Sarah Vilenskiy, Founder & CEO of Blossom Essentials


Justin Abrams: Welcome to another episode of Strictly From Nowhere. I'm thrilled today to have my dear friend and a founder that I admire. Sarah, welcome to the podcast. We have today Sarah Walensky, founder and CEO of Blossom Essentials. As usual, Sarah, I'd love to pass it over to you. Tell me a little bit about Blossom, a little bit about the product, the mission, and what your role is with the brand.

Sarah: Yeah, thank you so much for having me, Justin. This is a long time coming. So Blossom Essentials is essentially a clean and natural hydration company focused on dry and irritated skin. So, you know, there are so many skincare brands out there. We aren't, I actually like to say that we're not a skincare brand. We are a dry skin brand. We really focus on this niche because I personally deal with it. And so I can talk to the products and you know, what makes them unique. why they're different and how they're actually going to affect the people that are dealing with the same issues that I'm dealing with and that was something really important to me starting the brand is that I can actually connect with the audience and make sure that you know what I'm creating is actually going to be Beneficial to them and not just another product on the market because there are so many of them

Justin Abrams: so many.

Sarah: as we as we know So yeah, that was really important and then ingredient transparency was something that was really pivotal to the brand as a whole because what I had noticed was that there were so many brands claiming to be cruelty free or vegan or paraben free etc. or just chemical free or even all-natural. A lot of companies are saying all-natural. When you would turn over the label and you'd be like what on earth am I reading? How am I supposed to trust in a beauty store or even online half the time that this product is actually clean for you without having to start And so it was really important to us that we have the derivatives of the ingredients on the bottles themselves so that you can actually know just by easily digesting the label. And then also we take it a step further and we offer ingredient definitions on our website. So let's say you go to our website, you click on a product, you click ingredients. And we're not hiding the ingredients. We actually have our ingredients all throughout the product and our website as well. because we don't want somebody to have to click a million times to find that list. Because again, going back to transparency and actually telling people what it is that we produce. But then if you start clicking around, you'll actually easily be able to understand what that ingredient is, what it stems from, what's it created from, and then why it's beneficial for the product itself. What does it do for that product? So it's really cool.

Justin Abrams: Yeah, it's wild to see where the product and the business is today. Certainly not where you started. I've known you for a really long time. I've seen this evolve from nothing at all to what it is today. But before we really get into the details of your founder journey, tell everybody about yourself and what makes you uniquely you. And I'd really love to hear a little bit about your background and both personal and professional if you're willing to share some of your hobbies, your human experience and anything that truly makes you uniquely you.

Sarah: Yeah, so, you know, as I was trying to think through this question, I always go back to my father. He is a very unique man, to say the least, as you know, you met him.

Justin Abrams: Yes.

Sarah: He is driven. He's an entrepreneur. He started from nothing. He came from Russia, actually, without a lick of English. He truly started from the ground up and he had became very successful through just hard work and determination. And I think I constantly see myself in him. I think he sees himself in me too, which is kind of cool. But in the in the essence of just, you know, like no matter what happens, we don't have another choice. This is going to work. I don't know how it's going to work. I don't know how we're going to get there, but we will not stop until it works, you know. And that's always been ingrained in us from the get. As a child, we've always, he'd kind of just thrown us at the deep end and then said, swim. And we did, we're still kicking. So my entire family kind of comes from this background as well. And so we all feed off of each other too. My sister's really, really successful. She built this incredible real estate enterprise in Atlanta. Actually, she's living in Israel now because she became so successful that she can just, you know, leave the country and still, you know, make it work. But all of that to say, we all thrive off of that determination and seeing, you know, that end result and seeing us continue to grow in those baby steps. And so it really all came from my father kind of developing that in us, you know, as we as we grew up.

Justin Abrams: You know, I always like to really tap into some of the things that you developed as hobbies, like in association to the nurture side of growing up. What are like some of the things, you know, the goal is really to have like a formula that, that founders need to just think about like, Whoa, that, that sounds like me. So what are some of the things that like keep you busy and things that you're passionate outside of entrepreneurship?

