Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Soraya Benitez, Founder, and CEO of MommaBear, located in New York, NY, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We are a Women-Led Homeopathic Company building conscientious, artisanal crafted, organic lollipops. Crafted in small batches, our yummy products are intended for the whole family. We care deeply about our customers and giving back to our community. Our first product is a Nausea product made with simple organic ingredients you can pronounce: lemon, ginger, honey, tapioca, and cane sugar. It has always been important to me that our products be clean, organic, and functional. There is nothing added that doesn't need to be in there. My life philosophy is the same as the company's: I would never put something out to the public that my family or I wouldn't use at home ourselves.
Tell us about yourself
I was born and raised in Queens, New York. The oldest of three and the child of two Colombian immigrants. Growing up, we didn't have a lot. But we did have wonderful, caring parents who raised us with many of the botanic traditions common to their homeland of Colombia. My father was born and raised on a farm in Cali, Colombia, near the foot of the Andes mountains, while my mom is from Bogota, the capital. My dad had to leave school when he was just a boy in middle school to help his family financially. Going to the hospital was only for emergencies; rather, when he or anyone in his family had an ailment, Mother Earth was the best medical advisor. His mantra: “La tierra siempre produce lo que uno necesita.” The earth always produces what one needs.
He raised us with this same philosophy. He was always pointing out nature and wildlife everywhere we would go, even at our local playground. Near the entrance of our local park stood a big blackberry tree. He would pluck the blackberries right off and give them to us to eat. At home, our pantry was always stocked full of herbs and our fridge full of fruits and vegetables. Whether it was chamomile and ginger for an upset stomach or honey and lemon for sore throats, there were always home remedies to help us mend.
As a mom myself now, I have always tried to honor their herbal wisdom, love, and care. When my then four-year-old was sick with the cold, I remember he fought me tirelessly about taking his cough medicine. I was sitting on the couch with my husband and said to him, 'If only he wanted his medicine as much as he loves his candy"! I asked him if there was anything like that on the market. He said, yes, this company has a cough product lollipop for kids (Insert large pharma company name); I looked at it and said to him, "NO WAY! This isn't something I would want for myself, let alone my child". As a caregiver and mom, I felt and feel strongly that moms want to know what is in the products they use, especially those that are consumed. Clean living and clean eating isn't just a fad that is going away; I believe it is a way of life for moms of this generation. Thus began the journey 'MommaBea Organics.'
I was still working my day job, and when I got home and finished with evening duties (dinner, bath time, reading time, and getting everyone tucked in and tight), I would proceed to work on creating recipes in my kitchen. I even had a little black book to carefully jot down each recipe meticulously. What worked, what didn't, what was tasty, and what wasn't. I enlisted my kids as taste testers (let's face it, who is be a better critic?). Some people hide splurge shopping items from their significant others. Well, that was me, but instead of shoes or handbags, I was splurging on pots, pans, candy molds, ingredient purchases, and other kitchen devices and hiding them from my hubby! One day after I'd nearly burned the kitchen down because I had left the ginger seeping in the honey mixture for too long, my husband came home and said, "This place smells like a pharmacy; what are you doing in here"! It was at that point that I realized I might need to enlist outside help.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
We just learned we were written up in Newsweek, and we are very grateful for our accolades.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Understanding that they will be high highs and low lows. There will be times you'll want to give up, but if you believe in something true enough… follow your heart and dream big.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Recognize what your strengths and weaknesses are. Hire people that can complement your weaknesses.
- Everything will take longer and cost more than you think.
- To point 2… be patient, be patient, be patient. Oh yeah.. work hard, but be patient!
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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