I’m a pioneer, I’m not a rebel! But at the time, all those years ago, I didn’t know that I was either.
But in some cases, this is the same. When one sees a gap, a need, and it seems so clear, so obvious, so easy when understood…the only thing left is to educate, influence and enlighten. And this is what I embarked upon some many, many years ago, when my ideas and thoughts were new to anyone I spoke to in the UK. I was amazed; and I took this on as a crusade.
I didn’t know that that was what I was doing, I was just following my instincts and wanted to make a change, make a difference and improve the quality of life for others. Then I realised that business was serious and not just fun and interesting, it was a way of life. And I embraced my crusade with vigour and focus. As a native New Yorker we’re pretty intense and we want to get things done, so I travelled, talked, wrote leaflets and magazine articles and wanted to share my beliefs and thoughts. Few people in the UK understood about organic, wild crafted or collecting or growing plant material for skincare products and herbal ointments.
Apart from my formal education, my real love and background was in nutrition, herbalism and all things plants. I collected plant material from the wild, concocted with it and began becoming a wizard. I loved it, felt in tune with what I was doing and wanted to benefit those who used my products. I also had a vision that well priced products, excellent and beneficial products was the answer for the consumer, all consumers. No one else in the UK was doing this, I saw the gap and ever since that time all those years ago I’ve/we’ve kept that as a focus and direction and a main guide post, along with my original concepts of a sustainable world with recycling, renewable energy and sustaining a world for the future generations.
My current role in Faith in Nature: I’m still a visionary, try to keep my oar into formulations and use my aromatherapy background for the benefit of the company as I did all the past years. But stepping back, as I have, has many ‘side effects’, some wonderfully good and others with a pangof ‘I want to be doing it all again’. But there’s a trade-off. After years of working long, long hours, both my husband Aaron and I wanted a change and so we handed over the day to day running of the business to a competent and successful team. However, they know that our inspiration and experience has led the path of the company for so many years and see us very much as the ‘stuff of the company’s pulse’.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
Clearly I did not understand what I was taking on when I started Faith in Nature. If I did, would I? Probably. Did I ever sit down and plan it: Definitely Not. But…just the same it happened. It’s not as if I went to university and decided to become a …. and persevered in that field. My education was to follow a path of sociology and psychology and although the tools learned were very useful, the career I followed was one of an entrepreneur in the field of my first love, natural products made from natural ingredients with aromatherapy blends that I created.
Have you ever faced any challenges along the way?
The answer to this is YES. Of course. To begin with I was speaking to people who loved my ideas and products but who knew little or nothing about really natural products with integrity. Therefore, the first challenge was to instruct, educate and persuade first the retailers and then consumers about how natural is best for you, your family and the world at large. However, as big a challenge as it was, people listened to me, maybe because they knew and felt that I was sincere and when I told them that I made the products myself, they were excited. I suppose there weren’t many New Yorkers travelling around the UK talking about natural aroma blends and warning about synthetic ones in toiletries. This may seem natural now but back then in the ‘70s, it was not…including in the sector I was aiming to be successful in.
As any business grows and progresses, all entrepreneurs will tell you about the soul searching decisions that we have to make in order not to compromise ourselves and our business. I have had many, some easier than others, but that too depends upon how embedded your beliefs are. For me, some were non-negotiable. As a mother and business woman, of course there were a great many challenges juggling responsibilities and time, energy and focus. Family comes first, no question, but what about the love for one’s business, so the candle burns at both ends and the challenge becomes one to overcome. I’ve given talks to business women about this very thing and it’s a skill we have to conquer to be successful in both areas of our lives. The challenges don’t stop coming and they very often throw a curve ball and truthfully, sometimes they really feel hard. On the whole and when I look at my business career, I can see a pattern in some way and the challenges are part of that pattern and help to make you who you are.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
I would say for me the biggest achievement is not success or winning awards but following my vision and sticking to it even when there was adversity. Faith in Nature is still a brand leader in more than the health sector, and it is still an everyday basket product. The aim of the business was to make good, beneficial products affordable and that’s still the goal. Example: our natural, vegetable soaps were originally developed for a friend who had eczema and who suffered from using commercial soap, so I set out to develop a soap using natural colouring and essential oils. And that was our Orange Soap, the first of many and it still uses natural colouring and pure orange oil. You have to understand that this was ground-breaking and a rarity. Another major achievement is that my family is still so close and loving and although I was so dedicated to my business, we all love and care about each other. Now, that for me is the BEST.
What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in your achieving success?
Truthfully, being totally focused and stubborn and having a vision I really wanted to achieve. Without these ingredients, it’s pretty difficult to make it happen. Loving what you’re doing and doing it because you love is very special. (Sorry, that was more than one factor.)
How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?
Yes I mentored many people inside of my business and outside and I think it would be a waste to have gained so many skills without sharing them. Yes, many people have guided me along my path, many of whom were not in business.
If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Equality, what would it be?
There are a great many talented, vivacious women in the world, some of whom have had the opportunity to express themselves and many of whom have not. Personally, I feel that we women in business can be models for others and most importantly we can demonstrate that they can do it too. Opportunities in social media should promote successful women who can instruct, guide and mentor other women who are looking for a way to express themselves. Courses can be set up, organisations can promote this and city councils can reach out to women so that they can develop themselves. This is a big issue. In my company we have now and have seen wonderful women leadership with superb skills. I think there are a lot of hungry women in the world waiting for the opportunity to demonstrate their talent and abilities. We should embrace this.
If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?
‘Go for it’ ‘Be totally focused’
Yes, I made tons of mistakes, said the wrong thing at the wrong time, was impatient and perhaps misunderstood things, but you can’t get it all right all the time and you have to be kind to yourself and move on. Follow your vision, follow your goal, and remember that your business MUST benefit others. Example: At the beginning of my career, I was offered another opportunity which was very lucrative, but it wasn’t me, so instead I chose to struggle and fight for what I believed was right and was REAL. Never did I once wish to make colour cosmetics, my vision was to bring out the beauty from within by improving skin texture and vitality.
What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?
A business woman never sits still and so one usually gets involved in other businesses or aspects of business. One of my challenges is not to have too many challenges! This rarely works but I think to have time to consider what’s really important in life is a major goal. During this corona period in our lives, we’ve all been forced to sit back literally and use the time to bring out what’s important to each of us. Maybe my next challenge is to discover more about me.
All Faith In Nature products are 100% natural, vegan and packed in fully recyclable packaging. The range is available from www.faithinnature.co.uk
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