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Meet METTA GOOD at the Small Biz Bazaar at QuickBooks Connect San Jose 2019

QuickBooks® Connect is your moment to step back from the day-to-day demands of running a business to get the learnings and skills to help blueprint your future. It’s two days of inspirational speakers, small group and one-one-one learnings, and support from some of the savviest experts in the industry. It’s also an opportunity to connect with small business owners like yourself, including the master makers joining our Small Biz Bazaar, where you can discover unique products available for purchase.

We sat down with Nicole Spear of METTA GOOD to learn more her business journey, advice and what she’s looking forward to at this year’s QuickBooks Connect.

Starting your own small business is no easy task, but small business owner Nicole Spear of METTA GOOD is committed to building a sustainable business that gives back to the world. Her passion for caring for the environment, working with her hands, and natural ingredients inspired her to open up shop in 2016 delivering handmade, small batch, artisan lip balms and body care products inspired by love and nature. You can follow METTA GOOD on Facebook and Instagram.

Lisa Francisco: Hi Nicole! Thank you for taking the time to include us in your schedule. It’s exciting to share all the great work that you’re doing as a small business owner, what your journey has been like, and any stories or insights on how you got here. So tell us, what is METTA GOOD and how long has it been in business for?

METTA GOOD is a small batch, handmade, 100 percent natural ingredients’ body care product business inspired by love and nature. We use ethically sourced beeswax and premium essential oils, and buy local, organic and fairtrade ingredients when possible. We never use synthetics, parabens, sulfates, fragrances, or anything like that. We don’t test on animals, mostly just on ourselves. We are committed to protecting the environment, promoting healthy body image and providing transparency to our consumers. We’re going into our third year.

That’s exciting. That’s such an interesting line of business to be in. What motivated you to go into this type of business and where did that idea come from?

I grew up in the Central Valley and my dad’s a retired farmer. My parents were always health-conscious in using natural products, so that mindset was already ingrained in taking care of the land. My dad has been a part of Sequoia Riverlands Trust in the Central Valley that conserves agricultural lands. That was my first real job after college – working at that land trust, which turned up the volume on my love for caring for the environment. It was after I had my son, when he was five months old, that I took a lip balm making class to get out of the house. I thought, “This is what I’m going to do.” I’m going to marry all my talents: working with my hands, natural products, plants, herbs, essential oils, and build a natural business based on this.” I love making things, I love cooking, I love smells, and I love travel. All my lip balm scents are inspired from either food or travel, like my Rose Cardamom Lip Balm, which is my most popular product, created from the six months I spent in Bali in college doing an internship with an acupuncturist and performing reiki on patients.

That’s so exciting. So when you first had this idea, how did you test it in the market? Would you just share it with family and friends?

I just started researching recipes and my favorite oils and which ones were better for the lips and skin, and then I started researching ingredients like beeswax and sustainable beeswax from bee-friendly farms. Then I just started handing out the products to friends and saying, “What do you think of this?” And they’re like, “Oh my, I love it!” Then once I got the consistency, which I worked on for two years, I started coming up with the scent combinations.

So it seems like in your story you have to have a lot of patience for wherever the journey goes. What do you think has been the most unexpected part of starting METTA GOOD?

I’d say there’s always a positive and a negative. The positive part has been the incredible maker community that I’ve met. I do lots of craft fairs, and you start seeing some of the same businesses there and everybody is so supportive. The more challenging side is the number of hats you have to wear as a small business owner. There’s also so much business management and organization required to run a successful business that it feels overwhelming often as a parent. Like today, I just realized my son doesn’t have school on Monday and there’s going to be early pickup at 1 pm every day. I’m getting ready for the busiest season yet and I don’t have a lot of time, so that’s challenging.

So, how do you maximize your time? How do you balance between owning your small business to being a mom and everything else?

I’ve learned to say no a lot more, stay focused, and ask for help. I’m just starting to make a ton of product and then when I can’t get it done, I call on my friends and ask them to help me. It’s asking for help and saying no, and that inner dialogue that says, “Do not do this, focus on this.” Blocking out that outer chatter so I can get what I need to get done.

I totally get it! I’m getting my MBA right now and decided to take more units, which means I’m going to school full-time and working full-time. It is a struggle, so I identify with you.

It’s a struggle, but it’s usually temporary. You can’t maintain that level of the pedal to the metal so you have to build in self-care, which is what my business is all about. So I try to tell myself, if this was a friend in my position, what advice would I give them right now? I’d say, “Take a nap, go to bed early, workout and eat well. Otherwise, you’re just not going to be able to maintain this. Then take a vacation.”

Thank you for taking me on the journey of how you started METTA GOOD, but I want to learn about how your business has evolved?

In January, I hired an accountant. That was my, “should’ve done that from the beginning” thing. She’s helping me figure out how I can level up my business even more. That’s what I’m trying to focus on right now.

That’s great. As you think about how you guys are growing, what is the next business goal that you have or milestone that you want to cross?

I have big dreams. I definitely want to be a big key player in the clean-beauty business world and expand my product line and visit places. There’s a place in Ghana that I get my Shea butter from that’s a woman’s co-op. I’d love to visit them and establish business relationships so I’m buying directly from them instead of a middleman. I want to source my ingredients directly from the source, from places that are helping local communities.

I love that. I think it’s important to have those goals and when you do achieve them, share it with others. What’s the one thing that you would love to leave other aspiring business owners with?

I believe every business has a responsibility to be sustainable and to pick an issue or a mission of something that they’re going to help. For example, METTA GOOD donates 1 percent of our profits to environmental nonprofits. Someone else might pick clean water or ending poverty. I think every business has a responsibility to do that and make that be part of your mission from the very beginning.

That’s great! As a business owner reflecting on your journey thus far, what would you say is your biggest failure and how did that set you up for success later on?

My biggest failure was thinking that I needed to know everything to start this business. When I was avoiding some of the numbers, accounting things, it was because I felt I should have known how to do that already. Then, I finally realized that I just need to learn, get help and move forward. I’ve taken finance classes and hired an accountant, so the sooner that a business owner can see that there’s an issue that needs to be solved and just tackle it, the better off it will be.

I’m going to switch gears to QuickBooks Connect. In thinking about your involvement in the Bazaar, what are you most hoping to gain from the event?

More brand awareness. I wish that I was able to participate in more of the classes, but maybe next time. I really want to further my brand and reach a new target audience.

This year’s theme is Own the Future. We talked about your milestones and desire to directly have relationships with other vendors you source from. In thinking about ‘Owning your Future’ how are you preparing your business for its future?

I’m looking to partner with a lot of female founders so we can share knowledge and support each other. I’m going to start applying to these kinds of organizations because I want to level up my professionalism and grow my business.

So how would you define success? Is it money, financial freedom, influence, more time with your family, working on your business, or creative expression?

I would say it’s a balance of all of those because if you have all the money in the world but you have no time to enjoy it, then what’s the point?

I love that. So what’s one fun fact about METTA GOOD? If you have one.

Actually, the fun fact about my business is that my husband designs all my labels. The photos on my site are taken by my friend, Julio Duffoo, who is a photographer. So it’s all in the family/ friend group.

That’s super cool. It goes back to what you said in building a network for yourself as a valuable piece of advice for other entrepreneurs!


Meet Nicole at the Small Biz Bazaar at QuickBooks Connect 2019.

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