For 5 months my life has been a whirlwind of soapy water, paint, wood dust, stain, polyurethane, glue, nails, screws and everything construction-related as I renovated the space that now holds the Blissoma Botanical Beauty Boutique. I took possession on July 1 and quite literally right away I dove in headfirst to the work that needed doing. I barely came up for air. I’ve worked from home for years, and the immersion at the new location was complete. I basically came home only to eat dinner, shower, and sleep most days. My family was informed that I was essentially unavailable, given apologies, and asked to be patient for a bit with the greater good in mind.
This week the store finally opened after construction delays galore and slogging through all manner of unexpected problems including a basement full of smoke (turns out decades-old electrical circuits don’t love being messed with), and staff having personal emergencies that took us down by one member. Nothing about the second half of 2015 has been easy. Having completed our first week open for business I feel more like I can reflect properly and meditate on the gratitude I feel.
In 10 years in business I’ve watched dozens of small businesses (especially retail) start up and then really struggle and often fail for a wide variety of reasons. I have even seen it happen to friends, and it has been a cautionary tale for me. The cost of renting and running any kind of space capable of retail is high and so is all the pressure that puts on the business. It’s a very real “sink or swim” test and you have to be ready for that level of intensity. Some people get into retail without really knowing what it will be like. I did not.
I got in full well knowing the commitment of time, energy and money it would require after seeing the process many times over with friends and acquaintances. All those factors were reasons that I stayed incubated in my residential space for as long as practically possible. It was only when we were literally bursting at the seams and could not even store the supplies we needed to process the orders we were getting that I was ready to make this leap for our production and sales needs.
Even with an existing sales base, reasonably reliable cash flow (for our size) and a talented staff the growth step we’ve taken is still a major risk. Everything I have done since around 6/1/15 (when the lease was signed) and through at least that time in 2016 is important. I have to be on my game at every moment, operate efficiently, and use my time and energy wisely. There is no room for serious errors. I can’t afford to take my eyes and intention off my vision.
Even with the fact that I know for sure that we are offering products and services that people truly need one still has moments of dire doubt. It did my soul so much good to see so many friendly faces walk through our doors this week. Some were my dearest friends who have helped support me and talk me through moments of crisis, big and small. Some were people that I’ve never seen in person but have followed us online, and some were totally new clients that discovered us for the first time. All of these gave me so much hope and truly refilled my emotional tank, and their consciously spent financial resources will contribute towards our practical survival. Both of these things were necessary right now, and I feel extremely grateful and lucky for both.
Despite the fact that sales is a totally learned skill for me I have sold products in many environments. I spent years doing demos in natural foods stores, which in general was just painful for me and also not the greatest energetic interaction with clients (though that had nothing to do with what I put into it!). Even if you have something great to offer people you still have to offer it in the right way and at the right time. The recipient has to be ready or defenses go up and they will likely reject it.
Seeing products sell in another dear friend’s natural beauty store several years ago was one of the key things that helped convince me that there was a better way to sell my type of product – better for me and for the client. It is so much more effective to give people the space they need to desire an interaction, and to willingly enter into it. Prioritizing service and education helps people choose for themselves rather than having something shoved at them. It was a beautiful thing seeing so many people thoroughly embrace clean self-care and health sustaining products this week through our gentle and respectful sales process.
People left our store feeling better about their appearance, more like the version of themselves they are delighted to present to the world, and like they knew what to do with what they purchased to positively impact their daily lives. I am truly honored to be instrumental in helping create that feeling for our clients. As much as I’m happy about seeing my business grow and flourish, this impact on people is the thing about which I feel best.
Many small businesses would not have had the blessing of such a solid first week of sales. I know this is partly good planning on my part, but it is also partly good fortune and the goodwill of our community. It gives us the chance to keep going and to do much more.
I am thankful to so many people for putting up with me through what has arguably been one of the most important and stressful 6 months of my life. It has not been an easy ride, and I wouldn’t have made it through without each of the people that spent time and energy helping make it happen. I did a lot, but I’m more aware than ever of how much I need everyone around me to be the best version of me that I can be. To my family, my friends, and my clients I continue to owe my absolute best. I will continue to give it.
Blissoma Botanical Beauty is located at 2730 LaSalle Street, St. Louis, MO 63104 in historic Flower Row. We are open 9 AM to 5 PM Monday through Friday and 10 AM to 6 PM Saturday currently.
Our skincare pros and makeup artists are available for consultations, color matching, and assistance creating your unique look with nontoxic, healthy beauty products every day. Please come visit us!