Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Rosemary Austin, owner of Anisoptera Mercantile, located in Lexington, MA, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Anisoptera Mercantile is a new e-commerce and retail shop business with the belief that each of us has a personal formula for achieving our own wellbeing and for supporting the community. We have combined wellness products, brands that support human and environmental sustainability, and creative works of art for individuals to choose from to build their unique wellbeing formulas.

Our wellness offerings include premium CBD and CBD/THC products, two wonderful CBD skincare lines, organic teas produced using the almost extinct art of hand blending by a company firmly embedded in sustainability initiatives, organic coffees produced by a six-time Best for the World B Corp and small-batch produced organic candles and bath products supporting initiatives such as "Save the Bees." We support artists, creatives, and small businesses with our Featured Artist program, through which we showcase their art on our website and in the retail shop. Finally, continuing with our community building, we offer workshops, classes, conversations, and concerts covering a variety of wellness topics.

Our customers are those individuals looking for a healthy change in their lives and range from the mid-30s to the mid-80s. Our CBD customers are both new to and those familiar with the tremendous benefits of this amazing, multifunctional cannabinoid! The retail shop also attracts social and environmentally minded customers interested in finding out-of-the-ordinary gifts for families and friends. We will be offering all shop product lines on our website in July.

Tell us about yourself

In October 2017, I was involved in a serious motor vehicle accident that subsequently resulted in spine surgery. After my recovery period, I went back to my career of 28+ in the luxury residential property management industry. I had been thinking and feeling I needed a change prior to the accident and was sure of that when I returned to work. As I prefer not to take pharmaceutical medications unless absolutely necessary, I needed to find something that would provide relief for my now residual ongoing discomfort and pain. That something was CBD. The effects of CBD were transformational for me, and I knew that I wanted to share my experience with others.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Creating a retail shop environment where people of all ages and backgrounds feel comfortable walking into and being in to learn about CBD or other organic products and how to support the community and the planet. My goal is now to transfer that sense of belonging to our website. I have regular customers who sign up to have their subscriptions delivered to the shop so they can stop in and spend time relaxing and talking. I recently had a granddaughter bring her grandmother into the shop to find relief from painful arthritis. When I walked away from our discussion in one of our seating areas to get a product for them, I overheard the two women discussing how the shop was a "really comfortable place to learn about CBD." This was what I had set out to create!

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Keep it all together! Especially as a solo entrepreneur! You have to wear every hat involved in the business, oftentimes learning as you go. Don't be afraid or too proud to ask for help! I have an amazing Social Media Manager who does a fantastic job with our social pages, which has freed me up to handle the website, shop, sales, customers, etc.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Be forward-thinking about the time you will need for your sales to cover your expenses before making a profit comes into the picture. Add a minimum of an additional year to that goal so you do not run out of funding before your business takes off.
  2. Thoroughly "vet" all contractors, consultants, and vendors to ensure they meet all your requirements, even if you are under a time crunch.
  3. Learn to manage your inventory from the start. Order only small quantities initially until you see what products or services are moving more quickly than others so you do not end up holding onto inventory that you cannot sell.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

If you have a strong desire to be your own boss and run a business that you feel passionate about - dive in and do it! Many of us stay in the ordinary day to day because were are often brought up to think that way, and we spend all of our time thinking about the future. Plan for the future but stay in the present - it makes everything so much less scary!:)

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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