In life, things often don't line up perfectly.
But for Melinda Herron, founder of nature-based eco-beauty company 103 Collection, that was the inspiration for her company.
“I was in my 30s and wanted to start a product-based business that didn't require me to be physically on site every day. I was starting a family and wanted to be with my kids and husband.” said Herron. “At the same time, I started having a lot of negative reactions to the skin care products I was using. Everyone was suggesting different things, but nothing worked for me. So I thought why not make it myself?”
“My personal and professional needs are aligned. The opportunity just presented itself.”
Herron launched the 103 collection in 2015 with her husband Delfondo. And if the story behind the company is one of perfect alignment, you can't ignore the story of their relationship.
“My husband and I grew up within a mile of each other, but we didn't know each other as kids. We met as adults and didn't know each other until later,” Herron said. “When I actually looked into it, the street that connected the places where we both lived was number 103.rd street. “
“103 has always been a part of us, so when we thought of a name we wanted something unique that told a story that is a part of both of us. That's how we arrived at the 103 collection. Ta.”
Herron has always been passionate about two things: entrepreneurship and beauty. At the age of 14, she stepped into her beauty world by doing hair and makeup for her friends. After graduating from high school, she attended beauty school and went on to university.
“My foundation is in the beauty space, and that's where my heart is,” Herron said.
After graduating from university, he started an event planning company. Although her business was successful, it required a lot of her time and attention. Now that she had a family, she felt she had to find an alternative that would allow her to be at her home more. As she explored her next move options, she began to have many negative experiences with skin products.
“I was having allergic reactions and was very tired of trying new products,” Herron said. “There were times when I couldn't go outside because of hives and swelling on my face. I thought, 'What can I do to change this?' And I decided to create my own product. ”
Driven by her entrepreneurial spirit and passion for beauty, Herron and her husband began researching skin care products. They started by ordering different ingredients, mixing them together, and checking the results.
After noticing that many products contained ingredients they didn't know about, they decided to find natural alternatives. Over time, they started seeing positive results.
“We found that plant-based products were less likely to cause negative reactions,” Herron says. “So we kept mixing different natural ingredients together until we had a product that didn't cause allergic reactions.”
With the product in hand, I shared it with my family and friends to see if they had similar results. They liked it too, so the two decided to sell the product online. With a simple website and traditional social media promotion, they began to reach people who were not part of their immediate circle. But the result was still the same and people loved it.
As they began to see success online, they started thinking more strategically about their business.
“I knew I wanted to be a retailer within the first five years,” Herron said. “Once I set that goal, I became very strategic about the events I attended and the connections I made.”
They started exhibiting at many exhibitions, but with a goal in mind, they did not necessarily focus on sales.
“As a small business, we've learned that investments don't always pay off right away,” says Herron. “When we shifted our focus to marketing and connections instead of sales, we saw more success. There were some shows that we went to because we wanted to connect.”
Event by event, the 103 collection grew, and one conference became two conferences with big companies like Target and Walmart.
“There was a lot of trial and error, but we started small and took advantage of big opportunities to transform over time,” says Herron.
In recent years, the 103 collection has continued to grow. The company's eco-beauty products are currently sold at several big box stores including Target and Meyers. Herron hopes to take it to the next level by offering products to more retailers and growing the brand. The 103 Collection continues to grow, but we're focused on educating others about the importance of plant-based products, not just sales.
“Why clean beauty is important, how it benefits the planet and why people need to be more educated about what we eat and put into our bodies. It’s important to understand,” Herron said. “Many people use products that are bad for them and don't realize it. Certain products may work for some people, but not everyone. It's not that this product is bad, it's just that people need to learn more about their skin type and what works for them and their skin.”
The 103 collection's journey began as part of Polsky Exchange's Small Business Growth Program, a program in which Heron rarely participated.
“I was thinking, 'How can I dedicate all this time to the program?'” Herron said. “I was convinced to participate and was assured it would be worth it. I'm so glad I did.”
The resources provided by the program helped launch the 103 collection and prepare Herron for the success he sees today.
“This program really laid the foundation for us, made us think bigger and broader, and provided us with some really great connections and resources that we still use today,” Herron said. . “It was life-changing. I am so grateful to have been a part of this program and I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested.”
Follow 103 Collection on Instagram @103 Collection and facebook @103 Collection.
Our Small Business Spotlight series highlights Southside and Westside businesses participating in Polsky Exchange's Small Business Growth Program. Learn more about these great businesses.
Article by Darwin Minnis, associate director of media relations and external communications at the Polsky Center. Darwin is passionate about telling the stories of people, products and companies that have a positive impact on their communities. Email Darwin.