This Founder Turned Her Love Of Cooking Into A Clean Beauty Brand
Are you stuck in a "stay small" mindset? What if you took your business to the next level? As part of our collaboration with Office Depot, we're sharing the Selfmade story of Cecile's Bath and Body founder Jackie Granchamps, who learned that a small shift in mindset could set her on a bigger path.
B + C: How did you know Cecile's Bath and Body was your business to start?
Cecile's was born out of my love for cooking. I would make all these elaborate meals but I just couldn't eat that much. I was looking for a hobby and I thought about soap making. I had been laid off from a marketing job and I was so worried and unsure about what I was going to do. A friend of mine mentioned making something, so I thought about it. I looked around my kitchen and I had two big boxes of Morton's kosher salt, fresh herbs, limes, ginger. I peeled the rind off a tangerine and took some fresh thyme and salt and put it in my Magic Bullet and what came out was the fluffiest, most fragrant incredible concoction. I ended up making six different types for acne, including one that was made with rosemary and tea tree. I gave them out and my family really loved them. That was the beginning of the obsession. Then over the years I have taken soap and beauty-making classes and business classes.
B + C: Did you always know this would be your entrepreneurial path?
My parents were entrepreneurs so I really saw the ups and downs of business. My master's degree is in marketing strategy and entrepreneurship so I had the formal education and I knew I was going into marketing. It was good to have the entrepreneurial mindset but it wasn't really what I wanted to do. I've always worked in corporate marketing, but it was never really satisfying because if you switch jobs all the work you do stays behind, all the creativity and love you put into it doesn't belong to you. After the financial crash in 2009, I got laid off and I was devastated. Cecile's really was the place where I could express my creativity and really be self-directed. I really wanted a place where I could make all of the decisions and really express myself. The way it evolved into a business was that I was super happy whenever I was making products, and I realized I had to really start selling them because I was spending so much money to make them.
B + C: What was your most valuable takeaway from Selfmade?
I can't even say enough good things about Selfmade. I have told so many people about it. My cousin took the course after me as did one of my business besties. I think that the experience created a complete energetic and mindset shift for me. I had been content with growing very slowly over the years and I'd only work seasonally, but Selfmade made me realize that this could actually be something bigger. I also had an entrepreneurial education. I knew about VC funding and all that, but I never believed that it was possible for ME. There were so many barriers — access to capital, being a person of color — the system is set up for you to not gain entry, it just is.
Coupled with the political climate happening now it was just the perfect time to get rid of those old attitudes and say ok, actually no, I can do this, I have a chance now. That was the biggest thing. Selfmade made me believe it was possible for ME.
B + C: What's the biggest obstacle you face as a small business owner?
I would say money and mindset. Because I work in marketing, the bulk of everything that is expensive for the business I am doing myself. I'm writing the copy, designing products, designing the labels and the collateral and all of these things that I would have to pay someone else to do.
Lack of money is a persistent problem for every entrepreneur I think, especially if you are bootstrapping. That's where the mindset piece comes in — now I am looking at the business differently. Selfmade made me rethink my business from A to Z. What was my idea, what was I selling, how was it valuable? It made me think about each of these things and reshape the business.
B + C: Who is your role model in the entrepreneurial space?
Besides Brit? I was introduced to so many amazing women in Selfmade and I was never really a person who had idols growing up. I really just wanted to be myself. Selfmade allowed me to feel like myself. But there were a lot of women I admire in the program, especially Randi Zuckerberg, Alexa von Tobel and Rebecca Minkoff. Rebecca Minkoff is really a scrappy New Yorker, and she told us about how she started selling on the street. That to me is so inspiring because I can identify with it. It's a classic New York story. Also, I appreciate and admire Brit because she just has so much spirit and so much belief in herself that is contagious. It made me feel like 'I can do this.'
B + C: What's one strategy that's helped you start your business?
I had a couple strategies that helped me start this business. One of them was the way that I bootstrapped. I worked a lot of temporary jobs, so I would work for nine months and then be off for three months to work on the business. Another strategy is that I really used the market to test new products out and get customer feedback. I had a custom blend bar where I put out many ingredients for people to choose from. Many people were trying to recreate a scent to recreate memories. I had a lot of people burst into tears after the scent was done — you could see the emotion overcome them when we got the scent right. One woman was from Australia and she hadn't been home for a long time, and together we created a scent that she said smelled exactly like her parents' backyard from when she was a kid.
A lot of the products I carry now were actually born out of custom jobs that I did for people at the market once and really liked.
B + C: What's one piece of advice you would give to female entrepreneurs on the brink of starting?
Whatever it is that you are thinking about doing, do it NOW. Perseverance is required. You have to realize that the people around you will not all support what you do. Sometimes the people you expect to support you the most will be the most negative, because if you change, who are they? Being a business owner you have to have an internal drive. You have to feel really deep down that you can keep going. Entrepreneurship is a long game. It is only now that I'm really getting traction and I'm 6 years down the line. I was just chosen for a feature by TMobile and will be in a short documentary commercial that will be coming out soon, but it is only now that I am finally starting to get that traction. Even though we celebrate all these people who are so hugely successful and so young, that is a huge exception.
B + C: What's one female-owned business that you absolutely love and support?
I love my Selfmade friend Pia's business. She makes clothing for apple-shaped bodies. I have handmade masks from her. They are super beautiful and hand-embroidered. I wore them through New York and so many people stopped me to ask about it that I had to stop wearing it so much.
B + C: How do you stay motivated?
The community of women that I surround myself with really keeps me motivated. That was another benefit of Selfmade. I tend to be an insular person. I've never had a business community. Being by myself was natural, but going through Selfmade I realized that having all these people to bounce ideas off of and work together with in groups was so helpful. I'm part of the alumni network and have kept up with so many of the other women. We are all still in contact constantly, and we're going to be doing collabs together. I feel so lucky that I fell into a group of really supportive people.
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Theresa Gonzalez is a content creator based in San Francisco and the author of Sunday Sews. She's a lover of all things design and spends most of her days momming her little one Matilda.