I grew up loving business – I loved the independence; I loved the endless possibilities; I loved making people happy with creative products and services. Not much has changed through all these years!
It all started when I was 10 years old and began a babysitting business. That sounds really young, even to me, but I already had 3 years of experience. My sister was born when I was 7 years old. She was like my, little baby – always on my hip. I offered childcare services until I was 18 and I was known as the “town nanny.”
Later, I studied music at the Chautauqua Institute and offered bang haircuts to the folks in my dorm, as well as chauffeur services to and from the local airport.
These were hobbies that fueled my desire
for full-time entrepreneurship.
Therefore, the journey continued…
At age 19, my bestie and I took our photographic jewelry business (called Montage) on the road. In this line, we took original photographs from our many travels, mounted them on sturdy craft board, and dipped them in a waterproofing gloss-like material. The pieces consisted of earrings, pins, and pendants; which were creative collages that were also lightweight and water-resistant.
We traveled in a little Geo Metro from New York to Florida, taking our design boards in and out of every artistic retail store. There were many nights when that car was also our “hotel.” You do what you have to do when you are just getting started.
Next on the list came Fields of Lavender. After my first 200-hour Aromatherapy Certification course back in 1994, I decided to offer wholistic consultations. I was 22 and living in Naples, Florida at the time. I quickly realized that I needed more life experience in the field of wellness, as people were coming to me with large health concerns that were frankly out of my scope at the time.
Onward to ForestRain, a wildlife t-shirt business. We scored a major source for wholesale, high-quality t-shirts and we were off to the races. This business was very lucrative with a great profit margin. We had relocated to Naples, NY at this time and joined in on the carnival circuit. I remember when we put our down payment on our first house, and the Realtor asked if we were waitresses or strippers because we paid cash with 5’s and 10’s! A memory that we will never forget!
As Winter of that year came upon us, no one was buying (or wearing) short-sleeved shirts, so we were on to our next venture…Inner Glow, a beeswax ornament company. These were beautifully decorated holiday ornaments that were poured into ornate molds, tied off with raffia ribbon, and then dried flowers like lavender were applied. We acquired a kiosk in a large, nearby mall and set-up shop for the holidays. The major downfall there was that it was a huge pain to clean-up after production!
So, back into the jewelry arena, we went, and Watercolor Gem and Mineral Company was born! This was one of my favorites! As a lover of natural gemstones, designing a line that included chunks of amethyst, lapis lazuli, 14 karat gold, and sterling silver was a dream. We traveled to some of the largest gem shows in Las Vegas and felt completely connected with nature in the process.
We targeted department stores with this line and had a pretty good response. What I remember the most was the big bag of Hershey’s miniatures that we kept on our daily design table! I don’t think we have ever eaten so many of those little buggers before (or after)!
The gem jewelry was cool, but the competition was fierce. We decided to rebrand and specialize in a Native American style and called our company Wildfire. We used a combination of bone, leather, beads, and totems. Having a connection to the Native American culture and their pow wow’s made this feel like the right fit.
Alas, we were unsatisfied and decided that a service based business was going to be the most sustainable (everyone always needs a service, right?).
Hence, “The Girls” was created. We skipped along to Kinko’s to make another round of brochures, and then off we went to disperse our house cleaning and exterior painting flyers. Let me just tell you, I always made my bestie climb the ladders and quickly realized that niche was NOT for me!
So, back into the kitchen, we went. However, this time it wasn’t to melt beeswax, it was to melt chocolate! The Chocolate Chip Baking Mix Company came about with amazing concoctions and the twist of putting the flavoring in a vial for the customer to pour in at the time of mixing. Each dry mix was neatly packaged in a gold lame sachet, with a ribbon, and the flavor tube. We headed to New York City, and pounded the pavement and buying houses. Let’s just say that the “vial” didn’t really go over too well in the big city. (Que drug dealer references.)
Hello, hometown goodness, hello! Sweet and Savory Soft Pretzel Company was the next innovation. We sourced out all-natural, jumbo, soft pretzels; which we had seen at one of the trade shows when we were trying to find a sales rep for the baking mix. This felt “meant to be.” There was no one doing this in our area and no one who had ever seen this new startup at the time.
We booked a full Summer of craft shows, loaded up a trailer with a grill, and off we went. We had a delicious line of sweet and savory flavors, each with their own unique dipping sauce. People LOVED them! We even whipped up iced cappuccinos to boot. Things were looking up!
And then we wanted to scale.
What could we do in the food industry that could be duplicated, and spread to the masses? How could we take our small town mindset and monetize it nationally?
And our 10th business venture came to be…Angelic Gourmet. We took one of America’s favorite snack foods and embellished the heck out of it. Inspired by a truffle (our original creation), we took decadent flavor combinations and adorned 2 pretzel rods joined together as one, which had never been done before. Needless to say, the product took the market by storm.
Within the first 8 months, we had to move out of our renovated mother-in-law apartment and leased our very own FDA approved kitchen. With over 120 road reps selling when we slept, we grew exponentially.
Finally, our desire to create another business idea was quelled.
10 Times a Charm!
We sold that company in 2011 after 17 years in the business.
I’m still bestie’s with my partner and we often (sometimes daily) come up with new ideas that will take the market by storm. For now, she’s rocking it as a SuperHost with Airbnb. And I’m currently helping other entrepreneurs discover their passion, stay the course, and trying to take the learning curve out of the process.
To your current and future endeavors.
Until next time…breathe joy,
P.S. If you liked this post, check out the series “From McDonald’s to a Million Dollars” where I go even deeper. 🙂
Hi! I’m Kc. I mentor help women solopreneurs build, grow, and optimize their holistic businesses so they can help more people, work less hours, and live abundantly.
When I’m not online, you can find me in the backyard garden or with my fluffy cat, Bini.