If I would have told my younger self that I would have opened up a handcrafted organic spice business from scratch, I would laugh at you. First of all, 6 years ago I had no idea there were things to be concerned about regarding our food supply, let alone think I would then open up a small business selling blends that compete with big time names.
I’ve always been a dreamer.
I’ve always known that I was going to make a life for myself and become successful at whatever I was doing but I had no idea that it would be in the realm of food or blogging.
When I got pregnant with my first child, all of that seemed to come to a halt and I sort of “lost myself.” It was a big transition at 20 years old to become pregnant, get married, and give birth to a human being in less than a year. I was trying to navigate through these new roles of mine and often felt like the fire inside of me had been blown out and I was just drifting off into sea without any sort of direction or purpose.
Just like anything, things take time. Whether it be settling into a new role as a mom or wife or becoming an entrepreneur or even finding the burning purpose in your soul that lifts you up and renews you as a person. Patience hasn’t always been my strong suit. Those few rough years I went through as I was raising a strong-willed child yet trying to find something that ignited my soul taught me all about patience.
Things will come, as long as you believe it will.
When I delved into the world of blogging, it started as a hobby; I needed an outlet so I could share all the new things I was learning about our world of food. As time went on, I realized I could make money from it so I could help my husband support our family.
Living on one income has been one of the hardest things we’ve both had to do but the sacrifice was well worth it. Even so, I’ve never been the one to solely depend on someone else to care for me. As you can imagine, the idea of being able to make a little bit of money at home while raising my child was very appealing. I decided to pursue it.
It was a rocky start and the small amount of money from blogging I made probably equaled out to fifty cents an hour.
To most folks, blogging may not seem like an actual job but there is more to it than the eye can see. Countless hours writing, photographing, editing, social media sharing, site maintenance, brainstorming, strategizing, networking; it’s a lot, and much harder when you are also raising a small child all day by yourself.
I almost gave up blogging when all my hard work didn’t seem like it was paying off. All my blogger friends were skyrocketing in page views, subscribers, social media followers and I wasn’t moving anywhere. Everyone seemed to have a niche and have it all figured out and here I was, lost and confused. I questioned myself, my ability, and if this was for me. Finally, in June of 2014 I decided to rebrand from Healthy Roots, Happy Soul to Naturally Loriel and everything changed.
My voice became stronger and more pronounced, my numbers started climbing, and for the first time in 2 years of blogging I had felt like I was actually starting to make progress. I was able to start contributing (a very small portion) to our finances and I was able to pay for Andrew to go to preschool. However, I still felt like there was something missing and I couldn’t come up with a way to monetize and actually make my blog a business.
Ideas for everyone but me.
If you’re in my close work circle, you’ll know that I am the queen for awesome business ideas for everyone but myself. I never felt like I had anything that people would love or that I was really good at. I wrote an ebook on GMOs and that was a total flop. I felt discouraged and defeated.
I felt like I had all the ideas for everyone else and had considered starting a business helping other businesses create products. I truly felt like I would never have a business idea for myself. Once in the beginning of 2014 I joked about selling my taco seasoning and italian seasoning but that idea quickly went out the window.
All I knew was that I needed something to help build a business and bring success for my family. I was tired of struggling and merely surviving — I wanted some financial freedom and I wanted our family to be able to breathe a little more easily.
It’s funny how things work out because in March of 2015, I revisited the idea of selling my spice blends and baking mixes.
By then I had created my french onion dip and shared it as a recipe on my blog (read about the reviews on here). The french onion dip always received raves and reviews when I brought it to family and friend functions. Everyone would comment on how good the dip was and I thought to myself, “Maybe this is it. Maybe this is my business idea.” People enjoyed my baked goods as well so I thought it would be cool to pre-mix the dry ingredients, package it, and sell it. All of my baked goods use einkorn flour and because of how much I believe in the quality of the flour, I thought it would be a great way to expose people to it.
I started with a waffle mix, pan-crepe mix, taco seasoning, french onion dip, and italian seasoning.
I love cooking food but what I love even more is seeing people find joy in my cooking. Food is my love language and to see people finding a little bit of bliss through the food I cook is the best. One of the greatest things about watching people enjoy my cooking is that they are enjoying food that is 100% real — no GMOs, no preservatives, no artificial colors or flavors, high quality animal products, and all made with my own two hands with lots of love.
So why not offer a little piece of my love to people outside of my circle? I want everyone to be able to enjoy real food and I also want everyone to know that real food tastes a million times better than what we’re used to.
The birth of Naturally Free.
In the midst of finding out we were going to add a new member to our family in November 2015, I decided to also birth a small business in the same year (yes, I am crazy).
Starting a small business is nothing like you would ever imagine; the logistics, the financial investment, the certifications or permits you have to get, the research, the emotional investment, the time, and ultimately the leap of faith that you’ll succeed and not miserably fail. It’s certainly not easy and not for everyone.
I was talking about my plans to a good friend of mine and he offered to become my business partner and help me with the financial portion. What a blessing! From that point, we refined, structured, and came up with a plan. We decided to drop the baking mixes for now and start with something small.
We took it one day at a time, knowing that eventually we would get to our launch point. We actually had 3 “launch dates” and kept having to push it back because of one thing or another.
You would never know but in order to actually sell my spice blends to the online world, I had to get a safety certification (a 100 question test), find a commercial kitchen to package my spices and lease out, obtain a permit from the Department of Agriculture to be officially licensed to manufacture and sell spice blends, and food insurance.
Aside from all the legality stuff, we had to come up with labels that fit my natural lifestyle brand, find packaging that wasn’t detrimental to the environment, source high quality spices, come up with costs, build the backend of our website, and more.
I wasn’t going to compromise quality for cost. I wanted my products to be a complete reflection of who I am and what I believe in which took lots of research so I could sell my products at a price that was doable for everyone. Seriously, it was a labor of love!
And here we are.
After 5 months in the making, Naturally Free is officially open to the public! It’s hard to believe it but all the hard work has finally come to fruition and my “baby” has been birthed to an official small business. I am so incredibly grateful for everyone who has supported and believed in me along the way — from my family, my business parter, my friends to my online Naturally Loriel friends and followers.
I am truly blessed and it is so exciting to finally share my spice blends with the world. I have exciting ideas for future blends but for now, we’re grand opening with three great products that have been enjoyed by my family and friends for quite some time now: French Onion Dip, Taco Seasoning, and Italian Seasoning.
All of my blends are made with organic, fresh, non-irradiated spices that come from Mountain Rose Herbs. They are made in small batches by hand and contain 100% real ingredients; no need to worry about GMOs, fillers, additives, or anything yucky. I am confident that when you are feeding these blends to your family, the integrity, freshness, and quality will shine through and you can all enjoy the meal without any worries.
You can try one of my blends by visiting my shop page here. Enjoy 10% off your total purchase when you use the coupon code LAUNCH10 at checkout.