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Ruby Campos, founder of Essential Cleansing, at her storefront in Bonita Springs, Florida.

May is Small Business Month, and Ruby Campos understands the power of small businesses in Southwest Florida. In fact, since launching her vegan skincare line Cleansing Essentials in Bonita Springs in 2018, she’s benefited from an upsurge of local support for small businesses, especially during the pandemic.

“People were stuck at home during the lockdown, and they were on social media a lot,” Campos says. “That’s when my business really grew, and I heard the same thing from other small businesses that did really well during the shutdown. People were very supportive of small businesses online. It wasn’t just Amazon.”

Most entrepreneurs agree that launching a business isn’t easy, and small businesses in particular face a daunting set of challenges. But Campos has made those challenges work for her. Her line of all-natural skincare focuses on soaps, body butters, scrubs and oils that she handcrafts in small batches in Bonita Springs. Over the last five years, she’s developed a loyal following of clients and has become a champion networker within the small business community. She regularly connects with other entrepreneurs across Southwest Florida, and seeks out women-owned small businesses in particular. “We share our connections and help each other out,” Campos says. “You never know who they know.”

One way that Campos brings small, women-owned businesses together is by hosting pop-up events at her brick-and-mortar shop in Bonita. “I have a small store, but we’re still able to put great events together,” she says.

The other key element of her success has been using social media astutely, though she admits a learning curve in terms of what’s effective online. “It can be hit or miss,” she says. “Sometimes a video does really well, but a similar video posted a few days later doesn’t get anything.” It’s frustrating, she acknowledges, but she understands that there’s no exact formula. “If I knew the perfect answer, I’d give it to you.”

When it comes to social media, Campos said, the key is showing up. “Don’t get discouraged. Sometimes you post every day, you don’t see any traffic, and then one day you post a video and you get a lot of traffic.” It’s partly luck, but mostly it’s consistency. More than anything, it’s important for entrepreneurs to keep playing the social media game.

Hot Tip: Is Social Media Necessary?

“Absolutely,” Campos says. “When you launch a business, you have friends and family who spread the word, but let’s be honest. How much can they help you? Yet if you post a video that gets 10,000 views—mostly from strangers—and those views drive traffic to your website, that helps a lot. For me and a lot of other small businesses like me, it’s crucial.”

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