Today I have a special treat for you all! Our sponsor and contributor April MacKinnon of Anointment Natural Skin Care is visiting to tell us about her business and give you a chance to win some of her incredible handmade goodness. More importantly, April shares a look at a day in the life of a busy mama of 3 who is juggling babies, business, success and her own creativity. I know so many of us can relate and I feel honoured to have this opportunity to share her journey with you.
Hi April! This is fun, I don’t think I have interviewed a contributor before. I already know a lot about your business but for new readers please share a bit about your story and how you came to be running Anoinment as a full time business.
I started out as a civil engineer designing landfills and sewage treatment plants. I was pretty aware of what we collectively throw away and what happens when we’re done with what we buy and consume. When I was pregnant with my first child in 2005 I became increasingly educated about the ingredients and chemicals in our personal care products. Wanting more balance between work and family but with student loans and a mortgage to pay, I made the leap from my career as an engineer to become an entrepreneur. Initially this led me to start an online business called Nurtured, selling cloth diapers, baby carriers and other natural parenting products. Nurtured began to take off at exactly the same time my second child was born in 2007. For two years I worked from home juggling customers, babies, a toddler, and running a household. By 2008 the business had outgrown my home and I moved to a retail store which continued to grow and prosper. At the same time I was planning to open the retail store the founder of Anointment was looking to step down and focus on her own family. I had been selling her product and felt it would be a fantastic fit for my retail location. I bought Anointment one month after opening my retail store in 2009 and worked day and night to keep product freshly made and supplied to my own store and a few wholesale accounts.
In 2010 I was pregnant with my third child and realized I could not keep the pace that I had been working to sustain two businesses and raise my family. My family and I decided to sell the retail store and keep Anointment. We realized our dream of moving to the town where I grew up to have more family support and raise our children quietly in the country while maintaining and growing Anointment from a wholesale perspective. Today I run Anointment from home and make the products in a second kitchen specifically designated for producing my skin care products. I recently had an article written about me in my hometown newspaper, it explains things pretty well.
I know you are a busy lady with a growing business and three little ones, so many of us are in the same boat. I know many of us would love to know- how does a typical day unfold at your house?
My routine is so finely tuned that if I miss one step it can throw my entire week off!
6 am – I’m up and throw in laundry while changing the baby and waking the kids up for school.
6:30 am – We are all dressed and downstairs for breakfast.
7:30 am – My daughter is on the bus to school, I cook my own breakfast and feed the baby.
8:00 am – Drive my son to pre-school.
9 am – Arrive back home from pre-school. Check email, do a bit of accounting, pack orders. Baby naps in my arms while I type at the computer. If I’m lucky, he will sleep in a baby carrier so I can do “standing up” work – producing products.
11:30 am – Pick my son up from pre-school, chat with other moms about how there is no time to get anything done!
Noon – cook lunch, feed the baby, feed my son and myself.
1 pm – try to squeeze in a bit more work while my son plays, keeping the baby entertained with toys on the floor/napping in a carrier/nursing.
2:30 pm – bus arrives home with my daughter. Make after school snacks, hopefully baby is having another carrier nap by this point.
4:30 pm – drive the kids to swimming lessons. Chat with other moms, read a book on marketing, respond to emails on my blackberry, entertain the baby.
6 pm – We all sit down for supper.
7:30 pm – I try to work a bit more while my husband is home and he spends some time with the kids.
8 pm – Bedtime. Baby won’t sleep without me, so I’m in bed too! My husband will sometimes label and pack soap for me in the evening if required.
There are literally about two hours a day that I can possibly get work done, and pre-school is only three days a week. I tend to work in 15 minute increments while the baby is content to play on the floor or while I am nursing (at the computer). If it gets desperate, I will call in help from family members to help me either entertain the kids or help with the products themselves. This year is the most challenging with a baby and a lack of childcare, I am in a difficult position of trying to build a business with no room to grow myself, but I’m managing.
Our theme this month is Challenge Your Creativity-how do you challenge yourself creatively for business and for fun?
I have a gazillion ideas and nearly no time to work on them. I challenge my creativity by consuming creative books and magazines. I daydream by reading the instructions to complete a project and spend the next few days thinking about what I have in my stash that would work to make it my own. Sometimes I cut out bits of fabric or draw ideas in my notebook while I’m eating and feeding the baby. I carry a notebook with me at all times, knowing ideas will strike exactly when I don’t have time to explore them right away. I have a list of Anointment products I want to produce in that notebook. I’m experimenting with a few of them.
Right now I’m working on a creative exchange for two girlfriends with whom I took a handmade challenge back in January. One has knit me a lovely wool hat, so the pressure is on. I am planning to make a leather and fabric brooch for each of them based on a project I saw in the current issue of Stitch magazine . I am knitting a wool garland on a knitting spool while I’m a passenger in the car on long car rides (while the kids are otherwise restrained – I don’t waste a minute). I am planning to put up two Christmas trees this year and would love for one to be a children’s tree with handmade decorations. Also on my plate are two blinds for my son’s room and a quilted table runner I am working on.
I’m also producing every product Anointment offers for the Christmas craft fair season and for a February trade show I’m attending. Given my tight schedule, I need to be prepared well in advance.
What is in the works for Anointment this year, do you have any exciting changes or products planned?
Anointment has earned the PTPA Seal of Approval for our Baby Balm, which I’m extremely proud of. We’ve also just launched a new e-commerce website. I am also working on marketing materials and ways to support our retailers.
The big item for the new year is a natural bug repellent. It was field tested this year and will be released early in 2012. I have been experimenting with shampoo formulas for the past year, watch for that! I’m also hoping to release a new line of lip balm that includes lip shimmers for those of us who wish we had time for makeup! Watch for new packaging for some of our products and a re-imagined line of mineral bath salts including new scents, particularly Pink Grapefruit and our signature Om Shanti (cinnamon, patchouli, coffee and cocoa).
I’m also working to bring Anointment to more retailers and possibly to the US. Next year stands to be a big one and while some of the goals are dependent on my ability to commit a significant amount of time to them, the ideas are endless!
April is offering you a chance to fall in love with her products for yourself-enter to win an Anointment soap bon bon (a set of an Om Shanti, Seaweed, Lemon Poppyseed, Lavender and Oatmeal & Honey soap wrapped up for gift giving-or using yourself!) plus a jar of Herbal Clay Cleanser. Retail value of $33CAD
This giveaway is open to residents of the US & Canada (sorry international folks!)
HOW TO ENTER THIS GIVEAWAY
Leave April a comment about our interview-we love hearing what you think and if you can relate!
Leave April a comment about her awesome brand; visit Anointment’s new online shop & let us know what your favourite goodies are.
Get Additional Entries if you
- Like Anointment on Facebook
- Follow Anointment on Twitter
- Tweet or share this giveaway on your Facebook wall (be sure to let us know by including @ohmyhandmade in your tweet or tagging oh my! handmade goodness in your post)
- Blog about this giveaway with a link back to this post
This giveaway closes at midnight EST on Wednesday, October 26th with the winner announced at the bottom of this post on October, 27th (comments received after this time will not be published until the winner is announced). By entering this giveaway you agree to the oh my! handmade giveaway policies.
This giveaway is now closed! And the winner is…