O u r  S p o t l i g h t  i s  o n :

-   T h i s  M a n u f a c t u r e r   -

Chandi Plank

Every month we choose a different manufacturer of "all-natural beauty" products.  Our criteria for this position is simple.  It's someone that we feel has contributed to the business in a positive way, and brings wonderful products to the market for your enjoyment and good health. 

 Q  &  A :

 

Welcome to our Spotlight, Chandi.  Please tell us about yourself and how your interest in making all-natural beauty products developed.

     I was born and raised in Alaska and from birth, enjoyed being creative and making usable things. The creative process is what truly gives me joy. As a little girl, I was always coming up with something new to make and show to Mom and Dad. I enjoyed making my own clothes and wearing them to school, sewing quilts, making candles, hand-made paper, crocheted items, etc. I have always had a competitive, goal-oriented nature and if I made something, I wanted it to be a result of my best effort.

     Starting when I was about nine, I developed terribly sensitive, broken-out skin. Not knowing how to “cure” it, I tried every cream, pill and concoction, in hopes to find the “wonder product” that would finally give me beautiful, smooth skin. Never happened. My skin continued to look AWFUL…and make me feel awful.

     Eventually we moved to beautiful Arkansas, where I finished high school and graduated college, with a degree in marketing. During the last few months of college, I discovered mineral makeup and gave it a try. After using several brands and not being satisfied, I did what I always do…I had to make it, rather than buy it. That should be my personal motto: Make, not buy! Well, I developed several formulas and loved them on my skin! My broken-out, irritated, oily skin began to improve for once!! No longer was I slathering on chemical-laden products…these pure products were actually soothing to my skin, while covering the blemishes totally! With the encouragement of my husband, Kyle, I began listing a few of my colors on eBay. The products sold very well. I was in total shock! I had no idea there was such a demand for natural products!! I eventually developed an entire line of mineral makeup, including 17 foundation shades, finishing powders, blushes, bronzers, correctors, concealers, multi-use colors, etc! We soon had several websites developed, including www.mineralbasics.com, www.yesterdaysbasics.com and http://wholesale.mineralbasics.com .

     Over time, local people were finding our websites and getting interested in trying our items, so my husband built a retail store here in Lamar, Arkansas. That also has done well!

     I never dreamed I could use my creative talents to actually create a living for myself. It is very fulfilling. I also enjoy wholesaling our products, since this helps other women to make some extra money for themselves and their families. I am very blessed to be able to do what I love the most in life and actually make a living doing so. Not many people have that opportunity.

     My mother says the creativity in the family jumped generations from my Grandma Middleton to me. My Grandma (and others in her generation) didn’t have much money to spend, and so had to create natural soaps, skincare products, ointments, healing salves, etc, from scratch, in order to make due. These homemade items were simple basics in the olden days. Today these handcrafted items are real treasures. When it is so easy to run to the local discount store and buy a huge pack of soap (filled with chemicals and dyes, of course) for a few dollars, it is heart-warming to know there are a growing number of people who desire old-fashioned, simply natural products and are willing to pay just a little more for the time it takes to create these products. Our name (Mineral Basics) and slogan (where Yesterday’s Basics become Today’s Treasures) try to capture this concept. This business is an expression of who I am and what I love: God, nature, goodness, truth, simplicity, honesty, etc. I feel by drawing closer to nature and its marvelous, simple gifts that I am drawing closer to God. He gave us all the tools we need to survive and heal our own bodies. We simply need to reach out, discover what nature holds for us, and apply it in our lives. The benefits of doing so are absolutely astounding.

What other products, besides mineral cosmetics do you make?

     Due to overwhelming customer requests, we have just begun creating our line of natural skincare. The response has been far better than we could have dreamed, so we have a whole line of natural creams, lotions, oils and ointments in production.

     A few years ago, my sister began investigating healthy food and products and got me interested in it as well. I was incredibly surprised to find out how horrible and full of chemicals most store-bought food was…not to mention all the preservatives, synthetic chemicals and dyes they stuff into every cosmetic, skincare item, toothpaste, hair product, room spray, cleaner, etc! Even so-called “natural” products are usually NOT natural at all. Sometimes a company will put in a SYNTHETIC fragrance, but since it smells like a natural scent (ex. Strawberries), they then call it a “natural room spray!”

     It can be very difficult to find reasonably-priced healthy items, so I have been trying to create more and more products to serve the needs of our various customers. I feel good knowing I am selling natural products that truly improve people’s lives. My goal in this business is not just to make women beautiful, but since I realized women are going to use makeup and skincare no matter what, I simply desire to give them healthy options.

