Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal care but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Sabrina Jones, Founder, and CEO of SJC Body Love, located in Woodbury, MN, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Did you know 85 million Americans suffer from an inflamed or irritated skin condition? That's 1 in 3 adults who may avoid using products with perfumes and synthetic chemicals.
Hi, I'm Sabrina D. Jones, Founder, and CEO of SJC Body Love, where we manufacture skincare products using familiar plants and pure essential oils you can use all over your body. Our products are great for stressed and sensitive skin of all ages and skin types. We started out with Body butter and Scrubs and added ten additional products to our Body and Face care line. Our formulas are clean, safe for the environment, and best of all, customers use our products for proven results. We supply commercial and retail partners with healthier over-the-counter options for their health-conscious consumers looking for family-friendly skincare. Our Corporate partners love our spa gift sets for health and wellness appreciation gifts for staff and events. We enjoy helping you bring the spa experience home.
Tell us about yourself
Growing up with eczema, I experienced the adverse effects of synthetic lotions and medicated treatments that damaged my skin. Working in a stressful career in Child Protection that came with headaches and stress that also irritated my skin, I knew when I became pregnant that I needed to take control of my health, deal with the stress and find a solution for my skin.
In 2015, I was invited to sell my Body butter and Scrub sets at a Downtown Holiday Boutique and not knowing what to expect or how my brand would be received (other than my husband, son (at the time), and a few friends who used my products), I blindly dove into entrepreneurship and fell in love. I was inspired by my journey of healing and what my products were doing for my anxiety and skin that I knew even if just one person bought a gift set, they would be hooked. My business grew that day by word of mouth and testimonials.
Let me tell you a quick story about a customer who sought me out at a pop-up in my first year because she purchased our Uplifting body butter (Formerly Orange Dream) and fell in love with the fact that it was lightly scented and didn't irritate her skin. She suffered from Lupus. She made the commitment to only using our product because she verified and trusted the results. That is what motivates me to keep going. One of my company values is that we believe skincare should not come with compromises. The 1 in 3 who suffer from sensitive skin and need safer skincare options deserve to have simple, clean skincare that can also be indulgent.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Always evolving as a business owner and pushing myself to see what else I can accomplish. I completed three business accelerators in 2021-22. At times, the classes were happening simultaneously. The Women's Business Development Center (WBDC) Scale Higher, WBDC Top Shelf, and Activate Network Certified Access Academy. I am currently in the Lunar Start-Up Accelerator and was chosen by The Social Impact Strategies Group Integrated Capital Fund to receive funding, mentoring, and resources for my business.
Every year, my company has continued to scale. Whether it's over 45% in sales growth, Selling 1100 Body Butters a month, 93 000 Pinterest Monthly views, and being featured in over six podcasts and eight publications since 2015. We survived the pandemic. Many established businesses closed their doors between 2019-2021. SJC Body Love constantly shifts to meet our consumer's ever-changing needs, which meant in 2020 undergoing a brand reformation and hiring staff, and in 2022, shifting from a retail brick and mortar focus to an e-commerce wholesale and retail trade focus. We are a manufacturer and supplier of skin care products. As much as I want to see SJC Body Love on retail shelves Globally, I am happy my company is still here, supported by customers and gaining new ones each day nationally. I love seeing orders come in from the West Coast to the East Coast. The requests to partner and become a distributor, but most of all, my brand is getting noticed.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The fear of missing out (FOMO) at times put me in a tough spot running my business. I wanted to try and do everything offered because I thought more exposure to opportunities presented to me would increase my brand exposure and knowledge. I became burnt out fast and over-extended. Never enough time in the day for my business, career, family, and self-sanity. Being over-extended may open the door to being taken advantage of if you don't have time to research who you are hiring or partnering with to know it's a fit.
Ask for help from friends, family, or others you trust in the field to help interview or provide referrals for services you need. Don't rely on what you hear or see, but because others see how much you need help and offer their services, their skill set is lacking.
As a business owner, I learned to be assertive and lead by paying attention to my company's, consumer, and staff needs. Understanding forecasting, cost of goods analysis, and my business model helped me to perfect the statement, "No, not at this time. Please keep me in mind for your next event", "Please, send me your pitch deck and previous clients' ROI" and "You can keep me on your mailing list and contact me in 6 months".
Not knowing what you don't know, I took chances on opportunities that could have honestly just passed me by. It was so hard to say "no" when I was asked to participate in events and provide free products as donations for exposure; however, as a small business, those that want you to successfully understand the challenges you face will not present themselves as one.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Surround yourself with a supportive network and not just one. There is a lot to learn about running a business, and connecting with others is priceless. You are connected to resources, tools, potential clients, and sometimes access to capital to help you maneuver through entrepreneurship. During the pandemic and the unfortunate murder of George Floyd, the Minority Business Growth Alliance was formed by an alliance of volunteer professionals to create greater understanding and appreciation across cultures by making personal and professional connections that help break through systemic racism. I was paired with Lynn Hargreaves of Hargreaves Consulting, who has worked one-on-one with my company in the past year, offering expertise and time
leveraging her privilege to make a difference for me pro bono. Networking=Networth. Priceless.
- Capital, Capital, Capital. There are many ways to fund your business, and you need to have a plan. Whether you provide your own investment by bootstrapping, angel investor, grants, loans, or fund-raising, do your research. Get comfortable writing grants. Start a google drive to keep track of the application questions and information you provide to make it easier and faster to apply to various grants. I recommend taking a grant class to help perfect your skills and get you comfortable. Ideation4.com offers grant writing classes that helped me prepare my applications and receive the $10,000 Comcast Rise grant and acceptance into four accelerator programs that helped prepare and present an opportunity to pitch to 8 retailers and gain four partnerships..stay tuned.
- Key Partners. Build up your key partners to ensure you will have access to supplies, packaging, distribution, co-packing, and a broker to help navigate the supply chain demand so you can deliver your service or goods in a timely manner no matter the circumstances. No one knew we would experience a pandemic. Have a backup plan to your plan B. Always be ready to shift.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I could not focus on my business and get the tasks that need to get done without the support and love from my husband, Jonathan CW Jones, who endlessly steps in to help work a tradeshow, create a graphic to promote my brand, watches our boys when I am away and always encouraging me to follow my dreams. I thank God for blessing me with you and trusting me with his gift. I love you so much.
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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