Back in 2004, my uncle called me in a jam right before Christmas. He was short-staffed at his eco-friendly clothing and accessories store and needed someone to pick up hours. I had just graduated high school and had taken that year off.
After only a few months working there, those Christmas shifts changed my life. I learned all about fair trade practices, the ugly truths in the clothing industry, and how to run a “business in a better way”.
I was hooked. I quit my other two jobs and ended up helping him manage all three of his stores in Victoria, Tofino and Whistler.
During this time, I was also singing in a corporate cover band, where each show I would apply heavy stage makeup. I thought nothing of it.
I worked for my uncle for about 2 years before taking a break. I wanted to figure out my own career path, and so I picked up the book “The Virtuous Consumer” by Leslie Garett. It is about various consumer products and their environmental, social, and health impacts. The first chapter? Was about personal care products; lipstick, makeup, the works. The product ingredients, the lack of regulations, and the potential health impact shocked me. Including the environmental impact of these products being washed down the drain.
Here I was, passionately educating people about the negative impact of the conventional cotton industry, and not even considering the negative effects of consumer products! People were actually applying these ingredients directly onto their skin, and therefore a percentage being absorbed by their bodies and into their bloodstream.
I will never forget reading that chapter, and the giant “aha” moment I had because I knew immediately that this was what I wanted to do for my career, and that it was going to be a huge part of my life’s work.
From there, I picked up all the books I could find on the topic, and I researched both the industry along with the health concerns. Since very early on, it has always been clear to me that this movement towards a healthier beauty industry should not use “fear-mongering” as the main force to drive it forward.
Instead of using fear, it has always been my goal to simply provide a space where people have access to products that will help reduce the burden of chemicals on, and in their bodies. That was the driving factor behind the creation of the business plan and remains what we are focused on today.
Gosh, so many. In the beginning, the challenges felt much larger and always seemed to be a bigger deal than they were. Now they happen within each hour of each day lol! As an entrepreneur, you build up a resilience to the stress these challenges cause, however, they certainly can take their toll.
If I were to identify the biggest challenge, initially it would be how to get a business started financially speaking. The persistent challenge is whether or not to take on risk, and how much risk, at each level of growth.
I could share many details on this, the gist of it is though, if you are a small business committed to not incurring a large amount of debt, it is doable but EXHAUSTING lol. Financial decisions are still a daily challenge. Being a small business without outside investment, every dollar really does count.
New challenges have presented themselves at each stage of growth. “New levels new devils,” they say, and it is so true. Cash flow, human resources, systems and processes. Not to mention being a good leader while managing your own work, time management, etcetera, each day brings new challenges.
On the hard days, when there are tears and frustration, the bottom line is that I would not change a thing. I truly love what we do and the mission that we are on here at the Green Kiss.
I believe it is easier today compared to my mother’s and grandmother’s generation. That being said, I think we have a LONG way to go to bridge the gender pay and opportunity gap. However, I will say due to my education, amazing teachers, my family, and the connections I have made, I have never felt inferior, or that I lack opportunities compared to the male entrepreneurs that I am around. I think if anything, personally speaking, that if there is a difference it would be in mindset.
I have had my own struggles with the common “imposter syndrome” associated with entrepreneurship.
This question immediately makes me think of this quote. “The dream is free, but the journey is not”.
I decided to jump into the initial dream of this business (and then the band shortly after) because I realized I had nothing to lose. However, the JOURNEY now comes with all sorts of crippling realities lol.
I seem to have mastered pushing past fear and doubt, but what I found now is the biggest challenge, are the level of responsibility, workload, and intense amount of details and communications that come with the journey.
That everything is shiny, and happy, and successful all the time.
I’ll be really honest with this one, as I think it is really important. I had a dream, and here we are 8 years in, and with the help of a stellar team, we are continuing to grow that dream. We are impacting the beauty industry in a positive way. But my gosh it does not come without hard work and sacrifice. On top of any successes that people see from leaders or businesses they follow, is, of course, all of the stuff that goes on behind the scenes. Not just in how these goals are achieved, but all of the personal life stuff that no one usually sees or knows about.
This comparison was magnified to me about a year ago. We were experiencing huge public wins and successes. We launched our first Green Kiss product (our lip balm). Then Google selected the Green Kiss for a case study and profiled us among some of Canada’s top companies (businesses like Shopify and Skip the Dishes), as well as putting our lip balms into thousands of gift boxes that were shipped out across the country. We opened a pop-up shop at Uptown and later made the decision to keep it as our permanent brick and mortar store. I also had my face and the business on the back of a double-decker bus, that is still rolling around town, all thanks to the team at Uptown. With the band (The County Line) there were also major successes happening. Trips to Nashville to write songs with some of the cities best, B.C. Country Music Award nominations, and our songs being picked up by a TV show, just to mention a few.
All of these wonderful and amazing things were happening. The support we received was so amazing at the new store, band gigs and events.
My personal reality was very different than the shiny moments of success they were being shared on social media. While all of the business growth that was happening, I was also going through emotional turmoil in a separation, and divorce. I was living in my grandparent’s basement suite, living out of a few suitcases, with all of my stuff in storage, and that I hadn’t had a “home” in 2+ years.
This comparison of public success and personal struggle for me highlighted the misconception of what people perceive.
I believe part of this happens due to social media. We see the highlight reel of someone’s life or journey. For me, our Instagram is filled with happiness. That is what I want to share. However, I do try to keep it real as possible, and I certainly do on my own personal account, as I feel it is so important for us all to learn from each other about how much work it takes to make these dreams a reality.