Yes, crystals and essential oils are trendy right now. No, that’s not why Jess Foster of Little Shop of Oils is in this business. Rather, Jess genuinely wants to help people who struggle with issues such as anxiety and depression, because she’s been there. In fact, she’s still there.
In the past couple of years, Jess’s Little Shop of Oils all natural apothecary has grown into a little empire. Jess and her brand have amassed over 42,000 Instagram followers... followers who often convert into devout customers who swear by Little Shop of Oils products. The store sells everything from full moon ritual kits to hand poured candles to crystal infused essential oil perfume rollerballs. Another notable product is her “Anxiety Sucks” rollerball, made with lavender, rose, and chamomile, and infused with grounding smokey quartz crystal.
Everything’s made with love from Jess’s own home in sunny California, and all crystals are cleansed under the full moon. While the Little Shop of Oils has taken off and grown well beyond Jess’s kitchen, she’s faced a lot of struggles, both old and new. Read our full Q&A with Jess to learn more.
When and how did you start your business?
I started my business about 2 and a half years ago. I was a nanny, and actually, things started getting really rough. I started having a lot of panic attacks and anxiety, so I didn't really feel comfortable taking care of someone else's child. I ended up having to quit, which put me in a really low spot. I felt like I had no money. I didn't know what I was gonna do. I went through a big bout of depression and anxiety, and I really couldn't leave my room. I didn't really know what I was supposed to do. I wanted to help people and take care of people but I couldn't even take care of myself at that point.
So my boyfriend got me out of bed and told me to do what makes me happy. I was like, “I just wanna do crafts, but that's not gonna make me any money!” He said, “Right now, just focus on getting yourself better. Make your crafts, you'll figure out a job, whatever.” So making crafts, I was working a lot with essential oils, and I had heard that they had helped–not cure anxiety–but helped to relax you. So I started making products just for myself and then my friends started asking for them and then someone finally begged me to make an Instagram business and I did. That's kinda where it started. It started in my house and I'm still pouring and making in my house!
Since the beginning of just selling to your friends you've expanded so much. How have you been able to keep up with the growth?
Keeping up with that growth has been hard..its a double edged sword. I work from home and I live at home so I feel like I never get to leave. But also crafting is my passion. Making these things is healing for me, and I know it's doing something bigger than just helping me right now. I had to hire 2 people on to help me. But with all the growth, I'm just living day by day and taking hits and punches every single day. They're all very good things, I just need to train my brain to realize these are amazing things and I just need to ask for help and grow. I'm learning something new every single day about my business, about myself, about people, around me...about everything.
What do you think is the most important lesson you’ve learned this week?
The most important thing I've learned is that personally for me and my business, I just need to know where I’m at. I didn't start this to make money and I'm not looking to make money. But what I’ve learned is....I need a bookkeeper and an accountant! I don't care about the money, but knowing that it's actually doing something and I'm not sitting here crying and working my ass off for nothing is what keeps me going. And what also keeps me going is the people on instagram. The messages I get make me drop to the floor. Others make me want to get up and kill them.
How does having anxiety affect being a business owner in your case?
In my case, again, it's a double edged sword. Without my anxiety I don't think I could do this. My anxiety drives me to continue to go...but it can also drain me. I don't think just any person could do this. It takes a certain type of person to do this. You take punches every single day. It's not easy. But it's so gratifying and you are doing what you love. You know at the end of the day, no matter how many haters are out there, so many more people love you.
What's more challenging for you: being a business owner with anxiety or being a woman owned business?
Personally, I haven't had any issues with being woman owned, but I’ve had a lot of people let me down. I don't know if it’s because I was a woman or because they just didn't take me seriously. So, I would say anxiety would be the hardest, but also the best. I have so much anxiety and energy burning through me, but it also makes me crash, so I just have to find a balance. Both are challenging, but I do think women are taking over the world this year. I think all these women owned business are really starting to be raw and open, and I really think the next few years are gonna be huge. Were gonna show you. It's different. I've been listening to Paramore like crazy and what's on my mind is the song “Fake Happy.” I feel like I have to be fake happy for everyone on Instagram because I want them to know things are better, but I also want them to know life isn't always good. It's hard for me to be fake happy. I'm really happy. My business is fucking killing it. I'm living the absolute dream of something I never thought could happen to me. We’re gonna take over this year. We have only like 3 Mercury retrogrades! Last year we had over 6, the most we've had in centuries. Our communication barrier in this whole universe has been completely broken. This year it's all gonna come out, and everyone's gonna start talking and telling their truths.
How do you stay true to yourself while you build your business and come out with new products?
Oh my gosh... that’s my question right now! I'm so caught in the middle. I'm gonna quote Paramore again, “I'm trying to keep going, but it’s not that simple.” It’s hard! You get one message from someone hating your product and then you’re like, “Why do i do this?” But it’s just one person! Right now for me it's hard to answer that question because I’m learning and going through that exact question in my brain right now. Trying to figure out where that happy medium is and when I can see the light, ‘cause I'm a little bit caught in the middle right now.
It’s hard because you have such a direct line to your customers and followers, right?
I had to stop wholesaling because then their customers come after me, too! I’m like “I don't even know that store! When did you buy it?” I don't know ! I can't control that! So I'm stopping wholesaling. It’s all just gonna be Instagram where I can really connect with my customer. No more wholesale. They've killed me all year. I want to keep true to me. I feel like with wholesale I've lost my product and that's what's bringing me the most anxiety. The stores also have expectations for me, and then their customers have expectations for me.
I'm gonna keep with stores I actually really want to work with and not work with just anyone who just wants to sell my product. Some customer went to Marshall’s in Irvine the other day and there was a complete rip off from China of my product. It has gold foil and all my artwork on it. It’s my product. I’m being ripped off right now. I'm just trying to hold onto me right now so I can hold on to my business.
What are you most excited about with your business in 2019?
I'm most excited about getting into an office space and warehouse and out of my house! I've finally grown and worked hard enough that I think this year I’ll be able to move the business out of my house. I live in a house with my boyfriend, roommate, and three dogs. Sometimes I have two girls helping me working, and on a daily basis and it starts to get really small in here and I can feel everyone's tension and energy. I need to get away from my home because I know my anxiety likes to keep me here. I cant wait ‘til I can go somewhere to work and leave and have my home back again. That’s what’s really killing me right now. I'm learning how to love myself first because that’s something I’ve never done. I've put the fake happy face on for 28 years. On the outside, I've been myself but I've always been terrified about my inside and what people would say about that. So now, I'm gonna let that girl out–the little girl that got shut up at 13 years old–and she's gonna be extraordinary.