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Female Founders: Terran Lewis of Herb’n Eden On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

It’s not going to be easy. I was so green when I started Herb’N Eden at 23. I had no clue about the sacrifices I would make to be in business. Personally, my husband and I lived with his parents 2 times in an effort to reduce our overhead and have more money to reinvest back into the business.

As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Terran Lewis of Herb’N Eden.

Terran Lewis is the founder and owner of plant-based beauty brand Herb’N Eden. Founded in 2015, Terran along with husband Quinton have taken their company to new heights, securing a $1.2M growth and development investment and creating local jobs in their hometown of Douglasville, GA.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

While interning at an urban farm I learned a lot about the ecosystem of plants and their powers. I also was introduced to the farmers market world, where others were making and selling sustainable goods, and that world really intrigued me. From there I was inspired to learn the craft of soap making, which I turned into a business and started creating personal care products that were natural and plant based.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

A moment that I will never forget: There was a young guy who regularly bought our products for him and his wife. He would always tell us how his wife loved the products, but we had never met her in person. She happened to come see us in person at an event we were selling at, and she pulled me to the side with tears in her eyes. She began to tell me how the products had helped her skin clear up tremendously and helped her to regain her confidence with being in public and interacting with others. At that moment, I understood that this company was much more than me making products that helped with the skin, we were doing the work of helping others to feel good about themselves through plants.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

While making a batch of soap, I once left the essential oil out of the tea tree soap and I realized it after it was too late to add it. This left me with an unscented soap. I learned to take my time and be aware during the process of my craft to avoid a mistake like that again. We were able to pivot that situation by giving the unscented bars away in purchased orders.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Herb’N Eden has grown tremendously! The person that I’m grateful for hands down is my husband, Quinton. His business mind has helped guide the company. Having him as my partner in this business has been a great relief. I founded the company and created the product line, on the other hand he was learning internet marketing. His marketing and business acumen allows us to be complimentary, he is strong in places I am weak.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience what is currently holding back women from founding companies?

I know a lot of women founders personally, but if I had to say something was holding us back from that it would be the proper balance of personal and business life. Our personal and home lives require so much energy from us that it can be hard to branch off and run a successful company sustainably. Also, business is heavily dominated by men and it can be intimidating to disrupt these spaces. We definitely have what it takes to increase that 20%. Thankfully there are more resources becoming available to encourage women to start that company, with some help and guidance.

Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government, to help overcome those obstacles?

Grants are a great way to get some working capital and put your business on the radar. One of the greatest things I think can be done is to pay attention to women that have paved the way already and make them your mentors. Look at what the steps they have taken. Accelerator programs are also another great way for women founders to build community with others. They are a wealth of knowledge when it comes to the proper steps to implement in your business. Lastly, if business is heavily dominated by men then they should be cognizant of this disparity and use their influence and knowledge to help empower women as well by lending their expertise and intentionally helping to improve that statistic.

This might be intuitive to you as a woman founder but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?

More women should become founders because we have great ideas too and we have what it takes to execute. Women are intuitive so we are not blind to the problems of the world, and we most certainly have solutions. Furthermore, there are just some things that women understand more, especially when it comes to issues that affect only us, it only makes sense that we create companies and lead them fiercely with passion. Our minds matter and our energy is valuable. More importantly we are the top consumers, we know what we want!

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder? Can you explain what you mean?

One myth that I would like to dispel is that it seems like people don’t think founders can make mistakes. Social media has us glamorizing founders and when they make a mistake we crucify them. Founders are people too, especially women who are in tune with their emotions. For a lot of people becoming a founder is a whole new world to navigate with tons of levels to unlock as you grow. A lot of us are first generation figuring it out as we go. Having grace and compassion allows the founder to fix those mistakes and true growth can take place.

Is everyone cut out to be a founder? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder and what type of person should perhaps seek a “regular job” as an employee? Can you explain what you mean?

Being a founder is not cut out for everyone. It’s a lot of pressure along the business journey, everything relies on you and the energy you give. So it’s conditionally up to each person to develop themselves personally along the way. A successful founder has a vision, and does what it takes to see that vision through. They have tenacity and resilience. The type of person that should seek a “regular job” is one who knows that they are more valuable being a part of a team. Founders often start off alone and then build a team gradually, we need people to be on our teams to help see the vision through.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

-It’s not going to be easy. I was so green when I started Herb’N Eden at 23. I had no clue about the sacrifices I would make to be in business. Personally, my husband and I lived with his parents 2 times in an effort to reduce our overhead and have more money to reinvest back into the business.

-Success takes time: Most of the time we think we are going to hit the ground running when we start our business, and the sales are just going to flow in. That’s not the case for everyone. It took us 6 years from inception to reach $1 million. Some businesses experience that way sooner than others, but for most it takes at least 5 years.

-Don’t grow too fast: When our company experienced rapid growth in a short period of time, we were forced to make impulse decisions. An example of that was hiring people just for the sake of having hands to meet the demand. We found ourselves extremely behind on orders, messed up orders, and so much more. It also exposed a lot of our flaws and our lack of systems. Fortunately, we made it through and it showed us where we needed to tighten up our processes.

-Create a sustainable system and establish standard operating procedures (SOPs). As we continue to grow our team and expand, having a sustainable system of operations is top priority. With so much demand in all aspects of running a business, systems allow founders to work on the business and not be weighed down with doing everything. We can’t do everything all the time, we have to establish systems and put people in place that will continue to implement those systems. I personally think not having a sustainable system can be a fatal blow to the success of a business.

-Learn how to build a valuable business. I recently read a book called Built to Sell. Even if you don’t plan to sell your business you should get it to the point that it can run without you. Running a business is expensive not just in terms of real dollars, but also energy wise. I’ve learned that commerce is a system itself and there are particular steps to success. One example is when I started Herb’N Eden I didn’t know about needing capital and investors. Smart partnerships can take your business to levels you might not have without the financial backing.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

I’ve used my success to make the world a better place by creating jobs for others in my community. We have a manufacturing facility in Douglasville, Ga that employs local people, and we create natural personal care products. Being a Black woman with a successful soap business makes the world a better place in general. Representation matters, and the path that I’m paving along with others is a good example that there is a place for us. I certainly plan to do more to make this world a better place through my business success. I hope to one day be able to invest into other young businesses and help them be successful.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

The greatest movement is love. We have to love one another, our future, and this planet. We can learn alot from nature and tapping into ourselves.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

So many people come to mind, but I will just name 3, Richelieu Dennis, Pinky Cole, & Jay-Z. They are in their bag when it comes to business! They have truly made some smart business moves and I really admire that. A one on one with them would be full of value.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

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