Creative Series : CourtneyJo

CourtneyJo is owner of Milk and Honey Naturals, a cute Etsy shopped filled with soaps and body care products that can fit any budget. CourtneyJo answered some questions about her shop, selling experiences and gave advice to new sellers. 

Creative Moxie: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
CourtneyJo: We're a little family of four - hubby {Jaime}, twin boys {Parker and Eli} and me {CourtneyJo}! I’m the owner behind the brand Milk and Honey Naturals. It’s my full time gig. My hobbies stretch far and wide and are seemingly endless. I'm obsessed with photography, green living, DIY, all styles of cooking, writing, crafting, I have a deep interest in business, chemistry, nature, psychology, children, the silly curiosity of cats...

CM: How did you get into making soaps and body care products?
CJ: I’ve always been curious about the process of soap making. Turns out it is a tradition that runs deep in my family for generations. I can remember as far back as 8 years old, trying to freeze baby lotion to see if it would turn into a super moisturizing soap.

As the years passed, it turned out I had sensitivities to synthetic products. I had a few unusual reactions as a teen and went straight for 100% natural care. Most of what was available in stores was unscented or medicinal smelling, boring and flat out bland.

Over the years I have done a lot of research on holistic medicine, herbal therapies, natural cures and have learned a lot about how earth products nurture, nourish, heal and cleanse. I started experimenting with herbal infusions for color, pure essential oil blends for punches of amazing natural aroma, swirling, layering and sprinkling for visually interesting effects. After years of creating solely for family, with a small nudge from my husband, Milk and Honey Naturals was born.

CM: What is your typical process when you create a new product?

CJ: My process first starts with the functionality of a product. I always ask myself what I would like to get out of what I'm trying to create. I research and find the natural ingredients I need to get the results, then it's on to design.

I take visual inspiration from anything and everything around me. It can be a slice of cake from a European bakery, to the colors created by light peeking through fall leaves all the way to a beautiful marble floor I remember from childhood. I compose ways to use the necessary ingredients to create my design and with a light hand, leave it at what naturally occurs.

CM: How do you separate yourself from other Etsy sellers and larger companies?
CJ: What makes me unique is a combination of things. First, each and every product is made the old fashioned way - by hand and in small batches. That is the way it will always be. I like that each and every piece in the entire shop is completely unique from any other.

I also only create solid products. Without added water floating around, preservatives aren’t needed. I can keep each and every product 100% natural. It makes my creative process a little more unique. I actually have to fashion recipes from scratch, tweak, learn from my own mistakes and perfect. I’m digging new ground, so there are no recipes to follow.

Then there is the overall intention behind the brand - The Milk & Honey Naturals brand name signifies the combination of necessity, luxury and natural living; Milk being a necessity, honey being a luxury, and both being completely natural. In my shop you’ll find a cohesive collection that seamlessly entwines the body care and cleansing products we need to maintain every day health, cleanliness and natural beauty; with the high quality, pure ingredients, creativity and design to make each needed item stunningly indulgent.

CM: What were some of your biggest challenges when you first began selling your products? How did you overcome those challenges?

CJ: My biggest challenge was photography. I know business, I know accounting, I know PR, how to write descriptively and creatively - but all of those things mean nothing with bad photography. I had never tried to take a product photo in my life. I took the time to learn. I never would have made it this far without Google and books, lots of books. Unfortunately there was no easy way. Over time I’ve developed my own style. I’m not perfect, not even close, but I seem to get better each and every day. It’s a constant challenge.

CM: How do you promote your work?
CJ: I promote my work through my own social network. It was certainly a long term plan. It took a lot of time and work to make it generate revenue, but it was the best decision I’ve ever made. I’ve never spent a dime on advertising. Everything I’ve been able to accomplish comes from me forcing myself to learn to build my own self-promoting machine.

CM: Any advice to those who want to sell their goods?
CJ: Just do it! Don’t let anyone hold you back. The only person who didn’t think I was crazy when I started my business, was my husband. If I listened to the majority, I would still be an accountant {not that there is anything wrong with that, it just isn’t for me}. Make something you love, give your shop meaning and a unique selling perspective, be realistic with your goals, go above and beyond with customer service, always be learning, growing and improving and don’t give up.

Learn more about Milk and Honey Naturals:
- Website
- Etsy Shop
- Blog 
- Twitter
- Facebook
- Pinterest