Sarah: So my stress and coping mechanism is fitness. It's something that I've been doing my whole life. It's ingrained. I love it. It allows me to detach from the workspace, even if I'm thinking about work, which I'm always thinking about work, but even if I am, I'm at least, you know, entering the gym or taking my workout classes. And then I'm able to, sorry, something just popped on my screen. I'm able to... disassociate from the job for a second and just focus on that. And it really helps me separate, you know, you always say like, so keep your social life, make sure you have that balance. And for me, the fitness aspect, you know, every single morning, um, is critical to me staying calm and, um, you know, being able to face a lot of the challenges that we face today and not only fitness, but something you may not know about me, but I love puzzles, like love them. Really big ones. I do it by myself. I don't like other people coming in and ruining my process But it is it's so it just allows me to zone out and just figure out like my type a Personality just coming and I'm being like, okay, I'm gonna make this Fit together somehow from this massive mess of amino pieces. So yeah.

Justin Abrams: Hmm, there's definitely a personality test looming in there. That's really cool. I thought you were gonna go in a different direction, which was maybe like the passion of the music or something like that, but to think that it's at home Friday night, your favorite beverage, whatever that might be, and a good old puzzle. I did not know

Sarah: And my favorite thing to do is hanging out with Teddy, of course. I mean, he's my entire life. So Teddy, my golden doodle is the most important thing.

Justin Abrams: Well, you know, as I said, I've watched you for a really long time. And I've watched you through a career that you had before becoming an entrepreneur. You are the classic, put both feet into the sun and go all in on a dream. But you took an atypical route to becoming an entrepreneur. And specifically in the beauty and wellness category, for me, again, I've known you for a while, that felt like it kind of came out of nowhere. But it really didn't. Like that's something that you had some significant professional history in from one way or another. And I'm interested, like, what is your form of career in business development? And I believe you were in advertisement and media and like all sorts of different niches, sales background and kind of just a really cool formula that enabled you to have the confidence to bootstrap a brand. And I wanna know a little bit about what that formula looks like.

Sarah: You are absolutely correct. My roles prior to Blossom allowed me to develop into having the faith that I can, or I guess the trust that I can do this. You know, you're young, you're always like, oh, there's something else that's in the way, maybe it's not the right time. And then going through all of these different roles and succeeding at them and then still not feeling fulfilled is really what kickstarted me being like, enough is enough, I'm doing this and I'm doing this now. Like I do not have any other time to do this. I'm still young enough that if I make a bunch of mistakes and I don't make money for the first few years, which I don't. It'll be okay. We're in a really good position to financially do this because of how successful I was in those roles, right? I was able to save a ton of money and then I put every single dollar, which, you know, as I was telling you earlier, I have quite the story of rags to riches, if you will. But, you know, I put I saved every single dollar and then I put all of that into the business and that allowed me to, you know, bootstrap. for quite a few years before having to start going at family and friends round and running out of money. So, but yeah, it also allowed me to develop the network that I needed in order to start this. We are about 99% digital. We are expanding this year into brick and mortar and working on retail deals and whatnot, but it had our... You know, bread and butter is D to C. We know ads. I built the network that I was able to utilize different people in different places that allowed me to access their knowledge without me having to have known the knowledge in the first place. So you mentioned beauty and you know, jumping into that market. I knew nothing about it, but I knew online advertising, right? I knew who I needed to talk to. create this product. And so I did that. I just started where I didn't know. And I went to the people that did know and, you know, learn from others. And then over the years, I started learning, oh my gosh, the amount of knowledge come into and acquired is just been insane. But, you know, back then it was, it was terrifying. But if you have that network, don't be afraid to ask them for help. They're more than willing to help, especially because they've been in that position too. And they love passing it forward. Just as I Adore adore passing it forward on myself. I help people that are in different, you know Unless lesser positions than me that are just starting out constantly and it's my favorite because I know the struggles, right? I know how shitty it feels And you feel lost 110% of the time and so It's really important to have that support system or at least somebody that you can turn to for questions

