As the fastest-growing age demographic in the world, women over 40 are living longer, more beautiful lives. And with that comes varying skin changes. Many products on the cosmetic market don't target mature women of color.
Rosita Lawrence noticed many shifts within her body as she transitioned into her 40s. She had a difficult time finding clean and toxic-free products to manage her skin issues and the aging process. She never planned to create products and take them to the market. It started as a personal journey to for herself and then for her daughter. However, word of mouth began to expand within her circle, and that's when she realized she had a viable business and launched Earth By RoRo. But what differentiates Rosita from the competition is that she genuinely focuses on the symptoms underneath skin issues, such as the lack of confidence in her messaging.
What's the biggest fear you had during your business journey?
Rosita had many fears when she began. Like many entrepreneurs, she feared failure. She feared that customers wouldn't become repeat customers. Another big concern was fearing other people's criticisms.
She said, "People always say that other people's opinions do not move them until they hear it, you know? And if it doesn't align with your beliefs, sometimes things can get misconstrued. Along the journey, it was more about my faith and just believing that what I was putting out into the universe would help someone because, number one, I knew what I was doing. Number two, I researched and did my homework. And number three, I made it with the intention of helping someone. So I loved the product."
What's the biggest risk you've taken in your life thus far?
Rosita used her savings and maxed out her credit cards to begin her business. What kept her going was her two children and knowing someone out there needed her product. She's committed to this entrepreneurial journey for the long haul.
Tell us about a major setback in your business and how you recovered.
Rosita quit her job to focus on Earth By RoRo full-time. As a creative with many ideas to solve, she lost a lot of money trying to bring every idea to fruition. She struggled with getting awareness and trust in her products.
She said, "I lost a lot of money just with my ideas. You know, and it was like, I didn't have a plan. I didn't know my numbers. I didn't know how much the cost of goods per jar of body butter, facial oil, or whatever. So I was just using money thinking that it was going to stick with all these high hopes with no plan, and I failed."
Over time Rosita remained consistent and began tweaking her business and pivoting when needed. Mistakes became learning opportunities. She said, "Although it hurt, you know, it really hurts when something doesn't go the way that you planned it to go. But when you have trust in yourself and know that this is going to work because it hasn't been working. So if I change, things can now make room for something to work."
The constant failures allowed Rosita to fail forward fast. Her business experienced major positive shifts through accountability, persistence, and willingness to change. She said, "The failing has a purpose, you know, a purpose to either shift the business or either change it. Shifting is changing too, but it's more like knowing it will be better."
What are you most proud of when it comes to Earth By RoRo?
Rosita is proud of how far she's come—from an idea to creation to selling her product to pitching her business. She said, "From where I started and just continuing to pivot, I'm proud of that. I'm proud of the changes that happened and the growth I've received over the last couple of months. And the risks that I take that are more calculated are bringing in the results that I need to keep pushing myself forward. I'm proud of that."
A mentor told Rosita once that entrepreneurship isn't only about skills and mindset. It's also how you feel about yourself and whether or not you're keeping the promises you made to yourself. She struggled with her self-worth at the beginning of her journey, but winning the pitch competition made her feel more confident.
Describe what it was like preparing for the pitch competition.
This was Rosita's first pitch competition. She entered the competition last minute. Rosita said, "So I didn't have enough time to prepare, but I had to because I was not going to miss out on this opportunity to challenge my fear. That was number one. I did not receive any coaching we were supposed to receive, so it was definitely fly-by-night.
My BA (business advisor), who loved doing pitches too, gave me some words of encouragement and told me little things that I should present, especially regarding numbers and just breaking down the numbers. That's why you can see on my pitch deck that I had my numbers together, and I didn't know how to prepare for it because I didn't know what I was stepping into. But I knew I was challenging the fear of speaking in front of people.
So up until the day, I was very nervous. I did not invite anyone, which I am so saddened about. I should have invited my daughter. I did not invite anyone. And once I got up there, it was a little nerve-wracking, and then the switch turned off. And then I felt the nerve, and then I turned it off, and then I just spoke as well as I could.
Then after, it was like another day. You know, it was more like your fear scares you, and you can't let it because life is going to happen anyway, so it's not going to kill you. So it opened up this door for me that I can do anything, like just be okay with that fear that I feel and nurse it and then keep going into it because it will subside. It was a great experience."
Crowdfunding was a challenge for Rosita. Like many entrepreneurs of color, asking for help is hard. She said, "Number one, I've never done that before. I've always been scared to ask for help. I didn't know how this whole thing played out as far as the scoring, and it was just mind-blowing.
And then to see so many people come in root for me, helping me to know that I have a tribe, you know? Like I knew I had a tribe, but I didn't realize it, so that solidified it for me. It was like, wow, like people take me seriously. People believe in my product. People invest in me. I never asked before, but when I did, the gates opened in a sense, and people were able to show me like, I'm here for you.
And it was a great feeling. It humbled me greatly because it showed me I was not alone. And usually, in these times of entrepreneurship, you feel alone because a lot of people are probably on this journey but just a step ahead of you or a step behind you. So just knowing they were there and just reading the comments, I was just taken away and felt relieved and loved. So it was a great experience for me. I want to do it again."
