We caught up with the brilliant and insightful Molly Racette a few weeks ago and have shared our conversation below.
Molly, looking forward to hearing all of your stories today. Being a business owner can be really hard sometimes. It’s rewarding, but most business owners we’ve spoken sometimes think about what it would have been like to have had a regular job instead. Have you ever wondered that yourself? Maybe you can talk to us about a time when you felt this way?
When I first started my herbal business, it wasn’t because I thought I would actually succeed at running a business. I started a business because I am creative and I felt like I needed to give it an honest try. The problem was, I never really expected it to succeed. Of course, because I didn’t believe in myself, it didn’t necessarily succeed…at first. I kept Herbellion alive in those beginning years, but just barely. I didn’t have a plan, I didn’t have a strategy, I just started and kept going.
When Covid hit and the world stopped, it put an end to what I was doing with my business and I honestly thought that Herbellion was dead. It almost felt like my “easy out”, so I left it alone and I didn’t do any work because I didn’t know how to move forward. I hadn’t put any of my time or effort into growing my customer base or building my online presence. Herbellion was a dying mess for many, many months.
In the summer of 2020, I faced myself in the mirror and made the choice to continue on. I looked at all of my options and I finally decided that I couldn’t do life any other way. I had to make my business work, so I shifted gears, sought out an amazing business coach to help me move past my blocks and set me up with some online strategy. I didn’t succeed right away, but one of the things that I learned is that I have to define my own success. For me, I come back to this again and again; running a business for me is not about getting rich, it’s about truly helping and serving. As soon as I started to redefine what being successful meant to me, my business started to flow again. One of the best surprises to me about being an entrepreneur is that I get to work through all of my fears and hang-ups, which has only made me a better person along the way.
I wanted to walk away many times, but there was always that part of my heart that knew that I couldn’t go back to “life as usual”. There are some people that go into business because they’re truly business savvy and some that go in because they just have the passion and the creativity to make it work, and I am definitely the latter. I realize now that my hard-headedness and my pure strength of will are the two things that are needed most in running your own business.
It doesn’t always look or feel like rainbows and fun. There’s way more internal work that is required in running a business than I was prepared for in the beginning. This work has pulled it all out of me and made me realize why I keep doing what I’m doing. Yes, it would be “easier” to work for someone else and have them worry about all of the minutia, but I would always be wondering “what if?” It would kill a huge piece of my soul, it would kill the light that is inside of me.
Molly, love having you share your insights with us. Before we ask you more questions, maybe you can take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers who might have missed our earlier conversations?
When I was in my early 20’s, I made the shift to living off grid. Like most other things in my life, it wasn’t because I knew how to live without running water or electricity, I simply followed my heart. Living so closely to nature really opened up a part of me that I didn’t even know was sleeping inside. It taught me a lot about myself and brought up a lot of passion in me. As life went on, I kept learning about plants and experimenting with herbal products to help remedy my own health issues. I eventually went on to deepen my studies and learn how to make herbal products.
I didn’t start my business officially until after my first child was born in 2018. There was a deep knowing that I couldn’t go back to a “normal job”. I dove in and started vending at our local Farmer’s Market and saw that there was a huge need for this plant based education in my own community.
I started out making whole herb infused oils, salves, teas, tinctures, and anything else customers asked for. While my product line has slightly shifted over the years, the most important piece has stayed the same: I utilize what nature provides for free. I live in an amazingly abundant area, rich with herbs and that is what drives the product list.
My family and our lifestyle is a huge reason why I started making products in the first place. We live a very active, outdoor life. We keep bees and sometimes get stung. We love to hike barefoot and often get cuts and scrapes. It’s been so important for me to have these herbs on hand just to raise my children! I love knowing that I can help other young families keep their homes stocked for the things that come up when you raise wild children.
We harvest as a family and that to me is the essence of Herbellion’s mission; raising wild children that know how to recognize the abundance given freely in nature and how the apply that plantain bandaid!
Can you open up about how you funded your business?
If you can sense a theme here, it’s that I didn’t put a whole lot (or any) forethought into starting a business. It felt right so I dove right in. Because I just dove right in, I really pieced it together as I went. My husband and I used every spare penny we had and threw it into Herbellion. We got really creative in our problem solving; for example, we used a restaurant kitchen after hours to make our products so that we didn’t have to come up with the money to rent an actual facility. After every Farmer’s Market and vending event, we took the money we made and put it right back into whatever the business needed. Herbellion is now funding itself, but for a while, everything that went in came out of our pockets.
Can you tell us about a time you’ve had to pivot?
Covid hit Herbellion hard and for a few months, I wasn’t sure we would ever recover or even continue on. I questioned if I could hold out and hold on. Year 1 was bad, year 2 was worse. That’s when I realized that I needed to fully pivot. I knew I couldn’t rely on in person events any more, so I shifted Herbellion into the online realm. It seems so obvious now, I should have been building Herbellion’s online presence from the beginning. It wasn’t obvious to me at first and in my days pre-covid and vending in person, I never collected one single email! Shifting online felt like starting over, everything is different online. I had to teach myself all of it, including how to market online, which is a whole different beast!
The pivot ended up really helping me throw more of myself into the education side of Herbellion. I’ve since launched courses and e-books and I finally see the beauty in being forced to operate online.