Justin Abrams: What I find really interesting about where the origin was for this particular brand, it's not curious to me at all that you found your way to entrepreneurship. You know, I'm very much of the same design as you. You know, I'm a multi-generational entrepreneur. It was a matter of what was I going to be going into business for and when. So to me, what I find really interesting is that your product initially was created as a solution to a problem that you were experiencing yourself, which is That's the ultimate origin, whether we're building software, whether you're building a D to C brand, whether you're going to build a financial institution, that you're ultimately scratching a problem, your own itch, so to speak, that you've experienced. And I'd like to dig into just a little bit, not about the problem, but about how does finding a solution to something that you experience lend itself to creating a business? Because I think that falls on people constantly and the entrepreneurial mind either kicks in or it doesn't. And for you, it kicked in on overdrive. So how did having a problem, finding a solution to have your own proprietary solution turn into a business for you?

Sarah: Um, so I'm going to start this off by saying I made a massive mistake and everybody should learn from my mistake. Whoever's listening to this. Um, because I actually started the business as a specific problem that I didn't have and I didn't know much about it, but somebody had told me this is a. Unsaturated niche. You should jump into it. Ironically, it was way too saturated and it was a horrible idea, but all of that to say, um, until we pivoted. to being a dry, chronic dry skin company, we were not doing well because of exactly what you said. Until I realized I can't talk to this problem, I don't have this problem eczema, which is what we were trying to do. I don't have that, but I have horribly dry skin from top to bottom, excuse me, top to bottom my entire life. Like I've dealt with that and I've, you know, and so pivoting to being. focused on that is what allowed us to catapult into what we are today. Because I learned from that mistake and I'm like, why am I trying to fix something that I don't even know how to fix? Let me fix something that I do know how to fix. And so I did that and that was just like, and it's really helped us.

Justin Abrams: It's age old advice. I'm sure that folks have given it to you. It sounds like that's exactly what happened to you, which is the concept of niching down, right? Like sometimes businesses start a little bit too general. Even mature businesses are a bit too general. You know, like what do you actually focus on is the core mission. And what better way than to speak the language of a problem that you experience every day? You're your own spokesperson, you're your own advertiser. And to me it does... It's naturally in our world for software too. Most of the time folks are coming out to be a generalist solution or they think that they're taking a specific problem, but they forget about the niche and they forget about targeting other folks that have the exact same problem or other businesses that have the exact same problem. And you worry because is the niche big enough to make a market, you know, is the niche going to be fruitful enough? How do I reach everybody in that niche? Those are implementation details, right? Like If you have the problem, chances are there is somebody else out there on earth that also has the problem that didn't make the business and is willing to buy the product. So I find it interesting and I'd love to take your perspective on the topic of niching because I think that you've done a really nice job of identifying, you know, a specific cohort or specific problem that you look to solve.

Sarah: Yeah, that's a really good point, especially as a DTC company. So what we found is that when we can speak to our audience, and here's a little tidbit for everybody trying to run some Facebook ads there. Facebook ads work the best when you're talking directly to a person. If you're telling them, I know you have this problem and I've got a solution to that problem, they are going to click on that ad. because they're saying, oh, wow, this person, this company is talking directly to me. They offer exactly what I'm looking for. I'm in immense pain. I've been dealing with this forever. Let me click on it and then purchase, right? And what we were finding in our research is that being a general skincare company, A is really hard because you're trying, you have to make a billion different products for all different types of people. And you need to know how to make those products for every different skin type, right? And so... If you don't know about that, you're in a really big pickle. But secondly to that, if you're trying to market on Facebook, which is you're fighting against thousands of other brands and they're just scrolling and scrolling. Same thing for Instagram, of course, but hand in hand. But when you're fighting for that space, and you're saying, hey, I've got another face cream and you know, it's great. And it's going to, if you have oil, it's going to, I've got one for you. If you got dry, it's going to get one for you. That's not emotional, right? That's not speaking emotionally to that person and saying, they're just going to scroll right past it because nobody like they've seen a thousands. Excuse me. They've they've seen thousands of these. in a week's time, all trying to sell you another skincare product that all does the same thing with one minor change, you know, in the ingredient statement or whatever. But realistically, like they don't need another one because they are not giving you any sort of relief. And so when we realize that our market share was in the relief space specifically for people with chronic dry and irritated skin, it allowed us to niche down, but also stay broad enough that we can hit, you know, once we run out of targeting for that niche on Facebook, you need to start expanding. And so, this allowed us to continue to slightly open up that pool of people that we're marketing to and still convert because it became like, oh, do you have dry skin? Do you have eczema? Do you have psoriasis? Do you have dermatitis? It all stems from the same issue. It's an anti-inflammatory, it's an autoimmune disease, but it also stems from inflammation and irritated and itchy skin. And so if you Fix that, you're kind of fixing all of these other things. And so that's what we did as a company. And it works, at least for now.

