I’m excited to share another installment of our ongoing “Meet the Maker” series. We are with Sarah of Osmia Organics and she is revealing morsels of business wisdom and a peek behind her artisan brand. I hope you’re buckled up for this one because Sarah is a powerhouse and her energy is infectious!
Meet Sarah Villafranco of Osmia Organics
LBC: What inspired you to take the leap as an entrepreneur?
Sarah: I was feeling uninspired by the practice of emergency medicine, which was a very cool job but did not leave me feeling like I had contributed to people’s long term health in any meaningful way. I had recently lost my mom to cancer and had our second daughter, and I took a class making soap just to shake things up – it worked. I fell in love with the science and art of making soap and skincare and spent a few years developing the line. When it came time to commit and decide whether to start a business, I heard my mother’s voice say “Do what you love, honey,” so I took the leap.
LBC: How would you describe what you create?
Sarah: We make organic and natural soap, skincare, bath products, and scents. More importantly, though, we create opportunities and inspiration for people to care for themselves intentionally, weaving small moments of sensory luxury throughout their daily routines. We create a community of people who want to tap into their own power to feel well and joyful. My favorite thing to create is conversations about beauty that go much deeper than surface-level, encouraging people to redefine beauty for themselves, even if that definition includes a few wrinkles or strands of silver hair. And, of course, we create a whole lot of fun.
LBC: Where can we find your products?
Sarah: Most of our sales are direct-to-consumer on our website, which we adore because we get to put love notes in your boxes! We also partner with a handful of partners we admire and trust, like The Detox Market, Follain, and Aillea, to name a few. And we sell a few SKUs on Amazon, because we know there are some customers who are die-hard Amazonians.
LBC: When you first got started, how did you envision your business would be defined?
Sarah: Ummmm, I didn’t imagine anything. I burst out of the starting gate like a horse on steroids, and didn’t give a single thought to the future – I simply could not contain my passion any longer. Now, seven years in, I’m trying to piece together the possible trajectories for the company, and the options are amazing in every direction!
LBC: Walk us through a typical workday.
Sarah: There is no typical workday for me – I’m such a jane-of-all-trades here that I might be tied to my computer writing an article or doing an Instagram story in our soap studio or shooting photos on a ladder in the snow. I travel a lot for the brand, too, so that adds to the delicious chaos of it all.
LBC: What are 3 things entrepreneurs should think through when they initially decide to start a business?
Sarah: Are you willing to work your ass off for this business? Are you able to bounce back from disappointment or unsuccessful ideas? Do you have a way to support yourself until the business grows its wings?
LBC: When you’re overwhelmed, what brings you back to focus?
Sarah: Exercise. It gets me out of my head and brings me into my body, making way for clarity and purpose when I’m done. Plus, it creates endorphins, which make almost everything better.
LBC: Tell us about the best business decision you’ve made to date.
Sarah: I hired a COO with relevant experience, even though it was really scary to bring in someone with her resume. Mary has been my co-captain now for three years, and I’m so grateful to have someone standing with me at the helm. It’s scary to admit that you don’t know everything and can’t do it all on your own. But, rather than allowing someone’s knowledge or expertise to trigger your insecurities, you can celebrate the opportunity for collaboration.
LBC: Please share one misstep or obstacle from your business experience. How did you bounce back or overcome it?
Sarah: On a few occasions, I didn’t trust my gut instinct when it came to employees. I kept trying to give more feedback or ignore elephants in the room, but that never works. It’s much better to nip something early when you can see the writing on the wall – better for you, better for the company, and better for the mismatched employee. Owning a company is a bit like being a parent – you know when something is right or wrong for your kid, and you have to listen to that same voice as a CEO.
LBC: What are 3 essential resources in your business toolbox that you can’t do without
Sarah: An incredible team, an easy payroll and benefits system (we use Gusto), and Instagram.
LBC: Imagine that we had a time machine. If we blasted ourselves forward a few years, where would we see your company?
Sarah: Just a more big-girl-pants version of where we are now, I guess. We’ve been growing about 30% year over year organically, and I think we may try to stay the course while we continue to build a really solid machine. I think we will have more space for production, an expanded marketing team, and strategic partners to support growth. I’d love to widen my audience as a writer and a speaker because sharing knowledge is the first step to moving the needle when it comes to real change. And the place I’d most like to see Osmia is in the New York Times, so keep your eyes peeled.
LBC: How have your interactions with Lucky Break influenced your business?
Sarah: Well, Lela is my hero in so many ways that it’s hard to capture how she’s influenced Osmia. I have found Lucky Break to be a great resource and an amazing cheerleader for our brand. Lela can look at any business or situation, assess it quickly and intuitively, and give excellent advice to guide your next steps.
LBC: What benefits have you seen from taking classes, working with a mentor, and/or building community around your business?
Sarah: Just knowing you’re not alone is an incredible help. Talking to other business owners with all levels of experience is so informative. Sometimes you’ll chat with people who are just starting out, and you’re able to offer some wisdom. Other times, you talk with CEOs of multi-million dollar companies, and you realize all the room you still have to grow. I have a group of incredibly close friends in the green beauty industry. They’re my “competition”, but I choose to see them as my colleagues. We can help shape the future of healthy beauty by respecting, honoring, and sharing with each other, instead of operating from a place of fear and insecurity. The benefits of that mindset are rewarding and incredibly freeing.
LBC: Your musical playlist is full of…
Sarah: Gregory Alan Isakov, Brandi Carlile, and a little of everything else except jazz.
LBC: What’s one thing you would eat if you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life?
Sarah: Probably beans and rice, because it’s a perfect protein, it’s yummy, and it would let me keep doing all the fun outdoor stuff I want to do!
LBC: Share one of your guiltiest pleasures.
Sarah: Sadly, it was watching Nashville, and it’s over – got any suggestions for a replacement?
Find Sarah’s naturally decadent product collection at Osmia Organics, then drool over her yoga skills, Costa Rican retreats, adorable pups, and the great scenery from her hot tub over on Osmia Organics Instagram.
Thank you, Sarah, for sharing your talent with us. We absolutely love what you’re doing with Osmia Organics, and we look forward to all the wonderful things ahead for you and your company. We’re cheering you on!