Her advice to those looking to pitch is, "Fear forward. It can get really scary, but challenge yourself to step outside of that and fear forward." Had Rosita allowed her fears to take over, she would've not received the number of opportunities that have come forth to support her in her business. She said, "They always tell us to fail forward, but what about this fear we have, you know? Entrepreneurship is not for the faint and not for the weak. You have to keep going and keep believing even when what you want to see is not being shown.
Those days you might fail, but it's not failure. It's just time that you need to allocate to something else in your business. So I would suggest to them to own the fact that they started that business, because just by starting it is everything."
Earth By RoRo plans to use the funds to begin the wholesaling side of the business. Rosita plans to purchase a storage unit because she has been working from her house and needs more space. Part of the funds is for inventory so she can create more products. Next will be an Earth By RoRo website update with new product pictures. Eventually, she will also hire an assistant to help free up some of her time to work more on the business.
This pitching experience has encouraged Rosita to share her struggles because she has learned there's always someone to help.
Support is not always given to Black and Brown women in business. When has this disappointed you the most?
Rosita shared, "Applying for grants. In the beginning, there were a lot of grants that were so-called available to small businesses, and I would apply for them, and I wouldn't—I always went back to see who the winners were. It just wasn't what it said it was going to be. It just wasn't of color, and it just wasn't allocated to the skincare industry or the wellness industry. They ask straightforward questions like, what are you going to do with it?
I have a plan. I have a detailed plan. So, I have a way with my words. I think about what I'm going to say before I say it, and I know what I'm bringing to the table. But when they keep denying you, you ask yourself, is it me, or is it you? Because you do not see the vision as well. But how many times will you say that this grant is for a person of color, but then you don't allocate those funds to someone of color?
Man, it's just a lot of fraudulent things going on in this society. So, I'm very happy that you guys have opened a door for us to help us because it helps us become even more successful in our business. And then you have that hand in it like, yeah, I helped this Black woman, you know, I helped her family. I helped someone else get a job because now she's going to be able to hire someone."
What's the most critical lesson you've learned about business?
Rosita said, "Your family and friends are not your customers. There are many times when you feel that friends and family are supposed to be your top supporters, and they're not. It's the stranger that is the returning customer because she loves your product. I find that my name isn't big enough for certain people yet.
It's more about appealing to my audience that matter. The audience and the customers are my target audience. The customers that had my issues are not my family or my friends, and then I relieve myself of that attachment to thinking that they're supposed to or feel some kind of way if they don't. It's not for me to deal with. It's for me to stay focused laser-sharp, keep pushing, and know that other people need it."
What do you think is an important skill or asset you need to be successful in business?
Rosita believes that every entrepreneur needs to understand how finances work. Entrepreneurs need to know carefully how much things cost and how or what will make them a profit. She said, "In order to be successful, you need money. So the finance part of it, knowing your profit and losses, budgeting, flipping, is most important. Because I can scale all I want, I can have all the products I want, but if I don't have the right pricing, I'm not going to make back that money. I'm literally giving it away. So how am I going to scale? How will I be able to keep that, even try to pay myself or flip it so I can make more or make it bigger? So I feel like it's your numbers like you have to know your numbers."
What's the most exciting part of your business?
Rosita loves creating her products and bringing them to life. She calls herself a mini scientist. She enjoys researching what ingredients work well with which skin types. Her goal is for all her products to remain natural and beautiful.
How do you measure success?
"I measure success by the amount of times that I get up," said Rosita. Success for her is mental. Whether she is pivoting and making forward momentum matters to her the most. She said, "I'm not equating that with a dollar sign because many people put a dollar sign on success, and right now, I'm not. I'm in this space of becoming mentally ready to shift. So it's more about the growth in my business, the new customers I've retained, and the growth in my sales."
If you and I were meeting 3 years from now, looking back, what would it take for you to feel over the moon about your progress?
Rosita would love for Earth By RoRo to be very popular, and part of her challenge is coming out from behind the scenes of her business. She's learning to balance her private life with being front and center. It would make her incredibly happy if her business becomes a household name.
What do you think the future holds for Black and Brown women entrepreneurs and small business owners?
Rosita said, "Wealth. I feel like it will hold wealth because a lot of us are stepping out of the box and believing more in ourselves. It's not the whole, you know, old school memoir where we're behind the kitchen and our men or women, our partners are taking the lead as far as like making sure that everything's together, no, we are taking back our lives and I feel that it will then create wealth for generations to come."
Being a business owner is a tough job. How do you take care of yourself?
Rosita is currently in a graduate counseling program. She is very passionate about mental health. She's an avid reader and maintains a journal. Journaling allows her to release her thoughts and emotions, helping her to balance her life.
What is your favorite quote or mantra?
When Rosita feels overwhelmed, she asks herself, "What are you lacking right now?" Also, "I expect miracles."
What book would you recommend?
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
Money Does Grow on Trees by Esra Banguoglu Ogut
What's your favorite business hack or app that you can't live without?
Name one food item you have a hard time saying no to.
What's next for Earth by RoRo?
Earth by RoRo is focused on brand awareness, inventory, and marketing strategies to set itself apart from the competition. They plan on doing trunk shows and traveling to different states.