Justin Abrams: At least for now. You know, I'm just so inspired and kind of enamored by the entrepreneurial spirit in general. And you embody the entrepreneurial spirit. And what I really would love to kind of reveal is it's not so glamorous. You know, like all of us, I have war stories too, made a million, spent a million in the same year. You know, like we have a drive it into the sun story. And I know you do too. And I want to tap a little bit into, you know, everything, everything seems like it always works out and it really does for the actual entrepreneur that always sees it through, is willing to pivot, and is willing to burn it all down and rebuild it. And I think, you know, from the trajectory of knowing you for quite some time, we're kind of into a new chapter, a new chapter of some stability, of some focus, of recognition. But it wasn't like that always. It wasn't like that for cause of a kind either always. And I'd like to see if you're willing to open up and tell us a little bit about some of the war stories that you've gone through, during your bootstrap experience.

Sarah: I would love to. Oh,

Justin Abrams: It's cathartic. Get it out.

Sarah: dude, it's my favorite thing to talk about because all of these entrepreneurs or these business, you know, business owners and these successful businesses, they only ever talk about the good times and how, oh, all of a sudden they're just, you know, they're doing great. First of all, we are a seven figure business and we are still losing money every month because it is very expensive to purchase advertising. It's the name of the game. And so You know, it always comes down to cash is king. And so you were always going to be running out of money. So make sure you have somewhere to go to figure out how to get more money. It's as simple as that. But okay, so I truly have that, you know, starred on the brink of fail about to be out of the game. I was given January, what year did we, this was at... This was me visiting a family and friend and then coming to your house afterwards and then pretty much telling you how horrible of a situation I was in. We were sitting in your kitchen table and I was saying, you know, this family and friend was like, oh, so just to rewind a little bit, I had put well over six figures into this business. Every dollar I had, I was out of money. It was December 2021. two years ago, one, yeah, wow, two years ago, 2021, literally like new year, so it was about to be 2022. And, or maybe it had already turned, but sorry. This person had said, I will give you this set amount of money and you will be paying me back in interest. So it was a loan. We had lots of legal documentation to build out after this, but, so this was not a handout in any sense of the word. And they said, you either, you take this money, And in the next year, you turn it around and you make this business a viable business, or you need to say, when you run out of this money, you're out. Like you quit. This is done. You have to go find a job. And, you know, thank God. Thank God we were able to make it work. And we found, you know, we found the right people and we were able to afford, you know, certain partners and whatnot that we couldn't because of that money. Thank God. But. All of that to say, like, we had one last chance to make it work and we, I wasn't giving up. I was like, I believe in this business so much. I believe in myself, even though I was still so young at the time and I just didn't even know what that meant. But I said, I'm not giving up. And within like three months of getting that money and hiring some people and me finding my way and getting that like reverberated, like sense of hope and faith in myself. Because you know, you'll break like it's really hard and everybody wants to break you down and tell you that you're a failure and that you don't you don't have what it takes and God knows I heard it left and right and you know who also breaks you down Can I can I curse on you?

Justin Abrams: Sure.

