Empress Avenue had the exclusive opportunity to chat with Vancouver based founder Teresa Johnston of Mom’s Kisses, a natural, topical anti-inflammatory formulated to heal your child from life’s bumps, bruises and pains quickly! Read this interview to learn more about her fabulous product and for a chance to WIN!
1. Tell us about yourself, your career or business.- My background is working in-house legal for international manufacturers (an OEM contract electronics manufacturer, a winery & spirits manufacturer). I decided to leave the corporate world when I had my second child and focus on being a full-time mom, but always kept my feet wet consulting. I was involved in a couple of ventures supporting other entrepreneurs to bring their ideas to fruition from setting up their companies to working through production and distribution issues. All this experience prepared me for when I decided to launch my own natural product: Mom’s Kisses through Tebas Therapeutics Inc.
2. Explain how you developed this fabulous business idea. –Mom’s Kisses came about because my daughter (3rd child) was born with kidney problems. We lived almost 3 years with a sick little girl constantly on prophylaxis antibiotics. I learned of the toxicity in what I always thought were risk-free, safe medicines: acetaminophen & ibuprofen. Sadly, before she was diagnosed, our doctors would always squeeze them in her mouth pre-inoculations or when she wasn’t feeling well. All along this was causing more problems for her kidneys. At that epiphany moment (containing a LOT of guilt) we changed everything about what we put in and on all of our kids. At the same time we were working on putting the purest, highest quality arnica product on the market (Acurnica). I realized something we had used safely for years to heal bruises was a natural, safe, side-effect drug free alternative for pain relief and swelling. So I launched Mom’s Kisses to provide the same alternative to all parents! One of the primary goals of my business is to educate, without preaching, that we have safe, inexpensive choices that work as well as big pharma products and we as parents do not have to choose between toxicity and pain.
3. Describe your most recent business success!– Being listed with Choices Markets and being contacted by two national magazines to feature our products was a big thrill.
4. Give us the ‘inside scoop’ – what does a day in your business life look like?- I’m a mom of 3 and integrate working full time into being a full time mom. I get up at 6 a.m. to see my 13 year old off to school (with his Dad). My 6 and 8 year old start school at 8:30 a.m. so it is running between checking email and getting them ready – and of course making that last minute lunch. Then the days are spent balancing marketing efforts, planning or overseeing production, getting shipments out, and preparing for the next tradeshow or demo. Occasionally I throw in some accounting (ugh!). Fun days are when I get to dress up and have lunch meetings, go to clients or networking functions, but most days are running between my office, kids activities and suppliers. I spend the evening with my computer on my lap catching up with emails or doing more much needed blogging, tweeting, Facebook posting or pinning.
5. What types of customers are in your business ‘pink book’ and who are you looking to connect with?- I am proud to provide a cost effective product so ever mom who wants something better for her children can buy it, but to get the product know I would love to see it in the hands of Tori Spelling, Jennifer Garner, Tiffany Amber Thiessen, Amanda Beard, Jessica Simpson; celebrities who are really powerful role models.
I have a battle with fashion – the environmentalist in me knows the failings of the fashion industry’s environmental and sustainability practices; however the girlie girl fashionista in me has to shop!
6. If you were not doing this job, what is your plan B?- This is certainly my dream – building a company that makes a difference that my kids could step into. I’m a corporate lawyer by training but as much as I loved this it did not speak to my soul and I wanted to be home to raise my kids – something you simply can’t do in the legal profession. Plan B is to find a different angle to make this business work. I know my product works and makes a difference in people’s lives so I won’t give up. I had my “dream job” and left it to be with my kids.
7. Do you think it’s important to love what you do, or make good money?- It has to be both – no matter how much money you make, if you hate your job you can’t be happy, but if you don’t make any money that doesn’t work either since the time you spend working is time away from your family and will drain you.
8. Is owning your own business as glamorous as it sounds?- Only moments. The rest of the time it is raw, hard work and pushing your comfort zone and being open to all opportunities that pass your way. Not having time to shower for 3 days because you have to race around the city to deliver product, pick up raw material inventory, ship by 3 p.m., pick up the kids, get to ballet, answer those emails. Its pretty hectic. The glamorous moments are when I get the chance to speak passionately about my product and find a real connection.
9. Where did you get your education? Tell us about this experience.- I graduated from my undergrad at UWO (University of Western Ontario) and my law degree is from UBC (University of British Columbia). Going to UWO was an amazing eye opening experience as I had previously lived in BC my entire life. Living in London, Ontario opened the world to me and provided me with a much more open-minded perspective – far beyond thinking about politics, life and business from one point of the compass. My friends were young adults from all over Canada, some are still my best friends today, but also included a princess of Sri Lanka (whose uncle was assassinated while she was at school), the daughter of the Governor General of St. Lucia and the daughter of the Governor General of the Bahamas. UWO is an amazingly international school where children of diplomats from the West Indies find safety and an international education. They gave me an education about the world that I could not have received at most other Canadian universities.
10. What celebrity do you look at for style inspiration and why?- I don’t actually look to celebrities for style. The celebrities I look up to I do so because of their political activism, their philanthropy or their environmental activism. Charlize Theron for example is a stunning beauty (I couldn’t wear what she wears) but her passion for animals in the wild and protecting that is something to be inspired by.
I love connecting on a personal level with the companies I buy from as these are my “colleagues” the people I work every day with.
11. What are your favourite stores to shop at for the perfect work wardrobe?- I have a battle with fashion – the environmentalist in me knows the failings of the fashion industry’s environmental and sustainability practices; however the girlie girl fashionista in me has to shop! For me I don’t buy for a fad, only things that will last, and I can wear over and over, make the best choices. I LOVE Michael Kors, Kate Spade Ruby jeans; Guess by Marciano. The Bay is an amazing Canadian iconic store. I like small independently owned boutiques and Nordstrom’s – the small town girl meets the big city!
12. Where do you manufacture your products? How did you source the correct manufacturer?- I manufacture my own products, but sourcing raw materials is always a challenge. I always start by seeking out a recommendation from a supplier I already trust and this leads to other great companies to do business with. I love connecting on a personal level with the companies I buy from as these are my “colleagues” the people I work every day with. I put my products on my family so I need to trust the source of the materials I use. I look for certifications. I find asking for referrals from past co-workers, friends and others in the industry has been the best way to find local suppliers who are service and budget oriented. When all else fails, Google it!
13. What are your plans for expansion?- I am eager to go into the US market place and potentially Europe. I have a few other products I want to launch under my Mom’s Kisses brand that are amazing healing products for families.
14. What is your favourite travel hot spot?- San Juan, Puerto Rico
15. What business book would you recommend for our book club?- Mom Inc. by Danielle Botterrell and Amy Ballon (I met these amazing women at a tradeshow and of all the business books I’ve read, they truly get the reality of being a mom entrepreneur). The Power of Habit by Charles Dunhigg. And then a little fun because we all need a fabulous office, Domino: The Book of Decorating by the editors of Domino Magazine!
16. Can you offer any advice for new graduates looking for a job or new entrepreneurs?- You have to pay your dues. Realize that everyone who has been working in the work force for 15 + years were all young and eager once, but we had to work our way through. School teaches you only 1/10th of what you need to know to be successful in an office, in business and as an entrepreneur. Life experience and HARD WORK make up the recipe for success. Don’t look at mistakes as failures, look at them as a lesson you needed to learn. You will make LOTS, learn from them.
Photo Credit: Jennifer Marie Photographer
Pinterest: Mom’s Kisses