Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in skin care but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Leslie Reichgelt, Owner of Bella Botanicals, located in Holmen, WI, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Bella Botanicals is a natural and organic skincare company that designs products from nature to bring out the natural beauty in you. Our goal is to inspire women worldwide to find their #confidenceinthenude (without makeup). Clothes are still optional. ;)
We work with suppliers from all over the world to bring you only the best raw ingredients that have proven results from suppliers that harvest sustainably and ethically. We infuse some of our products with CBD for its amazing effects as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Here at Bella, we don't just cultivate skincare; we cultivate a lifestyle. One that breeds health and wellness long term. Our goal is to help women sustain healthy skin from the inside out AND the outside in.
We manufacture our products in small batches to ensure our customers obtain a product as close to its original source as possible. We NEVER test on animals and only source from suppliers that have set this standard as well. #becrueltyfree
Tell us about yourself
When I was in my early twenties, I had a boyfriend tell me, "You know, you'd be a total catch if you were passionate about making a career for yourself." At the time, I was a server and didn't have any plans for forging a true career for myself. Looking back, I honestly can't say that he was wrong for feeling that way or for being honest with me about how he felt. Growing up, I struggled to love myself. I struggled to see my own beauty, and I truly lacked confidence in most things. I valued not what I could see in myself but what others could see in me. See, it wasn't that I didn't want a career or that I didn't have things that inspired me; it was that I didn't think I was worthy or capable of those things. I didn't believe that I was destined for great things. I saw my life through the lens of what I couldn't do and held onto that notion for years.
Fast forward a few years, I ended up going to school and completing an associate degree in radiography. Did I choose radiography because I was passionate about the healthcare field and how the field of imaging had truly innovated the way we care for patients? Maybe a little, but I knew it wasn't the right fit deep down. It wasn't until 9 years later, stagnant in a job that was sucking the life out of me, that I finally started to put the work into figuring out who I was and how to deem myself worthy of more. Now that may sound like a load, but for me, it took a group of friends deciding to carve out fulfilling lives, which allowed me to see that I, too, was capable and worthy of such things.
When I finally decided I was meant for more and let go of my limiting beliefs, I allowed myself to start playing around with my passions in life. I had always had such a passion for the natural and organic world. I loved gardening and eating whole foods and truly believed that the closer we were to nature, the better the world would be. My second true passion was skin care. In my twenties, I developed a genetic skin condition called rosacea. I had my first real flare-up after getting a facial and using a cayenne face mask. It turns out when you have rosacea; cayenne is NEVER your friend. Insert the next phase in life where I started paying real close attention to the ingredients in my skincare products and how those ingredients affected my skin. But all that knowledge and understanding means nothing if you aren't taking steps to cultivate something out of your passions. So I decided my first step would be learning how to make soap.
I took my first class in Trempealeau at In The Making with a few friends and family members. Two ladies from Purple Thumb Lavender led the class, and I had an absolute blast. After that, you could say that I was "hooked." My next step was to acquire all of the things needed to make my own from home. Then I began working through formulas and making batch after batch of soap. I added essential oils, fresh herbs, and clays and had an absolute blast with it all. I decided it was time to unload some of my products and officially began selling my handmade soaps. If you've ever played around with oils, butter, and waxes, you may know that body butters are a great segway from handmade soaps. The process is actually a tad easier not having to use lye to change your oil molecules into soap molecules (ok, I'll stop with the chemistry talk). So naturally, that's where I went next. Now I'll be completely honest about my lack of knowledge at this time and played around with a few things I had no business playing around with. One example was homemade sunscreen. Now, where you just went in your mind was exactly what happened. Whoopsies. It wasn't until I made the plunge and signed up for Formula Botanica's Organic Skincare Formulation Class that I truly learned about the function of certain ingredients in skin care and how those ingredients affected the skin. In other words, this is where I "leveled up."
Now the next chapter in this journey gets interesting. This is where CBD works its way into the picture. I had never really thought about adding this botanical extract into my products. But the universe had other plans for me. At the time, one of my husband's co-workers was working on growing hemp and had reached out to see if I would be interested in trialing a few CBD-infused skincare products. I thought, what the heck, and signed up to play around with this new ingredient. To my amazement, the addition of CBD truly changed the effectiveness and efficacy of my products. In particular, my organic lip balm. I went from having dry and chapped lips on a chronic basis to literally never having another day of dry lips again. And I can say that this holds true… to this very day. So now you know. Not only why I chose skincare, but also how CBD found its way into my products and the skincare line you all now know as Bella Botanicals.
I truly believe that the universe has our back when we begin to lean into what we were meant to do. When we start forging the path to reach our purpose in life, the rest of the pieces begin to fall into place. I have no doubt that's exactly what happened with Bella. In reality, I believe that skincare and I found each other. And the fact that I now have a thriving business in this field is due to me believing in myself more than anyone else.
I'll leave you with this. Have you found your purpose in this crazy world? Have you found a career that literally inspires you and fulfills you each and every day? If not, work on it. Take a soap class, a writing class, or anything that aligns with what truly speaks to your soul. Take down the barriers holding you back, and truly believe in yourself. See what the universe does for you, who it puts in front of you, and how that all cultivates a life truly worth living. And remember, the only person holding you back is yourself.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment has been meeting the women who now tell me they have the confidence to go out in the world make-up-free because of my skincare line.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
There are so many struggles to owning a business. You may have an incredible product or service, but if you can't learn the back end of how to run a successful business, you won't make it past year 3.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Don't forget to lay out a foundation for success.
- Don't undervalue your time and worth.
- Don't give up. The only people that fail in business are the ones that give up.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I love cultivating natural skin care products that women all over the world can experience benefits from. But what I love even more is having a platform to share my message of self-love and beauty positivity. We have an epidemic in this country where women struggle to love themselves due to our outrageous and (in my opinion) extremely unhealthy and unrealistic beauty standards. It needs to change, and I aim to do all I can to change it.
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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