As I continue to talk with these amazing women, I’m hearing more stories of accidental entrepreneurship, which is so cool! Todays guest, Chantel Powell, is the founder of Play Pits, which she started out of necessity! Chantel gives a quick job history, which began in costumes for Tyler Perry Studios then transitioned to an Executive Assistant to spend more time with her family. She tells me how much she hated the EA job but used it as a way to learn and still uses a lot of the tools she took from that role. Then we dive into the good stuff — she tells me how one day her 6 year old came home from camp and smelled BAD!!! She decided to make a paste for him to use as she couldn’t find something else in the market she trusted!
Chantel then tells me how her son was the one to push her to make this a business — a trend that still shows up today. She tells me how this brand is not about money but about helping other people! One of my favorite parts of this episode is how Chantel has made this a family business. Her kids are a part of the process, she shows them numbers and each of them has an important role in the company. She is setting these kids up for so much success which is amazing!! We finish with her goals for the business and how she plans to transiition from the day to day, and how her adult line came about!
Chantel leaves us with a discount code for out Amidst the Chaos listeners! Make sure to head to their site and use code DANA15 for 15% off your order. Also, don’t miss out on their Instagram page — I promise it does not disappoint!!!
Dana: Are you dying at the thought of missing a single one of your babies first would have no idea how you give up the security that your nine to five job brings. My name is Dana Graham and I had no clue how to escape that vicious 40 Hour Workweek cycle either until I did, as the wife of a traveling husband and mom of two tiny humans and I made the terrifying and totally bizarre leap from health insurance broker to successful newborn and family photographer, all with the amazing craziness of a two year old and the newborn into, but I’m not the only one. I’m so glad you’re joining me as I chat with other moms who took the leap into entrepreneurship and created the ultimate best of both worlds life doing it all amidst the chaos
Okay everybody, welcome back to another episode of amidst the chaos I am so excited for today’s episode I literally say, I keep saying this every time I start a new episode, but it’s genuinely true I found so many awesome women that are doing so many different things and doing them differently so I’m excited to have Shawntel Powell on here today, she started his sort of this amazing company from scratch from nothing and has done it with her family, literally, with them. And I think that this is a really special aspect of her business and I want to touch on that today, as we walk through what she does so, Shawn towel, thank you so much for being here. Give us an idea of what you do now, and then we’ll back up and start from the beginning.
Chantel: Thank you, thank you so much for having me here. I’m so excited to speak with you. What I do now, I make deodorant I save noses, all over the world for 1000s of fame 1000s of my amazing customers, but what we do is provide a healthy product my product is named Play Pits it’s all natural deodorant. So, I provide a healthy hygiene products, it started because of kids, and now we are saving families noses, all over the world for everyone in the family.
Dana: Yes, and so I love the story of how this came to be, so we’ll get to that but backup for me, What was happening for you before playpens was even an idea before you were doing anything with the entrepreneur life, what did your family life look like, what did your professional life look like what was going on with you.
Chantel: So if I was to describe my, my life before play puts it would totally be, I’ve always been untraditional, I worked in in costume for film and TV for years, and then I had Cameron and went back and forth from Atlanta to Maryland my husband lived in Maryland, I worked in Atlanta. So I graduated from college, working at Tyler Perry studios, it was my dream career I worked my way up from an intern to a production assistant to a costume shopper, and it was everything I wanted it to be literally my first day on my full time shopper geek. Something fell off. And I was like, I think something’s going on with me. So on my way shopping at the mall, I stopped at Target and got a pregnancy test. Since the pregnancy test, found out I was pregnant I was freaked out, okay, I was 20 I think 23 years old I had just got my feet in this career, and I’m pregnant. In so I remember taking the, I went to the gym that night with my best friend, and I took the longest, slowest bike ride ever. Just process what life will be like now with this baby, fast forward had my beautiful son. I went home for seven months, and call yourself a stay at home mom, And I was about to go crazy. This day at home thing is, you know, you, you don’t respect it and you don’t understand it until you’re in it, and it’s, it’s a full time job and I worked in production where I worked 1416 hour days, and motherhood felt like, times 10 on that right, so my husband could I, you know, I was like, Listen, I want to go back to work, they were calling me like you want to come back to work. So he was so supportive. I went back to work for two years flew back and forth to Maryland to Atlanta, back and forth until my son could look at me one morning they dropped me off at the airport and he said, Mommy, I hate your job. And so, that was when I basically left my career in Atlanta, moved back home to Maryland, and I was able to get a job as an executive assistant at BT networks, and I was there for four years so life has always been wild and crazy for me.
