While having a lot of heart can certainly bring your business to great heights, at the end of the day you’ll still need customers to keep your doors open. Eco-beauty line Om Aroma & Co.‘s founder Angela Jia Kim had found success when she opened her first retail shop in New York’s hip neighborhood of Chelsea. But this eco-entrepreneur didn’t want to stop there and she decided to expand her efforts to the city’s swanky West Village. After sinking much of her savings and time into creating the new space, Angela cut the ribbon of her West Village store. But almost immediately upon opening her shop, she was awash with panic, quickly realizing that this quiet, mostly residential neighborhood was far from a shopper’s paradise. Three days in and just two customers to her credit, Angela feared that she had a made a horrible decision. But rather than throwing her hands up in failure, she quickly went looking for a solution. “When you experience something that you think you will be a failure, and you deal with it head on, something magical can come out of that if you just keep at it,” she says. Angela put her ear to the ground and tuned into what her West Village clients were looking for. From there she completely revamped her business model to create a luxurious spa destination and retail shop with all the trimmings. Today her shop and spa is frequented by everyone from Hollywood celebs to neighborhood moms. Watch Angela’s American Express Inside Successful Small Business video above to hear her inspiring story, and if you’re an eco-entrepreneur like her, know that you shouldn’t get down if things go off course. Follow her tip: If your business plan isn’t working, change it.
Angela’s itch to start her own line of eco-beauty products was the result of a most inopportune rash. The fresh-faced beauty was once a concert pianist who was always on the road. One day she developed an allergic reaction to a body lotion she applied just before her performance. Though Angela kept on with her concert, once she stepped off the stage she immediately went searching for the lotion that induced her rash. As it turns out, the culprit counted 55 ingredients, most of which were chemicals. Because two of her family members had recently been diagnosed with cancer, she began to question the long-term effects exposing oneself to chemicals and preservatives every day.
Angela decided to create her own chemical and preservative-free potions and lotions using only organic ingredients. After trying out 1,000 concoctions, Angela found the perfect recipe and started doling it out to friends and family who immediately fell in love with her new cream, asking her for more. Angela’s passionate hobby would eventually become a serious business. She set out working with a team of holistic formulators, aromatherapists, and skin care experts, and she created Om Aroma & Co., a line of organic skin care products free of parabens, formaldehyde, mineral oil, and synthetic fragrances. Soon after its launch, Om Aroma & Co. won four gold medals at the 2008 Beauty Olympics beating out some industry giants. Angela’s products are now recognized for their combination of beauty with pure, organic, ‘green’ ingredients.
But what makes this company even more special is that all of Om Aroma’s products are produced in the nearby Catskills of New York. And not only does the company buy its ingredients locally, but it also hires women through its Dollars & Scents initiative. Their program employs women who are re-transitioning into the workforce after taking time to raise children, giving them a second chance at a thriving career.
This post is sponsored by American Express.