 

Please tell us more about your retail store.

     As our business grew, we soon realized a desperate need for a larger warehouse to create, store and ship our products. We had begun working out of our home, and then moved into a small workshop behind our house. We had recently acquired 5 acres of property near the interstate, so my husband went to work building our new warehouse/store as I continued to run the online business from our small workshop. It was a tremendous amount of work!! I had no idea the amount of time or money involved in building a warehouse! Since we had several local people wanting to purchase our products directly from us, we decided to go ahead and offer our goods for sale from the warehouse as well. Thus, the “warehouse” became a store!

     As the building came together, we began looking for display cases and decorations to fill our store. It was a very VERY busy time for us, but it was all worth it!

     The actual store is a cream-colored tin metal building, with chocolate brown trim on the outside. We had a custom sign made with our name and slogan on it and we put that on the front of the store. We tried to create a nostalgic feel when people pull down into the parking lot. The store is surrounded by trees and is nestled in a small valley off the main highway. The inside is warm and cozy. We had spray insulation applied to the walls, which looks like warm gray, fuzzy carpet!! We liked the look, so we left it and did not apply walls. The whole look is really different! Every person that walks in is amazed at the “cozy” feel! We have only been open for about 2 months, but the response has been far better than expected! We are located in a quiet, rural area, and were unsure if there would be a strong demand for our line of products! We were pleasantly surprised! I’ve been very surprised at how many people have never heard of mineral makeup or at least never tried it. Everyone that does try it loves it! Another surprise is how well the new skincare line has done. I introduced several new products, including our new “Orange Blossom Facial Toner/ Makeup Setter” and “Smooth and Soften Natural Restorative Facial/Body Cream .” The response has literally overwhelmed me. I had no idea truly natural products were in such demand!


     When people walk in, wondering what I sell, I inform them that all our products are completely natural and free of preservatives, dyes, synthetic chemicals, etc. They always look very interested and pleased! There seems to be a growing number of people who desire natural skincare products. I usually have to demonstrate how to apply our mineral makeup and other skincare items. People are always in SHOCK at how well the minerals cover, while still looking natural. After sniffing and testing the skincare, most people cannot resist purchasing at least several items!

     I am usually in the store working 7 days a week, from about 8 or 9 in the morning to 5 or later in the evening. Sometimes during busy periods I have to stay at the store until 9 at night trying to get caught up! I do try to take a day off at least once every two or three weeks to rest my mind and recuperate from the daily stresses of owning a business. I do most of the day-to-day work myself, from mixing the minerals and skincare, to packaging them, to shipping them, to answering emails, listing eBay items, adding new products to the website, etc. Occasionally family members help out when things are extremely busy. The only real downside to having an actual store is having to set up “official hours.” When I worked at home, I could set my own work schedule and take any day off that I pleased! Now with a store, I must work certain days, including the weekends. It is more difficult to take a day off, since that means lost sales. With internet sales, the orders keep coming, even if I am not working that day. With a physical store, we only get customers if we are open!

     On the whole, though, I am very pleased with our new little store and am SO glad we decided to build it!

    

What advice do you have for those that are just getting started in the all-natural beauty business? and... What would you have done differently if you could start over?

     For anyone just starting out in the natural beauty business, I would suggest you take time and research before jumping into any new products or business ventures. It can be very exciting to jump right into business, but it is crucial that you take the time to research and locate high-quality ingredients (if you are creating your own formulas) or products (if you are purchasing pre-made bases). Also do not be tempted to drift away from the natural products. There are many inexpensive, unhealthy alternatives to natural beauty products and you could probably make good money selling them. But you have to consider….Do you really want to sell unhealthy, chemical-loaded products just to make a dollar? I personally don’t. Great satisfaction comes from creating and selling good, clean products that are helping people of all ages actually improve their health while looking more beautiful.

     Make sure you set your business goals and stick to them. Sort out your marketing perspective and stick to that as well. Are you going to sell your products cheaper than most (be a cost-leader?) or will you choose to sell “elite” products and charge a higher price (differentiate your products)? I believe it is terribly important to learn a little about marketing, no matter which business you are going into. You should never lie or twist the truth about your products, but you do need to display an excitement for each item. YOU know your products are healthy and wonderful…but you must convince the consumer of that! You must convince them that your products are SO WONDERFUL and IRRESTIBLE that they should spend their hard earned money on them. Most importantly here… be honest.

     Another important tool is to make sure your customer service is OUTSTANDING! Never hesitate to go the extra mile for a customer. Wouldn’t you want a company to do this for you? Yes. So do it for your customers. If a package gets lost or damaged in the mail, I will usually send out a replacement, free of charge. This rarely happens, but when it does, the customer is usually so overjoyed that they become a life-time customer!