Dana: Yes, yeah. That is so crazy that okay so how did that work were you flying like spending the week in Atlanta and then weekends at home. Is that how that worked out ?
Chantel: So I would I would fly home every other weekend. And I was loud on the, on the last flight on Fridays, it was a 9pm flight, and then I would fly into Atlanta on the first flight at six o’clock flight so I could be worked back.
Dana: Wow, that is quite the shuffle I can’t even imagine doing that. So looking back Are you like I literally don’t know how I did it because you’re you had, what have you know 3 year old at that point.
Chantel: Looking back, I just think how blessed I am there my village, held me down, that my family supported me that my husband was supportive enough in such an amazing day that I was able to trust my baby. You know, I’m with him and Cameron will also come to Atlanta with us and I have with me every one, I saw like once a month he was stay here for a week or two weeks when he was younger. He was here longer with me but then as he got older and then we put him in a school, he was able to stay home and pray, we would do the back and forth thing but I had an amazing village so looking back is no way I could have done it alone, no way I could have done it without support.
Dana: Wow, okay, so then you come back and you’re working as a, as an executive assistant, and you’re enjoying that job so then what happened.
Chantel: So actually I hated that job, it was good you were there for years. Oh my goodness, right, you know, what I will say to anyone who is in a place where they feel lost, because I remember feeling lost like I left my career, I was making decent money I just got to the point where I was making real money, and then that was snatched from me and then I went back to making, you know, I kind of not making a lot of money. But what I, what I did in that position was after I got over the fact that I was sitting at a desk, and I was working with Doc that I did not want to work. I came across a quote that says what God has for you will not pass you back, and I put that on my cubicle, I wouldn’t need to take, none of my personal belongings to this job because I was like I never know. I don’t know what my last day is going to be and I don’t want to have to pack a box so every day. I’m gonna use their pencils, and their paper, and call it a day. But what that taught me was that once I appreciated the process, I was able to enjoy the opportunity. So there I was able to learn how to schedule on a calendar I was able to learn all the admin stuff that I did not have capabilities of looking back, everything that I’ve learned, then in those four years has helped me be able to build the empire that I have now and be able to run an office and run a business and be able to have professional conversations via email and you know schedule calls so I’m just grateful that I trusted the process and I in golf myself in the process, because it’s now built me up to be who I am today.
Dana: Yeah and I think that’s one of those same things I hear saying earlier about being a stay at home mom is that you don’t understand what it’s like to be in it until you’re in it but that’s the same thing with an office that’s the same thing with any sort of job that you’re not super into but like, there is always something that you can take from any job that you’re doing anything job that you’re working is going to help you in the long run to learn something, you know, and I think that’s a great way to look at it and to say hey like this helped me and this got me to this point and now I have all these skills that you know maybe it wasn’t your favorite job but it was something that got you to where you are today. So I think that’s a really positive way to look at it, especially for those that are out there thinking, I don’t like this, I don’t like what I’m doing every single day like I love that you’re saying to trust the process and know that even though it might not feel like it there is some good coming out of this in the long run.
Chantel: Absolutely, and I also think, you know as moms, we often feel like we have to sacrifice our future and our happiness for the sake of our family and our children right and that took a lot for me to get over, and understand but then also figure out how can I make this work for me. How can this have personal development opportunities for me, and how can I take this in, you know, this, this sucky situation and make it the best and looking back, I mean the friendships, the experiences I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Dana: Yeah, well I love that that’s your perspective and I think that when you’re feeling like you’re in kind of a dead end situation it’s nice to be able to see someone on the other end of it and know that, hey, this meant something to you and it was a valuable way to spend your time. So okay, so you’re in this job so now what happens, talk to me about how the idea of place Pitts came to be in general. So how to and then how did you start from there,
