Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Rachael Rapinoe, co-founder and CEO of Mendi, located in Portland, OR, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Mendi is a hemp brand empowering active women with tools to thrive naturally. Our mission is to build a brighter future using the power of plant-based reimagined wellness tools for those needing help with sleep, pain, stress, and overall wellness. Mendi exists to make the world a better place, one woman at a time. We are a safe, trusted, and transparent brand creating natural hemp and plant-based tools for all the heroes who keep the world intact.
To every woman we cross paths with, I see you because I am you. Over 70% of our customers are active women, ages 35-55 years old, and over 65% of this group of women are using CBD for the first time with us. Research shows that when women are protected and uplifted, everyone around them benefits. This is why we've invested in building a brand and product line that is safe, approachable, compassionate, and speaks specifically to the women in our community. We're proud to be female and LGBTQ+ led, Portland-based, and built to serve women.
Tell us about yourself
I am a natural-born athlete, competitor, learner, and persistent seeker of finding ways to bring healing to those around me. I am Rachael Rapinoe, founder and CEO of Mendi. I have spent the better of the last decade getting my BS and MS degrees and building expertise in the health, fitness, and wellness industry. I built and ran a performance training and event business for 5+ years, which fueled a deep curiosity for plant-based alternative treatments to better manage pain, sleep, and stress —aka the building blocks of whole-body recovery. My passion is to help those around me feel better so they can tap into their full potential.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
One of the biggest accomplishments is pursuing a career and building a business that has value and purpose. Knowing we are sincerely increasing peoples’ quality of life in ways they never thought possible is truly so rewarding and fuels my passion every day. I read once that if there isn't a meaningful purpose behind your work, it will be very difficult to make it through the rough patches. Mendi has had many rough patches over the past two years, and if it weren't for our unwavering passion for bringing healing to our customers' lives, we would not have made it through.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
By far, the hardest thing that comes with being a female and LGBTQ+ owned business is all of the inequities we are faced with. In a world where pre-pandemic investment dollars were only going toward less than 3% of female-founded companies (and less than that if you're a woman of color!), it’s been very difficult to raise money and operate during a pandemic in a world built for only certain people to be successful. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, they say. Despite all of this, Mendi has continued to grow at a steady pace over the past two years, and we have managed to build one of the most premium, recognizable, and inclusive athletic-focused brands in the industry—of which we are very proud of!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
The top three tips I'd give any entrepreneur are to start small, don't worry about making mistakes (it's inevitable), and just keep going. Start small and bootstrap the business as long as you can. You will learn so much in the first 1-2 years, including many iterations of your MVP product and product roadmap. Don't worry about having it all figured out. Get into the market, start building traction, demand, and brand equity and really get to know your consumer. Lastly, over 60% of start-ups fail due to cofounder drama or external factors. Sometimes it's out of your control, but the name of the game is JUST DON'T QUIT. You will fail, then fail some more, then fail again. Then, finally, if you're lucky, you will start getting it right. Stay in the game and keep going!
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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