
The company has rebuilt its retail network to about 1,000 nationwide. About 60 percent of sales come from skin care professionals, 20 percent from Internet retail and 20 percent from international accounts, including a chain of medical clinics in Indonesia and a spa in Jamaica.
Sales have been rising each month on the beauty e-commerce site DermStore.com since it began offering Vivant’s products in December 2011, said Amber Miladinovich, a buyer for the El Segundo, Calif.-based site, which features more than 700 brands.
“Vivant has definitely been supportive of our partnerships and done a lot of partnerships with us, which has shown in their sales,” said Miladinovich, declining to provide figures. Among the partnerships are ad placements, such as one coming in April in Allure magazine, as well as guest blog posts, quarterly catalog placements and Facebook and Twitter giveaways. A new “tweet-a-way” begins Monday at @dermstore.
As a next step, Vivant plans later this year to open an acne clinic in Miami-Dade or Broward, then add another clinic in Palm Beach County in 2014.
“It’s a way to be creative, and come up with new products,” Fulton-Kendrick said. “Otherwise, you lose touch with the consumer.”
That expansion, along with adding a relationship with a department store or beauty retailer, is geared to lead to further growth, despite a highly competitive market. With a current staff of 12, Vivant also plans to add three staffers this year, in marketing, sales and manufacturing, she said.
Meanwhile, the company is also focusing on social media, and has built a base of 17,322 Twitter followers, as well as 7,629 “likes” on Facebook, said Michael Mut, business development specialist for Vivant.
“Our goal for this year is to grow the Internet retailing and brick and mortar retailers that carry our brand,” Fulton-Kendrick said, “and increase brand awareness.”