Photos by Dixon Photography
Today’s Biz Ladies profile comes to us from Issa Dixon of Hollow & Ridge, an essential oils company. Issa was raised using alternative medicine and aromatherapy, so the idea of building a business off of her extensive understanding of the industry was a no-brainer. With a bit of additional education and hands-on experience in the field, Issa decided to launch her own brand of essential oils and pursue the entrepreneurial path. Today, Issa shares a bit about how she navigated her career path. Thank you for giving us this glimpse into your journey! —Stephanie
Read the full interview after the jump…
Why did you decide to start your own business?
I come from a long line of women entrepreneurs. I was raised on a farm in rural West Virginia and I have been using alternative medicine and aromatherapy throughout my life. Starting a business with products I already knew a fair amount about was a very natural decision. Furthermore, the idea of supporting independent organic growers locally and globally was also very appealing.
When you first decided to start your own business, how did you define what your business would be?
I wanted to create a product that not only smells great but also has aromatherapy values intact. I honed my distillation skills with about two years of classes and mentoring. Relying on mentors such as Dr. Gabriel Mojay and Dr. Joie Powers helped me to fine-tune my craft.
What was the best piece of business advice you were given when you were starting off?
Start slow, be thorough.
What was the most difficult part of starting your business?
The time it takes to establish all of the creative aspects from branding to packaging. Catching up with social media has also been a challenge. It takes between 8-12 hours to distill a single batch of lavender. Finding time to sit at the computer is tricky.
Can you name the biggest lesson you’ve learned in running a business?
Patience. Everything takes time with a startup. Use your down time wisely. Practice your craft, find a mentor, experiment, and make goal lists. Nothing feels better than checking things off my goal list.
Can you name a moment of failure in your business experiences?
No big business failure as of yet, but we are new. I am expecting lots of ups and downs. One of the most volatile aspects of the essential oil business is the actual plants themselves. If one small farm has a bad season, due to weather or blight it will have an immediate effect on our business. Our costs soar and production slows. Quality Rose Otto, Neroli, and Jasmine Sambac are the hardest to make and source. There are very few producers that can do this right.
Can you name your greatest success in your business experiences?
My greatest success for me is to have the ability to handcraft a product I love and use. From harvest to distillation, I enjoy all aspects. Experimenting with handcrafted essential oils everyday is very relaxing (literally). I feel like I have success with every order we make and receive. And I’m especially proud that Hollow & Ridge will soon be available online at Anthropologie. To have one of the store’s I love most pick the line up so early on is incredibly encouraging and satisfying.
What business books/resources (if any) would you recommend to someone starting a creative business of their own?
My advice to “those who make” would be to find a mentor and experiment with all the tools of his/her craft. Many ideas and tests will fail but there always seem to be a few happy accidents.
In your opinion, what are the top three things someone should consider before starting their own business?
1. Find a mentor, someone that knows more than you about the business you want to get in.
2. Make a timeline. Try to stay on schedule but know timelines will most likely be pushed multiple times. Taking time to do things right in the beginning will be more important than staying on deadline.
3. Make sure you love your craft. You may not break the bank right away, but you’ll go to work happy.