Chantel: so yes Play Pits came about because Cameron has always been in sports since he was four, super active kid I would drop him off at practice, you know, taking the practice after work in the summertime was here so he was in sports camps and he was doing sports camps and then practice after camp. And one day Cameron got in my car and I was so offended by half. Oh, horrible, and he was six. And so when you think of a six year old child that has an odor, you could do one or two things. You could either just let it be and ignore it and just say, oh, take a shot of me get in the house, or you can try to find a product. Well I’m in for a deodorant. I refuse to put toxic products on him, such as dub degree you know secret because they have aluminum synthetic fragrances and parabens, so I was looking for something natural everything natural was super boring. Like, it was super serious super sophisticated and I was like my baby won’t wear this every day. And so at that point, I remember that my grandmother when I was a little girl she used to put baking soda under my arms before I would go out and play. I think so. So that literally clicked for me and I was like okay I can make him something at home so I had baking soda, I had, cornstarch, and I had coconut oil, and then I had some orange essential oils. So I whipped up like a little piece for Cameron and I told him, Cameron, this is your deodorant, is putting on every day. He loved the smell because he loved the orange essential oils, and he was so excited. Next day he ward with camp. Like he must have told the kids. My mom made deodorant. He comes home to me, he’s like, Mommy. So I told all the kids at camp about your deal right. Can you make it for them, and I was like no cam, like me and you think, This isn’t me and all the kids that can’t and cam. If you see a picture Cameron, Cameron is this beautiful chocolate little boy with this beautiful curly hair and these beautiful big guys. And he looked at me one more time and he said, Mommy, you can make this for everyone, and everyone to him met the kids at camp. He said it, I thought about all the other parents that needed a solution for this analogy is I thought about all the other kids that deserve to be able to play and not feel self conscious about smelling but feel confident in who they are. So that was the start of it Cameron pushed me to create this product for everyone and it took me nine months to formulate it, I tested it on all my braids so when I, when people asked me. One is my product cruelty free, is definitely cruelty free is never been tested on animals, but it’s definitely been tested on all of my family, friends, and being a mom of I have a bonus daughter who is 16 I have two boys, people are always asking me what do you want to have a girl play this is my baby, it took me nine months to develop it. It took me nine months to birthday, and now she is doing her thing and she is funding herself so that’s my baby.
Dana: I love that. Okay so you’re so you spent nine months getting this together. Okay, I assume that prior to this, you’ve never done any sort of mixing of any, I want to call it like science, it’s almost like a science experiment.
Chantel: Well, what I had done, because my hands are super sensitive and I’m allergic to preservatives. I always made stuff for for me and the kids because I can never put anything on them that I can’t touch. So when oils and butters and, you know stuff around the house, AGIS believe in natural remedies I know that for any issue or ailment, there’s something that comes from the earth that can heal you. And so with that belief, I just always mix up concoctions, but never to the capacity that I’m distributed to 1000s of people, so yeah it’s a, it was a lot of pressure, it was like I’m used to, you know, helping the five people in my house but that 500 people so yeah it’s a it’s a man months and, yeah, I’m so grateful that I was able to get to a formula that has now, three years later people we get emails and messages and posts all the time that talks about places is better than the other natural deodorants on the market, it lasts longer. It smells amazing, and it works, and people don’t have to reapply and that’s not because I’m a scientist, but it’s because I’m just a mom that wanted to find a solution and was determined to find a solution for a child.
Dana: I’ll have to tell you I ordered mine I’m so excited for it. I’m so pumped, so well when I do, so I record the interest, the episodes separately so when I record the intro, I’m gonna make sure we record it so after it comes because I’m so excited. Okay, so tell me how you went from this idea and making it for your son’s summer camp friends to saying okay, this could make money, this could become a business, this could be some becomes something I wanted to do and how did that work with your job job at the time,
Chantel: so me creating this, it really wasn’t about money. In all honesty, I’ll tell you, I remember, figuring out the price point right in doing market research and really what really made me say okay I’m going to make this a thing is because I had a problem and I couldn’t find a solution on the market. And then what I was able to come across that were like targeted towards kids, it didn’t feel like the kid. It didn’t feel anything like a kid would be attracted to. So, Once I discovered that he was like, Okay, I know I could do this and I know I could do it better than anyone who’s attempting to do it now. So that’s really when I decided okay well I’m gonna make this a business, but as far as making money, I remember setting the price and it was $11, and I will do the calculations like for me to make $1,000 I have to sell 100 units like that is in I was hand making everything in my kitchen so 100 units, felt like forever to make, and forever to sale. Fast forward to now we’re going to be a seven figure business, and I never thought we could make 1000 that you know like, it was just so it never was about money for me it was always about giving parents a solution, helping other people. Cameron is someone who he has a heart that is like gold. He loves to help people. So when I really think of who we are as a family. Our family just loves to help people and so this is just a small way that we’re able to help other families and help kids and parents you know so that’s really how it, you know how it became a business it was just this boy that I knew that I could feel better in different than anyone who’s ever tried to do it because I was a mom I was coming from a different approach.
Dana: Yeah and that’s a great way to think about, okay, I found something that somebody needs and it’s going to help people, but then to be able to scale it to the point that you have is really incredible because that’s a big jump, mentally to go from Okay, I have to make 100 of these just in my kitchen. So how did you go from making them in your kitchen to where the business is today, was it a gradual thing What helped you along the way to be able to scale it to turn it into a full blown, you know, going to be seven figure business,
Chantel: I would say, Play Pits from the moment we launched so I did pre I did pre orders before we launched the product. So we launched to pre orders, fulfill those orders, less than three months into business places was funding itself because I was working a job but like I said I wasn’t making a lot of money, so I only able to like skim $40 here to Order Ingredients $20 Here, you know, and so once the business started making money, I was like okay, every dollar makes I’m putting it back into the business, and I did that literally, I didn’t start paying myself until last year, like July, July, I believe. Yeah, July of last year, I just recycled every dollar back into the business, and grew it from there. So, if I was buying two ounce, essential oils, and then I had a good week. I would then invest in a 20 ounce or I would make a gallon, you know, and so I just started to grow my, what I was ordering and make in were able to order in bulk. And so once I was able to do that I was also on the back end well on the front end, marketing it, you know at events and pop ups and all that so I was building this customer base, but on the back end, I was recycling every dollar that I made and I was very new at Unix, how did they work for my job. I was working from home for a year prior to places I was working from home for a year because my job at BT was transitioning me out because they were moving to New York. And so, I was in this transition, I had this hunger to kind of do something. Next, but I also had this push of feeling like I didn’t ever want someone to be the authority of me making $1, or me, having a job, it really frustrated me that I was being pushed out this company that I had grown to love and appreciate, but due to them moving, and leadership changing, they were kind of phasing me out. And so, I think, mixed with the frustration of that and the opportunity to be home and kind of be flexible with my time, I was able to do all the work that it took to get the business going. So you’re working from home before it became a COVID Cool. Me and my husband, we’ve been able to work from home for the last three years, the whole time apprentice we’ve been working from home.
Dana: Yeah and I think that now people are starting to see that right I work from home I always have, you know, since I have my photography, which is great. It provides challenges as I’m sure you know, and now everybody is aware of how that works right there’s a lot of really good things from being at home like a lot of opportunity for you to be able to work on pipettes and you know, be with your family and build your business at the same time but it comes with tons of challenges as well and I think the world is now starting to see where everybody who’s been working from home is coming from on the, on the hard front of that. So, you’re at home, you’re working in home you’re starting play pits and getting it moving. How is your family involved in this and what do they think about you, turning this into a business. What were their opinions.
Chantel: Oh, so it’s so fun, the kids and the whole family was super involved because I couldn’t afford to pay anyone right so it was like I had a three year old running around, I had a six year old and I had a Kiana at the time was like, 14, and so I was okay Caden you come and count these containers Cameron, I need you to line them up, you know I was utilizing everyone Kiana was helping me pack orders, my husband was helping me pack orders, but I think my children were especially Can I think in the beginning, you know, he had this idea in. He’s a kid so it’s like you have an idea, and it’s like okay, it’s great to see it come to life. But I really took this business as a opportunity to show my children that with hard work, consistency, and determination. You can do anything. And so I feel like so often as parents we tell our kids, they can be whoever they want to be they can accomplish whatever they want to accomplish, but sometimes we fall short in showing them. And so I wanted to show them firsthand like here we were going from nothing. And now we’re building to something so I show my kids the numbers, they’re able to see like I pull up our monthly sales. To this day, like when we would sale let’s say $200 a day, I would say hey guys we made $200 a day. And when we’re making $2,000 a day I can say, we’re making two so they’re able to see the growth, I’m exposing them to numbers, I feel like a lot of times as a kid, I was, I didn’t know numbers, nobody ever talked about how much rent or mortgage or, you know, income, what would that look like and I want my children to know what real numbers look like and what success benchmarks look like as far as sales and so I’ve just taken this as a workshop for them to see that with hardware, you come up with an idea and that’s great, but you have to execute and execute well, every day, and I wake up every day and I work for places and I did it for free. And now I do it for profit, but it’s okay. As long as you’re you know working hard, you can you can do anything. But my daughter she thought she she said it not too long ago she was like, I never thought we were going to make any money.
Dana: They will be honest with you, that’s for sure kids have no problem.
Chantel: Oh, you know, in, in, I love them like I loved her for honesty, because to understand like this is just deodorant like people you know it’s not a in, in our community haircare gets so much love boutiques gets love jury it’s higher price points. They sell a little easier. An $11 stick of deodorant. It was so random. For me, the lady who dressed people on TV. To create this product and sell it, that I think it was quite honest for my daughter to be like, What are you doing and I don’t think anyone’s going to buy this. So now I’ve been able to prove her wrong and I’m like, well look at these numbers, And that’s a great lesson for her.
