#MakerShine: Jennifer Waller of Celtic Complexion in Raleigh, North Carolina

One of the best ways for you to be inspired in your business is to learn from the insights and experiences of others. When you see someone else using a business to define success on her own terms, you can't help but want to have a similar experience. Today's featured Indie Business Network member says she has known that she wanted to be “Estee Lauder” back when she was in high school. Her professional career choices, journals, and vision boards have focused in that direction ever since, and today — well, she owns her own skincare company. Introducing Jennifer Waller of Celtic Complexion in Raleigh, North Carolina!

jennifer waller and celtic complexion logo

Jennifer has been a member of IBN since March 2013. She is a walking, talking version of her brand. The red hair, the skin tone, the bright eyes and everything about her oozes self-care, feminine style, and grace. A Celtic woman making Celtic products. Perfect I'd say. Meet Jennifer, and tell me what you think in the comments.

Q1 TELL US ABOUT HOW YOU STARTED CELTIC COMPLEXION

My first job was working for Estee Lauder at age 17, and ever since I read her biography, I knew I wanted to own a cosmetic company one day. Twenty five years later, the dream came true. I had the advantage of working for some of the giants in the industry, and I logged in many years and thousands of miles doing special events, so I learned a lot about the importance of having systems in place to be successful.

I also got to talk to women one-on-one, to find out what they really wanted. This helped a lot when I went into business for myself. I left the industry once learned about ingredients and how they affect the skin and your health as a whole.

Immediately after leaving corporate America, I became an esthetician and then a self-taught handmade skincare product maker. After about ten years of using my products,my family and friends encouraged me to turn my hobby into a real business. I had been writing in spiral notebooks for years about the line I would create one day. I still have those journals, and it's still amazing to me that I am living the dream I created so long ago.

I did a soft launch in October 2010 with 50 units of my anti-aging serum, and then did my own version of a crowd funding campaign to friends and family. It worked, and I sold out of my first batch. After the initial high, I knew I had to get “real customers,” so in February 2011, I wrote a press release and submitted it to the wires. It got picked up by the SF Gate, the online newspaper for the city of San Francisco. A reporter called me to do an interview and I remember trembling while I was talking to her. When the story hit on March 17 (St. Patrick's Day), I was flooded with orders. I did a special, advertising a free sample (they just paid shipping and handling). I knew that once people tried my product, they would reorder, and that's exactly what happened. About a month later, the orders for full sizes came in.

Q2 WHAT ARE YOUR BEST SELLING PRODUCTS?

I am best known for Calming Serum. I get the most testimonials from this product. It's also the first product I created for myself to treat my own skin. It's probably the one product people never run out of.

Celtic Complexion Collection

Q3 WHAT BUSINESS TIP DO YOU WISH SOMEONE ELSE HAD TOLD YOU BEFORE YOU STARTED YOUR BUSINESS?

You'd better LOVE what you do because in times of stress (mostly financial in the beginning), the only thing that will propel you forward is your passion. Even during the most stressful times, when I didn't know if my phone bill was going to be paid, it was better than working for someone else!

Also, be committed to your brand, because you ARE the brand. People will treat you with more respect if you “own it” rather than “dabble in it”. Fake it till you make it, and keep your compass pointing north.

Q4 WHAT INSPIRES YOU?

Beauty inspires me. I love beautiful colors, textures, packaging, lighting, etc. I love ambiance! I get inspired when I see beauty all around me. I welcome beauty into every aspect of my life; my home, my work space, my back yard. I believe beauty sets the mood for my creative process.



Even during the most stressful times, leading my business is better than working for someone else.



Jennifer Waller, Celtic Complexion

Q5 WHAT IS YOUR STUDIO LIKE? WHERE DOES THE “MAKING” MAGIC HAPPEN?

My studio (where we do the business, marketing, packing, and shipping) is a very large “bonus room” in my home. The walls are painted a rich copper patina color. It has hardwood floors and a crystal chandelier in the center of the room. There is a creme colored leather couch (perfect for afternoon naps!). My desk is big and white.

We make the actual products in the kitchen, an open design with a big island in the center, and of course two chandeliers there too! We usually light the fireplace, put on some Frank Sinatra and make an evening of it.

Q6 WHAT SORTS OF THINGS DO YOU LIKE TO DO WHEN YOU'RE NOT WORKING ON YOUR BUSINESS?

When I'm not working, you can find me glamping in my vintage travel trailer in the mountains of North Carolina.

Q7 WHAT INSPIRES YOU TO PRESS FORWARD IN YOUR BUSINESS WHEN THE MOST CHALLENGING TIMES COME YOUR WAY?

I truly believe that I was born to make skincare, it's in my DNA! Believing that keeps me inspired. I also have a sense of commitment to my customers. I have a huge file of testimonials and when times get tough, I just open it up and read them.

Q8 HOW DO YOU MAKE SURE YOU WORK “ON” YOUR BUSINESS AT LEAST AS MUCH AS YOU WORK “IN” YOUR BUSINESS?

I schedule everything. In the beginning, I wore ALL the hats because I had to. I was the formulator, the operations manager, the packing and shipping department, customer service and the marketing director (oh, and don't get me started on the accounting department)! Because I did all that, I didn't do any one thing very well. I do not believe in multi-tasking. I knew from working in the industry that the *most* vital parts of my business were marketing and customer service, so now those are the parts I focus most on.

Lucky for me (or maybe it was because I kept vision boards describing exactly what I wanted), I attracted the most amazing man into my life, one who just happened to be my high school sweetheart. We hadn't seen each other in 30 years, and when he asked me what I did for a living, he said he wasn't surprised because I told him way back in 1985 that I wanted to be Estee Lauder. We got married last month, and he is now my full business partner. As an entrepreneur himself, he brings things to the table that are not my strong points, which enables me to focus on the things I love to do.

Q9 WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT BEING A MEMBER OF THE INDIE BUSINESS NETWORK?

I joined IBN about 9 months before I became an active participant in the organization. I kept telling myself: “I'm too busy to participate,” but when I went on the #IndieCruise this year and I met the most powerful, passionate, nurturing women which have become kindred souls.

IBN is like like having your own cheerleading squad. If that weren't enough, the educational platform is unparalleled. It's like having a personal consultant on speed dial! And that's why I love being a member of the Indie Business Network.


Best and success,

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Question

I love how Jennifer's life set the stage for her business at a very early age, and how her journals and vision boards seem to have contributed to her success. What do you think? Do you vision board? Did you know that you wanted a business wen you were very young?


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About Donna Maria Coles Johnson

Donna Maria is an author, podcaster, attorney, and the founder and CEO of the Indie Business Network, providing affordable product liability insurance and mentoring. Donna Maria teaches Makers and Creative Entrepreneurs how to use technology and community to build a profitable, sustainable business.