Meet the Maker: Valerie Smith of Klei Beauty

Valerie Smith of Klei Beauty

If you’re a fan of minimalism, clean beauty, and gorgeous design, then you’re going to love Klei Beauty.  Founder Valerie Smith recently sat down with us to discuss why setting yourself apart is essential, and how she learned the hard lesson that not every opportunity is an ideal fit.  Welcome, Valerie!

 

Valerie Smith of Klei Beauty

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LBC: What inspired you to take the leap as an entrepreneur?

Valerie: I was working in the fashion industry, feeling stuck and uninspired. I’ve always had a passion for DIY self-care projects, so I started to create Klei while working full-time. A year and a half later, it’s my full-time job and I couldn’t be happier.

 

LBC: How would you describe what you create?

Valerie: Klei is a line of self-care products, designed to be fun and customizable. The line currently includes a few clay masks and cleansers, bath soaks, floral facial steams, and facial oils.

 

LBC: Where can we find your products?

Valerie: I’m currently carried in 50+ boutiques nationwide, and sell products on my website.

 

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LBC: When you first got started, how did you envision your business would be defined?

Valerie: I first thought that every product needed to be made and packed by me. I’m now learning just how much that hinders growth, so I will partner with a factory in Michigan to mix and pack all of my clay products.

 

LBC: Walk us through a typical workday

Valerie: I like to start my day by making some coffee and sitting at my desk to review emails and create a task list for the day. As a small business, it’s important that I constantly work to reprioritize tasks, as every day is different. After answering emails, I’ll get started on packing orders and restocking inventory as needed. I’ll then work through my to-do list, with a few breaks to take my pup Billie outside, until it’s time to go home.

 

LBC: What are 3 things entrepreneurs should think through when they initially decide to start a business?

1. Start small, and don’t be discouraged by not having what you think is enough money to fund your business. Not having much to put into Klei is what really forced me to plan ahead and think about what was worth investing in, and what wasn’t.

 

2. Trust your vision and process, but be open to change. The beauty of having a small business is being able to constantly improve and change how you do things, in order to keep up with what you’re learning about your industry.

 

3. Don’t be afraid to say no to proposed opportunities. Not every opportunity is worth your time or money, no matter how much someone tries to sell it to you.

 

 

 

 

downloadLBC: When you’re overwhelmed, what brings you back to focus?

Valerie: Starting your own business is really scary, but in the most exciting way. When I start to doubt myself, I think of how far I’ve come in less than 2 years, and that I’m fully self-employed because of my own choices and decisions.

 

LBC: Tell us about the best business decision you’ve made to date.

Valerie: Investing in new branding. Setting yourself apart in the beauty industry is hard, and I’m really excited to launch a new look for Klei soon.

 

LBC: Please share one misstep or obstacle from your business experience. How did you bounce back or overcome it?

Valerie: I tend to say no to opportunities that I believe aren’t worth financial investment, but I don’t think the same about my time. After one recent disaster of an in-store experience, I’m learning to value my time as much as I do my finances.

 

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LBC: What are 3 essential resources in your business toolbox that you can’t do without?

Valerie: 1. Instagram – Has led to so many amazing opportunities 2. Canva – Amazing for creating professional design templates 3. Shopify – This is the best e-comm platform, with the most amazing customer service.

 

LBC: Imagine that we had a time machine. If we blasted ourselves forward a few years, where would we see your company?

Valerie: This is hard for me to answer, truthfully. I have a plan for 2019 (new branding, being carried by a large national retailer), but beyond that, it’s hard to say.

 

LBC: Share one of your guiltiest pleasures.

Valerie: Any of the Real Housewives shows.

 

LBC: What’s your favorite quote and who said it?

Valerie: “Don’t yuck my yum” – Mary Murphy, my mom. Can be applied to my love for the Real Housewives franchise.

 

Thank you, Valerie, for sharing your talent with us. We’re looking forward to seeing your new look and all the wonderful things ahead for you and your company. We’re cheering you on!

 

 

Meet the Maker: Kristen Cella of Siamese Social Club

Siamese Social Club

If you’ve walked the aisles of your local pet store lately and felt uninspired, then you need to meet Kristen Cella of Siamese Social Club. She creates a carefully curated line of cat toys and beds that marry elegant functionality with a modern, minimalist aesthetic. She sat down with us to discuss her vision of being “the JCrew of cat products,” a misstep she made when designing products for wholesale, how she balances entrepreneurship with motherhood. Welcome, Kristen!