Dana: Well I think to that, I mean it’s nice to be kept humble for sure but it’s also nice to have the you’re showing her that it doesn’t have to be something glamorous, like you don’t have to come up with something that’s this crazy like brand new idea and nobody’s ever thought of because first off, that’s hard, like we’re in 2021 At this point, everything exists, you know, there is like it to come up with a completely brand new idea. I mean this is deodorant and it’s nothing glamorous, like you said you know the Drori and the higher priced items like, that’s exciting for people to buy they want to go out and get that. But then there’s this market of things that you could sell that people really need and it’s going to change their day to day life.
Chantel: Exactly, is the is the most simplest, you know, essential that you need, but what we’ve done is made it cool and made it fun and made it exciting, what typically is so boring like who gets excited about putting on deodorant. And so that is what we’ve been able to do it for, for the children. There they are able to see people get so excited about it when we were doing live events they like people will come up to us and like, Oh my god, you know camera and, and they will be like, Oh, hi, you know, and so they remember us packing orders on our living room floor, calling over the grandparents that either watch the kids while we do a pop up or help us pack orders to now, they’re able to witness me run a whole warehouse with staff and equipment and all of that so it’s just really about exposure for me, like exposure and showing my children was possible.
Dana: So talk to me a little bit about how your kids, ages, affected what they do so in three years they’ve grown a lot and changed a lot if you had started with a three year old and a six year old and obviously a teenager hurt she probably hasn’t changed too much in terms of her ability but for your little ones. The moms out there who have tiny children right and they’re trying to start a business, it is so hard, because they can’t help in a lot of different things so talk to me about how your kids aging up has changed how you work with them in the business and how your perspective of oh my gosh, I have to work but my kids are here has kind of shifted.
Chantel: Yes, so I think is so, so often as parents we want to baby our children and we want to, you know, do so much for them, but what you will learn is when you give kids responsibility they thrive. Right. And so, down to my three year old when we initially launched his assignment because at three, he’s learning how to count as he’s learning how to count. I have hundreds of containers that I need, you know, on a daily basis to be lined up so I can make the product. So I would allow Kaden, the three year old to count out containers for me so I would say, Okay, Mommy needs 20 containers, and he would count. Now he would make a mess, right, he would, I mean it when you were children, you can expect it to be perfect. Don’t give them a task that is detail oriented and tedious, give them a task that is just like the busy work that you’re not that you’re doing, and you don’t put any thought in it so something like counting 20 containers. That’s something a kid can do. So, I’ve been able to you know give him that task then Cameron when he was six, his test was lining them up. Help him up, making sure Mommy has all of the all of my containers to measure everything up so he would line up my whole production table, and then Cameron as he got so as six years old, He would set up my production, then that aid. I would allow Cameron to measure out every ingredient. So then for him, he’s learning, measurements, and how to weigh things. And so, Cameron, myself and my husband, are the only people that know the formula. And so that responsibility for Cameron was so important, because he took pride in it, because now this business that, you know, his, we are creating together, he now has a very special role that’s weighing out the ingredients, and so I would double check him the first you know, couple of weeks he learned how to do that, then it got to the point where camera was like a pro, like he knew how to use the scale, he could, he could tear it he could, I mean he could do everything. And so over the years we’ve just been able to build upon that. So, cameras also he’s the person who pitches to potential customers so when we would do live events, he would have to tell people about his business and that teaches him how to learn how to pitch how to learn how to public speak and Caden the same Caden does now, from three to now Caden is six, he, he knows places like the back of his hand because he doesn’t remember life without places, right. And so for my teenage daughter she was always like my little assistant, so she was like my first assistant before I could pay an assistant. And so she would help me pack order she would stay up late with me and label products. Now she’s able to help out more with like a customer service standpoint. And but now she’s in school so she’s not able to help as much, but the summers come in so I’m excited to get her back. But yeah so it’s so important that you include the kids when you can, because that sense of responsibility and the skills that they learn with you will be skills that eventually they run their own business or go work for someone else, they will be ahead of their, their age range because they’ve been working since they were three six and 14.
Dana: Yeah, and we talked about this a little bit on our, we had a little intro call prior to this, but you said something that really resonated with me and that you know I thought a lot about my business and my kids aren’t going to become photographers like I’m not building this business for them. I’m not building them something to inherit and to run and and that’s not how you view play pits either and you, but what it does do is it build something for them to see how to build something and that it’s possible it’s building a more like conceptual legacy versus something physical, and you couldn’t pass it down, of course, but you don’t necessarily know that that’s what they’d want to do but what you’re doing is giving them the life skills that they need and the proof that this can happen and you can kind of do this on your own.
Chantel: Yeah, so what it what it is is giving them the blueprint, because whether you’re in business selling T shirts or you’re in business as an app developer, you have to learn certain things to run a business or to be in business and that is you have to learn how to, you know, sell yourself pitch yourself. You have to learn how to work harder than everybody else in your business so if the blueprint to do whatever is just deodorant, is the way that I’m teaching you know the the path that I’ve chose, but no I you know I won’t be mad if my kids don’t want to run the business when they’re growing because they will have their own dreams and I pray that their dreams will be bigger than my dreams and they’re able to accomplish so much more at an earlier age because they were so young witnessing such an opportunity of my business growing like this so you know it’s really just showing them the blueprint and teaching them skills and giving them the tools.
Dana: So tell me, give me one thing that’s been really hard about this, your story is just beautiful and has such a profound impact on your family and I think other families are really going to resonate with this but what has been hard being an entrepreneur is not easy every day. What has been your biggest struggle.
Chantel: I would say, though, I work with my family and we are a family business, I still sacrifice a lot of time with my family. Since the pandemic, we’re so much closer because we were with each other every day but before the pandemic. I was doing pop ups at least two times a month. On Saturday, so I would miss basketball games, football games. Kevin’s birthday before the world shut down, I missed his birthday because I’ve had to fly to Target’s headquarters for an event. So, you know, I have sacrificed a lot of time loss with my family. In addition to balance, right, like who, what is balanced, I don’t believe in balance. I think that balance is something that, it’s unfair for us to try to chase this thing called balance what I believe in, is prioritizing, so like you have multiple balls in your hand that you’re juggling and today’s balls are, you know, the business, a doctor’s appointment and date night, but the kids fall may fall, and that’s okay, but make sure that the next day, you add the cannonball and something else may fall. And so what I do is just, I try to prioritize and not really focus on balance because you’ll drive yourself crazy trying to chase balance that doesn’t exist.
Dana: Yeah, and there are seasons where some things, some balls need to not fall, you know, and where some just can’t. And I think that viewing that as a prioritization as opposed to like okay equal time for everything. That’s not realistic, especially in these first few years of building a business. So what is your goal with pipettes. What is your ideal situation, do you want to be hands on every day forever. Do you want to you know be able to get a team in here to help. Learn your formula and I know stay hands on for a while.
Chantel: Yes, so the dream for places is for places to be the largest natural family product that is accessible in stores, 1000s of stores all over the world the targets the Walmarts the CVS and the Walgreens of the world. I want to play PIDs to be a product that is a household name, right, I want every kid to be able to grow up and say, I remember I used to love to get my places packaged, or I used to love to. When my mom would grab play pits and remember this scent I want play pits to be synonymous with children, fun in childhood. So in order for me to build the company to that point, I can’t say as hands on with everything right and so I’m literally in the process of phasing out of a lot and learning how to delegate and how to really be a true CEO of a company. And so going from a solo entrepreneur or family business where you, you have your family to rely on to now having people that are outside of my family that are now employees of mine is important that I, I step away from the roles like my when I hired my assistant probably two months into her being here once she got to know me and got comfortable to say to me, she fired me from customer service. I was all customer service, things before her, and I would, you know, stay up late, but then what I learned is that I’m so close to the plate. This is my baby so when I would get emails, I would take it personal. Right. And though I would always give amazing customer service, it would eat away at me. And when that would happen it would affect my creativity affect my mood, so I had to let that go. And so I’m letting so many other things go to people who are so well equipped to take it from me and run with it that I’m looking forward to being able to manage the business and not necessarily be in the business every day, putting on all the hats that I wear.
Dana: And so how was that for you. How was letting go. Did you take a hands on approach to like training hey this is the customer service way that I want this to run, or did you say, Hey look, you can probably do it like how did that go because for me, that is tough, no tough,
Chantel: it’s very tough in what makes it really tough is, I mean, my husband is super supportive, he is brutally honest with me. And so, yeah, like all of that stuff is tough. I mean, down to accounting, like, I have a bookkeeper, but I was the person to communicate to the bookkeeper, but I had relinquished that duty. If that was hard like I’m the person to know all the passwords, all the everything, and then I would take it as that time I tell you how to do something, I could just do it myself. That’s my favorite. I mean that was last summer that was, it was like therapy for entrepreneur last summer because I had to learn how to relinquish, no matter how bad I didn’t want to, or how much I suppose I had to relinquish duties because it was affecting me because now it’s so big, it’s so minut when everything is smaller, at a smaller scale you can kind of, you know you can kind of flip into this and flip out of that. But when everything is so massive, then it creates chaos in into chaos, because it’s like you’re always thinking about you know what needs to be done but when you can hand it off to somebody and it’s their responsibility and all you have to do is follow up, it makes things easier but it’s easier said than done, it definitely, it was not easy. I mean, I probably still, you, you could probably talk to my team and they will say, she still struggles to let go.