     If I could start over, the main thing I would do different from the start is to NOT WORRY SO MUCH! One week sales would be down, and I would worry. The next week sales would be up, and I would worry how I was going to get them all shipped! Then there would be a problem with the website or with eBay or with my e-mail…there is always something happening when you own your own business and I wish I had known how to deal with these situations better from the start. Now when something “goes wrong” I just take a deep breath, put on a smile and remind myself that I have been through worse and overcome! The problem almost always mends itself quickly and my worrying was for nothing!

 

You mentioned that your grandmother had her own remedies and beauty treatments. Did she pass any formulations down to you? Did you have any other mentors that helped you to formulate your products?

     My Grandma was in her 80’s when I was in my teens, so I did not get to learn any of her wonderful formulas or remedies, but I have heard stories told by my aunts of the concoctions she used to make! She has a mixture that cured “fits!” I mainly have memories of her making homemade bread and giving me pinches of dough to eat!! I can still remember the smell and how she looked…she had long silvery white hair and always liked to wear floral print, knee-length dresses!

     I haven’t had any specific mentors for formulating my products. I mainly just research ingredients and formulas before attempting them, then try them out on friends and family before selling. If everyone loves the product, then I sell it! I only sell products that I am thrilled with!

 

Do you have any book recommendations on the subject of all-natural beauty care and/or formulating?

    I have enjoyed many books on the subject of natural beauty care! I really love to read! I enjoy going home after a long day of work, sinking into a warm, soothing bath and reading a book! I don’t get to do this often, but I love it! “The Soapmakers Companion" by Susan Miller Cavitch is a comprehensive book on the subject of cold-process soapmaking. This book helped me more than anything when I was learning to make soaps. Another great book, by Lorraine Massey and Deborah Chiel is “Curly Girl ~ The Handbook: A Celebration of Curls: How to cut them, care for them, love them, and set them free.” I have naturally curly hair which demands a LOT of attention. This book provides homemade recipes for taming this unruly hair type and Lorraine gives a lot of advice on how to make the most of what nature gave you.

 

What standards does your company adhere to when making beauty products?

     I insist that all of our products be completely free of synthetics dyes, chemicals, fragrances, etc. I use the highest quality oils I can find in my skincare and am continually researching different ingredients and their properties. Many ingredients sound natural or may have at one point been part of a natural plant or flower, but the processes used to extract the ingredient(s) basically destroy the natural goodness. Not only do I insist on wonderful ingredients, but I choose to use natural processes for making my products as well. For instance, when I make my lip balms and salves I heat the ingredients on the LOWEST heat setting possible…this helps to retain the vitamins and enzymes present in the ingredients, so that they are intact in the final product. For my mineral makeup, I create every color myself and after every batch, I double check for color and texture consistency. Minerals can have a mind of their own sometimes and the formulas must be followed EXACTLY or the color will be different than the last batch. If the color is even slightly off, I don’t sell it. I remake that shade, insuring that it is indeed consistent with previous batches. Consistency in everything is a vital part of business.

 

What would be your dream spa day or treatment?

     That is a difficult question for me to answer since I have never been to a spa in my life and rarely do I get a day just to relax!! If I could relax for an entire day, I would most likely wish to be alone (yes, I am a little hermit…content to be alone most of the time!) with an excellent, detailed herbal book to read. I would be sitting on a warm, calm beach with the wind softly blowing through the palm trees. Sweet flowers would gently lend their fragrances to the wind, as birds peacefully soared above the giggling waves. I would (of course) be imagining all the new skincare creations I could to add to my line. Coming up with new products and seeing how people respond to them is just SO MUCH FUN! Then, as the day grew older, I would soak in a warm Jacuzzi and use as many of my natural beauty products as possible! I would wear my exfoliating, skin clearing mud mask, I would enjoy our new bath salts and floral face/body exfoliate, I would drift several of our new tub teas in the water to release their delicious scents and skin-soothing properties…And the list goes on! I would finish with our Smooth and Soften Restorative Skin Cream, then a splash of our Orange Blossom Toner! It relaxes me just thinking about it!!

 

 

Make sure to visit Chandi's web sites:

MineralBasics.com / YesterdaysBasics.com / Wholesale.MineralBasics.com

 

 

 

If you know of someone, or if you yourself deserve to be in our spotlight, please let us know.  Send us the name of the manufacturer and a brief note telling us why this person or company deserves this position.  Send us an   e-mail at:  comments@allnaturalbeauty.us

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