Thursday, January 17, 2008

Itiel's latest interview

I recently had the opportunity to be interviewed by LaShanda Henry for Black Business Women Online!

Bath and Body Industry

Owner/COO of Smell Goods 1998™

“Specializing in signature fragrance body oil blends, signature hand-dipped incense, and gourmet, made-to-order bath & body products. I focus on creating products that are healthy for the skin, that will condition the skin, and of course products that smell good.”


Itiel McVay’s Bio:

Itiel McVay is the chief operating officer (coo) and mixologist of Smell Goods ‘98™. In 1998, after hearing her husband’s idea of becoming purveyors of oils and incense, Itiel moved forward with the idea and has made the creative side of the product line what it is today. Over the years Itiel has honed her bath and body knowledge and creative skills. Itiel stays abreast on the latest cosmetic trends, body care treatments, and the pros and cons of cosmetic ingredients. Itiel is also an active member of online crafting communities and online indie business communities. Since childhood, Itiel’s life has centered around a healthy way of living. Mixing up goodness for beautiful conditioned skin and educating others about the Smell Goods ’98’s™ line, comes naturally to Itiel. Itiel’s creative inspiration comes from gourmet desserts and gourmet beverages.

Itiel is a homeschool mother and resides in Charlotte, with her husband and their two children.

Sccessful Sista Survey

Success Stories and experiences of Business Women that we all can relate to and learn from.

Did you always want to be a Business Woman?

No. I wanted to be a wife and a mother, and I knew within myself that once that happened everything else would fall into place. It did! I knew that I was smart, creative, not the norm as my peers, was good at following up, was great at managing and multi-tasking, and I knew that I wanted to do something on my own time. As I reflect on my life, I can see that entrepreneurial spirit was there. I have to give credit to my husband, he is the one who brought it out of me.

How would you describe your experience as a Black Entrepreneur?

This experience is fun, challenging, happy, insightful, up and down, and rewarding. I think that a Black Entrepreneur has to work 110 times harder. Not on the branding alone, but assuring consumers that what they are offering is a good thing.

Looking back on your business decisions, is there anything that you would have done differently?

No. I have learned from all the mistakes.

Did you have any formal business training? Do you think this is important to be successful?

I attended college for Retail Merchandising and Marketing. After graduating, I went into that field, and I also became assistant manager and manager of some fabulous storefronts. I believe those experiences have helped me in some ways with my business now. However, I see what I do as a gift, I am naturally creative, and I have a very strong will. No, I do not think formal training is important to be successful. From the years of running my business, I believe a person needs, strong will, creativity, dedication, a strong supportive Circle, a very strong work ethic, and a love for learning, because there is a lot of research involved.

What funding sources have worked for you?

Allocating funds back into the business from sales has been very successful for me. There has not been any outside funding source to operate this business. There are some big future plans for Smell Goods ‘98™, and we are building financially to fulfill those plans. The financial plan is to build more within, so when the time comes to move on a future plan, we will have all the funds or the majority. I believe in order to build WEALTH, you need to be smart and wise about how much you will have to repay.

How has family/friend support financially or otherwise affected your business efforts?

I am so thankful for the support of my family, my sister friend, and my second mom. No matter how strong I am, some days can be more challenging than others, and they are all right there. They have given tremendous support by being loyal customers, and just simply being around. My children are always cheering me on. My husband (best friend), is not only the technical hands of Smell Goods ‘98™, but he is my sounding board. There are no words for my mother’s and father’s impeccable support. Being in this business has shown me that it is important to have a very strong Circle. Overall, because of this support, I continue to move forward with my business efforts.

How do you work on making your business grow?

Marketing is the key to an online business. I align Smell Goods ‘98™ with networking groups that target its specific demographics. Smell Goods ‘98™ is used for sponsorship for Charities and events. Word of mouth is always the best way to help a business grow, and much business has come to Smell Goods ‘98™ because of it. My husband creates commercials for Smell Goods ‘98™ and we use the online video sources to spread the word. When I am running errands during the day, someone (cashier, postal worker, etc.) may compliment me on a fragrance that I am wearing, I make a mental note, go home bottle up that fragrance, and return to that location with gift in hand. It works! Lastly, I believe in giving support to gain support, especially in the “black” community, to help a business to grow.

What words of wisdom can you share with other business women?

Persevere! The moment you feel that urge to throw in the towel, that means your reward is getting closer. Don’t be envious of other’s success, be happy for them and learn from it! Do you, find your own niche and work it! Continue to network, there will be plenty of “no’s” and doors closed, but press forward. Do NOT measure your success with others, it will drive you crazy, and make you lose focus. Remember, if you are moving forward with your business you are successful! Everyone has their time to shine, they just have to stay on the path. Above all, only align yourself with positive people, truly supportive people and groups;Protect yourself and your business from “people who mean well’. Ultimately you are the only one who can make or break your business. Remember to give back.

View my interview here, along with other successful "black" business women online. My interview was posted Jan.16th.