In the midst of navigating through the through anxiety and uncertainty of separation/divorce and single mothering, I was ‘crazy’ enough to launch a line of holistic personal care products (clinicalluxurybynature.com) — without a degree in cosmetic formulation or chemistry.
Prior to starting my little biz – I have been a yoga teacher (since 1999), both a pastry and macrobiotic chef, an artist and in between I also managed to sneak in a few years getting some corporate experience in advertising and packaged goods marketing within the food service sector.
Why did you feel it was important for you to do this:
It wasn’t just that I felt it was important for a host of health and environmental reasons — making these products almost became a compulsion. Like making art, the process of blending beautiful ingredients and aromas transported me to another ‘head space’ which helped me not to think about my problems and to welcome beauty into my otherwise complicated life.
After my marital split, I felt strongly that I needed to have a viable, independent income stream that I create and control. One of the reasons I decided to focus on the products instead of yoga is that I didn’t want to have to use my physical body as my only source of income. At 48 I pretty much know that I’ve got at least another 30+ years I’m going to need to work so I might not be able to do 100 downward dogs on a regular basis when I’m 78.
What was the risk(s) for you – what worried you about going forward:
The risks were and still are rather large. I have launched a brand into a very completive industry where the chance of genuine success (creating a viable business) is not easy or likely — which is doubly daunting given that I am no longer married and need to create a viable income for myself.
How did you overcome the worry (emotionally): I still have some sleepless nights and am prone to anxiety but I have enlisted mentors who keep me on track and don’t hesitate to tell me if they think I’m getting off track.
Practicing mindfulness, gratitude and being thankful for my obstacles help too.
I am also very fortunate to have a very helpful father (a former CA) who has worked tirelessly for me without ever getting paid a cent. Besides taking care of customer deliveries, liaising with my bookkeeper and picking up my son from school, he always listens to me with an open heart. I could not have done this without him.
Another thing I do is keep a folder with every nice email that has been sent to me about my products or my business. That helps keep me going when I’m feeling doubtful.
How did you physically mitigate the risk (as opposed to overcoming it emotionally): Like the Nike ad, I just did it. I felt there was a hole in the personal care market and felt that I could do a better job than other companies. I’d started in a small way in 1999 with body oils and such, and started creating more, so it wasn’t a big deal at first. Then after my spilt the ramp-up to create more of a business began .
Aligning myself with a laboratory out in Mississauga was high for me as offering my customers products made in a clinical environment were key. This is going to sound like such a cliché but I remembering meditating that I needed to partner with a lab and like a gift from the universe, I came across this lab word of mouth.
The same thing happened finding a business coach, marketing strategist, PR person, assistant, website designer and accountant. Ok I admit – a bit of therapy helped too.
Can’t say that I have been as lucky in finding a husband (lol!) though I work so much now that there isn’t too much room in my life for a lot of romance — so maybe that’s why 🙂
What did you gain from the experience: I have amazed myself that without a business or a degree in cosmetic chemistry that I have been able to recreate myself and I now run a business that seems much more established and bigger than it really is.
Going into this I felt as though I went back to doing what I loved when I was ten years old – concocting nice smelling, interesting stuff – and reconnecting with that enthusiastic child in me has been great. This business feeds other things that are important to me, too. Whole health, beauty, and caring are all concepts that have become central to me life. So it’s not just a business, it’s more like a calling.
Something I didn’t expect is how people look at me in a different way now. They see something more positive in this whole effort than I tend to see myself; that it’s a big accomplishment even if it’s not making much money yet, and it takes a lot of courage.
What was the actual risk outcome (ie. Did the thing you worried about happen?): Well that remains to be seen. I have almost paid off my start up debt but I have never paid myself a cent yet. Any money I’ve made goes right back into the business so I’m still a long way off from paying my utility bills let alone giving myself (or my Dad) a salary BUT the good news is that my sales are definitely trending in the right direction. Check back with me in about a year 🙂
If I can’t make this into a profitable business then I will have to be brutally honest with myself and come up with Plan B.
Was there a downside (it might not be the thing you worried about): Uhm yes, I work so much there can be days when I never leave my home. The rental apartment in house has been turned into my office and mini warehouse so I can literally be home all day working and this is a bit isolating– even if I have interesting customers and suppliers coming to see me.
I need to get out socially – not just to deliver orders!!
What should you have done differently: Taking the plunge to hire more people on a contract basis would have given me more time to shine (which for me is sourcing great ingredients, formulation new products and empowering people how to take control of the skincare).
Would you do it again: Yes
Any regrets: I wish I had taken math and sciences seriously in high school and not let myself be intimidated.
Though doing an MFA was great for my creative process, having MBA would have given me something to fall back on.
I will make sure my son makes better choices in his education.
What are the 3 most important pieces of advice you’d give someone else interested in doing this:
Network, reach out and ask for help.
Surround yourself with people who are positive and support you but won’t hesitate to call you on your ‘stuff’.
Practice radical honesty – that will help weed out those people who aren’t furthering your process.
What will you do next?: I’m working on cash flowing 🙂
To check out Graydon’s wonderful products go here: