My business developed from less-than-stellar circumstances. Shortly into my frenzied career as a freelance makeup artist, I experienced a debilitating health crisis. Plagued by exhaustion, dizzy spells and panic attacks with seemingly no cause, I was forced to quit working and fell into a severe depression.
As doctors struggled to get me back to my old self, I eventually heeded the advice of a holistic doctor: to eliminate all the toxins in my life. A tall order, especially for a skeptic like myself. Where would I even begin?
I started with my diet and progressed to everything from household cleaners to candles – even my hand soap. My emotional and mental health improved tenfold, followed by my physical health. Within a month, I was back to work; and three months later, I felt like myself again.
To me – and to all those who had witnessed my downward spiral – it was truly a miracle. I became obsessed with this clean lifestyle and realized that I had to overhaul my makeup collection, too.
Unfortunately, switching out my personal and professional makeup beauty arsenal posed a challenge: the gamut of clean cosmetics on the market just didn't perform to my professional standards, the shade ranges weren't suitable for my pale skin and diverse clientele and they were pricey.
That's when I knew I needed to launch CLOVE + HALLOW – a line of clean cosmetics that perform like conventional cult classics without the nasty ingredients and hefty price tag.
The years leading up to the launch of CLOVE + HALLOW were the darkest of my life, but they gave me an invaluable perspective as a business owner and CEO. Growing up the daughter of hard-working parents, I internalized modern startup culture's conflation of "best CEO" or "best employee" with "the person who works the most hours."
At best, I was a well-intentioned but ineffective worker. At worst, I was a liability to the business due to my inevitable burnout – not to mention the exponential damage that comes from expecting others to work the same way. (Thankfully, I had no employees at the time to hit with collateral damage.)
The reality is that outside of the products we've created, our people are our number one asset. I hired and invested time and money into my employees because of their strengths that offset my shortcomings. In a small business, each person has a marked impact, so I need my workers – including myself – to be healthy, happy and motivated and to feel rewarded by their efforts.
Taking it one step further: since I drive the company culture, possess the vision for our one-, five- and 10-year-plans and act as the engine that keeps us moving toward those visions, I am essentially our number one asset.
Owning that fact was tough – it felt egotistical. But by accepting it as the truth, I managed to shift my thinking to encompass what I learned in those formative years: the balance of mental, emotional and physical health is delicate but of the utmost importance, and it's up to me as the leader to encourage my team to prioritize health and wellness above all else.
If I had continued to burn the candle at both ends, CLOVE + HALLOW undoubtedly would have failed. I simply could not have sustained that pace. Thanks to my new approach, I've survived (as has CLOVE + HALLOW) several tough blows and low moments that would have stopped me in my tracks in the past.
We've managed to nurture slivers of hope amongst failures into big opportunities. And in a saturated market where the odds are stacked against newcomers, CLOVE + HALLOW made a splash by winning two major beauty awards out the gate and continues to experience steady double digit month-over-month growth across nearly all metrics.
I didn't fundamentally change. My business didn't either. The only thing that changed was my perspective. And I credit all of CLOVE + HALLOW's success to that change.
About the author: Sarah Biggers is a professional makeup artist and the founder and CEO of CLOVE + HALLOW.
Edited for brevity and clarity by Sammi Caramela.