This is a first, dear readers! Elisabeth is the first #womenwhoinspire interview that I actually haven't had the pleasure of meeting yet. I remember seeing her products in a couple stores across the Triangle area before I ever actually tried anything. I'm so happy that I did! I absolutely love Elisabeth's story, her brand, and her mission to educate individuals about the importance of using safer products. As a bonus, she is located right in the heart of Durham; which means you should #shoplocal and support Lo & Behold Naturals. Enjoy her interview!
J: I stumbled across Lo & Behold Naturals through a friend who bought me the Pineapple + Grapefruit Mask for my birthday (Thanks, Sam!). But for readers who may not be familiar with the brand, share with us the story of how Lo & Behold Naturals was born.
E: That is great, that mask is a favorite of mine! Lo & Behold Naturals began as a hobby after I graduated from college, I was working as a teacher and was desperate to use my hands to create. I started with making yogurt, bread, and eventually dabbled in skincare. I have always loved skincare, especially natural, but have never been satisfied with the quality of natural products available. Not only did I fall in love with the process of creating the products, but the results were incredible. The hobby quickly turned to an obsession, I spent all my time making and researching products! With enough positive feedback, the obsession turned into a little business.
J: Have you always been involved in the making of high performing, all-natural beauty products? If not, what did that journey look like for you?
E: It is funny because in ways this journey wasn’t planned, but in a bigger sense it was always my journey. As I mentioned above I worked as a teacher, I had studied Peace Studies in college and wanted to work in education or social work, so in that sense it was a pretty big turn to make beauty products and start a company. But, I have loved creating, nature, and skincare my whole life. As a child I spent all my time mixing things, playing outside, and as a teenager, skincare was my world! I loved taking care of my skin, and my wonderful mom raised me using natural products. We always shopped at the farmers market and local co-ops, so I knew at a young age to avoid toxic ingredients. Studying ingredients was also always a hobby; I worked on a farm with an herbalist in high school and spent years reading about herbs and making my own tea blends and tinctures. I also worked in retail when I was younger and my boss told me to stick with it. She told me I should start a business and not be a teacher! So while I never planned that this would be my career, looking back, it was certainly meant to be. The fact that I partner with a non-profit and get to work with youth has allowed me to still be a teacher, and use those skills as well. I feel so lucky that my journey led me here.
J: The name is quite witty – what gave you the idea for Lo & Behold as the name?
E: Well thank you, but that is one thing with the business I can’t take credit for! I always called lotion 'lo lo', so when I wanted to start a skincare company an old friend suggested Lo & Behold, and the name just felt right! I wanted to create a brand that was all natural but also felt fun and I liked the playful name.
J: I think clean beauty confuses a lot of people, because they believe it isn’t accessible or that it’s really expensive. How have you tried to change that perception?
E: That is a great question. It is impossible to make completely natural and clean products at a really cheap price, because the ingredients are expensive and high quality. However, I try to formulate and price the products to still be affordable, especially because they last so long. I educate customers that the products are concentrated, so even the small containers are investments. Sure, you can get cheaper stuff out there, but with mainstream products, the ingredients are often toxic and the results are not as good; so really you are spending more money in the long run. The pricing issue is also somewhat subjective. Some customers think our prices are high, whereas customers who know about clean beauty consider us a steal.
For those new to clean beauty, [who] are not ready to invest or just can’t, I am always here as a resource. I am constantly telling folks easy recipes they can do at home, or how to mix our products to dilute them so they last even longer. I [also] suggest pharmacy brands that are clean and reliable. I try to be a resource and help empower folks to make their own decisions so clean beauty can be exciting and tangible.
J: Which product was the springboard that launched Lo & Behold? What are your can’t-live-without products that you make?
E: Moisturizers were for sure the products that launched L & B! I am all about the soft skin, [because] tons of skin issues come from lack of moisture. I wanted to focus on something other than soap since so many companies make soap. We have expanded beyond moisturizers due to customer demand and I eventually plan to offer even more options!
I can’t imagine life without any of the products! I truly make what I need and what customers ask for. But if I had to choose... The face line is first. I don’t go anywhere without my toner, cleansing grains, and serum! The others would be scrubs (addicted to exfoliating), lavender fields body oil (it helps me sleep), the rose and ginger hand salve, bug spray, and tinted lip balm.
J: Lo & Behold is also a partner with Partners For Youth Opportunity. How did you become affiliated with PYO and tell us about their mission.
E: I am so glad you asked! Working with PYO is one of my favorite things and it felt meant to be. Several months after starting the business, I was doing a demo at the Durham Co-op, and there was this energetic group of young women and a few supervisors. I asked who they were and learned all about PYO. Their mission is: “To partner with the community to provide Durham youth with opportunities to connect, develop, and contribute through mentoring, employment and educational support.” I felt drawn to them and asked how I could become involved. Right away they suggested Lo & Behold Naturals become a work site for students! I have been in business four years and have essentially worked with them the entire time. The interns help with production and sales at markets, and the money they earn goes towards college savings. I believe in every facet of their organization and I try to go to all the events I can, I am like a PYO groupie. In addition to being a work site I actually mentor a student as well. I am so impressed with the students and staff [that] I plan to grow the business with PYO.
J: Is there a specific individual who has been monumental to your success with Lo & Behold? If so, who? And in what way?
E: That is a hard question because I have been lucky to get so much mentorship and support from friends, family, customers, and store owners/buyers. But, I must mention my incredibly patient and kind partner Russell. He has believed in me and the business when I can’t, and has helped with everything from production, to bookkeeping, to going with me to DC last fall for our first out of state show! He has been with me since the beginning and now actually works with me. I don’t know if I would have made it this far without his emotional and physical support.
J: In what ways does Lo & Behold look to change or expand in the New Year?
E: I am actually looking forward to less change this year compared to the past. Over the years, we have re-branded, changed products, changed focus, [and] re-did the website. This is my first year in business where I am pretty happy with how things are, and I need to focus on the business and expansion side. That is a huge change for me. I actually have the time and bandwidth to run numbers, track growth, think about marketing, etc. I am addicted to creating new products, but am putting out less so I can focus more on organization and systematizing everything! For expansion, we will do more markets because we have an awesome employee Nora. I have an intern helping with blogs so hopefully more posts. There will be a few new items next fall, a few more workshops with local stores, and otherwise the main expansion will be growing more in North Carolina and out of state. I plan to do more out of state shows and hopefully work with some awesome new stores!
J: We all have one book, blog, or podcast that we’d recommend to others as a “must” check out. What is that for you?
E: I love Entrepreneur On Fire, it is a podcast that interviews a different entrepreneur every day of the week. The host is a little cheesy, but I have learned so much about business and life in general from each podcast.
J: I find most people have a mantra or words that resonate with them. Do you have a motto you repeat to yourself daily?
E: Everyday I remind myself to slow down, that I am doing the best I can, and to take it one day at a time. I am pretty hard on myself, so those are my mantras.
J: Do you have anything else you’d like to share with the readers and I?
E: For those who don’t know what they want to do, remember your job is what you do every day, so choose something dynamic that you love and challenges you. Work hard for what you want, but be kind to yourself.
I also want to thank anyone reading this who have tried my products or reached out to me whether in person or online. This work for me is about more than clean beauty; I cherish connecting with other women and am grateful for every interaction.