Updated: Mar 13
As a Reiki practitioner and yogi, Symphony Lyricist understood the power behind mindfully caring for the body. Essential oils were used in ancient times for religious and medicinal purposes. They are often used to treat anxiety, depression, infections, and more. Creating the blends was something Symphony did for herself. But after many requests, she decided to create Lotus Flower Om.
Lotus Flower Om is a clean skincare wellness brand with blends that include plant-powered ingredients to balance, restore and support the mind, body, and soul. She developed these blends as a restorative agent for lethargy and stress. Her mission is to provide her customers with a clean beauty product with ingredients that they can pronounce straight from the plants with the least amount of process. Lotus represents the journey of life and the symbolic blossoming that occurs as one grows.
What fears did you have along the journey?
Symphony feared entering a saturated market. Could Lotus Flower Om stand outside her circle of supporters on a larger scale?
She said, "Could I go out into the market where people are going to compare it to what traditional skincare is? Which is all about making you beautiful, right? Cause that's what skincare is like, so related to beauty and giving you this look that it's not naturally you. Whereas for me, I'm just getting you to be comfortable with yourself. I'm getting you to see your skincare from a holistic standpoint." The challenges were in conveying that message to her audience. She hopes they understand what you're seeking on the outside is what you're seeking on the inside.
What's the biggest risk you've taken so far?
Symphony took a significant wholesale order for a subscription box with an MOQ (Minimum Order Quantity) of 3,500 bottles. She didn't have a production space or any knowledge of navigating the wholesale process. Symphony felt this was an opportunity for her brand. But she had to front the funds and purchase six massive oil drums. She feared being stuck with the product and not receiving payment.
Unfortunately, Symphony didn't factor in the shipping costs. It took a considerable chunk of her profits. In the end, she completed the order. Not only was it a stressful undertaking, but it also put her at risk of not executing the order without proper resources.
Tell us about any major setbacks that you had and how you recovered.
Symphony experienced quite a few setbacks. She had difficulty finding the proper packaging, and there was a time when she received the wrong packaging and had to resell it. Also, there were moments when she couldn't fulfill her orders on time. Symphony has had people question her background because she doesn't have any certifications or professional experience in skincare. She did what most scrappy entrepreneurs do; Symphony educated herself in marketing, PR, and the skincare industry. After getting through those hurdles, Lotus Flower Om can now hire someone to lead its digital marketing strategies.
What are you most proud of when it comes to Lotus Flower Om?
Despite feeling the need to walk away at times, Symphony is proud of herself for seeing her venture through. She focuses on her purpose. Using Reiki and yoga, she bridges these principles to support her community. Symphony's mission is for others to understand the relationship between stress and the negative impact it has on their lives.
Describe what it was like preparing for the pitch competition.
This was Symphony's third pitch competition, but it wasn't until the second pitch competition that she became clear on her business model. It encouraged her to apply for the Black Girl Venture's pitch competition.
The pitch practices helped her refine her messaging. Symphony said, "So pitching helped me to really zone in on all the things before that was just such a blur. It helped me to just tie everything in and now be a lot more tactical, a lot more strategic about how I'm handling things versus before I was just jumping from place to place to place." Now, Symphony has a greater understanding of her target audience, the problem, and the solution. She's clear about her budget to grow and scale her business.
Her advice to those looking to enter pitch competitions is, "Get with someone who knows the market, knows your particular industry, and knows how to communicate it because I think the biggest challenge wasn't putting the pitch together. It was knowing how to say what you needed to say in the least amount of words." She then recommends that entrepreneurs clearly understand their 'why.' This will help develop the story and connect to who you're pitching to. Lastly, she says to use the KISS Model (Keep It Simple Stupid), short and simple.
Symphony used her pitch funds for marketing. She purchased software such as Canva, Adobe, and Later. She then used the funds to educate herself on using the software. Symphony then hired someone to focus on digital marketing and tweaking her website. Delegating parts of her business have helped her focus on her zone of genius.
