Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal care but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Alisha Stephens, Founder of Umanos, located in Seattle, WA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Umanos is a purpose-driven, sustainable body care brand located in Seattle, WA. We believe in making the best possible products using only the cleanest ingredients and thoughtful design, delivering sustainable solutions without compromise. Our products are made with the world’s most nutrient-rich superfoods and 90x less plastic waste. Specifically designed with the modern conscious consumer in mind, they are elevated, eco-friendly products with the performance and experience of salon-quality products.
Tell us about yourself
Before launching Umanos, I worked in the non-profit world and with multiple direct-to-consumer brands in the health and wellness space. I’ve spent the last two decades of my career at the intersection of business and purpose, and I’m a huge believer in using business as a force for good. This was a huge motivator in taking the leap to launch umanos. So when my husband and I found ourselves constantly searching for better options for our daily routines, it sparked the passion to create the perfect products that make it easy to enjoy a healthier, more sustainable routine and then use those daily routines to help champion change for the better. Our products do that by helping you eliminate toxins and single-use plastic waste from your routine, and every bottle purchased also gives back 1% to help people around the world get access to clean, safe, accessible water. These donations go directly to sustainable, community-owned water projects in developing countries. It’s a win-win for both people and the planet. What motivates me most each day is living a life full of passion and purpose in such a way that brings joy to others. Trying to make good things happen. Stopping bad things as much as possible. And working hard every day to make the world a little better in whatever small way I can.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Taking the leap! :) I left my job and began working on Umanos in 2020. Then the pandemic hit, and I panicked. I had to make a decision to stop everything or stay the course. I stayed the course. Having never launched a consumer products brand before was a steep learning curve on its own, and building through the pandemic, supply chain challenges, and a slew of other ups and downs that came with that was even more, trying than I imagined. One of the biggest accomplishments was when we officially launched with the support of a community Kickstarter campaign in 2022. It was a moment of friends, family, and like-minded folks coming together to bring to life something they believed in. Our namesake, umanos, is inspired by our belief in the collective human spirit. How we launched with community support was a beautiful representation of that and one of my proudest moments.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Finding and maintaining a balance between running a business and staying present (and active) in personal life. As a solo founder, not making it a habit of working 10+ hours a day has been the most challenging for me, especially during these beginning stages. I find the most balance when I am relentless in keeping things prioritized and allow myself to let go of perfectionism.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Organize and create systems from day one: The most important thing I continue to learn daily is that there is NEVER enough time in the day. What has helped me the most is creating organization and systems to help me stay on track. Organize information, tools, and resources as you find them, even if you don’t need them yet.
- Find community: We co-warehouse out of a space with many other businesses and start-ups, and just being able to tap into this community to share resources and the ups and downs of entrepreneurship are invaluable. It will help keep you motivated and inspired.
- Identify your guiding principles: There will be lots of paths and lots of opportunities to pursue, and it can be difficult to not try and do all of them. Set your priorities and know which direction you are heading so you can better eliminate what’s not the best fit for you or your company.
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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