 

Kristen Cella of Siamese Social Club

 

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LBC: What inspired you to take the leap as an entrepreneur?

Kristen: I have been surrounded by entrepreneurs my whole life—my mom ran her own transcription business, my grandma sold her pottery at the local Potter’s Guild and my husband successfully started a sign company—so I always knew I wanted to start my own business, too, it just took a long time to figure out what I wanted that business to be.

 

LBC: How would you describe what you create?

Kristen: I make minimalist home goods for cats—beds, toys, ceramics and furniture—which are all designed to blend seamlessly in the modern home.

 

LBC: Where can we find your products?

Kristen: Right now you can find them on my website, Etsy, and few local pet shops in San Francisco.

 

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LBC: When you first got started, how did you envision your business would be defined?

Kristen: In my mind, I wanted my business to be the JCrew of cat products—a timeless palette of neutrals, high-quality, natural materials and overall good-looking things to incorporate into my tiny home. I was so tired of the boring (and hideous) pet furniture out there, or ones that were specifically designed for dogs, that I was aiming to fill a niche for simple, modern products for cats.

 

LBC: Walk us through a typical workday.

Kristen: I wake up around 7 and do a bit of cleaning and organize my day before my 2 year old daughter wakes up. The morning is spent taking her to the playground or the library or visiting friends. After we eat lunch she takes a nap and that is when I get most of my work done. Fortunately, she is a good sleeper, so I squeeze as much as possible into that three-hour time slot. Once she wakes up we drop off packages at the post office or go grocery shopping and make dinner. I finish up any work and catch up on Instagram after she goes to bed.

 

LBC: What are 3 things entrepreneurs should think through when they initially decide to start a business?

Kristen: 1) Figure out how you are going to fund the first few years of your business. I started my business when I had a full time job, so I essentially funded myself, but was completely unprepared for the second and third year when I still wasn’t making a profit and left my full time job to stay at home with my daughter.

2) Who your target audience really is. This one took me several years to figure out, because I couldn’t get past imagining that I was my own target audience. Selling in person really helped me figure out who was actually interested and buying my products.

3) If you plan on wholesaling as part of your income, make sure your products are designed and priced for wholesale from the start. I am working backwards, because while I priced my original products for wholesale, they are too labor-intensive to actually be wholesaled in quantities that make financial sense, so I’m currently working on creating simpler products that are specifically designed for wholesaling to retailers.

 

Siamese Social Club

 

LBC: When you’re overwhelmed, what brings you back to focus?

Kristen: Spending a day with my husband and daughter and reminding myself what my real priorities are. Or, if my daughter is the one who is overwhelming me, I ask my husband to taker her on an adventure while I stay at home and spend some quality time doing absolutely nothing.

 

LBC: Tell us about the best business decision you’ve made to date.

Kristen: Hiring a designer to create my logo and branding before launching my business. It was a big investment, but well worth it.

 

LBC: Please share one misstep or obstacle from your business experience. How did you bounce back or overcome it?

Kristen: I got talked into paid advertising in a print magazine before I was ready. I didn’t have any specific goals set out or a solid marketing strategy, so it turned out to be a complete waste of money.

 

LBC: What are 3 essential resources in your business toolbox that you can’t do without?

Kristen: Shipstation (I didn’t use it much at first, but I can’t imagine shipping without it!), Evernote (this was instrumental even before I started my business, organizing notes while brainstorming ideas, and now keeping notes on my material sources, informative articles and all other business info) and Instagram (I know everyone says this, but it is essential for inspiration, understanding my audience and promoting my products).

 

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LBC: Imagine that we had a time machine. If we blasted ourselves forward a few years, where would we see your company?

Kristen: This may seen completely far-fetched at the moment, but I see myself with a retail storefront full of my products (and a few other curated pet products) with a space in the back for a production studio and shipping station.

 

LBC: How have your interactions with Lucky Break influenced your business?

Kristen: They have really helped me develop an overall understanding of wholesaling, and I have learned how to determine whether products are actually wholesale-able. I also get a better sense of retailers’ perspective, which makes it easier to strike up a conversation with them.

 

LBC: What benefits have you seen from taking classes, working with a mentor, and/or building community around your business?