Sarah: Fucking agencies not you but like media buying agencies. Oh my god. They broke me like I was I was trying so hard to fight the good fight and be like, no, I've shown, we've shown that there's something here. And now, you know, iOS change, the 14 happened, and then we had to use multiple agencies that were just over-promising. And then they, they had the audacity to tell me that it was my product that was too expensive. And they, but they weren't showing value in the ads and you know, the whole game of like, oh, the owner of the company sells you on it and then hands it off to a junior media buyer, even though we were spending, you know, $7,000 a month with them just to pay their fees was freaking ridiculous. So they made me start over the course of eight months, leading up to that conversation with the friends and family, they made me feel like start doubting myself. They made me feel like shit. They made me feel like, do I have what it takes? Do I have a viable business? Do people really like this? Even though we had hundreds of positive, amazing reviews by then, it was still like those don't let. agencies that don't know what they're doing and that are over promising and under delivering, break you down and tell you that your brand is the fault here. It is them and they are at fault and they don't have what it takes and they're just taking your money and just practically robbing you. So that's what I have to say to that because as soon as we turned it around, I had this Oh my God, I do have this. I know what I'm doing. I can speak on the brand. I can sell this. And we became a six-figure business. I started, excuse me, a seven-figure business practically overnight. It was, it was a wild experience, but all of that to say, like, don't let others, you know, break you, break you down where you stop believing in yourself enough to, to get this business going, because it'll take a few years to get it going. Right. It's not an overnight thing. Businesses don't just like miraculously work unless you go viral on TikTok. But then even then. three days later, you have to, you're like, okay, well now what? So yeah.

Justin Abrams: And then you spend the rest of your time trying to figure out how to do it again.

Sarah: Exactly. God, that sounds horrible, but yeah.

Justin Abrams: Right. There's something about being a bootstrapper and not just a general entrepreneur. Lots of businesses out there that just burn cash. They don't even focus on profit. They don't, they don't focus on refining. They don't focus on a truly repeatable core offering or, um, you know, developing a community of, of trusted customers. The difference between a bootstrapper and an entrepreneur is a bootstrapper is willing to learn every single role. They're willing to try and learn enough information about everything that has to happen within a business. And then things that they don't excel at, at least make them an educated consumer of what another person, organization, agency, manufacturer, whatever is specialized in. And I think you embody that, right? Like that ultimatum conversation was designed to kick you in the butt

Sarah: Yeah.

Justin Abrams: and to put you in front of the mirror and give you the ultimatum of like, Well, if you burn this money, you're done. As a bootstrapper, that's not an option. I'm going to conserve this money as thoughtfully and wildly as I can. Not that you weren't conservative before, but when you're playing with your own money, that's one thing. When you're playing with somebody else's money, whether they're a friend, family, institution, whatever it is, it no longer becomes a joke. And if the agreement is based on either matching revenue or profitability or accounts receivable or something that demonstrates that the business is viable. You would not mess around with somebody else's experience here. And I think that is a big delineation. A bootstrapper can become an entrepreneur, but a classic entrepreneur is not necessarily a bootstrapper. Am I right?

Sarah: Oh my God, you're so spot on. I am the most frugal person ever. I watch every dollar and we make educated decisions on everything. But I do wanna say, I say that while also testing everything but I jump ship as soon as I see it's not working because we cannot waste money on anything. So we're all about testing and then as soon as we see whether it works or not, we're out. And I think that has allowed us to... Extinct state extremely lean while also finding new channels and you know different markets that we can tap into But yeah, no my My family and friends who now invest in the business when we need it, you know in the form of alone Everything's we're in so much debt so much that but But he always laughs he's like Sarah you're asking you need to ask for more money So that this last like longer because I'm tired of you like asking for too little because you're so scared of asking for money. And I'm like, I know, but I'm just trying to like, get us through the next three months. And so he was, he was almost like, you're too frugal and you can go spend some more money and just go have some play money to like see what sticks. And so it kind of put that into perspective for me as well. Cause I'm like, Oh my God, am I that bad where I'm like, I'm watching every single dollar where it's being spent being so stressed over it. you know, always trying to get to that point of losing less money. But at the end of the day, we're so lean already that I don't even have anywhere to cut unless we just cut advertising costs. So it's a tough battle to fight.

