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Thursday, April 20, 2006

Screen writer relieves stress by starting a business





By Cynthia E. Griffin
OW Staff Writer

Need an antidote to writer’s block? Do like Kenyetta Smith did and start a business manufacturing bath and body products.

“I was writing a screenplay, and I had insomnia and writer’s block. I had dreams about making candles and soap,” recalled Smith, whose blockage led her to take candle- and soap-making classes. This eventually led to the creation of her company Butterfly Kisses Botanicals.
And while starting your own business might seem a drastic solution, Smith said the jump was not far for her.

“I’ve been an entrepreneur all my life. I’ve always had that bent. I was the kid selling lemonade on the corner,” added Smith laughter in her voice. Her corner was in Dayton, Ohio, down the street from her grandmother’s house and she was only 8 years old at the time.

“My father is an entrepreneur, so instead of giving me money, he would say here sell this,” explained the entrepreneur. The “this” was bean bags which she sold door-to-door in Dayton.
So when she kept having dreams about making candles and soap even though she had never done that before, Smith realized it was her mind’s way of relieving the stress she was under to finish the screen play, which is currently optioned to a major studio. It was also another outlet for her blocked creativity.

After taking a few classes, like many nascent entrepreneurs, Smith initially began making candles and soap and using them herself. “If I couldn’t sleep, I’d get up and make candles. Then Christmas rolled around, and I branched out and made bath salts.”

Then she realized how much money she was putting into her “hobby” and decided she would be better off selling them than going into debt giving them away. So by December 2001 the Ohio native had taken slow steps to set up the business first doing a black history month festival, then officially launching the company in April 2002 with a “sale” in the furnitureless front room of the condo she owned.

“It wasn’t fancy,” said Smith of the shelving she had set up in a triangular configuration, but it gave the sense of a boutique. “About 50 people came to that first event, and I made about $600. I said ‘I think we have a winner; I think we can do this.’”
From that initial launch with a body butter, scrub, candles and bath salts, the Butterfly Kisses line now contains 12 products for men and women, and Smith considers her most unique product a hair butter for women that she said works on all textures and serves as a moisturizer, frizz tamer and hair dressing.

What sets her products from the others in the market is the superior quality ingredients she uses and their attitudes, said the entrepreneur. “Our scrubs have to do with situations you find yourself in on a daily basis. There’s Monkey Off My Back, Make Him Beg, I Am Free, Keep it Movin’ and Sssh! Not Right Now.”

After going through all sorts of business configurations from a boutique to direct selling (she has seven reps) to selling through festivals, Smith is now looking for the right combination that will allow her to grow her company to the next level.

That has taken her to the door of the FAME Renaissance Incubator, where she is talking with the business development specialists there about how to capitalize on all the leads she gathered at the recent Natural Products Expo trade show held in Anaheim in March.

“We got a lot of great leads but haven’t gotten any orders. That’s when I realized my weakness is sales. I have to follow up with these (leads). That’s why I went to FAME,” admitted Smith who said she needs to learn how to do business wholesale.

The screen-writer-entrepreneur also has to make a decision about her manufacturing, which is currently being done in the garage of her apartment. Should she outsource it, or set up a small plant of her own. That’s another decision she is hoping FAME can help her with.

Meanwhile, Butterfly Kisses from almost the beginning has been primed to become a mega business that Smith hopes will be one of the largest companies in the natural care products market surpassing her current competitors like Carol’s Daughter and Warm Spirits as well as the other firms that target people beyond African Americans.

Posted by jebratt :: Thursday, April 20, 2006 :: 0 comments

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