Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in skin care and beauty products but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Debbie Alger, founder of Birch Babe, located in Ontario, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Birch Babe is a female and family-run company (I run with my two daughters Kelsey and Lindsay!). We offer a collection of premium, certified all-natural, and plastic-free skincare and clean beauty products. All of our products are handmade in Bon Echo, Ontario, with CertClean Certified All Natural. Vegan ingredients and laboratory-certified formulations, which are something we're super proud of!
We created Birch Babe not just to make another skincare brand and help as many people as possible make easy lifestyle choices for the better health of their bodies and our planet. So we live and breathe our sustainable business practices that include using only plastic or package-free packaging wherever possible. Ethically sourced (EcoCert, Fair Trade and/or Organic), and cruelty-free ingredients.
Tell us about yourself
I have always been passionate about the environment and concerned with what goes in and on my body. My passion grew during a solo six-month hike I took from Patagonia to Chile four years ago. During this trip I saw a lot of waste in Argentina and Chile. However, while in Patagonia, I noticed that everyone was super conscientious about their waste because they were remote.
So, I came home, quit my job, and dove into creating skin and body care that was cleaner and packaged without plastic. First, it was for me and then a few friends and eventually festivals and then some refillery. During Covid in 2020, both my daughters (Kelsey and Lindsay) saw how overwhelmed I was becoming, so we decided to join forces and rebrand Birch Babe. We launched a brand new website, branding, and Organics Collection in October 2020, and now a year later, it can be found in over 150+ stores across Canada!
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I'm so happy to confirm that all of our 50+ products are certified all-natural with Cert Clean, vegan, and packaged plastic-free or package-free wherever possible. I'm also thrilled to say we took it to the next level, and I now have a diploma in Organic Skin Care Formulations.
The biggest accomplishment is definitely getting to work with my daughters. Each of us has our own departments, which I think helps us work together so well. I take care of quality control and formulations of existing and new products. Lindsay is our Studio Director overseeing all inventory, packaging, shipping, and store logistics. Kelsey is our Creative Director leading our branding, communications, social media, and PR. We really are the dream team!
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Growth! We're so grateful for all of the recent growth because it proves that consumers want sustainable, ethical, locally made, and clean options when it comes to skin, body, and beauty care.
With that comes a lot of responsibility because we refuse to cut corners! For example, suppose a supplier only has plastic lids instead of metal. In that case, we'll wait for the metal or look for another supplier. It's more important to us to stick with our goal of being as plastic-free as possible over getting another sale. I think consumers appreciate that.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Be patient and ok with growing slow and steady over fast and furious. It will allow for the key learnings to sink in and an excellent foundation to be built.
- Reach out to other entrepreneurs you admire, and surround yourself with positive people going through what you're going through. Don't be afraid to reach out on Instagram or LinkedIn. For every ten, you may hear back from at least 2! There are also so many great entrepreneur networks and groups to join that provide lots of support and networking.
- Have fun and don't take yourself too seriously. Mistakes are the best way to learn, and people appreciate honesty and vulnerability.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
If you'd like to learn more about us, watch our Brand Video 'Connected' here (directed by my daughter Kelsey)
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email email@example.com; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
Feel inspired to start, run or grow your own subscription business? Check out subkit.com and learn how you can turn "one day" into day one.