The SimplyBiz team interviewed one of our proudly green businesses. It has all the feels – an emotional reason for being, women-owned, sustainable and one of the few firms to grow during Covid. Here’s their story.
What exactly is Essentially Natural?
Essentially Natural is an online store and platform that provides the tools and ingredients to design and make your own natural and non-harmful products for body and home.
Our product range is comparatively large, but we are wholly focused on sourcing and offering only the best of pure, natural and sustainable ingredients; as well as a wide array of materials and equipment that support making-your-own; and Earth-friendly packaging and storage solutions.
Our customers, a phenomenal community, are always front and centre of what we do and how we do it. Every buying choice that they make, every step they take towards empowered and conscious choices, takes us closer to our collective goal of just making things that little bit better. We strive to empower others (and ourselves!) through the sharing of knowledge, techniques and ideas and hundreds upon hundreds of great recipes and how-to advice for both newbies and those more advanced in their journey.
What was the inspiration behind starting Essentially Natural?
Having lost so many loved ones to severe illness (especially the then-recent, devasting loss of Jan’s husband, Anthony to cancer) we felt bound to critically examine what we were putting into and onto our bodies ingredients-wise, as well as the products we were using in our homes, and ultimately what we were putting back into our environment.
I wouldn’t describe this process as an awakening necessarily – as a family we had already widely adopted natural remedies in our day-to-day lives, and with backgrounds in natural health publishing we were fairly widely read on subjects related to well-being - but we felt a call to action.
That action was creating a platform that promoted alternatives that were actually, quite simply, good. These alternatives existed - although not nearly to the extent that they do now, 7 years later - but they weren’t easy to find.
|This family means business|
Tell us about the journey – where did you start and where are you now?
Founded in our lounges and kitchens in 2014, Essentially Natural has travelled a long and bumpy road from offering a small range of ready-to-use products to today helping empower a large community of conscious shoppers in truly taking ownership of the what, where and how of ingredients and supporting them in the creation of their own products.
Essentially Natural had a difficult birth. Between us we had great entrepreneurial spirit and a great deal of varied business experience, but emotions often ran high in the early days and we would bang heads a lot. But, while the process was difficult, the intention was always clear and very heart-felt.
It’s extraordinary to think back to the days of shipping a handful of orders a week. Today – at current count – we have over 85 000 items stocked in our warehouse and our hard-working team dispatches hundreds of orders a day.
Was there a time when you wanted to give up? Why? What made you continue?
Many well-intentioned business partners, advisers, coaches, potential investors, friends and family… all told us to make for the hills at various times. But by putting others at the heart of what we do and why we do it we have found ourselves adopted into their hearts. There’s not a day that goes by now that we don’t receive emails of encouragement, support and thanks from customers far and wide – it’s incredibly rewarding (I tear up just at the thought) and inspiring. We’re more motivated than ever.
What excites you most about this business?
So much! Helping other small businesses and being a part of the natural ingredients trend in SA.
What’s not to love about eco-friendly, palm oil-free, sustainably sourced vegan and cruelty-free ingredients?
Plans for the future?
Essentially, we want to be the biggest natural ingredients supplier in Africa, while remaining a family business. Our ethics are what anchor us: transparency, honesty, sustainability… these pillars will always be at the core of who we are and what we do.
What advice/tips would you give to other small business owners who are starting up or facing seemingly insurmountable barriers?
Become as expert as you can on everything related to your business. Put in the hours learning to code or pack parcels or manage your social media accounts or inventory systems… whatever it may be!
When you need help or inspiration, or stimulation or support, find a community. Forums can provide a wealth of knowledge and experts often weigh in with great and free advice.
Always have your customer’s experience as your focus. There’s no marketing spend in the world that can compete with a happy customer who spreads the word.
Click here to view their member specials in the directory
Visit their website www.essentiallynatural.co.za
If you wish to have the spotlight on your business. Contact us and tell us your story.