Entrepreneur Interview – The Fairy Apothecary
Today’s post has a new spin of interviewing entrepreneurs and giving you a small peek into their world as a business owner. The goal is to provide you, as a reader, with the encouragement of following your own dreams and making them a reality. What better way than to satisfy a passion (mental wellness) than taking that leap of faith and stepping into a new realm filled with possibilities?
I had the pleasure of interviewing Kristin and Lauren of The Fairy Apothecary. I met these two amazing and enthusiastic ladies at the Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Guild Conference in May and had a great time talking with them. I can’t help but admire them for being completely true to themselves and selling to customers who share the same interests. Read on to find out more.
What ignited the spark in you to start a new business venture and how did the idea come about?
K: I started the business after leaving college as it wasn’t the right fit. Lauren and I attended the same school; me for theater and Lauren for opera. I had a lot of different craft hobbies and decided to learn how to make soap to not spend money at the spa to purchase them. I loved it and decided to see if people would buy the stuff I made. It was successful at first and I ended up amassing a collection of fragrance oils, which allowed people to choose their own fragrance. It was at that point that Lauren joined the business. It’s helpful to have someone who is compatible with you and that you can learn from each other.
L: I have a background in sales and am artistic. I was able to help Kristin in deciding how to make the business profitable and make money. Knowing Project Management has allowed me to give a different perspective on Kristin’s view point as too often we are too close to something to see the entire picture.
Describe/outline your typical day and how many hours do you work on average?
We don’t have a store front, but we do travel a lot for business. While on travel, were not doing direct sales but making connections with people and exploring different markets. We know that there are areas of the country where we are well received and some not. It helps to know where to branch out in the future, if desired. The ability to travel allows us to gauge those things. Then there’s days where we do social media and could spend 18 hours day for 3 days straight making products.
Has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
K: Both my husband and I work from home. It can be good as you can motivate each other or slow each other down. It’s nice to be home a lot and spend time with my husband.
L: I live with two partners; my husband works with the affordable health care act and my other partner is a butcher who is working on his acting career. I’m the happiest when engaged in work and will get unhappy when not working.
What motivates you?
K: To do The Fairy Apothecary and meeting new people. I’m an introvert but like talking to people and enjoy hearing from other people and business owners. I love how people react to our products; people like that we, as the owners, get them.
L: When I first started working with Kristin, I started seeing people like me, who didn't realize there were other products they could relate to; products that were good quality and scent but didn't take themselves too seriously. They were excited about it.
How do you generate new ideas?
K: I take our inspiration from anywhere and everywhere. Ideas can spring from problem solving or with a logistical issue and figuring it out, which can generate new ideas for the business.
L: I can just be sitting there with Kristin and inspiration hits; I get excited over everything. I think of how we can do it; how can we facilitate it to make this happen. We don’t get blocked by anything; we figure out how you get around it by brainstorming.
How do you define success?
K: By layers. Finances are one part. I can’t keep doing it if the finances aren’t in order. I may be withdrawn but I know its success when I’m getting out and interacting with people. Though I do need periods of rest and I as I can’t go, go, go. Success of the business is tied in to my own confidence.
L: It’s a multi-layered thing. There are so many factors of financial success. As long as the ends are meeting is one level. I ask if this gives me an opportunity that allows me to live the life I want as I’ve left other jobs for being unhappy. I want to be myself and have full self-expression on the job. Kristin accepts and encourages me to be myself.
Who has been your greatest inspiration?
K: My father has been an inspiration. He’s an engineer and had one main job and other jobs that he liked to do. He played in a band and always showed me a collection of albums from the bands he was in, which had his name on the albums. Though he has arthritis, he still plays. He’s never treated me like I was weird. He understood where I was coming from when no one else did.
