September 07, 2015
Interview on CEO Superstar of the Week
Originally posted on Phil Hall’s Business Superstar Blog
Merry Richon is an entrepreneur and the Founder of Kiss My Itch Goodbye®, a safe and organic means of alleviating the symptoms of chronic itch and irritated skin. We spoke with her about what it means to be an entrepreneur.
Q: What inspired you, and who encouraged you, to become an entrepreneur?
Merry Richon: Inspiration came in the form of an idea initially focused on just one thing, finding a way to stop the incessant itching of mosquito bites. As someone who is very sensitive to bites and stings, just one bite causes misery. During one of our typical D.C. summers, a mosquito dined on my leg – and an idea to incorporate an ingredient into lotion occurred to me. I was fortunate to have a chemist (my husband) on hand to agree that it was worth trying.
From the moment we had something that could be tested by friends and family (who else?) who returned glowing responses after using it to treat their insect bites, there seemed to be no choice but to proceed, or at least try. As more people tried the prototype and it became apparent that the lotion did much more than alleviate the itch of insect bites, I was really “hooked.” As you can imagine, having numerous people voluntarily using their bodies as test labs because my product solved a big problem for people was beyond gratifying.
The relief they received on every itch from bites to poison ivy to eczema and beyond compelled us to continue growing the company. Having a great idea is crucial, but the never-wavering encouragement of just one person, in my case my spouse is, as they say, “priceless.”
Q: What have been the great challenges in being your own boss? And what have been the greatest triumphs?
Merry Richon: As someone who was part of a two-person company for many years, being my own boss is a way of life. You quickly learn that if you don’t get up and put in the effort every day, nothing will happen, and you certainly will have no chance of succeeding.
That said, to move into completely unknown territory – i.e., producing a tangible product that had to be put into containers, labeled and then sold – was very challenging. Just the effort associated with sourcing ingredients, since I wanted everything (containers, labels, shipping boxes, etc.) to be U.S. only was daunting, to say the least. Then add to that the need to file a provisional patent, ultimately followed by a full patent filing, and challenges abounded.
Triumphs, even small ones, are what I believe motivates most entrepreneurs. If you have people who not only applaud you for what you are doing, but actively support your idea by buying products and telling their friends, each day provides you with opportunities to see how much you can accomplish. Learning that your product has made a major difference for a young woman who has suffered with rosacea for many years is a huge triumph for someone whose initial idea was for something so much more basic, to stop itch from one cause. To know that people can get immediate relief when suffering from poison ivy, or that itchy skin that plagues so many during winter is very gratifying.
Q: How do you view the state of the U.S. economy? And is the current economic climate favorable for those seeking to start a business?
Merry Richon: Currently, the U.S. economy appears to be doing reasonably well and people generally find discretionary income to purchase things they deem important; think about that ubiquitous designer latte you see in so many people’s hands when you go to work or go shopping. With numerous ways for start-ups to fund their efforts the truly motivated entrepreneur can find a way to push their business forward. The traditional methods of angel investments and venture capital are still options, but for that truly early phase, more options become available all the time; i.e., crowd sourcing, KickStarter, government grants and many other avenues.
Q: What advice would you give to people seeking to start their own businesses?
Merry Richon: Start by asking a couple of important questions of yourself. Is the idea or concept something you really believe in and are excited about when you wake up every day? Are you always looking for an opportunity to share that idea with others because you feel it is important? Whether you self-fund your business, or take “other people’s” money, you need motivation to make the business work.
If working alone productively doesn’t hit your comfort level, you will need to find people who want to join you, even if there is no paycheck at the beginning. Is your family comfortable with the time a start-up requires (it will never be a 9-to-5 gig) and the associated financial burdens (whether it means investing savings or giving up that paycheck associated with a “day job”)? And, do you have the desire to learn the things you don’t know in order to succeed in the field where this idea must live to be competitive? As another source of inspiration, always remember that for the most part, people are very generous with their time and knowledge and you should never hesitate to accept an offer of assistance.
So many people you encounter will be cheering you on in different ways; use that positive energy to support your idea as you turn it into reality.
Merry Richon is an entrepreneur and the Founder of Kiss My Itch Goodbye, a safe and organic means of alleviating the symptoms of chronic itch and irritated skin. We spoke with her about what it means to be an entrepreneur. Click here to read the interview: http://www.business-superstar.com/superstar-of-the-week/merry-richon-ceo-of-kiss-my-itch-goodbye-washington-d-c/