How old were you when you went to the Young Entrepreneurs Academy Nationals, and how old are you now?
“I was 15 and right now I am 17.”
Tell me more about your business and how you have grown over the past few years.
“I started my business the summer right before sophomore year. In 8th grade my family took this trip to Provence France and saw the lavender there. After that, California (where I live) had a drought. My parents decided to replace our grass lawn with rows of lavender because lavender is good for the drought. When the lavender started blooming my parents hosted a lavender picking party for all their friends. I wanted to make party favors for the party, and so I started to make lavender soap. I gave them away to everybody. Since then, I’ve just continued making lavender soap, and I’ve added a bunch of products like lavender sachets, sprays, necklaces, and chocolate.”
How do you print on the soap bars?
“The soap boxes are the ones I print. Through the YEA (Young Entrepreneurs Academy) investor panel I used the money to buy a printer. Now I have a big fancy printer that I use to print all the soap boxes. The logo on the box is from the graphic designer I had in YEA. The photos are ones that I took. I have photos from different places around Los Angeles, while targeting tourists or local people.”
Do you sell online?
“I sell online. I’ve sold in a couple stores and at a bunch of craft fairs.”
How did you start your donation process/what inspired you to start giving?
“Right when I was starting my business it was during the summer time. My parents go to a fundraiser for vitamin donations to the Philippines every single year. During that summer they were holding a vitamin drive. I thought a good way to kick off my business would be to use all the money that I make that summer to donate to this mission that they go on. That summer I donated fifty bottles of vitamins. I saw photos from the mission and thought it was cool. I decided I would use all the money I make from my lavender business to buy vitamins for kids. I found this mission, Hope for Kids International. They go to Cuba, Philippines, Guatemala, a bunch of these countries. The doctor lives in my area, so I am able to bring her vitamins and she is able to take them on all of these missions. Last month they went to the Philippines, so I was able to donate 110 bottles there.”
How do you customize [your soaps]?
“I’ve done a few weddings, baby showers with a picture on one side and their name on the other. Birthday parties, holiday gifts. During the holiday season they’re popular for gifts.”
What is one thing you wish you knew when you were younger?
“It’s ok to fail! In this lavender business, I have failed a bunch of times. I remember trying to get my products into stores for the first time. I would bring a basket of soap and talk to the manager with a sales pitch. A lot of times I wouldn’t hear back from them, or they wouldn’t hold my product. At first it was hard. I persevered and ultimately I got my products into stores!”
What is your sales pitch that you would give to a customer?
“I’ve learned over the years that you have to draw people into your booth. People aren’t just going to come in. I have my lavender sachets (bags filled with lavender) and I’ll hold it and ask if they want to smell it. Most of the time they say yes! While they are smelling it, I say this is my business, these are the soaps, it’s from my backyard, I donate profits. Usually they buy it. With food, people get excited with samples.”
Who gave you the idea to make food?
“I was selling at this craft fair in LA, I noticed this popsicle cart and these popsicles were $6. I couldn’t believe people were paying $6 for a popsicle! No one seemed to be buying anything else besides the popsicles. I decided to make food because people like to splurge. I added mango because I like it and it worked! The lavender tastes flowery and fragrant.”
Did you have gardening experience?
“Yeah I have absolutely no gardening experience. Definitely when the lavender was first planted I had no intention of doing anything with it. At first I was really scared of the bees, and I was afraid to go out there. Once I started cutting it and realized bees weren’t that harmful I was ok with taking care of the lavender. Lavender is pretty low maintenance, it’s sprinklers a couple times a week and that’s it.”
How has your YEA experience taught you about business and what do you want to do when you grow up?
“YEA has taught me a lot about creating a business plan, putting together a pitch, and business tools. I think the main thing I gained from YEA was public speaking skills and confidence. The Shark Tank pitch was pretty nerve wracking for me. Once we got to the national competition I was a little calmer and I think that was the program helping me to step out of my shell. I feel a lot more comfortable with meeting people and presenting to a large audience. Next year I am going to college. I’d like to continue entrepreneurship with clubs, continue my business, just something in business. Probably majoring in economics.”
If you could solve any problem when you grow up what would you solve?
“I would solve homelessness. In Los Angeles that’s a very big problem. I want to find a way to find affordable housing, there’s no one on the street, and everyone has food to eat.”