Tuesday, February 23, 2010

interview with Yancy Wilkenfeldt - director of 5 Seed Beauty Products.

Meet Yancy Wilkenfeldt director and creator of homemade beauty product company 5 Seed.

I've known Yancy since last summer when she contacted me as we were both going to Paris around the same time (ah Paris!). Recently she has taken the brave step to quit her job and follow her dream. I thought I'd garner some custom for her by interviewing her here.

5 Seed's philosophy: Our bodies are vastly intelligent mechanisms. They know how to process food, eliminate toxins, move in healthy ways, and how to do these things with or without conscious effort or interference. The more we “stay out of the way,” the better. It is best to use fewer, safer bath and body products, so that our bodies can follow their natural rhythms, and keep us feeling and looking great
So without further ado, let's get on with the interview!

1. Towards the end of last year you made the decision to give up your day job and start 5 Seed. Can you tell us about the signs along the road that helped you make this decision?

Well, first of all, I disliked my job intensely. I love kids, but teaching did not turn out the way I had hoped it would. I began to dream about the possibility of pursuing the other two things that had always been dreams of mine: writing, and opening a natural bath and body product business.
After nearly 18 months of teaching, and literally feeling miserable almost every day, I began to realize that it was time to either take a risk and start the business, or at least find a new job. I knew I couldn’t go on like that.

During the two weeks immediately preceding my grand opening, I was rewarded with intensely synchronistic events multiple times per day. It is hard to describe it fully, but let’s just say that whenever I had a decision to make, I would go with my gut feeling, and would, within an hour, see, hear, or encounter something/someone that confirmed my decision. I also had dreams about a few beloved family members who have passed on, and I felt as though they were encouraging me to continue on this path.

2. As somebody who gave up their corporate job to pursue their dream, I am in total admiration for you as I know how hard that decision is. How do you feel now, a few months on about your decision? And how does your other half feel?

Immediately after opening my business, I experienced two weeks of complete terror (I recognise this feeling! - SY). I suddenly worried if I had made the wrong decision, and became anxious that things would not work out and that I would lose the investment I had made in the business.

However, since those two weeks passed, I have experienced a lot of relief and happiness. I work more hours than I did while teaching, but I’m so happy that the time flies. I love operating this business. I still struggle with fears – it takes a long time to really build up a brand new business, and money has been tight for a long time. But, I try to focus on the joy and satisfaction this job brings me.

As for my other half, he is extremely supportive. He has been hounding me to open this business for almost two years now, and was thrilled when I finally did it.

3. What have been your bestselling products so far? Why do you think that is?

So far, my Peppermint Cocoa Lip Balm and Orange Cocoa Moisturizing Cream have been the bestsellers. I’m not surprised about the lip balm – it smells like a peppermint patty and feels like butter! I knew people would like that one.

I was surprised by the moisturizing cream, however. I have the feeling that most people have not had much (or any) experience with natural moisturizers, and therefore, might get nervous about a product that changes its texture according to the temperature, that “sweats” over time and with application, and that looks kinda funny compared to commercial lotions.

Luckily, my customers are brave, curious, and open-minded, as I have sold several moisturizing creams already, and have gotten very positive feedback on this item. I think people just fall in love with the creaminess of this product, and the fact that it lives up to its promises.

4. What is your personal favourite product and why?

My favorite product is the aforementioned moisturizing cream. I have been making my own lotions for the past two years now, but I could never seem to make one that was creamy enough to really hydrate my dry skin. Last November, I was fooling around with some ingredients, and came up with this recipe. I was so thrilled with it! This cream is the reason I started the business. I knew it was a cream I could make and sell with total faith in its ability to work well! I have used it every day since November, and only just ran out of the original jar today, three months later.

5. You're passionate about the environment and looking after the planet. What or who was your inspiration to become "green"?

Many experiences and role models contributed to my love and respect for Mother Earth. I grew up on a goat ranch, where my parents taught me and my siblings to be devoted stewards to the animals around us. We witnessed births and deaths, and learned to respect all life. We were also blessed to spend much of our youth in a rural area, where we learned to find refuge in nature.

In later years, as my exposure to the world grew, I began learning more and more about the environment, and subsequently, became more and more passionate about it. I read John Robbins’ Diet for a New America around the age of 20, and became a vegetarian immediately afterward. I became more aware of recycling issues, and toxins in beauty products. And thanks to an article in Yoga Journal about yoga teacher and environmentalist, Adi Carter, I began to question the First World belief that generating trash is not just our privilege but our right.

6. One piece of advice to someone on the verge of giving up the day job to pursue the dream?

It is hard to think of just one thing to say to someone on the verge of making such a life-changing decision, but I think the most important thing is to be patient, but be brave. I was encouraged to start this business for the past two years, but if I had started it back then, I don’t believe I would have been ready. There were a lot of small, subtle evolutions that took place (many without my notice) over those two years that I believe have helped me build a good foundation for success.

But don’t be TOO patient. Bravery is important, too. It was tempting to keep going for the semi-steady paycheck, to keep teaching despite the fact that I was miserable. The thought of jumping into completely unknown territory almost prevented me from moving forward. Sometimes, though, you have to take big risks for the sake of happiness. It doesn’t always curl up in your lap. Sometimes, it plays hard to get, and you have to go out and woo it!

(I remember someone saying to me when I was nervous about quitting my job that there is never a good time to do anything, you just have to do it and see what happens - SY)

7. And one piece of advice to make the planet a healthier place?

I think the most life-changing, eco-friendly thing EVERYONE can do is simply to meditate upon trash. How much do you throw away every day? Why do we believe we have the right to create as much waste as we want? Why does our responsibility for our disposable actions end when the trash bin is dumped into the garbage truck?

There’s no use in feeling guilty over it, and I certainly wouldn’t suggest entertaining that emotion for long. It’s not productive. All we have to do is stop and think before throwing something away. Simply become aware. We live in a disposable culture, and finding our way out of a trash-filled existence may be a lifelong pursuit. That’s okay. Every single effort counts, down to the last gum wrapper.


So there you have it folks - go check out 5 Seed, and Yancy's other blog Greenspell. Support this woman, she is a god(ess)send! :)


Rene W. said...

What a great interview - and how timely, as I have done the same thing... giving up my career in the corporate world to follow my passion! Her products look yummy - I will defenately check them out! (I have a little surprise waiting for you over on my blog today) ~ Renee :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this wonderful interview. I'm so grateful for your support!! (I can't believe it's been so long since we first started "talking!" Almost a year!)

Eco Yogini said...

This is a fantastic interview! I love hearing the 'behind the scenes' about your journey so far! I also love your statement about meditating on our trash...

ps- the picture is beautiful! :)


Namaste_Heather said...

Great interview! I have sung Yancy's praises on my blog over and over again. She is inspiring. I am more green because of her. I have much work to do, but I am on my way and in large part because of her blog, tips, ideas, etc. Thanks to both of you! Namaste ;-)