Photo credit: Chris O'Neil Photography
Hey Troop! It's that time of the month again, our Fireside Chats with our subscription box partners. June's subscription box partner, Virginia Banana, was extra special because it's owned by a mother and daughter who actually are our subscription box customers! We were over the moon to learn about this marshmallow loving, dynamic duo and couldn't wait to hear more of their story.
At Virginia Banana, Catherine and Virginia "created a unique experience to bring all the good stuff into your home, for the mind, body & soul. We scent our products with high grade essential oils and for our lip balms we use all natural flavor extracts. All of our products are made by hand, in small batches, all in the name of living a non-toxic life. What’s better than that?" We couldn't agree more! That's why we included 3 of their incredible lip balms in our June sub box!
We recently sat down, virtually of course, with Catherine & Virginia Pyle to talk all things business and marshmallows. Here's our conversation.
Tell us a little about your company. How did you get started?
I started making natural candles in mason jars as gifts about 7 years ago and then a few people started asking if they could buy them to give as gifts as well. From there it turned into a small Etsy store and then about 3 years ago, we decided to go bigger and create our own company. So after 2 years of creating and planning, Virginia Banana was launched in November 2019. The name was easy, Virginia Banana is my daughter's name, I want to give her a company to run with when she is ready.
What is your company mission statement? Are you supporting any social good causes?
It's simple, Live a non-toxic life, keep your mind, body & soul healthy. Last July we dedicated the month to the Bees. We supported a nonprofit Bee conservation organization through the sale of Bee jewelry. I don't think there is enough awareness to our little creatures that help to create so much of the food we eat.
What is your favorite part of owning a business? Least favorite?
My favorite part is Creativity. I love researching ingredients and trying different combinations of ingredients that aren't out there in abundance. Hmm, my least favorite part of owning a business? Well, I would have to say its the external end of when a shipping issue happens. Once a package leaves my hands I somewhat feel out of control. So when someone sends me a picture of a package that looks like it got thrown off a bridge, I feel terrible because I know how much care was put into that box.
What is one piece of advice you would give for someone starting a business?
Patience. Patience. Patience. Even if you are starting your business on your own, most things will not happen on your timeline like you have envisioned. So many things will pop up that are out of your control, just keep chugging along, you will get there.
Why is important for more womxn to become founders?
We have so many great ideas too. Women have different experiences than men and we can offer a different perspective. There is something to be said about women marketing to women.
Where do you find sources of inspiration?
My product inspiration comes from where I see things lacking. For example, a friend came to me and said "I can't find a natural lip balm that is made without coconut oil for my son who is allergic to coconuts". I got to work and after 4 different combinations we now have the Virginia Banana Lip Balm in 13 flavors.
What is your favorite product you make? Why?
Dandelion Oil. From picking the dandelions, to processing them for 30 days, I love creating this product. It is by far my most time consuming product, but I love it. It is an ingredient in most of our products, the properties that are in this common little yellow flower are amazing. It is a staple in my home and is used in cooking and on skin.
Where do you see your business in 5 years?
Bigger and better of course. Haha! We really do hope to keep growing. We have begun the push for doing wholesale and hope to start seeing VB on store shelves soon and would love to see our team grow.
What is a quote or mantra you live by?
"Believe in Yourself and what you do"
What is your ideal s'more? Or hot cocoa?
I LOVE the Key Lime Pie, but if I could create my own Banana or Watermelon.
Who should we chat with next? Are there any womxn owned businesses we should partner with for our Marshmallow of the Month Club?