August 7, 2023

Adore, Breathe, Heal: The Entrepreneurial Magic of Adoratherapy

From Scents to Serenity: The Empowering Journey of Adoratherapy's Founder

Step into a world where scents become healers and fragrances hold the key to inner balance. Today, we invite you to unravel the enchanting tale of Laura McCann, the mastermind behind the aromatic wonderland that is Adoratherapy. In this extraordinary interview, we venture beyond the ordinary, exploring how Laura's journey as an entrepreneur led her to craft a unique fusion of clean beauty and aromatherapy. Amidst the twists and turns of her decade-long odyssey, Laura uncovers the essence of her brand message, one that celebrates self-adornment and mindful rituals. Join us as we traverse through the delightful aroma-scape of Adoratherapy and glean precious wisdom from an entrepreneur whose passion and determination have left an indelible mark on the world of well-being.

Laura McCann - The Founder and CEO of Adoratherapy

Chris Choi: Greetings, Laura! I'm absolutely thrilled to have this opportunity to connect with you today. Thank you for graciously joining this conversation. I've been eagerly looking forward to delving into the captivating journey behind you and your remarkable company, Adoratherapy.

Laura McCann: Hello, Chris! Thank you for reaching out. It's truly a pleasure to be here and share my experiences with you.

Chris Choi: That's wonderful! Before we dive into the interview, I'd love to know more about you. Please introduce yourself and share the inspiring story of how you ventured into entrepreneurship. I'm particularly intrigued by the personal journey that led to the creation of your company and the profound impact it has on your customers.

Laura McCann: Yeah. So my name is Laura McCann, and I'm the founder and CEO of Adoratherapy. And we are a clean beauty brand in the sense that we make aromatherapy products that are fragrance-based. And everything we do is about helping somebody remember to take a deep breath to heal themselves. So essential oils are the key ingredients in our products, and those ingredients are healing on their own. Then we've blended them to create specific ranges for the chakras. We also do aura readings, which is really interesting and very trendy right now. We bring all of this together in a retail concept. A little different than a lot of beauty brands that are looking to grow by selling to big retailers like Sephora or through e-commerce. We're combining what we do in a physical retail store because the aura readings need to be in person.

And then we do a very consultative, sort of a combination of aromatherapy and aura readings. So I've been doing Adoratherapy since 2015. And of course, throughout that time frame, the business has pivoted and evolved so that we could find our "why." And I think we finally are there. But it took quite a while. And then with COVID in there, it was like even more of a while. But that was a great reset time. So I guess it was good.

Chris Choi: Got it. A lot of businesses pivot multiple times. Can you tell me more about why you decided to pivot and what led to the new business model?

Laura McCann: Yeah. So when I started and got involved in this business, I knew nothing about aromatherapy, but I had issues in my own life around how do I deal with stress and how do I make sure that, especially as an entrepreneur, the stress doesn't get to me. And of course, I did it all wrong. I was a very successful entrepreneur, but my body was telling me that I had kind of burnt it out and I wasn't able to listen because the reward of success is so great, right? And having the ability and the drive and the ambition is kind of like a superpower, but in the end, your body tells you, "yeah, that's not working." So I had to go and figure out how to heal myself. And that was a journey. And in that process, I was introduced to aromatherapy.

And it was a really interesting thing because as a human, I wasn't really breathing right. I was always a very shallow breather because I was so adrenalined up. I call it being “solar plexy”, right? That's the third chakra. And so aromatherapy made me stop and breathe. And I had this clear understanding that if all I did was stop and breathe throughout my day and then do that intentionally, I could hack all the stuff that I still wasn't wanting to do, like take an hour to meditate or go to a yoga class. So it became like, again, a way to sort of have the healing journey, but do it as a person who wanted to do it a different way. And so the journey began to understand that business, that market, the beauty industry products.

