There are so many different types of ittybiz owners in the world, but so often only the biggest or flashiest ones get represented in the media we consume.
To counter this, I've been interviewing real IttyBiz customers and clients so that you can see the variety and diversity of solo businesses out there – and the different ways that people run their business and manage their work.
So without further ado, I'd love to introduce you to IttyBiz customer…
Hey Sherazad! What do you & your ittybiz do?
I handcraft Ayurveda and aromatherapy inspired body care products for those who want the wisdom of nature in their skin care.
Where can people find your website?
You can find me at freelion.ca!
How long have you been running this business?
I started Free Lion Body Care in 2015.
Why did you start this business? What was your catalyst or “reason why”?
I say it best on my About Page:
Free Lion Body Care is rooted in Nature, a little bit of Science and a whole lot of Wise Woman Wisdom. My grandmother was known in her day for her skill with Ayurvedic therapies, both medicinal and cosmetic. People would show up in her kitchen with a complaint about a headache or a skin issue. She would make them a cup of tea and whip up a remedy as she chatted with them. She passed this knowledge down to my mother who passed it on to me. I have added Aromatherapy to our shared Ayurvedic wisdom.
Making body care remedies using natural ingredients became a regular part of my routine for my own family. I’ve been dealing with eczema for most of my life, testing a number of natural ingredients and formulations on myself and on my sensitive-skinned kids. These became the beginnings of Free Lion Body Care in 2015.
Some of Free Lion’s Body Care formulas are old school, straight out of my grandmother’s playbook; others are a blend inspired by both Ayurveda and Aromatherapy principles. They are a complex layering of ingredients that work collaboratively to produce nurturing goodness for the skin.
I prepare as many of my own ingredients as possible, like botanical oil infusions and tinctures. I’m not shy about using non-toxic human-created ingredients, but I am very careful about how much I use. In general, these ingredients are never more than 5% of the entire recipe; they are chosen for their contribution to texture, absorption, skin protection and product preservation.
I am in love with scents for their ability to shift a mood instantly with a single inhale. So I couldn’t help myself, I also had to create my own original scent blends.
It is my joy to handcraft these nourishing products. From my family to yours.
What was the hardest part of getting started / the early years?
The capital investment. I didn’t have any. But I did have access to a handcrafted market that ran 7 days a week. I started my business on what I call the “elves and shoemaker” business model. Basically, that’s spend within your means to create your stock in small quantities; sell what you made; make more. Repeat.
I’ve thought a lot about what wealth means to me and I’ve made choices accordingly. For me it’s a combination of sense of meaning and purpose + time for myself and my loved ones + time to putter on other creative projects + money made to meet our expenses + peace of mind + low stress, health + happiness. I want to live a life I actually love. I found that that did not exist in the pursuit on $$ alone.
What’s easier for you now than it was in the beginning of your business?
Basically, I do it all, from branding to marketing to making and order fulfillment. Production is much easier and streamlined. Blog writing is much easier, as are website maintenance and social posting. There are enough systems I can use out there to make my job easier.
Also what’s easier is me on myself.
How many hours a week do you work on average?
About 5 hours a day, less on weekends. I leave time in the day for tending my garden and urban foraging ingredients (aka going for a walk in nature), self-care, socializing and caring for my partner who lives with MS.
How much time do you spend per week on social media?
Maybe 5 hours total per week. I create posts, alternating between inspirational quotes, ingredients features, product features and lifestyle things.
Do you answer your own email, or does someone else do it?
I answer my own email. And I hand write thank-you cards for each order. The personal touch is important to me; it’s me carrying my grandmother’s way into the 21st century.
How frequently do you produce (non-social media) content?
I try for one a week. But I don’t always get there. What I definitely have done is shift my perspective on it. It’s not about a schedule for blogging. It’s about whether or not I have something to say that week.
How frequently do you email your list?
Once a week.
Do you do everything yourself, or do you hire others to manage parts of your business?
I do it all myself!
What’s the best purchase / investment you’ve ever made for your business?
It’s coming soon – a distilling unit so that I can make my own essential oils from ingredients grown myself.
What’s your favorite product in the Karma Store?
I loved Zero to Hero. It was a tight, comprehensive reality check on the business starting process. I liked that it was practical and logical, a step by stepper.
I went through it when I stopped doing markets in person and was pivoting my business focus to online sales only. This was actually pre- COVID, when I went through a whole process to choose a life I really wanted to live, not one defined by others’ expectations.
More customer profiles are coming – maybe one will be yours?
If you're an IttyBiz customer and would like to be featured in an upcoming customer profile, get in touch!
And if you're not a customer yet, consider Sherazad's favorite product, Zero to Hero – or any of the pay-what-you-want products in the Karma Store.
100% of store profits go to help ittybiz owners around the world through Kiva, in over 60 countries so far!
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