Tell us about Whistler Naturals.
The seed for Whistler Naturals was planted 12 years ago while I was managing a natural health product company.
At that time, I learned a lot about toxic chemicals in personal care products, and noticed that many companies were greening their labels as "natural," while not actually greening the ingredients on the inside. I realized it was time for a company to do something different - develop a spa-quality skin care product line that was packed with natural ingredients at a price everyone could afford.
I joined forces with Christie Angeloni and Scott Foran, and together we launched Whistler Naturals, a unisex, vegan, eco-friendly skin care line made from organic botanicals and extracts. Our product line, manufactured in both Whistler and Vancouver, was launched in June and is being sold at various outlets including Save-on-Foods, Nesters Market & Pharmacy, Marketplace IGA, Creekside Market, Quantum Vitamins, One Earth Collection (Pemberton) and on our website at WhistlerNaturals.com.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced since starting your business?
My biggest challenge initially was understanding it was OK to make a mistake, as long as I was also willing to learn from it. Even though I had a lot of experience in management and the natural health products field, starting a business meant I was walking into a new job for which there was no training. I
have learned that when a mistake is made, it is important to write out policies and procedures that will prevent that mistake from occurring again in the future.
What are the biggest milestones you have achieved as a business owner?
Being a new company, our biggest milestone to date is, without question, our initial launch in June. Leading up to the launch, we worked hard to ensure everything was perfect.
Everything had to be properly executed because even one small mistake could have had costly consequences. For example, we caught an issue with the UPC barcodes on our labels just before going to print. Thankfully, everything came together in the end, and we successfully launched the product line into the marketplace.
How would you describe your management style?
When it comes to management, I would describe myself as a chameleon. I am forever changing my management style depending on the particular situation and the person(s) I am dealing with. For example, some people work best on their own, while others need consistent coaching. Whatever the needs are, I strongly believe it is my responsibility to be adaptable and flexible so I can manage the situation as effectively as possible.
In your view, what is the biggest challenge facing Whistler businesses today?
I think I speak for most businesses in Whistler, from restaurants to hotels, when I say low prices are the biggest challenge currently facing businesses in Whistler. The guests who come to our resort only have so much money to spend during their time here, and as a result, it can feel as though we are all competing against each other for those limited dollars.
Over the years, businesses in Whistler have had to steadily drop their prices to remain competitive, and those businesses that did not pay attention to the marketplace, or did not react quickly enough, unfortunately, were not able to survive.
What advice would you give to entrepreneurs thinking of starting a business in Whistler?
Spoil the locals and they will spoil you.
By that I mean while many businesses focus only on securing tourists as their clientele, I have found that it is also important to remember to develop long-term relationships with locals. Not only are locals here year-round, but they also are constantly interacting with guests, whether working on the front lines or simply chatting to guests along the Village stroll.
The return on investment for developing a relationship with a local is the gift that keeps on giving, because they will share their knowledge of your business with their contacts as well as the tourists they encounter again and again.
Compiled by the Whistler Chamber of Commerce. The Whistler Chamber of Commerce is the leading business association in Whistler that works to maximize success within the context of sustained prosperity for all businesses by providing leadership, support, resources and tools. Learn about the Chamber's programs and services by visitingwww.whistlerchamber.com