Interview with Marge Clark, President/founder of Nature’s Gift Inc.
Tell us about your business.
We are aromatherapy suppliers, with our primary emphasis on healing. IE, our “target market” is the hospitals, nurses, health care providers, and, of course, informed consumers wanting to foster their own wellness, and that of their families. We’ve been making these healing products available online since 1995.
Please tell us what being a business owner means to you and why you became an entrepreneur in the first place?
I became an entrepeneur in the first place “by accident”…as a hobby/passion slowly stopped being “a hole the money went down” and showed a small profit. Prior to this, I had been told that I was totally disabled and would probably never work again. The disability gave me time to study, learn, and grow. And … voila. (Lots of years, lots of mistakes and lots of hard work later.) What does it mean to me? The opportunity to make the decisions based on our personal values and priorities. To be able to take the risk of disregarding “conventional wisdom” when we feel it’s appropriate. And as Nature’s Gift succeeds in its own niche, or even just makes progress in one area or another, the feeling of validation is like nothing I have ever experienced.
Also, in regards to the above-mentioned disability – being an entrepeneur lets me play to my strengths, rather than my weaknesses. This is something one seldom finds when working for another. Sometimes, (we try to do this with our employees) but it’s rare.
What or who has been your greatest influence in business and why?
Not sure, there have been so many. My first employee, Rick, who urged me to take a HUGE financial risk (or, what was huge back then.) Investing in a product, on net 30, that I couldn’t see a way to pay for. “Order it, the money will be there,” and, of course, it was. Rick taught me to take risks when I was convinced the purchase was right for us, and not to cut quality to save money, ever.
What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment to date?
The big one that stands out was being selected to supply the essential oils for a Clinical Aromatherapy course, that teaches nurses and other healthcare professionals. Through this course we’ve watched the graduates set up programs in their hospitals, using our oils. Since healing and wellness is our focus, this has been wonderfully validating. On a more private letter, the feedback and thank you’s we get from clients when a specific product has really made a difference in their quality of life. There’s no way you can set a dollar value on knowing you are making this kind of difference. It also has been extremely satisfying to be approached to author the book “Essential Oils and Aromatics”, and eventually see it reviewed in magazines I respect, available at Amazon, etc.
What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our readers?
Do not ever make a decision based solely on price. Every time I have cut corners on products and/or ingredients, or on Computers (since we are an online business we use a LOT of computers) I have lived to regret it. There are no true bargains, there is no such thing as a free lunch.
What one thing have you learned as a small business owner that has served you well over the years?
That I can’t be everything to everybody. That some folks will love and admire what we do, others won’t. Period. And tied in to that – there is “enough” to go around. There’s enough “success”, enough “abundance”, enough “joy”, enough “love” to go around. Someone else’s success doesn’t mean that there is less available for us. It’s not necessary to grab what is available this very minute, because there will be more. There is always enough. This means we can celebrate our friends’ achievements and gifts because doing so can never take away from our own. There IS “enough”!
Are there any resources or tools you’d like to share with other small business owners that have helped you succeed?
I’m an online business, so the resources are geared in that direction. Membership in Donna Maria Coles Johnson’s Indie Beauty Association indiebeauty.com has been helpful. One online marketing resource has proven helpful (most truly are not!) The newsletter from www.grokdotcom.com is worth reading. The various marketing products from Sitesell have been immensely helpful, starting with the free Make Your Words Sell http://myws.sitesell.com/learnhow1.html for example.
What is Number One Business Goal you plan to accomplish over the next year?
Given today’s economy, we are truly just planning on “keeping on, keeping on.” We are *not* planning on cutting back on the products that have been our mainstay for the past few years, but we may trim the fat by dropping some less popular items. We hope to be able to use this slower season for more self education to be of greater service to our clients.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
That we are among the truly blessed; we get to do what we love and make a difference in peoples’ lives. And all these gifts came from following our passion.
How can our readers find you online?
First, of course, our website: www.naturesgift.com and our blog: http://naturesgiftaromatherapy.blogspot.com/ We send out a monthly E-newsletter with a lot of useful information (as well, of course, as our new products and special sales.) Readers may subscribe at http://www.naturesgift.com/newsletter.html. And you can find us on Twitter – http://twitter.com/NaturesGift