Entrepreneur Sami Jo Jensen is Founder + Chief Beauty Maker at florapothecarie. The Middletown-based startup is participating in the 2018 reSET Impact Accelerator, a program designed for entrepreneurs in the early stages of business development.
Sami Jo shared what she hopes to gain from the Impact Accelerator and the advice she’s received about being a business owner.
INNOVATION DESTINATION HARTFORD: When did you start your company and how did you develop the business concept?
SAMI JO JENSEN: I launched florapothecarie in 2016, but I began making natural beauty products long before that.
It all started in 2009, when I discovered my favorite body wash contained a host of ingredients I couldn’t pronounce. In researching these long-winded chemicals, I found many of them were linked to skin ailments from rashes and irritation to cancers and birth defects. I immediately tossed all offending cosmetics and got to work whipping up my own natural beauty concoctions in the kitchen.
IDH: What makes your startup innovative?
SAMI JO: florapothecarie is a line of 100% natural and cruelty-free beauty and skincare products, all handmade in small batches by me. I use hypoallergenic, vegan, organic, and fair trade certified ingredients that come straight from the earth and are safe for even the most sensitive skin—nothing artificial or toxic. My motto? You’re a natural beauty; keep your beauty natural.
IDH: Why did you become involved in reSET Accelerator program?
SAMI JO: Currently, florapothecarie is my side hustle, and I need help turning it into my full-time business. I didn’t go to business school, so there is a lot I have to figure out for myself and it’s not always as easy as Googling!
I know being a part of the reSET Impact Accelerator 2018 cohort will help me add structure to my business, define my growth strategy, network with fellow entrepreneurs, and learn, learn, learn!
IDH: In what ways is your company making a social impact?
SAMI JO: First, florapothecarie is built around the simple idea that we are already beautiful, we don’t need to “cover up,” and everything we need to care for our skin can be found in nature. The average adult woman uses 12 personal care products every day and teenage girls use even more. Between all of these products, our skin absorbs approximately 170 different chemicals per day, many of which have been linked to birth defects, cancers, and other developmental disorders. I want to help women embrace their natural beauty and ditch chemical-laden products.
Second, I wanted to create a product line that is truly vegan and cruelty-free: no animal testing of ingredients or final products and no animal-derived ingredients. More than 115 million animals each year are tortured in experiments conducted by or for major beauty brands even though humane alternatives exist. florapothecarie is certified cruelty-free and vegan by Leaping Bunny and PETA.
And third? florapothecarie is committed to the future of our planet. Ingredients are sustainably harvested and certified organic whenever possible. All bottles and jars are glass, so they are easily reusable, recyclable, and (unlike plastic jars) are impervious to chemical breakdown by essential oils. Gift boxes, tissue paper, marketing collateral, business cards, and shipping boxes are made from/printed on recycled materials and post-consumer paper.
IDH: What has been your biggest challenge as a startup?
SAMI JO: Navigating tax codes and legalities of running a business has been the most challenging for me, as well as understanding funding options. Like many startups, I fell into the trap of pouring every penny back into the business rather than getting into the habit of paying myself right from the get-go. (I do now!)
IDH: What resources do you need most to move your company forward?
SAMI JO: Knowledge and funds, of course! Understanding how to navigate those tax liabilities, legal obligations, and the funding landscape will surely help me gain a firmer grasp on florapothecarie’s growth potential. As mentioned in my initial pitch at the reSET Accelerator kickoff, my goal is to become self-employed and get out of my spare bedroom so I can open a retail location where products will be made, sold, and distributed through wholesale and e-commerce.
IDH: What is the best advice you’ve received?
SAMI JO: Last year, I was a guest on the Being Boss podcast with Kathleen Shannon and Emily Thompson. When I revealed to them that I wasn’t paying myself, they said, “If you never make it a priority to pay yourself from your business, you’ll never make it a priority to pay youSrself from your business. Even if you just start writing yourself a check for $50 a week…writing yourself a check from your business is an absolute must.”
Find out more about startups participating in the 2018 reSET Impact Accelerator:
- Bare Life – Food and Beverage Startup For Healthy Eating
- CNG Fit, LLC – Startup Brings Fitness/Dance Workouts to Wethersfield, CT
- FieldOwler — Startup Provides Risk Management Software for Businesses
- Project Ray – Startup Makes Smartphones Accessible for the Visually Impaired
- SKYWIREme – Startup Provides Messaging Solutions for Nonprofits and Growing Businesses
- Two Happy Homes – Connecticut Company Provides Co-Parenting Tools