And so the reason we pivoted is because a lot of people don't understand aromatherapy. It's actually quite complicated. And then also in the beauty world, the category of aromatherapy really falls into wellness, not beauty. And there's been a journey to converge the two, but it's really happening kind of now. And sometimes if you're really good at downloading trends, which I've been in my career because I've been in fashion and in trend, you're ahead, right? And being ahead is wonderful, but it's also miserable because what you find is nobody's where you are, and you have to do all that education, and that's time-consuming and expensive. So I've been waiting for that moment, and I think the moment is now. The other thing is when we introduced aura readings, the aura readings really showed a person exactly what was going on with the body, mind, and spirit.

And when you have data and you show people the data, like, "this is what you're doing," selling them a product to help them becomes a lot easier because they're like, "I want that thing." Before, it was like, "why do I need it? What is it? What's in it?" So once we figured out how to get the razor and the razor blade, and that's what we've done, it's just been incredible. And then the challenging thing is then how do you do that also in e-commerce, right? Because you can't smell in e-commerce and you can't do the aura reading in e-commerce, so it makes it still fun to figure out all that.

Chris Choi: That's great. Okay, got it. So the next question would be, like, when you first started Adoratherapy, like eight years ago, how did you reach out to your target audience at the time? And how has your marketing strategy changed since then, after you pivoted?

Laura McCann: Yeah, great question because we're in fragrance, and this is back in 2015. The way a business typically went to market is they went to trade shows, right? And so when we started, we actually grew the business very quickly, and we had over 500 retail customers, and went to a bunch of different trade shows, and we had like 50 sales reps, especially in the grocery wellness category, which is where aromatherapy would sit. Like a Whole Foods has aromatherapy, but a Sephora didn't back then. So that was the strategy that we used. We had a lot of retailers that way. The challenge was they would buy the product, put it in their store, mark it up 50%, and then sell it. But it wouldn't sell fast because they had no idea what they were selling, why they were selling it, how to sell it.

So what we found is the recurring revenue model, which is very important in e-commerce, like lifetime value of the customer revenue. It just wasn't there. So at that moment, I was like, we're going to have to rethink this. So of course, e-commerce was the big thing. DTC so it's like, how do we do DTC? And so we started to focus on that, but it was very hard. These are like two completely different businesses. The third business is retail, which is an even different business. Frankly, I don't think we would have done the retail piece if COVID hadn't happened. So when COVID happened, everybody went away, and only DTC was available. And so DTC was way too difficult and expensive and required so much capital that it seemed like unless we could raise money, we couldn't do that. And so, very simple, open a store, low rent, see if you can unload product.

And then through that process, we really figured out our "why" and then came up with sort of like the journey. So it's been up and down. Very entrepreneurial journey, but always the vision that this was something people needed. So how do you get out of your way as an entrepreneur and let it become what it wants to become and not control everything?

Chris Choi: Great! Now, let's talk about the heart of your brand - the consistent brand message for Adoratherapy. What's the essence that sets your company apart and connects with your audience? Tell me more about the captivating message that Adoratherapy embodies.

Laura McCann: Yeah, the consistent brand message has always been "adore yourself." The brand is Adoratherapy, so it's a play on the words aromatherapy and adoring yourself. And adoring yourself is the way you heal. And adoring yourself is very different than loving yourself or feeling worthy. It gets you to that same place. The difference with Adoration is it combines rituals with it. And it's those rituals that are the mindful practice that gets us to that next level. Loving yourself is sort of like, okay, I take a bubble bath when I need one. I get my nails done. I don't say mean things to myself, or I try to be kind to myself. But if I don't live into that through the actions I take every day, intentional breathwork, the right affirmations, focusing on my energy and my body, then I'm really not doing the work. And that's why it's called Adoratherapy. And that's why our message has stayed the same from the beginning.

Chris Choi: Got it. That makes sense. Now, I'm eager to hear about the top three challenges you've encountered since launching your brand and how you successfully overcame each one. It's always enlightening to learn from the obstacles entrepreneurs face on their journey to success.