Dana: I think finding people that you can really trust like once they’re up and running and you know I feel like that definitely gives you some peace of mind but that transition period can be a long time if you’re slow to give up each different piece and I think that actually doing it, and putting one foot in front of others probably the only way, it’ll actually get it done. I mean, you can’t just make a plan and say Oh, this will be easy and then I’ll be done with that I think it’s definitely one of those situations we were talking about earlier where you don’t know what it’s like until you’re in it. And then you have to figure out how to make it work, so Okay, talk to me about play pits and the products you have and what you’re offering right now.
Chantel: So Play Pits started with three sets, each set is inspired by one of my three children. So we have sunshine, that is orange and peppermint, that is inspired by Cameron, It smells like a zesty citrusy, energetic, sit. I mean, it wakes you up in the morning so that’s sunshine. Then we have happy happy is a lavender Central is very calming. It’s inspired by Kiana my 16 year old daughter. She is very chill, but she finds a way to put a smile on our face and make us laugh, so that’s happy then we have sugar. Sugar is lemon lemongrass and grapefruit is our top seller is inspired by my youngest Kayden, who has a crazy sweet tooth, just like me, so it smells like fruity pebbles. So those of our kids inspire since each container, our labels, our logo, everything was ran past the children because I wanted our product to be attractive to children because, unlike other brands. They’re born to even though they’re for the kids, they look like an adult. So I want to play his feel like a kid’s product so the kids, they had so much to do with the branding of the kid since then we have the adult since that is king and queen. They are the only words that I can think of to describe king and queen is they’re sexy, they’re sultry, they’re rich, they’re loyal. They smell like something you’ve never smelled in a natural deodorant, and it actually came about because we were selling only the kids since, and parents love them so much that they were buying the kids since, so I did a limited edition, adult product, it’s sold out in days, and so we eventually made the adult lamb full time as well.
Dana: Yeah, it’s funny if anybody who’s listening if you go onto their social media accounts you’ll see even now like, even though you’re selling it, people are like always, what about for adults. What about for adult, I’m like she’s got it she’s doing it. Look at the website because it’s there, but it’s clearly one of those situations where you you know you built this product for kids to fill a need, but you were able to take it further and pivot even just a little bit because people were so excited about what you already had and I think, I think that’s awesome. And just so everybody knows she does bundles so you can get something for the whole family and wine you can get all different kinds of combinations when you do that so I do want to talk to you about one more thing which is your social media accounts now that we’ve brought it up, how larious you she has like this amazing balance between posting, just like really heartwarming videos and tic tock tic TOCs and reels from other accounts who are just so relatable and so hilarious but then you include stuff with Cameron like you have him mixing things and like actually working and being in the warehouse and I think that your Instagram account is so relatable and I just love, I love following it and I think that having that balance between an account that is a business account right and it shows you guys working and it shows your product and it talks about your offer, but also, like, almost equally balances it maybe even more, has more things to do with just bringing joy into your life and laughter and I just, I just love it.
Chantel: Thank you so much. So, our social, you know, it was social media. In the beginning was the only thing that I could afford to market. It was free, and I started to share our journey, because it was such a big thing for us so it was like, Alright, well let’s show to people you know as packing orders, and people really enjoy in this is why we are so different and I think why this brand will be so successful because we’re so different than the big brands. We are not in place to just create product for money. I’m a mom, that wants the absolute best for my child. And I’m providing the absolute best for families right. And so when you see our page is about building a community, the majority of our followers I think like right now 85% of our followers are women, most of them are moms. So, I am my customer I know what I see, I know. You know the funny relatable things is like this life as a mom, I know how much humor, it has, and I know that life is so crazy when you get on social media you just want to laugh you want to have a good time you want to be inspired. When you see other product pages is like really cute products with, You know, like a flatlay and in that’s all you see in that is redundant and it’s kind of like how many times can it really was something that I got to the point where I’m like, How many times can I show the same container. Yeah, you know, and so I wanted to provide something else I want people to come to places are edgy, I want them to come to us not only the body odor, but to have a good time to look forward to our post we dance on Friday so you know we know on Friday is going to be a funny dance video we know we’re going to highlight some our customers we know we’re going to do some reels that make you laugh to your core. So it’s really and then we’re also going to show the behind the scenes of us working in the warehouse because people have literally followed us since we were making products in our kitchen packing orders on my living room table to now having four to five people packing orders in a warehouse with a whole doctor that is inspiring. And so I share that because I want other people to know I’m a regular mom like I’m just a black mom from DC that created this product, I didn’t come from money. I didn’t come from a family that were entrepreneurs, I just figured it out was very resourceful. So I shared because I want you know, other women and men as well and other kids to see like, you don’t need a lot to create. You can create with what you have.
