"When you have a great idea, you are going to be passionate, however, it takes some time to get the world aware of your mission — so don’t give up!"
As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Alison Smith, Co-Owner and Founder of WildBloom Skincare.
Alison has a background in finance but used her business skills and commitment to make natural and pure skincare solutions more accessible to co-found WildBloom Skincare. Through classes and certification with The School of Natural Skincare, she honed her skincare formulation skills to develop a complete clean ingredient product line that is effective, sustainable and affordable.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?
Sure! I co-founded WildBloom Skincare with a good friend after both of us found that we were gravitating more and more towards homemade, natural and organic skincare solutions but that everything on the market seemed to be packed with chemicals, were out-of-reach expensive or really just didn’t work for our needs. Our flagship product was BUG, an all-natural bug repellent balm that we formulated to avoid putting harsh chemicals on our families’ skin, but also wouldn’t sweat off of our super active kids. The brand grew to include a full range of skincare products after merging with another all-natural, Colorado-based company that had similar proprietary formulations, but also addressed very specific skincare needs. Today, we operate in most states in the country and continue to be committed to natural and organic pure skincare formulations. Our mission has expanded to meet the needs of busy women who don’t just expect pure, but also sustainable and responsible. We are committed to net-zero plastic consumption in our packaging through a partnership with The Plastic Bank and also donate one book to a child in need for every purchase that is made through our company.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?
As a woman in business for over 20 years, I started my career in finance working with all male counterparts. After a few years of generally being left out of conversations, I had achieved success and was promoted to a new position out of the area in New York. When I left that position, the female support team gave me a file of all of the times they had documented me being excluded from events that I should have been included in had I been male. While this was over 17 years ago, I was a young businesswoman who, in that moment, felt the protection of my other female counterparts. From that time on, I have been working to empower women and help raise them up as high as we can in all levels of business and personal success.
Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Starting and running a business is a thousand little mistakes. Suddenly, you are years down the road with a wealth of knowledge that came from doing everything wrong at least once. When we first started, our packaging partner had not made a bug repellent before, however, we chose them because they were committed to letting us source the ingredients and packaging. We had invested in an initial run of 10K to meet an order and when they arrived, about half of them were filled with an awkward tip at the top. Well, this is supposed to be bug repellent that rubs on kids and it was like a razor being poked at the skin!! We had to send all of them back to be re-poured which unfortunately added a few months for our launch, but really hit home the importance of quality control up front!
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?
Our business started as a partnership between myself and co-founder, Courtney Kilcoyne. The creation of our formulas was my department and Courtney led our voice to the public. At the beginning, we had no idea what we were doing. Courtney had eternal optimism as she pitched our mission and product, sometimes to the wrong people, but really led the process of learning how retailers purchase products and was able to get us into over 40 stores the first year!
Ok perfect. Now let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?
One of the biggest reasons that we took our pure skincare formulations and turned them into a business was that when we went into the big-box stores last-minute with a need for bug repellent or sunscreen, there wasn’t anything that we felt comfortable putting directly on our children’s skin. We wanted to know exactly what was in the products that we used, and we needed them to be effective. Starting with the mission of purity, we then realized that our typical consumer really cared about natural products, the environment and community, but was also short on time balancing needs of work, children, and other commitments. We strive to the be complete package for busy consumers — they can feel good about our products, but also know that for every purchase they make, we are giving a book to children in need to strengthen education and development of our local communities. We also made a commitment to net-zero plastic. In the wellness community, at times balancing the needs of practical application with our desire to have no plastic can be a challenge. With this in mind, we partnered with The Plastic Bank to ensure that for every plastic component we use, we donate funds to allow The Plastic Bank to pull at least one bottle out of the world’s oceans. The Plastic Bank hires people in local communities to collect the plastic waste, bringing paid work and income to people in need in these communities. Finally, we really believe that our passion for giving back to the community is one of the major reasons that we are in business — we sponsor local soccer teams such as InterConnecticut FC, empowerment programs such as Ms. President US and our local arts such as MOCA Westport. We want our products to do it ALL for our clients’ skincare needs and make them feel really rewarded by their purchases!
Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.
- We get asked all the time if “all-natural” makes a difference and why. Often consumers have specific skincare needs and have tried all of the hot brands and still haven’t seen the results they are looking for. Natural and pure ingredients bring a calming effect on overworked, troubled skin and can really work to restore skin’s natural radiance. So — our first step to wellness is to ditch the chemical ingredients. Commercial brands might give you short term results but the trade off cost could be much more impactful.
- Drink lots of water. Everything we do is about restoring and retaining moisture to the skin. If you can keep good hydration throughout the day, your skin has the core foundational moisture needed for everything else to work.
- Use SPF! This is an easy step that can help really protect your skin from numerous conditions that can impact wellness. Use a pure and natural product that does not add chemicals while still protecting your skin (and we have a great one!).
- Get moving — get outside, take a walk, do some jumping jacks! Physical activity helps the body, the mind and the skin!
- Let it go — yes, we do have small kids obsessed with Disney musicals, but Elsa was really on to something! Strive for a healthy lifestyle but stressing over if you are doing enough is counterproductive to the good actions that you take daily. When I am having a bad day, I try to find one thing I can do for someone else, even if it is as simple as holding a door. My day might have been bad, but maybe I made someone else’s bad day better.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?
When we think about wellness at WildBloom, we think body and mind that stretches beyond self into community and world. If I could start a movement, it would be towards simplicity — the complex world we live in has created much of the stress on personal and community wellness. When we are developing our products and the way that we present ourselves and our brand, we always try to focus on how we can reduce the steps, reduce the words — simply to help an overworked world become more pure and WELL.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
- You are going to fail a LOT. The people that look effortlessly successful might be that way today, but most of them have a lot of failed attempts and learning experiences that helped them get to the point of that charisma that they exude.
- If you don’t know what you are doing, find someone that does. That old adage of banging your head against the same wall really resonates with me. If it isn’t working, you might be doing it wrong and should make an adjustment which could make all the difference.
- Start with silos and then merge in — at the beginning, we had everyone doing everything. We tried a lot of things to see what would stick rather than having different team members focus on different areas of responsibilities even if those responsibilities didn’t mean sales. Once we siloed the responsibility, we became much more efficient and effective. We remain a collaborative team, but delegating specific roles and responsibilities is important for success.
- Things take time — there is a reason that people put together three- and five-year business plans. When you have a great idea, you are going to be passionate, however, it takes some time to get the world aware of your mission — so don’t give up!
- Do not move off your mission — we tried a component that was a bit less expensive but not on target with our sustainable mission. Not only did it NOT work for us, but it was also a costly mistake. Even if the cost is slightly more, if it is on mission, stick with it!
Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?
These are all excellent issues, and we care about all of them. If we had to pick one, we would likely pick sustainability. This is always on our minds because so many components to skincare products are still not recyclable. We are always testing different packaging and components to continuously reduce our environmental footprint, ensure the highest quality and reliability for daily use. We also find that once someone starts using one sustainable brand, they make the switch in other daily use products as well.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
Thank you so much for the interest and we can’t wait to have you try us out!
Thank you for these fantastic insights!
"Good stories should feel beautiful to the mind, heart, and eyes"