Justin Abrams: And that's a slippery slope, right? Like good and bad businesses. So for example, Cause of a Kind does not spend any money in advertisement, for better or for worse. It's a slippery slope. It can be a wonderful thing for the business, but then you have to maintain that, right? And that simply becomes a burden on a business and it's a love-hate relationship. And it was one area where a fully organic referral-based business. And it was one area where we just did not want to invest precious cash. Now in the future, of course, like as you hit exponential growth and like, we try to get to new milestones, it's inevitable that we'll have to strategically start thinking about, um, paid advertisement, paid media, paid placement, PR, things like that, that just require cash. Um, but I'm your, your career. is in this skill set. Your core competency as an entrepreneur is in media marketing, advertisement, and distribution of that material, whether it be display, whether it be physical, whether it be print, whatever it is, that's your core competency. To play into that is, it's not really an option. That is how you know that you're able to achieve your numbers and obtain your success. That's your hedge. For me, that's like no man's land. And I'm going to pivot into your... you may not consider yourself to be a creative technologist, but look how much technology is built into I mean, I'm sure not only from the website, you're an e-commerce experience direct to consumer. That has a whole solution set that's built into it. We're talking about all sorts of ad placement platforms. We're talking about what I would assume is financial platforms. Maybe it's a QuickBooks or some other type of proprietary financial model. I'm sure it's spreadsheet heavy. I'm sure there's email and contact lists. And I want to talk about this is a technology podcast. I'd like to talk a little bit about how technology is at the epicenter of your business. And regardless of the product that you sell, technology is used to create the formula, to create the packaging, to create the fulfillment and distribution of that, to create your retention program across your customers. So I could riff on it all day, but I know that you have a sweet spot in a core collection of technology that drives your business. I'd love to hear a little bit about how a beauty brand D to C is leveraging technology in the space.

Sarah: Yeah, I mean you can attest to this with the brands that you're building up from the ground, right? So as I was thinking about this question, I started writing all of the ones that we use religiously. If we cut these off, we would lose money, no doubt about it. And

Justin Abrams: Perfect.

Sarah: it started growing. And I was like, oh my gosh, we use a lot of different software. It's kind of ridiculous. Just on this list, I have one, two, three, four, five, six. seven, eight, nine, 10 different softwares that I don't plan on canceling anytime soon. And they take my money. And so that should say something.

Justin Abrams: I take that as well.

Sarah: Well, but all of that to say, I mean, you're absolutely correct. We are, I almost feel like we've become a technology company even though we're selling, you know, CPG goods and products. So it's pivotal. I think... What I would say is though, as you're starting out, really make sure you are using only the ones that you truly need, because you can go down these rabbit holes and just start spending an exorbitant amount of money on all of these different apps and all of these bells and whistles that you definitely don't need in the initial stages of a business when you're just starting out. We only brought on, one, two. three, maybe five out of the 10 that we use this year after a few years of running, you know, just straightforwardly. So until you're at a certain point or a certain stage of your business, you just don't need a lot of these things because you're not driving enough traffic to the site to make it worthwhile. Or, you know, our email and SMS platform, we use a very expensive one. You don't need to use an expensive one now, but because for us, it's so important to our revenue drivers, we use the ones that have the most functionality, the most capabilities in terms of how we can remarket in different ways and all the different, really all the bells and whistles. And so I think just being aware of what you're using from the get is also as important as finding the next best thing to catapult your business.

Justin Abrams: Again, you keep circling back to the bootstrapper mentality because bootstrappers take a minimum viable product approach and you're talking minimum viable services approach. Like your minimum viable product. I remember you started with one product and it wasn't the most beautiful label. It's not what it was today. Maybe the package itself has changed. The whole idea of testing, failing fast, choosing the minimum technology set that's going to allow you to get the pulse of whether this business is viable. You know, to go all the way down and purchase, let's say, you know, a lofty email and text message software, and you don't even have a list of folks yet to send those emails or texts to is a silly decision to make in a bootstrapping phase. Right. The goal of the bootstrap is grow the list. The email is coming. Who wants a text message alert? Just catch a pulse from customers that can be like part of your review process as you're trying to get feedback from them. But. I love you always are bringing back to your bootstrap mentality, whether you're aware of it or not, but it truly is a minimum viable, super conservative approach to decision-making. And as you're saying, you've adopted technology just in this year out of need. You have, let's say, suffered or have succeeded without these, but now they give you a 10x return because of their capability and your maturation through growing your business has naturally taken you to this point. So I really like the idea of taking a minimum viable approach to the addition of technology or the creation of technology because some folks just like to build stuff for brides early.