Kristen: More connections, more opportunities to collaborate and more support. I took a lot of online classes when I was first starting out, and not only did I learn more than I could have from just reading books, I met many other makers who were in my exact same position and supported and encouraged me to keep going.

 

Siamese Social Club

 

LBC: Have you ever held an odd job or one you weren’t particularly fond of?

Kristen: After I graduated college, I landed a position as a research assistant studying a species of endangered snail and would frequently hike out into the remote forests of West Virginia searching for snails.

 

LBC: What are a few of the places on your travel bucket list?

Kristen: Hiking through the Scottish Highlands, eating my way through Japan and dog sledding in Banff, Alberta.

 

LBC:  If you were given a million dollars, but you weren’t allowed to keep a single penny for yourself, friends or family, how would you give it away?

Kristen: I would donate it to local animal shelters and wildlife rehabilitation centers.

 

Thank you, Kristen, for sharing your talent with us!

 

 

Meet the Maker: Cindy Collins of Euphoric Herbals

Euphoric Herbals

If you haven’t heard of Euphoric Herbals then I am thrilled to introduce you. When I think of female entrepreneurs who are decidedly ambitious and willing to throw almost anything at the wall to see if it sticks, Cindy’s name is one of the first that pops into my head. Pair that ambition and willingness to innovate with a good business intuition and a solid work ethic and you’ll see why Cindy’s company is on the move!
World, meet Cindy Collins.  And buckle up, because this lady is going somewhere!

 

Cindy Collins of Euphoric Herbals

 

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LBC: What inspired you to take the leap as an entrepreneur?

Cindy: I’ve always enjoyed the process of creating and building things. It was after I got out of the military that I knew the only way I would have the autonomy I craved was going to come about through my own business. However, I never thought the products I created as a hobby would turn into a business, let alone at this capacity.

 

LBC: How would you describe what you create?

Cindy: At Euphoric Herbals, we create meaningful products for women and their families. Most of our products either were developed due to a personal need I had or my former doula clients had.

 

LBC: Where can we find your products?

Cindy: You can find them on our website and our growing list of retailers.

 

LBC: When you first got started, how did you envision your business would be defined?

Cindy: To be honest, when I first started I had no vision or thought about how my business would be defined. I was simply trying to fulfill a creative outlet while raising babies. My vision came later as my business grew, my team members grew and I grew along with it.

 

LBC: Walk us through a typical workday

Cindy: After I get my 3 boys off to school, I usually check email for any urgent issues that need to be addressed. My workdays are a bit different now than they were a few months ago that we recently opened the first herbal apothecary in our state. I bounce back and forth as needed between our manufacturing warehouse and the store to make sure the staff has what they need to complete their daily tasks. I personally attend meetings or schedule meetings, do administrative work, marketing, make sure supplies & materials are ordered and respond to a lot of emails.

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LBC: What are 3 things entrepreneurs should think through when they initially decide to start a business?

Cindy: 1.) That they have tested the market to see if there is a demand for their product/service. 2.) Would you create this product or offer this service even if you didn’t get paid because facts are you will have to work a few years without pay typically investing any profits back into your business before you collect a paycheck or salary. 3.) Can this be scaled beyond yourself? At some point, you might actually need to hire help either employees and/or contractors and possibly outsource areas of your business to continue to scale. By doing everything in your business, you limit growth and opportunity for yourself and others.

 

LBC: When you’re overwhelmed, what brings you back to focus?

Cindy: Remembering how much I’ve overcome to get to this moment. Sometimes you have to focus on just the immediate and urgent essential tasks that must get done today, or if not there will be negative consequences as a result.

 

LBC: Tell us about the best business decision you’ve made to date.

Cindy: Building a team. I’ve learned to work with a contract manufacturer, consultants, freelancers and have employees on my staff. It has forced me into a position of leadership and influence I never imagined. Having people on this journey with me makes all the difference.

 

LBC: Please share one misstep or obstacle from your business experience. How did you bounce back or overcome it?

Cindy: In 2017, we had a delay in our contract manufacturing of some of our best selling products that we use to make by hand. Our revenue dropped in half for about 3 months. We lost an estimated $60,000 in sales, seriously. I learned to run a business feast or famine. I learned how important it is to plan and project inventory and production of product, especially before you start offering wholesale. I learned that it’s always good to have back-up partners and vendors to work with. For a few weeks, while we waited on our product from our contract manufacturer we resorted to basics and temporarily made the product again by hand to get orders out to retain customers.

