How I Accidentally Started a New Business in my 40s
Ahhhh, I found a new calling during the fifth decade of my life, which makes me sound so old! I leisurely made my entrance into the fifth decade (my 40s) with a good job, a great salary, a healthy 9-year-old son, and happy marriage. What better time to pivot and do a complete metamorphosis? And why in the world would you do that? Life can be such a trip.
Our journey in this new adventure started because of a major problem. Plato said, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” What I said was, “What the heck, this is ruining our vacation!” Like trillions of other families, we would vacation at the beach. Around the time my son was 6 years old, he started to really play in the ocean. “Started” is the keyword, because it only lasted a few minutes. Sure enough, we would take all the things down to the beach, finally unpack and settle in our chairs, pop a cold beverage, and there he would come, waddling back to us like a worn-out cowboy with the cowboy tears to go with it. The saltwater caused painful chafing on his thighs, armpits, and chest.
We removed the netting of his cute overpriced swim trunks. We slathered on every known product from the local drug store. He wore basketball trunks, underwear, no underwear, you name it. This went on for summer after summer. One particular gnarly summer beach trip, we waddled to the local surf shop. This wasn’t your cheap surf store. This store catered to surfers, so naturally, we expected they would have a remedy.
They didn’t and suggested going to the local drug store and trying the diaper creams, ointments, and all the things we had already tried. The products we tried either didn’t hold up well, didn’t last very long, left a white residue, or were super messy and left grease all over his boogie board. That summer, I returned from vacation and went to work in my kitchen blending and mixing products I thought could make a difference. We happened to go back to the beach the same summer, and this time I was prepared with my trusty small blue Tupperware container of goop.
We traveled with several other families whose kids suffered from this same issue. Turns out if you pay attention, you’ll see a ton of bowlegged kiddos waddling around in complete misery on the beach. I brought out the goop and we slathered it on the kids in all the trouble spots. They played all day in the water and spent the day uninterrupted on the beach. It did not even dawn on me that I had just created a solution to this major problem.
The following summer, we went back to the beach with a larger group, and more kids. The blue Tupperware made the trip and all of the mothers used it to slather their kids before we left for the beach. One of the mothers, a great friend, looked at me while we were sitting in our beach chairs and said I needed to post on Facebook that I had a solution to this problem. I posted, “Moms, if your kids suffer from chafing from the saltwater while playing in the ocean, I think I have a solution.” I had over 700 comments, DMs and text messages within the hour. I could not believe it.
After arriving home from vacation, I had to immediately blend and fill using what supplies I had leftover, and then order more asap. For six months, my husband and I mixed, poured, and filled containers every day after work. People showed up at my home looking for the goods. We ended up putting a small red cooler on the porch full of jars of goop, which we named “Salty Britches.” People would come by, pick up a jar, and leave $10 behind. The demand was incredible. Friends posted about our new discover like crazy. Strangers showed up at my home.
I did not anticipate the response what so ever. In the fall of that year, 2017, people started discovering other uses for our product. Dry chapped hands, chapped lips, fussy skin and even to prevent blisters on feet, were just some of what we were hearing about. I literally thought I might die of exhaustion, however, from working the two jobs simultaneously. Because of the crazy demand, a friend of mine that owned a local boutique contacted me and asked if I wanted to set up at her shop. On a Saturday morning, I showed up before the store opened with my box of hand mixed and poured Salty Britches and saw a line down the sidewalk of people waiting to buy it. I cried. I hugged everyone. I will never forget that Saturday morning. It was then that I knew, I had to pursue this.
Needless to say, we built a “shop” for our HQ and distribution right behind our tiny home in rural South Carolina. We simplified and downsized our life to bootstrap our business. My then seventh-grader had to move schools and even articulated he knew this was his part to play in this endeavor. I am doing this. I am doing this in my fifth decade of life and I finally feel like I am exactly where I am supposed to be.
“Mama Desperation” was the catalyst for starting my own business. There is a reason the word “mother” is used in the phrase “necessity is the mother of invention.” We are immensely grateful for the local support from our small community. Gratitude is like fuel. Train your mind to appreciate the problems. You never know, solving one might send you on the greatest adventure of your life.
-Red Tricycle Spoke Contributor Network