Barbara Corcoran, star of the show “Shark Tank”, spoke at a recent conference I attended, sharing with us her many failings: flat chest, poor grades, lousy choice in boyfriends, and an inability to keep a job. Despite these shortcomings, she managed to establish and build a real estate powerhouse that eventually sold for $66 million.
I was already feeling pretty inspired when I met Charlotte and Bev. Following Barbara’s talk, I found myself sitting at a table with these two women (with 38 grandchildren between them) who described how they started a health and beauty aid (HABA) products and medicinal candy business—Healing Leaf. Charlotte and Bev began with the intention of keeping their large families healthy and now, over ten years later, they are tracking toward $1 million in annual sales. Along the way, the success of their business literally saved Charlotte’s house from foreclosure when her husband’s contracting work declined in the bad economy.
How was it possible that two women with no experience in marketing, sales, or working with the FDA could create a successful line of HABA products that competes with big companies like Johnson & Johnson, Procter and Gamble and Unilever? I had spent years working in new products for these companies and had not seen the potential market they saw.
The answer was their passion. Charlotte Clary and Beverly Vines lived in rural areas that gave them an appreciation for nature’s possibilities. For years they made ointments and candles using botanicals for personal use. Over coffee one day, Beverly mentioned an acquaintance that had “jungle rot” from his time in Vietnam. Given their background, it was natural for them to decide to make a product that might help. Help it did, and their patient became evangelical about the concoction! Before long they had people asking for their special treatment for athlete’s foot and a business was born.
Today they sell 70 products (natural treatments for hard-to-heal skin problems) under the names Ahhhh… (muscle pain relief), Boo Boo Kiss (burn solution for kids), Belly Lube (maternity massage oil), Eye of the Newt (wart solution), etc.
Their line of Ice Chips candy containing Xylitol (derived from birchwood) came years later as a result of buying it in bulk for their grandkids and constant demand from friends and family for this natural alternative to sugared candy. Using the botanical essential oils that they already had on hand for their successful HABA line of products, Charlotte and Bev created a line of many Ice Chips flavors that have become their best-selling products.
Over the years, their business has grown organically—through word of mouth, one order at a time. As a result, Bev and Charlotte have never borrowed money. Their sales method was old school—they called health food stores, pitched the product and asked if they could send samples. In the end, 40% of the stores they cold called bought products.
Today they have 18 employees, five of whom are full time and one of whom is in charge of sales. Mr. Sales was unemployed when they hired him and both parties felt they had little to lose and much to gain. That spirit landed them in 2,000 accounts throughout all 50 states.
Future entrepreneurs have much to learn from these two women who said, “no one ever told us we couldn’t do it, so we just did”.
To learn more about their products or to purchase them, go to www.HealingLeafLLC.com.
BIG NEWS: Next month, we will bring you the inside scoop about Charlotte and Bev’s appearance on Shark Tank. Tune in on Friday, November 9 at 9 pm when they try and land the deal of a lifetime.
When it comes to funding there are numerous options. Watch and learn from angel investor Judy Robinett.