Support isn't always given to Black and Brown women in business; when has this shown and hurt or disappointed you the most?
Symphony said, "The lack of access. So it's not so much for general stuff like knowing how to incorporate your business and, you know, the business basics. It's a lack of access. Understanding the different funding options and knowing you don't have to bootstrap this business yourself. So knowing that you can just have an idea and draft it out on paper and, you know, connect with people who are giving grants or angel investors or venture capitalists and get you can get funded that way.
Lack of access when it comes down to understanding your particular industry. I think that was a big challenge for me. Even when I asked for direction from different resources, like the SBA, it just felt like I just kept going around in circles. So, the lack of access to your industry and knowing how that industry works and how you move.
Lack of funding. And when I mean funding—not that funding isn't out there, but knowing about the types of funding then knowing how to approach them. And knowing how to structure yourself to make yourself ready for that."
How do you measure success?
Symphony measures general success by her willingness to commit to her mission. She dedicates her time and energy to her business. If she ever finds herself not doing those things, it means she's no longer in alignment. She said, "It gives me, you know, an opportunity to sit back, reassess, refocus, and go back to the things that are more in alignment with me."
What's the most critical lesson you've learned from business?
Symphony encourages small business owners to build networks and not depend on family and friends as their biggest supporters. She said, "If you don't come from a network, it's going to be very challenging to create a network and a community that believes in what it is that you do. So for a lot of us who don't have the family and friends to support us, we don't have the network."
Some friends or family members may have skills to offer you, but Symphony has found that they might not follow it through to completion. Over time, she realized that not everyone would be as committed to your vision as you are.
What do you think is an important skill or asset you need to succeed in business?
Symphony believes that entrepreneurs must know how to pause when they're unclear about understanding pieces of their business. Small business owners need to ask for help. They miss crucial information, for example, not saving for taxes and then having to pay a huge tax bill they're not prepared to pay a few years later. She encourages everyone to ask for help if they don't have enough knowledge in an area.
What's the most exciting part of your business?
Symphony loves to share her story and educate people about taking care of themselves. She said, "To take care of you should be the ultimate luxury. You before anybody else." She understands this is a challenging mission because people have to change how they view wellness.
What do you think the future holds for Black and Brown women founders?
Symphony is hopeful about the future. She said, "I think we're going to see a lot more women of color, women from the African diaspora have access to spaces that we just naturally don't have through our family networks or because we don't come from a wealthy family, or we don't come from that industry—I think we're going to see a lot more equality in the workplace.
I think we're going to see a lot more businesses blossom, and really we're going to step away from this whole idea of people not supporting Black businesses.
I eventually see us as being respected because we have access and are learning. We can now compete in that space. Whereas before we couldn't because we really didn't have the terminology or the network of people."
If you and I were meeting three years from now, looking back, what would it take for you to feel over the moon about your progress?
Lotus Flower Om hopes to be a household name. Symphony wants to walk into a store to see her products as centerpieces. When people think of Lotus Flower, she wants them to regard it as a self-care movement that helps others discover more of who they are.
Being a business owner is a tough job. How do you take care of your mental health?
Symphony gives herself permission to stop and let her worries go. As a solo entrepreneur, she has to care for herself more because she wears many hats. Symphony gives herself grace when things don't go the way she planned. By taking frequent breaks and resting often, she can better manage her stress, so she doesn't project her emotions onto other places in her life.
What is your favorite quote or mantra?
"Life is the journey of the self to the self, through the self."
What book and podcast would you recommend?
Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message, So Customers Will Listen by Donald Miller
Unf*ck Your Brain by Kara Loewentheil
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.
Sweet potato pie.
What's next for Lotus Flower Om?
Lotus Flower Om is strengthening its digital awareness and executing more marketing campaigns. Symphony is sourcing new products and preparing for in-person events.