Why did you start Butter Love?
The reason that I started this company was because I needed natural products that actually worked for me. The two main ingredients that I found—after going through countless years of buying store-bought lotions and oils—are shea butter and coconut oil. They work well separately, but when they’re together, they’re a powerhouse. And another thing that I noticed was all the ingredients [on store-bought lotions and oils]—I couldn’t read them. I didn’t understand what they were unless I did a deep dive into each product.
All of my products are made with less than 10 ingredients in each product, and the body butters are all made with a base of shea butter, coconut oil and other carrier oils like jojoba oil, rosehip oil, sweet almond oil and grapeseed oil. These carrier oils have so many nutrients, so many benefits for the body, and I knew that they were important to incorporate into my products.
Why did you choose these ingredients for your products?
I have delved into a whole, all-natural holistic way of living myself, and I work with a lot of essential oils, just for aromatherapy purposes and healing purposes. So learning the benefits of what these oils do for the body was definitely what led me to using them in my products and helping to heal people, whether it be with aromatherapy, whether it be with eczema or psoriasis or discoloration of the skin, or any rashes that they have, these essential oils and these carrier oils that I use help to heal their bodies.
What challenges have you faced as an entrepreneur?
I would say that my challenges as an entrepreneur – there’s so many, right? Like just the whole process of starting a business. Like what does that even look like? I started this company six years ago with no business [background], no business education, nothing. I literally Googled and read and researched. It was just some type of fire in me that told me to go with it. And I think that’s the biggest thing. I’ve talked to a lot of people who want to be entrepreneurs and want to start their own company. They don’t know where to start. I think my biggest thing is just starting and keeping that momentum going – grow as you go.
With these challenges, what motivates you to keep going?
Honing in on the core values of Butter Love is really what pushes me, and [those values are to] help the people that suffer from skin elements that I have once suffered from; also to be a example of what running a business looks like, like you can start from the bottom and grow. Like even if you don’t have the support that you think that you need, like you have everything inside yourself to keep going. You have everything inside yourself to build. And I am a prime example of that.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
There’s so many resources here for entrepreneurs; there’s so many programs, there’s so many collectives. I had an accelerator experience [with WEPOWER’s Elevate/Elevar], my first one, which finished up in August, and it was probably one of the best decisions I’ve made as a business owner. I didn’t know how much support I was missing until I actually had that support of someone looking out for me, someone rooting for me. They also offered me business coaching, getting really comfortable with backend things with my business, and learning my systems and automation, because your business is only as good as your systems and automation.
When you’re in this wave of entrepreneurship and you’re building your business, your friends and family members are not probably going to understand how deep it goes. I think it was Oprah who said to surround yourself with the people you want to be like. So creating a tribe of individuals who are either doing things that you see yourself doing, have the money that you want to have in your life, or who are in the same realm as you. My sisters and my tribe really get me through; we’re kind of in this space together, we understand exactly what that looks like, and a lot of your other friends who are not in that space, they may not understand what kind of crazy you go through every day. When you say you’re an entrepreneur, some people think you just have free time, and I really, honestly, don’t. So that’s been a game changer, having women around me who are also entrepreneurs and in different realms. We just build each other up.
– La'Crassia Wilderness
How does it feel to create something that has been a source of comfort for people during the pandemic?
It makes me feel good. And it makes me feel like, this is what my purpose is, because when I created Butter Love, I was going through a time of deep healing and trying to find myself. So going through this whole wave of a pandemic in real time and all of this stress and fear and uncertainty, I’m just happy that I could have a product that cultivates self-love.
What have been some of the highs and lows for the business this year?
Prior to the pandemic, most of my sales were face to face, and I also offered workshops as well. So when the pandemic happened, I had just gotten into my accelerator and we were just hitting the ground running, so not only could we not meet and be together, we had to switch to Zoom [meetings], and every event—cause I usually do about 25 to 30 a year—got wiped out, which kind of was a large portion of my sales. I had an online presence, but I really didn’t focus on it, and I didn’t know how to market it, because I love the interactions that I have with my customers. I really love doing the pop-ups, meeting new people, showing people my products and educating them on the benefits, that was one of my favorite pieces. Good thing I was in an accelerator, because they knew how to pivot. We worked together to hone in on my existing customers, ramping up email subscriptions and finding new ways to connect with them, [including] on social media.
And [this summer], a lot of business came my way just being a Black-owned business, which I’m appreciative of, but that made me understand like, “OK, they’re buying with me now, how do I continue to keep that same energy for years to come?” And now, with that mindset, I have ventured out to all these new spaces: Butter Love is in so many new spaces now all over the U.S. We’re in 35 stores across the United States; it’s so exciting. A lot of change and a lot of growth is happening with my company right now.
I’m just really proud that I could build something and sustain something that could help people—and that could kind of change how people see skincare.
Thanks for talking with us, La’Crassia.
This Q&A has been condensed and edited for clarity by Liz Miller.