I WAS BORN IN A SMALL TOWN in Northern California as the younger of two daughters. What I remember most from my childhood were long days spent at the horse stables. My sister and I were very serious, competitive English horseback riders, although during off-weekends, I could be found barrel racing at the local rodeo for fun. Riding and being around horses was all I ever wanted to do.
As a young girl, I somehow also became interested in pageants, which, when looking back, is a little embarrassing. I wasn’t the typical pageant queen, however. I had pixie short hair and very often, dirt on my knees. I could sing though, and I won the local and then the state crown. As Little Miss California, I had to travel a lot and learn a staggering amount of new music just days prior to performances. I learned about focus and dedication at a young age.
I’m a minimalist, so I develop products based on need.
We were regularly busy with practices, big events, and horse competitions, in addition to school. I think those years set the stage for my life now—I’m very comfortable having a lot on my plate.
I started my first “business” at thirteen years old in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. I made hemp necklaces and bracelets and rented a space at a farmer’s market. I had an unconventional childhood, spending several years at a pretty intense boarding school. It taught me that I’m tough, and knowing that about myself was a valuable gift. I spent most of my life thinking, however, that I was apathetic and a rebel, when really, I’d just yet to be fascinated. The moment I discovered the truth about how the human body works, and how plants communicate in our same language, everything changed.
There is a quote by Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia, “If you want to understand the entrepreneur, study the juvenile delinquent. The delinquent is saying with his actions, this sucks. I’m going to do my own thing.” This is absolutely my story. Ten years ago, I discovered how damaging our current food system is. I found answers in natural foods and took it further to address cleaning products, fibers in the home, makeup and skincare. I could have flown my flag with a focus on the negative—alerting people to the dangers of exposure to toxins. Instead, I chose to create something beautiful and be a light that draws people toward the good instead of driving them from the bad.
Formula for Success
- Make sure your costs are covered. If you revisit numbers and discover you’re losing money in any area, make adjustments to your pricing sooner than later.
It’s all in the details. As a consumer myself, I want to know that there’s a direct line to the person who makes what I buy. Connect with each of your customers and provide an experience for them that changes the way they shop. The care you put into packaging your product, including a personal note, going above and beyond with customer service, and even including samples or a small gift with each order; most people are so taken aback by this approach to business, they’ll never return to the ‘more for less’ mass consumerism approach.
Time is money. Every second must be spent wisely. If you get to the point where you need to scale, think to where you want to be in three years and scale for that.
Be strategic about how you fund your business, particularly if complete control is important to you
Hire your weaknesses. If you’re like me, you have areas where you’re strong and areas where there’s clearly room for improvement. Hire a part time employee or intern who can pick up the slack and don’t feel badly for one second that you aren’t perfect at everything.
If you can dial in your WHY and make this your mission, people will connect with your brand. The idea is that people don’t buy ‘what’ you sell; they buy ‘why’ you sell it. Simon Sinek, a thought leader, did a TED Talk on a concept called, The Golden Circle: a way of understanding how people respond to your business using the words ‘what,’ ‘how,’ and ‘why’. Most businesses operate starting on the outside of the Golden Circle with ‘what’ and move inward. But, if you reverse this approach and work from the inside of the Golden Circle beginning with ‘why,’ it looks (and feels to your customers) much different.
Seemingly insurmountable obstacles are all just learning opportunities. The most valuable piece of business advice I’ve received came from a friend and successful entrepreneur, Sylvia Fountain, “Each day you will wake up and have no idea how to do what’s in front of you, and by the end of each day, you will have figured it out.”
I’m most inspired by the human body’s ability to heal itself when given the proper tools. My desire when I created H IS FOR LOVE was to bridge the gap between luxury and old-world. I wanted a product line that offered scent profiles and textures fit for a queen (or king), while employing techniques used by herbalists for millennia. I studied perfumery prior to formulating, and I took that understanding and applied it to 100% plant derived ingredients. We use our own plant extracts made in-house utilizing the whole plant, not just isolated compounds. When or should I find that something can be done better, I take it on to make that improvement—I’m inspired by a challenge.
Before I learned about skin, I studied the internal system and how to heal and prevent illness and disease using real foods. Those years taught me that the body understands nature in its most simple form. True luxury is beyond organic, unadulterated plant products because those are what your extraordinary body can put to good use. We currently off er nine products that cover every skin need from head to toe. Rather than offering multiple products for various skin ailments I formulated the line to bring every skin type into perfect balance, and, each from our offering serves multiple functions.
H IS FOR LOVE produces and distributes direct to the consumer through our website and to our retail partners. This means that from product formulation to production to shipping, we control every aspect of the business. As of January 2019, we have 25 retail partners, which includes e-commerce and brick and mortar globally. I have no intention of outsourcing any area of the business in the future, so as H IS FOR LOVE grows, both our team and our production space will also grow.
I’m still that rebel that is fearless in my belief that I can “do my own thing” and better.
Organization in business, therefore, can be my biggest challenge—imagine a mad scientist, that’s what I mean. So, I’ve learned to hire and lean on others for my weaknesses. I have someone on my team whose superpower is organization! I have an awesome bookkeeper and a really great accountant. Realizing and no longer feeling badly that I’m not strong in every single area of business has been my biggest accomplishment. Doing so, has allowed me the freedom to focus on my key areas of strength (product development and production, artistic direction, customer service), with a team that spearheads the other areas.
I let other people’s idea of life ‘balance’ go a long time ago. Ask anyone close to me, and they’ll say I never turn work off. If you ask me, I’m never doing enough. I own a luxury skincare line, but my mission is to educate people on just how magnificent an agent of healing the human body is. My skincare line is a tool I use to show them. It’s an answer for some, and a seed for others. My deepest desire is that the seed sprouts and grows into a way of life that affects everything. I do sit on the ground and play games and read books with my kids. We go camping, we build and create and adventure. I’m really cautious about screen time, and believe what they have is much less important than experiences. But, every moment, other than time spent with my kids, is constant communication with customers, my team, and production and fulfillment for the business. I find moments of peace in the bath with a facemask, but generally I’m 100% on for weeks at a time, followed by a weekend away. That’s my version of balance.
The realization that everything we need can be found in abundance in nature is the truth and the mission behind H IS FOR LOVE.
Owning a business fulfills me in every way, but helping people tops it all. I realized I had a true passion for being an entrepreneur when I received my first email from a customer saying that the product line had changed her life. She’d struggled with a skin condition (and therefore insecurities) for many years, and within a month of using H IS FOR LOVE her skin had cleared, and she felt confident and beautiful leaving the house makeup-free.
For me, it is about the human connection.
This was the moment I discovered that ‘work’ for me has to be tied to a bigger cause; helping people discover the freedom that comes from living an organic and natural life is my purpose. I now receive emails and messages like this several times a week—sometimes daily. It never gets old, and I personally respond to every one.
We feature a woman in business each month on the journal section of my website to further support this. Th series is called H IS FOR HER, and our intention is to create a community of women entrepreneurs that share their stories and empower readers to turn their passion into a business, or encourage them to shop small and buy products that come with a story.