In our Meet the Maker series we get to know entrepreneurs who have pursued their dreams and launched a small business. To celebrate Women’s History Month, we’re shining a light on women Makers to hear what lessons they have learned along the way.
Brenda Stansfield is the creator of Clear My Head breathe-deep sinus relief products. We checked in with her to hear more about how her goods came to be.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was a little girl I wanted to be a mermaid. Now, I know what you are thinking, but it was actually a very viable job where I grew up. I was raised in Florida and two places we visited often HAD professional mermaids! Weeki Wachee Springs and Webb’s City in St. Petersburg (Google it, it was amazing). I was mesmerized the first time I saw them.
However, as I grew older I wanted to be an architect, but I certainly lacked the math skills required. So I did what many of my family did before me, I built a business instead. When I discovered herbs I just knew I found my calling, but again, that little shell in every jar is a nod to my “inner mermaid.”
Where do you find inspiration?
I find it in every day living and all around me. I try to find natural solutions to issues that family, friends, and clients have. I have worked as a massage therapist for years and my clients were a big reason we expanded our line. I used my concoctions on them and kept improving them. We joke that my treatment room is my research lab, but in fact that’s very accurate. I love creating products and protocols that I share with others to really help people achieve optimal health.
How do you get around creative blocks?
I wish I had a good answer for this. Honestly, when I’m blocked I just try to clear my head by doing something fun or creative, but not business oriented. Stepping away is essential. What usually happens next is I wake up in the middle of the night with some amazing idea and I either call it into my voice mail or email it to myself so I can go back to sleep. The next day, it either is still amazing and I’m excited to explore it or else I’m thinking that it’s the silliest thing I’ve ever thought of. I always like to bounce new ideas off family, friends, employees, clients, basically any one who will listen. I love the feedback from people, it gives me energy.
What is one Maker tool you cannot live without?
My custom mixing and dispensing machine. When we first started out a client said, “you’ll need a machine soon to keep up with the volume” and I laughed and thought “nah…. I’m just selling a few jars”, and he said “Well when you do, let me know.” (His company makes custom machines for some VERY big companies.) Six months later, I said, “Maybe we should discuss that machine after all.” And the next thing I knew I went to his company to discuss it and low and behold it was already made. We couldn’t do the volume we do or get a consistent quality end product if we didn’t have it. I’m so thankful that so many people were put in my path to help me do things right.
What has surprised you most about starting a business?
Everything! I didn’t understand at first what building a brand was, I just wanted to sell some jars of some great stuff that really helped me and my clients. However, once I “got” it, I was amazed at how detail oriented you must be on everything. It’s exciting and overwhelming at the same time. But I love it! It’s like giving birth to something and caring for it every single day.
What lessons have you learned over the years that might help other entrepreneurs who are just starting out?
- You don’t have to do it all yourself. Concentrate on what you are good at and find talented people for the “other” things you would waste too much time on or not do well yourself. For me, I needed a great financial genius, a talented graphic artist, and people to build and manage my website. I could do these things, but they do it far better and faster than I do and it allows me to focus on my customers and products.
- Find mentors. Not just supporters and cheerleaders but someone who will tell you how to get to the next step, or help you figure out a way to look at a challenge differently. My biggest surprise was finding out that successful people want you to be successful and they love to share your dream and help you achieve goals. I hope I am one of those people for those just starting out.
- Slow growth is fine. Keep to your core values and grow as you need to. You’ll be a better company and sleep better at night.
- Relax and breathe. It’s just as important to have some time for yourself. Balance is a tough thing to achieve when you are just starting out, and hard work and long hours are just the beginning. But always carve out some time to re-charge your body and soul.
How has business changed since your launch on The Grommet?
It has been amazing. To think the day of our launch that thousands people of woke up and “discovered” us, wow! We could not have reached that audience any other way. We feel The Grommet and the community validate and value what we do and it’s just amazing. It’s brought new energy to all of us here. We are also excited to see the reviews! It is wonderful to see how our products have helped individuals. We haven’t had a way to really see so many testimonials before. We love that! We knew it was good stuff but to be Grommet-worthy really makes us all so proud.
The Grommet has such a personal approach to business and really makes it about the products AND the people (on both sides). They are a great part of our team now and we pinch ourselves that you discovered us.