7 years ago, I was working a 9-5 job as a Mechanical Engineer. I was an avid runner, living a somewhat healthy lifestyle. In 2010 I read “It Starts With Food” by Melissa & Dallas Hartwig. I did my first “Whole30” shortly after, and from there, my life was transformed! I started adopting a more “paleo” diet and lifestyle, and I started paying more attention to the ingredients in my food. Along with this transition, I also started to pay more attention to the products that I was using on my skin. I learned that your skin is your largest organ, and everything that you put on it gets absorbed and must be processed by your body! Unfortunately, most store-bought products contain ingredients you wouldn’t dare to eat. And if you wouldn't EAT something, then why would you put it on your skin!? In my quest to find pure, raw, natural skincare products, I couldn't find anything that fit my criteria, so I began making my own products. Around the same time, I stumbled upon an article on the Weston A Price Foundation website discussing the topical benefits of tallow from grass-fed cattle, so I started integrating this ingredient into my homemade recipes. I was using these products, and they were honestly the most healing and nourishing products that I had ever used...and I just knew that I wanted to share these products with the world!...and FATCO was born! Tallow (aka rendered beef fat) is the backbone of our brand! It's incredibly high in vitamins A, D, K and E, all of which are super important for skin health! It's healing and nutrient dense, and is amazing for skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis, as well as many other skin ailments. I started the company out of my kitchen, with $10,000 of my own personal savings, with no business background...and I firmly believe that if I could do it, then anyone could do it!
What ignited the spark in you to start a new business venture or to make significant changes in an existing business?
Unfortunately, many commercially available body-care products on the market today are full of toxins and chemicals! This makes it very difficult for the general consumer to know what's "good" and what's "bad". Many products contain ingredients that can effect our fertility, can disrupt our hormones, and that can cause Cancer! Many companies claim that these chemicals and toxins are found in such small quantities that they will never really "cause the consumer harm." But considering that the average women uses 12 skincare products per day, and that these products are used repeatedly every single day, this can result in our bodies being bombarded by chemicals! And this is from products that we believe are going to be helping us. This was (and still is) insanely disturbing to me, and I wanted to change it!
How did the idea for your business come about?
I stumbled upon an article on the Weston A Price Foundation website discussing the topical benefits of tallow from grass-fed cattle, so I started integrating this ingredient into my homemade recipes. I was using these products, and they were honestly the most healing and nourishing products that I had ever used...and I just knew that I wanted to share these products with the world! In a category like personal care, where "vegan friendly" and "plant-based" products are all the rage, we are definitely a little bit different! But we embrace that! We're extremely excited to bring this new, innovative ingredient to the beauty aisle!
What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?
My biggest initial hurdle was managing cash flow. Being a completely bootstrapped start-up is SO HARD. You need to very carefully prioritize where and how you spend money, and know that there will be a ROI. But by starting out as an e-commerce business, where I was personally doing all of the work, it was do-able....it just resulted in many long days and late nights :-)
Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits?
How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?
In the beginning of starting my business, I was definitely surrounded by people who doubted me...mostly my boyfriend. It was a tough time for me, because I had incredible faith that this brand would be successful, and that people would be receptive to it, but the most important person in my life at the time was so incredibly negative towards it. That year I really had to follow my gut, and have trust in myself. I ended up leaving him, and that might go down as one of the best decisions I have ever made. If you choose the path of entrepreneurism, it's important to trust yourself and your capabilities, and maneuver your way through the maze of negative and positive feedback...but NEVER let anyone sway you if you feel passionate about something! Where there's a will, there's a way!
What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?
The most influential factor in my business' success would definitely be building a community via social media (on IG and FB), and really nurturing those relationships. Since 2014, we have focused almost all of our time and energy towards social media marketing. This has resulted in extremely strong Affiliate as well as Brand Ambassador programs. People love our products, and love to "share" them via social media platforms...and write amazing, in depth reviews on why they love our products. Nothing is better than real reviews from real customers! and creating a community of people who love your products, and want to share them with friends and family! Our customers are our biggest asset!
What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?
I wish I had known how much hard work it was going to be! LOL. I now work more hours than I EVER did in my old engineering job, but I wouldn't change it for the world! Being a small business owner becomes all-consuming...it's not a job that you can just leave at 5pm and forget about. But with hard work also comes an insane amount of gratitude...gratitude that I get to create something new every single day! Running this business is So Goddamn FUN! I couldn't see myself doing anything else.
What advice would you give to an upcoming young and old entrepreneur locally and internationally?
I'd say GO FOR IT! Just Start! Stop putting it off. There will never be a Perfect Time to start your business. I'm a huge fan of Gary Vaynerchuk, and he talks all the time about how people need to stop caring about what other people think about them. Telling your friends and family that you're leaving your full-time job with benefits to start this weird and wacky new thing can be stressful and scary...but if you believe in it and you're prepared to put in the hard work, DO IT! and the result will be so insanely worth it!