Sarah: Yeah, no, you're absolutely right. And I don't realize I'm doing it, but I guess it's so ingrained, as you said, right? Cause when you start off with your own money, it really changes everything.

Justin Abrams: That's right. It does. And you know, starting off with your own money is one thing, but I think you also started off with some really core values and a core mission statement that I've known is about you for quite some time before you even built this business, something that you were always talking about and in New York City is prevalent. You can go one way or the other with core values or the other. And I know it's something that has always been important to you. But as we take a look at blossom essentials. There are some very visible core values and to riff on some of them, you'll go way deeper. You know, things from cruelty-free, no artificial scents or flavoring. We're claiming natural. We're claiming a whole bunch of different things that are truly core values and separate us from other products that might be in the market. I'm interested as to why, A, that was important to you to make that part of the mission and brand. And how does that differentiate you from either competition or from other products that might be in the space that are making similar claims that might be legitimate and what separates Blossom Essentials from the pack.

Sarah: Yeah, so those concepts that you mentioned, cruelty-free or no artificial fragrances, those are just like the bare minimum that we absolutely follow. Like clean beauty standards are really important to us because nobody should be putting toxic chemicals into their bodies. But what really is important to me with Blossom is that we're not just, as I mentioned, we're not just another skincare company. And what a lot of skincare companies do is tell you that if you use our products, you are going to be more beautiful. You are going to be more luminous. You know, what we're trying to do as a brand is allow people to unlock their confidence from within and feel beautiful just by being themselves. We're not a makeup company. We're not trying to fix your bags or, you know, fix your wrinkles. We're not, you know, making you feel less than. We are saying we are going to allow you to remove that discomfort that you've been dealing with your entire life probably So that you can blossom into your best self and feel the most confident in your own skin And that was really important to me because I don't wear makeup. I don't um, I don't use a whole skincare routine I actually just only use my products but um, I created products that um, I Need right? Um, and then I say, okay, do I feel beautiful just being myself? because my products have removed all of the dry patches. I'm actually dealing with this really horrible dry breakout right now that I'm currently using my products on. But I feel self-conscious about it, because I feel it, and I feel it both externally and internally, because that's all I can think about. And so if you eliminate those problems on the outside, then you're removing those thoughts from the inside. And then it allows you to just. feel your most self-confident when you're walking down the street or you know you have a little extra oomph in your step and so those are things that are far more important to me than just being a beauty brand you know offering a product that's going to remove your outer looks.

Justin Abrams: I'd really like to know, you know, the product exists in a specialized niche, but I'd like to know what your goals are for the brand. You know, every founder has a, has a ultimate vision. Some are grandiose and radical. Some are really, you know, humble. And I'd love to know you could be as radical and grandiose as you would like. For me, I'd love, I'd love to put software in space, me and my partner say. So whether that happens or not. Just the goal, but I'd love to hear like, what is the goal for Sarah? It could also be the goal for Blossom, but you know, you as a founder, this might be the start of your journey, and where do you see yourself as a contributor 20 years down the line with hopefully successful business behind you, and a whole network that you've created, and a whole bunch of success stories that are related to the business, but mostly as you as an entrepreneur and a mentor, and what are some of the things that you're truly hopeful for during and after your career? as a business owner.

