Hi guys! As you know I am doing a series on entrepreneurship all month long and am super excited to introduce my second guest, Candra Evans! I have known Candra for some time now and have always admired her faith journey as she has walked out waiting in a similar fashion, yet held onto the faith! Now we are fellow entrepreneurs and I think it’s so awesome how God puts us on this path with people, even in other cities, who have a similar call 🙂 Please visit Candra’s sites and pages to support!
Me: Introduce yourself!
Candra: Hello! My name is Candra Evans. I am 40+ and consider all of Northern Kentucky my hometown. When I am not working, I enjoy running, writing, studying the Bible, photography, and spending time with my husband and family.
Me: How long have you been an entrepreneur?
Candra: I have been an entrepreneur for five years. In December 2016, my business became an LLC in the state of Ohio.
Me: What motivated you to start your own business?
Candra: My motivation comes from my husband, who is a bit of a serial entrepreneur. He has owned and operated rental properties, created a clothing line, and will soon launch a gold jewelry line. He advises anyone who is struggling to find desired employment to consider working for themselves. In 2016 I searched for a second job to increase my income, however, I had a hard time finding a job that supported my full-time employment schedule. So, I took a page from his book and decided to hire myself. My husband still motivates me. And now, I also find motivation from the rewards that come with building something special.
Me: Why do you feel entrepreneurship is best for you? In your opinion, what qualities and skills does one need to possess to be an entrepreneur, and what qualities do you possess that are in line with your views?
Candra: After starting my business, I was not sure that entrepreneurship was right for me. There are risks involved. It takes a good dose of confidence. I was uncomfortable with some of the risks, and self-confidence has been a lifetime struggle. However, I love to serve people. I am an advocate of excellent customer service. It comes naturally to give customers honest care, a quality product, and information to help solve their problems. I realized that qualities that are as customer-focused as they are business-focused, make a qualified entrepreneur.
Discipline, consistency, faith, and self-care are skills that I believe are crucial to entrepreneurship. Running a business when you are full of vigor is great. However, you have to show up when the rewards are slow in coming. Life happens. Emotions get in the way. You may even be discouraged by others from doing what you do, so discipline is important. Being disciplined and focused pushes us through the darker days until we reach the light again.
Consistency is vital because you do not want your product or service to reflect your fatigue or the mood of a bad day. If I feel overwhelmed, I don’t take shortcuts with my product. One bad customer experience may set me back. I take a break when I need one. When I am well, I can run my business well. This is a wonderful place to activate faith. Trust that what God has for you is for you. Take your rest if it is compromising the consistency in your production, and trust that it will not hinder the success of your business.
Me: What support groups do you have in place to assist you in achieving your entrepreneurial goals? What have you found most helpful in keeping you moving forward, especially during tough times?
Candra: I was blessed to participate in the MORTAR Entrepreneurship Academy here in Cincinnati. The program is a fifteen-week course for new and future business owners. MORTAR also provides ongoing support for alumni. Over the last five years, I have been privileged to sit with various mentors and fellow small business owners. Being a part of entrepreneurial communities has helped me move forward. The shared encouragement and knowledge are invaluable. If you are having a tough time, chances are someone has already been there and can give you the tools for continued success.
Me: What lessons have you learned in your entrepreneurial journey?
Candra: I have recently learned that it is okay to pivot and make adjustments as necessary. There were outside circumstances that changed the profitability of my process. It was helpful to admit that I had to make some changes. It wasn’t a failure. It was pivoting toward a direction that would help me stay in business and help my business grow.
Expand on what is working, and do not be afraid to acknowledge what is not working. A simple tweak can completely turn things around for the good of the business.
Me: What are some challenges you have faced, or are facing in entrepreneurship? How have you overcome those challenges?
Candra: Challenges in business are ongoing. My greatest challenge has been managing a small business while still devoted to my full-time career with the state government. Sometimes the time is right to take the leap and leave a 9 to 5 to work for yourself full-time. But the timing for everyone is different. I had to accept that. Then I learned not to compare myself to other start-ups who became successful overnight.
I am facing this challenge by setting 1 to 3-year goals but preparing for those goals right now. When the time comes, I have a vision of how I want Abundantly You Bath and Body to look. I have a written plan of how I want to expand and how distribution will change. I am also taking this time to seek the knowledge that I need to take my business to that next level when the time comes. Between now and then, I will continue to produce products and make sales in the capacity that is currently available to me.
Me: What keys would you attribute to obtaining sustainability in your business?
Candra: Relationships and innovation are two keys I am focused on right now. Creating healthy relationships in business has helped open doors for my business. Even if someone only recognizes me as a “soap lady”, it is a relationship that leads to exposure, referrals, and sales. Networking and offering my support to other small businesses has created supportive relationships.
Innovation is also important to my business. I have to keep up with the trends in the wellness and beauty industries. I often create bath care formulas based on scents and natural ingredients that are on-trend. Many customers love to try new products and have new experiences. Offering new discoveries and creating relationships helps with sustainability.
Me: What tips/advice would you give someone who is thinking about pursuing entrepreneurship?
Candra: My advice would be to go for it. Outside of the pursuit of making money, owning a business offers challenges and experiences that will grow you as a person. There will be a roller coaster of highs and lows, but you can celebrate the accomplishment of doing what many people do not dare to do.
My business-related tip is to get to know your customer as soon as possible. When you find your target customers, talk with them. Ask them about their pain points and learn their expectations of your product or service. When I first started, I got caught up in what I loved about my products. When I shifted my focus to what my customers loved, sales increased. Customer service and openness are crucial.
Me: Free for all! Is there anything you haven’t shared yet about entrepreneurship that you want my readers to know?
Candra: I want to thank you Nicole for this opportunity to share my experiences as a small business owner. I hope all aspiring entrepreneurs will find great success doing what they love to do. And remember that what you do is valuable, so make sure that you are paid what your product and service are worth.
I am Candra Evans, founder, and owner of Abundantly You Bath and Body. We are proud to produce natural and vegan soaps, lip balms, natural deodorants, body butter, and more. From our natural deodorants that provide all-day protection to our vitamin-rich skin-loving butter, customers across the country are raving about Abundantly You. Our wide variety of handmade bath and body care products are available on our Etsy hosted website, www.AYbath.com