Laura McCann: It's always the same: money, people, and then yourself. Or maybe, I don't know if there's an order, we could get people to vote on that. Without capital, you really can't do anything. So finding capital and the right kind of capital at different times has been quite amazing. I've had businesses where I've been in tech, and I raised capital from angels. I've had businesses where I never raised money. And they were amazingly successful because they were not like a technology business. They were more a service business. And in these businesses, you need capital for developing all the software marketing, websites. So let's talk about your digital kind of business. And Flywheel, you also need products. And products cost money.

You need capital for products. And then obviously in our case, we make our products. So then we need the infrastructure and the capital to build out that supply chain piece. The goal of that is to have the right margins, to be able to scale and have a profitable business. So, yeah, that's the capital issue. And so throughout 2015 to now, as you may know or may not know, it's really hard for women to raise money. For sure. I don't have to tell you that the statistics are like 1% of the money goes to women. Right. If you're maybe older or not, right now in this time in the world, a minority of some sort, it's harder too. So because minorities, thank goodness, are finally getting attention and then DTC is out of favor, retail hasn't been in favor. Beauty, a lot of men don't understand beauty.

So if you go to an investor, that's been the thing. So how do you do this? So a lot of times it requires your own capital, friends and family, creative financing. And you could get an MBA in creative financing. I know all the things not to do. Some of the things to do. So that's it. And then people. I started the business with a partner who left early in the business. That was very hard. It's always very hard. But partnerships are hard. They're harder than marriages because they don't always have the same benefits. Partnerships with no benefits. And then yourself because you're only as competent as an entrepreneur as you are at understanding your strengths and weaknesses. And it's like you're the racehorse and you're also the jockey. So being an entrepreneur is like, who gets to win here? And you're riding and you're the horse.

It's exhausting, right? If you don't have the right mindset or the experience or the people around you, it's very hard to win at this. And I'm lucky that this is like my fourth business. So I feel like I've done it before and I kind of knew where all the monsters in the closets were. It's like a good zombie movie. Like every time you turn, there's something that can get you, and you just learn to live that way. But it's very hard for a first-time entrepreneur, I think, to figure out all the things, which is why it's easier, I think, the first time to do it than the third or the fourth time.

Chris Choi: Those are some major hurdles, indeed! I'm sure our readers will appreciate hearing how you tackled them. Now, let's talk about attracting investors. What strategies did you employ to attract investors, and what do you think made them believe in Adoratherapy?

Laura McCann: Yeah, that's so interesting. There are so many resources now. When I started out, there were none, and it was only really tech and life sciences and things like that that were raising money. Now there's an entire ecosystem for almost every single vertical. So, like, if you were a beauty brand, you could probably go to the top beauty newsletters, industry trades, but they're all online, and they all have conferences on how to raise money. So, like, literally, you could know nothing about it, and they would teach you. If you're a woman and you just have a desire to grow a business, there are zillions of platforms for women, and all of them teach you how to raise money. I'm a little bit against all of that. I've raised money, I've not raised money.

I think that the idea that somebody else is going to put money into your business and help you grow before you even, especially if you've never raised money before, you've even learned what that whole ecosystem of raising money, the expectations of investors, and things like that are, then you can't do it. You just can't. It's the way to end your business very fast because you'll never understand all the expectations. And literally, it's like having a group of people who have massive expectations at ten. Okay, great. We're negotiating the departure time because we're going to travel, and I'm getting a passport.

Chris Choi: That's a valuable perspective. It's great to see how you've stayed true to your vision. Now, I'm curious, what keeps you motivated every day to continue this journey as an entrepreneur?