Sarah: Yeah, so as an entrepreneur, obviously I want a successful exit. Um, but I also want to make sure that our core values stay, um, prevalent when it comes to selling our business. Um, because, you know, I really did start blossom from nothing and it means the world to me and the products as, because I personally use them. The last thing I want to do is have to sell this and then they start making products that I don't want to use. Right. That's the last thing I want to do. So I think, um, making sure that whoever I sell it to commits to keeping it the way it is, even as we expand and grow. We do, while I'm currently in the role, we do have some pretty lengthy growth goals. So all of that to say we need a lot more money. So we plan to fundraise at the end of the year. We did just... get into this really prestigious accelerator program that will allow us to prepare for a proper fundraise. So we're hoping that we'll kickstart something really big and introduce us to the right investors early 2024. So fingers crossed that all goes well and we can raise a few mill to get us to that 10 million goal that we're looking for. But that's all to say within the current moment. But. post selling, I really want to just continue to see the journey. You just don't really know where life is gonna take you. And I'm trying to just kind of stay in the moment and see if I can build this before I start focusing on what other businesses should I build? Because I think that a lot of people have that issue, right? They get shiny object syndrome and they're like, oh, let me just dabble in this while I'm still focused on the business. It'll be fine, but it's not fine. Focus on your business. grow it, sell it, or do whatever you want, and then move on and do something else. Because once you start distracting yourself, you're never gonna be successful.

Justin Abrams: That's all really good advice and I hope all of your goals come true. They are all achievable. There are blueprints for this model. I'm thrilled to hear that you're part of this accelerator program. You were telling me about it a little bit earlier. And the dividends that you'll get from that experience are going to pay off over years to come and will be part of your mentorship as you pass it down to other entrepreneurs and folks that you're mentoring and people that come to you for advice. I'm already thinking about some folks that I'm going to introduce you that you'll know that you'll actually already know. You know, this is we're rounding third base here on our way to home. And I want to give you an opportunity to really just plug the brand. plug your experience. How can people get involved? I'm sure that there are people that are gonna listen to this podcast that have a very similar problem that Blossom solves. And I wanna hear some of the initiatives that you're really proud of and some of the things that you would love for the community to rally around for Blossom and for Sarah.

Sarah: Yeah, well, I always love a good plug.

Justin Abrams: Yeah.

Sarah: Our website is, T-R-Y. You can also follow us on Instagram, try underscore Blossom. Some of the upcoming initiatives that I'm really excited about are we're going to be in Showfields in November, which is very exciting. That'll be in the DC store specifically. So if you're ever in the area, you should definitely check us out there. And then we are working on some really exciting retail opportunities that I'm hoping will pan out early next year. So fingers crossed on that. But we actually went through a rebrand back in last December. And so we are finalizing our product boxes right now. Actually, they're already done. They're on our way to us. And it is a really exciting moment for us because we I think this will really elevate the look even further from I don't know if you've seen the new packaging, though. But this is this is our new one.

Justin Abrams: It's beautiful. See how far you've come from your original packaging.

Sarah: Right?

Sarah: Pretty wild.

Justin Abrams: I remember.

Justin Abrams: Wow.

Sarah: So yeah, and we have a lot of new products being launched in the next month. Actually, three new ones in the next month in addition to some older ones. So it's very, very exciting. So much movement. Tons of things to do, but all worth it. So yeah.

Justin Abrams: All worth it.

Justin Abrams: Well, Sarah, I appreciate you very much over a very long period of time. And I can't thank you enough for participating on Strictly From Nowhere and sharing your founder story and your dreams and your goals and your troubles and trials. It all is the encapsulating definition of a bootstrapped entrepreneur. And I think your founder story for other founders is inspiring and gives other aspiring entrepreneurs a formula to follow because there really isn't a cookie cutter. It's, it's, you kind of have to see yourself in somebody else to know that it's possible and everybody has an independent journey, but all kind of have like the core same spirit. And I think that you embody that incredibly well today. So I thank you for coming onto the show and giving us everything that you've given us.

Sarah: Thank you so much for having me. And everybody remember, normalize feeling shitty because you will feel shitty more than you will feel good. But the good times are way worth it. They will feel excellent.

Justin Abrams: Thanks, Sarah, and thanks for joining Strictly From Nowhere.

For the full episode, find us on Strictly From Nowhere