Why did you decide to start Captain Blankenship?
I was a little kid who liked to make potions, and after mixing all of my mom’s perfumes from the 1980s together I wound up with a lifelong sensitivity to synthetic fragrance. As an adult, I discovered natural perfumery and essential oil-based scents. I fell in love and never looked back. I started Captain Blankenship out of a desire to create beauty products made with organic and effective plant-based ingredients paired with lush and experiential essential oil-based scents. From the beginning, I also wanted to keep products at a reasonable price point. Ten years ago, the assortment of clean beauty was so different from what it is now and I couldn’t find anything like what I was looking for in the market, that was also affordable. View this post on Instagram
What was your biggest challenge starting out?
Time. At the time I started the company in 2009, I was working full time as an art gallery curator. I started Captain Blankenship on the side as a passion project and worked nights and weekends to make it happen. As a result, things grew very slowly at the beginning and in fits and starts. In the end, I think it was a blessing as I wasn’t under pressure to fulfill huge orders off the bat and could really take time to experiment. View this post on Instagram
What is the one thing you wish you would have known then?
I didn’t understand at all what it is like to run a company. I think if someone had told me what I was in for, I wouldn’t have started the business. In the end, I am so glad I did and I have learned so much by just diving it. It has been very hard but very rewarding. View this post on Instagram
What are you most proud of?
10 years in, I am really proud that we have grown by leaps and bounds but maintained our values and the integrity of the products has not changed. We became a B Corp last year, which reflects our commitment to the transparency of our business and environmental and social responsibility.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start their own business?
Take it slow. I feel grateful that I didn’t initially hit the ground running and overcommit myself. I get contacted often by people who are looking to start beauty businesses and immediately looking for a manufacturer and a fulfillment center. I always advise them to take time on their own to perfect their formulas and the concept behind their company, before taking it into the world.
What traits have you had to rely on since becoming a CEO?
Intuition, passion and determination. I have always been someone who has relied on my intuition to make decisions and the company has really grown out of this from the beginning. I didn’t go to business school, so I have really gone down my own path and surrounded myself with people I trust. I am incredibly passionate about plant based beauty and education, which has really driven the mission of the company and helped us stick to our values. I am a determined soul and while it has been hard growing a business while raising two small children, I have followed my heart and stuck with it.
What are your key tips for running a successful business?
The most important thing is the vision. There are so many products in this world and you truly need to believe in what you are doing with every ounce of your body, mind and spirit for it to succeed. If you believe in what you are doing and are passionate, others will believe in it too. Also, take your temperature and make sure this is really what you want to do and are in for the long haul. Running a business is a ton of work and demands many sacrifices, make sure you are ready to take this on. It is also important to realize you can’t do this alone. Know your strengths and your weaknesses and use this knowledge as a bellwether to find the right people to help you.
How do you unwind?
I run, hike or walk with my Siberian Husky every day no matter the weather. I really look forward to this time to be outside and move my body and let my mind wander. I also try to meditate in the morning but am often interrupted by the joyful chaos of my children.