Interview Of Cheriece Peterson, Owner of Natural Urbanity
So Charisse, why did you start your business?
I started my business, initially, because there was a lack of affordable products at the time. I was transitioning my hair from wearing a relaxer to being natural, and because I have a large family, I couldn’t afford any good products. I went to YouTube and started researching how I could make some basic products. One of my coworkers was like, “Well, I’ll buy some from you.” And I said, “Really? Okay!” She was my first customer, and then it just evolved from there. I just wanted to be able to have something that worked for my hair and my family’s hair and skin. It just opened up a whole new world for me. Most products have way too many chemicals inside of them. I started researching labels, and I started looking at the chemicals and the ingredients and said, “Why is that even in there? What is that?” Knowing that my product is natural gave me confidence and peace of mind. After doing research on different ingredients, I became reluctant. I said, “I don’t even know what this is.” So I would research to see what they do? Why is it in there? I would see it in so many different products, even those that claimed to be all-natural. Having a degree in science, I’ve been in the laboratory. I’ve learned the chemistry of certain ingredients; organic chemistry and things like that. I had a basic knowledge of some of the things, and being able to research on my own, just you made me feel a whole lot better about the purity of my natural product.
What are your most popular products? And why do people love them?
The most popular ones are the ones that I customize. Those are the buttercream and the butter scrub. I usually offer those in a gift set. Hair and body gift sets. Each gift set is customizable. My customers love to be able to choose their own scent that is all-natural. My customers love to customize the buttercream with different herbs or oils, and they love to have a customized label on the lid or on the product. Being able to bring them something that is more personal and customized is an amazing feeling, and they truly love that.
So what was one of the most important lessons you’ve learned while running your business?
That it’s hard. Being a business owner is hard. It’s not just about making products and selling them. There’s so much more that goes into it. You have to think about meeting customer’s expectations all the time, and to be able to pivot if something isn’t working right. It can be overwhelming. Being flexible and knowing that taking care of a business is almost like taking care of a baby. It requires a lot of attention, and that it’s harder than it looks and seems. You literally have to nourish your business as if it is your child by making it one of your main priorities.
So what is the thing you are most proud of when it comes to your business?
I am proud when I get a review from someone, or if I hear one of my kids use a product and they’re like, “Oh Mama. This is really great.” that makes me smile. I’m glad to know they love it. That they feel good. The same goes for my customers. Just hearing the feedback from different customers really makes me proud. It lets me know that there is always room for improvement. That I’m doing what I’m supposed to do. It gives me the drive to keep going, to learn something new, and to get better. It is a satisfying feeling that gives me a sense of success and accomplishment. I remember when it all started, and I had labels peeling off. I had just used basic black and white ink just trying to get myself out there. Seeing how it has evolved into what it is today, makes me really happy and proud.
What is your definition of success?
My definition of success is that it’s not monetary. It’s more about a feeling of accomplishment. It’s not whether I was able to sell one product or sell a hundred. I’m successful if I’m helping someone and meeting a need. That’s a success. Even years later, a customer will come back to me and say, “I love your product.” Just the testimonials from people make me feel like I’ve accomplished something.
What piece of advice would you give to your consumers? And what do you want your consumers to know?
I want people to understand why this business is named Natural Urbanity. The word natural is a given, as we believe and source our ingredients from nature. But deeper than that, we want people to love who they “naturally” are and vibrantly embrace themselves with our products. Pronouncing urbanity often trips people up, but if they remember the meaning it’ll roll off their tongue better. It means the quality of being urbane, having refined courtesy, and cultural elegance. We want you to step out having your own individual smoothness, poise, and confidence. We want you to exhibit the best reflection of your culture. This is the heart of Natural Urbanity. We believe that each person, no matter what hair or skin type, has a uniqueness that makes him/her beautiful, and each person doesn’t need to try and be anyone other than themselves. This is why we LOVE to customize products with natural scents and ingredients because everyone has their own preferences and/or needs, and they shouldn’t have to conform to fit the industry’s standard. My hope is that customers feel this when using Natural Urbanity. I want my consumers to know that I love what I do, and I’m very passionate about the product that I put out. I want them to know that they have someone who’s really hands-on and is putting a personal touch on to everything that they do. I want them to know that I’m paying very much attention to the product, and every time I make something, I have them in mind. I just want them to be able to feel that and know that. If something is a little off, or if I didn’t meet an expectation, know that I’m there to correct it. I’m there to make sure that it is what they expected it to be.
So what piece of advice would you give to entrepreneurs like yourself?
Don’t stop. Just keep going. You will have to overcome your fears. You’ll have to work hard. You’ll have to keep pushing even when you don’t want to. First, you have to get over mental errors. You will have to find people and put them on your team to help coach you through things that you don’t understand. They can help you ask the questions that you never knew to ask, and that’s okay. You’ll have to fail, and that failure can be used as a stepping stone. Don’t take failure as just a failure. Take it as a learning experience, so that you can grow and be the best you, and take your business to a level that is higher than you expected. Don’t stop dreaming. If you get some negative feedback, or if something’s not going right, just take a moment to pause, and do whatever you need to do to get back at it because you never know, somebody may need something that you have.
We really appreciate what you’re doing in the community and we cannot wait to see what you do next –all while watching your business grow. Thank you so much for your time.
Interview By: Camiio Patton