Happy Family Day - or as we like to call it, Friends-Whom-We-Call-Family Day. Little bit of a mouthful, sure, but as we run our February Bestie Box campaign, we’ve been blown away by the stories you’ve shared about your buddies - how you met, what you love about them, how they’ve supported you - and it’s pretty darn clear to us that friends really are the family you choose.
Today, we’re featuring the third woman entrepreneur making our Bestie Box possible: Amy Beaith-Johnson, founder of PLANTiful and creator of the gloriously luxurious lip butters we’re rubbing all over our faces as we type including in every BB. For almost fifteen years, Amy has been obsessed with developing products with pure, fine ingredients for sensitive skin. She launched PLANTiful in 2009, and we really relate to the value she places on community as she grows her biz. Below - Amy’s chat with Lindsey.
Lindsey: Thanks for taking the time to chat with me today, Amy! Can you tell me a bit about how PLANTiful started and how it felt to receive feedback from your first customers?
Amy: I started PLANTiful with the intention of making natural skin care products - this was way back in 2004, [and started] just as a hobby. I actually used to be a medical librarian, but creating these products was a creative outlet for me and it really filled a personal need: I needed skin care products for myself that could treat my eczema and that were toxin-free. I have always needed to be careful in the products that I used on my skin.
When I started with the idea of my skin care business, my friends and family were really the ones who helped give it a push. They would give me positive feedback about my products and encourage me to try selling them, but I had to learn so many things - building a website, how to market, and all the things that go with running your own business. I didn’t have a helper until last year. In the beginning, my husband helped a lot - he was an automatic helper. My kids also love helping.
Receiving initial positive feedback from my customers was so empowering - like, “They’re giving me money for this - this is great.” The biggest rush I get is having returning customers - when they say that the products work well. It’s so cool seeing how they’re getting healthy, clear skin again.
Lindsey: What was life like pre-PLANTiful? You mentioned your librarianship - was this in Edmonton?
Amy: No, actually. I did my librarianship all over in places like Toronto, Vancouver, Saskatoon, and Vancouver Island. When I moved to Edmonton, I was ready to leave librarianship behind. I started with an intention of making a part-time business - there was such an amazing handmade market scene in Edmonton that inspired me that I thought, “I should try to make a go of this.”
Lindsey: How do you feel travelling and working around Canada has affected your friendships?
Amy: In some ways, moving helps you find your true friends - the ones you thought were closer sometimes turn out not to be when you move away. One of my best friends is my cousin in Saskatoon - Michelle. She always joins me on adventures and takes part in my crazy ideas. When I was just starting out, she and I made soap one night. We were up until four in the morning waiting for it to set properly. We didn’t think it would take that long, but we were so far in that we had to see how well it worked. It turned out so good - my eczema went away after using these handmade products!
Lindsey: Who are the besties in your life who helped PLANTiful grow?
Amy: I definitely lean toward female influences in the city. I want to promote women-owned businesses. I have one female employee, whose name also happens to be Michelle.
Michelle: (in the not-so-distant kitchen) Hi!
Amy: She does everything from helping with production to looking after the kids for a little bit [Ed. note - like Jacqueline from JACEK Chocolate and Claire here at Flatter:Me, Amy’s also a mom. Making the acquaintance of her two little girls was the highlight of our photo shoot.] Michelle’s been my right-hand for sure. I couldn’t have grown the business without her help.
I also look to Justine Ma (Justine Ma Design). We became friends through the Royal Bison and ended up beside each other at craft shows. When I decided that I wanted to rebrand, I approached Justine for her advice and ideas.
Jillian Schecher, the photographer, has been another great local female influence. [One more ed. note - we can’t help ourselves - Jillian’s the photographer behind a lot of Flatter:Me’s images - if you’re an Edmonton brand needing stellar photography, look her up!]
Lindsey: How about your regular customers - have you found that friendships have grown from those interactions?
Amy: Definitely. One of my customers was cleaning out her basement one day and found a bunch of kids’ books and asked if I wanted them!
Lindsey: Has there been a time where you and PLANTiful have been able to reciprocate the friend-love and help a peer grow their business?
Amy: Around the time that I was starting my skin care business, I met a woman named Nicole on a VIA Rail train going from Edmonton to Vancouver. This was one of those 24-hour train rides where you don’t get to get off. At the time of me meeting her, Nicole was doing marketing and advertising. We ended up chatting about the business of skin care and she said, “I think I want to do that one day.” We stayed in touch through Instagram and Facebook, and when she started her own skin care business, she asked for some advice and questions. I was happy to help her wherever I could. Her business is called Wild Moon Organics.
Lindsey: That’s too neat! I love that both of you were able to pursue your passions. Thanks for your time, Amy. Can you tell us which markets you’ll be at next?
Visit PLANTiful's online shop here!
Bestie Boxes include a Flatter:Me Belt, a JACEK Chocolate Couture bar, and a PLANTiful lip butter. They start at $39 including shipping and are available all February long.