Dana: Yeah, and like I said it is just the most inspiring story and account and I just, I know that I’ve beat this I’m like beating a dead horse right now but the fact that you do all this with your kids and you are spending the time because it takes time for you to teach your kids how to do whatever it is, like, it is not. It is so much easier to say hey you need to go to a friend’s house to play while I get this stuff done. Take this tablet and go in the corner right there. Why do you know it’s so much easier. Yeah, it’s so much easier so I just have so much respect for you and I think that what you’ve built is incredible and the fact that your children get to see you do it is just is so inspiring. Okay, tell me about the name play pets, how did this come to be because I’m be honest with you when I first saw the Instagram handle when I found you on Instagram, which is where I found you. I was like, oh, cool like a, like a ballpark company. So I want to know where this came from and how it came to be with your name.
Chantel: So, I wanted a name that represented my child, Cameron. He is the most energetic playful. Ciao you, he’s like the kid that rides a bike does skateboard he can go to the amusement park and ride all the road looked like he is a kid kid in play is what he loves. And so when I was thinking about okay, I don’t want to do it. That sounds boring. I wanted a brand name that sounds fun. I wanted it to feel like him. And so, I played around like I remember it was playful pits, it was, I mean it was all types of things and once, one day I just sat down and just wrote play pigs in. I loved how it sound and I wanted something that sound amazing the kids but I wanted a name that made parents chuckle, like yes, I wanted something that parents were like, that’s cute, and would pull them in because the user was the children right they were using the product and I wanted the product to look like kids, but I wanted the name to pull my parents in. And so play pits, you know, it was one of those names that I’ve jotted down and I’ve played around with and I passed it to my friends and family was like what’s your think about this and everyone loved it so this day like, like you’re saying like people are always like, what, how did you come up with the name is no fancy story, other than just brainstorming and jotting things down,
Dana: and I love it because it is so memorable, it’s like, once I found you I was, it was nothing like, Oh, what was the name of that kid’s deodorant that’s all natural, like, what was that like it was that I remembered it because of the name and I could easily go back into your Instagram type and play pets and there you were and I think that that having that brand recognition on the name and it’s something that’s cute but it appeals to the, like you said the user and the buyer, who in your case and your unique case are two different people and I think that that’s awesome that you found that
Chantel: what is so crazy when I came up with play pits, you know, it is, it’s, it’s the pit of Vault like I remember being in Chucky Cheese and getting lost in the play pit right. But then that was also something that I loved it was like, it’s a double what is it called a double entendre like have played, is it kind of stands alone and once you understand it’s like okay you’re playing in your armpit, but then it’s the place where you can go and play. And so it had like these two different meanings that went great for what I was trying to create so that whole places thing is something that I’m grateful that God dropped in my head and the logo actually came to me in church was so I was supposed to be paying attention to the sermon, and I started sketching the logo on a church program.
Dana: Oh my god, I just love I love everything about your story, so tell everybody where they can go and order your amazing product that I have been talking about now non stop for 50 minutes so give them an idea of your your website your Instagram all the places.
Chantel: So our website is places, calm, our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter is places you can go on Play pets in order. Happy sunshine show the King and Queen actually last night, we, we released the Mother’s Day body bag with deodorant, a soap in a loofa in a beautiful organza bag and it’s sold out in three minutes like that oh my gosh, is amazing. When we were what we watched the sale like I watched it live just the numbers just roll up and people just swamp the site so I would love to be able to offer the body bank but they’re gone, but you can go on this site and you can bundle the products in order to get a percentage off, but also I’m going to create a 15% off code for Dana so it’ll be the code will be DANA15, and you can go and use that code whenever you need to.
We are so excited about this and I cannot wait for everybody to hear the episode and to see all the things. Everybody go check her out at play pits on Instagram and play pets, calm and don’t forget your discount code which is Dana 15 for 15% off your order, so thank you so much and we’ll talk to you soon. Thank you.
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