Laura McCann: Oh, gosh, I never have a problem with that. I remember when I was younger and I'd get bored, and my mother was an artist, and she would always say, "how can you be bored?" And I was like, I'm bored. And she was like, "you can't be, that's your problem and you need to solve it." So somewhere along the way, it must have clicked. I'm a very creative person, so my brain is always filled with ideas. The biggest issue is not thinking every idea is worth following and also learning how to control that kind of flow because I have so much energy that an idea comes in, and it doesn't just sit there, it just wants to happen. So for me, that's never been an issue. I love developing products, I love developing ideas, I love marketing and content. I'm very creative, and I'm also good at the business stuff. And so, yeah, I could be busy all the time. The challenge for me is the opposite, how to turn it off.

Chris Choi: It's inspiring to see your passion and enthusiasm! Finally, what advice would you give to someone starting their own business, especially those venturing into high-growth and scaling?

Laura McCann: I would say the truth is for me, and I think this is the case for most people, is what you think it is, is not what it is. If you're starting a business to make money, it's probably a bad decision to start a business. In many cases, when you start a business, you're using your own money. You're using up relationships and leverage you have over other people to get their money. You're probably not going to have a 401(k), so unless you kind of have a solid base. Being an entrepreneur is challenging, so it's also easier to do it before maybe you have a family or if you have a partner who can support you. If you're going to lose everything by doing it, it's probably not the right time to do it. So that's my first thing.

The other thing is be ready to excavate all of your stuff because what a business is, it's a mirror of you and it's going to very quickly show your limitations, your strengths, your weaknesses, but also your power. So it is a journey of introspection and consciousness, if you choose it to be that. And if you don't, you'll end up hitting all the walls that are there when you've not done the unpeeling or the unlayering of your layers. Right. Like it's great way to figure yourself out. Now, I think there are different people that call entrepreneurship different things today. So there's lots of gig economy people who you could say are entrepreneurs and they're doing like freelance, and they're doing that. That's a little different than what I consider entrepreneurship to be, and I'll just make that clarification. I'm talking about companies where you need people, infrastructure. It's not you as a digital nomad, maybe, but some companies can be very successful with two or three people and do very well. So I can't judge what kind of entrepreneurship I'm talking about. Companies that are supposed to be high growth and scale.

Chris Choi: Laura, your advice has been incredibly valuable, and I truly appreciate you sharing your insights and experiences with us today. It's been a fantastic conversation, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to learn from your journey.

Laura McCann: Thank you for having me, Chris. It's been a pleasure talking to you.

Key Takeaways:

1. Scented Pathways to Success: Laura McCann's aromatic odyssey with Adoratherapy reveals the untapped potential of fragrances as more than just pleasant scents. By harnessing the healing powers of essential oils, Laura's brand invites individuals to embark on a transformative journey of self-discovery and well-being.

2. Pivoting with Foresight: Adoratherapy's triumph lies in its ability to pivot with purpose. Laura's astute understanding of market trends and her intuition on converging beauty with wellness set her brand apart. Embracing the aura readings, a unique concept that intertwines with aromatherapy, catapulted Adoratherapy into a new realm of success.

3. Unveiling the Power of Adoration: Beyond self-love and worthiness, Laura's brand message encourages adoration - a profound practice that blends mindfulness with rituals. Adoration becomes the gateway to healing, fostering a deeper connection with oneself and transforming the way individuals perceive self-care.

4. Entrepreneurs, Embrace the Climb: Laura's entrepreneurial journey teaches us to embrace challenges as stepping stones to growth. Her unwavering passion, paired with her ability to adapt and learn, showcases the determination required to create a successful venture amidst the ever-changing entrepreneurial landscape.

5. A Fragrant Legacy of Inspiration: Adoratherapy's essence extends far beyond fragrance; it leaves behind an empowering legacy of inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs. Laura McCann's story reminds us that by aligning our passions with a purpose-driven vision, we can create transformative businesses that touch the lives of many.

Apple advances user security with powerful new data protections

iMessage Contact Key Verification, Security Keys for Apple ID, and Advanced Data Protection for iCloud provide users with important new tools to protect their most sensitive data and communications

Boost Your Brand's Growth with Artoh Card.