L: My dad. He’s smart; a jack of all trades and masters them too. My dad is a world renowned tobacconist. He lost a leg to diabetes and I worried it would harm his spirit and it didn’t. He hit it head on and got his life in order and got promoted to another position. He gets to travel and loves it. He’s going strong at 60 and he’s not taking any hits from the loss of his leg. He’s also had entrepreneurial pursuits.
How do you build a successful customer base?
K: You find a group of people you like working with. We work with our people who are nerds. You find the people you can speak to and that will understand you the best; it may take a while to find them. Carve out a niche for yourself. We found our people because we are them and know how to speak to them, understand them. Especially in our market, people feel like nobody understands them.
L: We do a lot of consultation. You want to work with people that you have a reasonable synergy with; like a red velvet rope policy. Feel them out. You want to be excited about each other and feel positive about the experience. We concentrate on the geek/nerd group; people love to have their own stuff. People will ask if we can make stuff for a particular character. Scent memory can create that instant connection for that character which is key.
How do you find people to bring into your organization that truly care about the organization the way you do?
K: We haven’t come to any hard conclusions. We want to make sure we get someone who is a part of our same community and understands; they can be excited with us about it. Enthusiasm in what we do is paramount.
L: Doing a show/convention is not like walking in to a shop. People want to be hyped up and make friends, party; it’s high energy. You have to live up to that level. You can feel when someone doesn’t have the energy and isn’t participating. You meet them at their energy level and kick it up a notch. Excitement creates that culture of enthusiasm for our products and lets us share it. It’s logistical; at a renaissance fair, it’s hot outside and people are wearing costumes, they need soap. It’s about being real with people. Keep smiling. If you don’t have pride in your product, they read it. People know when someone is BS’ing them. It is intensely important to be real with people.
What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?
K: About 2 years ago we had the idea to try the wedding market. Favors, honeymoon packages, etc. We started off in the wrong place and ended up not getting bites because it was outside of our market. It wasn’t a bad idea but reinforced that we weren’t in the right market area.
L: We started our blog and had to retool it as we wanted to do one on our terms. Advisers were telling us to do one and it wasn't us as it made us conform to what others are doing. There are others who are teaching people how to make products, which doesn’t apply to what we do.
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
L: You need to have a good adventurous streak. If you’re looking for safety, this is not for you. You need to prepare as even the best laid plans can go sideways. Be willing to say, I got tossed overboard and need to float to safety.
K: Be a person who’s willing to take risk. Put it out there the best you can. You need to be willing to take that initial risk else you won’t know if it will work.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
K: There was one weekend in Salem where a boy was so excited that I was dressed as a fairy and believed in me 100%. His brother was also dressed as a fairy but he didn’t believe in him. It made my entire day and month as he believed in me that much.
L: At the Connecticut renaissance fair there were these guys who were doing drag and were testing out our products. They were so happy that we were exclusive and didn't judge them. They had a deep appreciation for the fact that we weren’t pigeon-holing them; they’ve become regular customers. Giving someone the opportunity to have self expression is what people want. Giving that to our customers on a daily basis is my joy.
What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
K: Being able to run a business that I enjoy and love. I’ve worked retail for most of life and hated it. I get to be myself and enjoy that others are enthusiastic about it.
L: That I get to do a little bit of everything. I turned ADHD in to a super power as an entrepreneur. I work on one thing, and then work on another thing, then another. I’m not in abject boredom anymore; I was underutilized before. There are certain days where you have to do the boring stuff like filing. But for the most part you make a product line and do it. I never leave work feeling like I’m not challenged enough.
Where you see yourself and your business in 10 years?
K: There’s the possibility of a standalone location. Though we’re going to pursue it in a non-traditional way; it’s our formula and we’re going to stick to it.
Any words of advice for my readers?
K: Take all business advice with a grain of salt. If it doesn’t work for you, it doesn’t. Think of all the advice you’ve been give and see if you can make it work for you.
L: Be yourself. Don’t let anyone sand off your edges or make you tiny for their comfort. Don’t let them make your dreams unreal or put you in a box. The world needs you exactly as you are.