 

LBC: What are 3 essential resources in your business toolbox that you can’t do without?

Cindy: 

1. CraftyBase. It helped me nail down my COG, profit % and my overhead. It’s helps us track our production, materials and inventory.

2. Gusto. It takes care of payroll, taxes, and reporting new hires.

3. Deputy for employee scheduling & time clock. I create schedules eight weeks in advance for almost 10 employees in two locations.

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LBC: Imagine that we had a time machine. If we blasted ourselves forward a few years, where would we see your company?

Cindy: This could get very long because I visualize this often, however, I’ll try to keep it as brief as possible. Very soon I won’t be the only full-time employee. I foresee building a team with department leads, scaling manufacturing locally in a larger warehouse and buying and importing botanicals direct from farms. Developing wholesale and distribution relationships domestically and internationally for our product collection. In regards to our herbal apothecary, opening multiple locations in key cities (I have some in mind already of course).

 

LBC: How have your interactions with Lucky Break influenced your business?

Cindy: I learned a lot about good manufacturing practices, GMP, and how to implement them in my business. It came at the right time as we were preparing to move into a new warehouse, it really helped me up the bar for team members and myself. I’ve also learned loads about wholesale though Wholesale Matchmaker and simply watching a lot of Lela’s live videos. I can’t recommend Lucky Break enough to someone just starting out!

 

LBC: What benefits have you seen from taking classes, working with a mentor, and/or building community around your business?

Cindy: Being apart of online/offline classes & workshops has helped me grow as a business owner. Getting out my local community has allowed great opportunities to meet new people to learn from as well as encourage other business owners. Additionally, opening our first retail store has provided a great platform to translate an online store offline into the community, which can be quite challenging. It has afforded me the privilege to interact face-to-face with customers regularly and truly learns what it means to fall in love with your customers and not your product.

 

LBC: If you could hire someone to do just one thing that you loathe doing, what would it be?

Cindy: Cleaning, all day long.

 

LBC: Have you ever held an odd job or one you weren’t particularly fond of?

Cindy: Being in the military. I’m way too much of a free-spirit and rule breaker.

 

LBC: Your musical playlist is full of…

Cindy: 60’s & 70’s folk

 

Thank you, Cindy, for sharing your talent with us. We absolutely love what you’re doing with Euphoric Herbals, and we look forward to all the wonderful things ahead for you and your company. We’re cheering you on!

 

 

Lucky Break May 2019 Calendar

May 2019

The May 2019 Calendar is here. April has been a challenging month as we get the site ready for re-launch, but kittens, we are in the home stretch!

 May 2019 Calendar

 

We have our monthly call with our LBU Coaching Community on the 14th.

 

I am so excited to teach a free photo styling workshop on Facebook Live for the 16th. So be sure to mark your calendars and get your questions ready!  Anything you ever wanted to know about how to prep for a product photoshoot will be spilled in this free 1-hour session.

 

We launched our Mastermind Think Tank Group last month. We host monthly group calls for this closed group of serious entrepreneurs.  No topic is off the table. I roll up my sleeves and get in the trenches with you!

 

And we will be closed on Monday, May 28th to observe to gather ourselves, harness our chi, and celebrate the summer! (translation: lots of wine, nachos, and sunning on patios)

 

There is an insane amount of new things happening, so make sure you are following along on all we have cooking this March via our mailing list as well as on Instagram! @lelabarker and @luckybreakconsulting

 

DOWNLOAD THE MAY CALENDAR

 

May 2019

 

Craftcation 2019 Recap

Craftcation 2019 Recap

Craftcation 2019 Recap

 

Hello there! I’m Angie with team Lucky Break, and I’m jumping in the driver’s seat to share our Craftcation 2019 Recap.

Craftcation 2019 Recap

The Lucky Break Team is a group of remote leading ladies sprinkled across the continental US. A handful of times every year, the LBC team has the opportunity to convene in person.  When we do, we team build, work on projects, and spend time basking in each other’s vibrancy. Craftcation is one of those times, and we aren’t even mad about it.

Craftcation 2019 Recap

Pictured: Angie & Harriet, Lela, Helen, and Chloe.

 

Craftcation 2019 Recap

 

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