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Conversations with the Inspiring Jenna Switzer

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jenna Switzer.

So, before we jump into specific questions about your business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I’ve always been a creative person, and thrive when working with my hands or using my imagination. In school I struggled in math & science classes, and even passed my Junior year Chemistry class in high school only when my teacher, exasperated by my inability to understand the content, said to me after class, “Jenna, just go paint me a picture and I will give you a passing grade.”

Going to college was no different. I struggled at CU Boulder and quickly transferred to a small school for holistic nutrition, Bauman College, and later, attended the Colorado School of Clinical Herbalism (CSCH) studying herbal medicine. Nearing the end of my program at CSCH, I was driving home one day and found my mind wandering down the path of, “what the F are you going to do now?” I loved herbal medicine and holistic health, and helping others feel their best, however, I did not love the clinical aspect of seeing clients in a one-on-one setting. I wanted to create something that fused all the things I cherished most and used on a daily basis; plant medicine, herbs, essential oils, flower essences, CBD… all of it. And, in a moment of pure clarity & likely some magic, the image of a bath bomb infused with all these things poured into my consciousness.

Once this seed was planted in my mind I became somewhat obsessed with making this thought become a reality. I spent countless hours in my kitchen and on the internet searching recipes for bath bombs and figuring out how to make the most organic product possible. It is almost comical the number of baths I took in those early days, the number of mornings I would wake up to exploded bath bomb mush across the kitchen counter, and the amount of cannabis-loving friends I asked about CBD sources.

Come early 2018 I had nailed down my base recipe and created 5 bath bombs ranging from 50-70mg’s of CBD isolate. In early March I established my LLC and created an Instagram page. I, surprisingly, began receiving orders within a week, and found myself needing more space than the shared kitchen of the house I was renting. This blossomed into me using my partner’s condo while he was working, to subletting an apartment for the business, to eventually renting a house in North Boulder with an amazing 250 SF carriage house where Vital You grew its roots and blossomed. Within this space, known as the “treehouse,” I (more or less) single-handedly made around 8,000 bath bombs in 10 months. The amount of sweat and tears (a lot of tears,) shed within those four walls is impressive, to say the least.

Around March 2019 it became clear that we needed a larger space. VY now had an amazing crew of helpers, we were gearing up to start a 7,750 unit order, and there straight-up was barely room to move around the copious piles of ingredients and boxes in this tiny space. After weeks of searching and emailing property managers, I secured and signed a lease in the old Community Cycles building in Boulder. It wasn’t easy, as it was a sought-after space, but in June 2019, we moved into this 750SF facility and couldn’t be happier to grow our production and retail in this amazing location.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The road to where we are today has been winding & presented many roadblocks. When I initially told my family, “I want to start an herbal-CBD bath bomb business,” they were not surprised one bit. The entrepreneurial spirit has flowed through me since I was a child; my earlier ‘businesses,’ consisted of painting my willing aunt & uncle’s nails, selling handmade jewelry, and ‘waitressing’ at family parties. The first roadblock I came upon with launching Vital You was doubt.

At the time I began getting serious about launching VY, I was working at a local brewery, teaching spin & yoga, and babysitting. I decided I needed to leave the brewery & babysitting to have more time to focus on the brand. I told many of the regulars at the bar why I was quitting and what I was starting up. The looks and comments I received ranged from confusion to near laughter, but I didn’t care. I was dead-set on Vital You. I was committed to starting this, and nothing was going to stop me from making my vision a reality.

That was until I realized…I had no effing idea how to start a business. From working at a few start-ups years prior I knew I needed to establish an LLC, but had no clue where to begin. To my advantage, my boyfriend at the time owned a shop on Pearl St. in Boulder and became somewhat of a mentor to me. He helped me find a lawyer for the LLC formation, create my website, apply for a business license, and create my initial pricing structure. He also provided open ears and arms for my many moments of doubt, celebrations, frustrations, pure-bliss, and break-downs that enveloped me in that first rollercoaster year.

The second bump in the road, that we still face today, is the issue of making and selling products that incorporate CBD. Chances are you have heard of CBD, cannabidiol, and the myriad of health issues it may benefit. We infuse most of our products with a hemp-derived CBD isolate that is grown locally and contains no detectable THC (the psychoactive component of cannabis,) whatsoever. Despite the passing of the 2018 farm-bill, which legalized the growing and selling of hemp, there are still major restrictions and grey areas regarding the selling and interstate commerce of products containing hemp. From getting shut down from e-commerce platforms such as Stripe to being denied for insurance and renting commercial spaces, it has been a challenge, to say the least.

For any women out there reading this and thinking, “dang, maybe my ____ (Insert dope creative idea here) could work,” all I can say is DO IT. Replace your inner whiny critic saying, “I don’t have the time/money/energy,” with Beyoncé’s booming voice saying, “You got this, Queen!” and GO. DO. IT. If your gut, heart & head are aligning on a certain creative project that you love making for yourself and friends/family, chances are there are other people out there who want it, too.

The three things I wish I had known when I first started:

1) People will throw their doubts at you:
I’ve heard everything from “you’re doing what?!” “Everybody is making CBD stuff these days,” “Oh, you don’t want that Mom, it’s pot,” “I’m not a bath person,” “Is this soap?” and I have met these sentiments with everything from forced smiles to major resting bitch face. Which brings me to #2…

2) Believe in what you are doing with your whole being:
In the beginning, I would dance around what I was up to, nervous at what people’s responses would be(hello, #1). I now, proudly say “I own an herbal CBD bath-bomb & body care business, based out of Boulder.” I no longer care of what other’s responses may be because I know that I completely love what I do and it has brought many gratified clients great healing. So, from the start, believe in you, your vision, and get clear on why you are doing this and what you see coming from it. That way when people hit you with their doubt-vomit, you’ll have a hater-shield protecting your good-vibes.

3) Burn-out & work/life balance are real things:
During my first holiday season I, no joke, slept on average 2 hours/night, lost 10 pounds, and got a kidney infection. I was not prepared for the increase in work and production, I signed up for nearly every holiday market in the area, perpetually ran out of materials, and had no one trained in production to help. Needless to say, I got through it, but it is sooooooo important to schedule yourself at least 1 FULL day off/week, begin buying your materials in bulk, and to build a team of helpers for when/if you need them. If your business starts poppin’ off, your time + energy become more precious than ever, and without a vitalized Y O U, there is no Vital You (or in your case your business, of course).

Tell us about your business. What do you do, what do you specialize in, what are you known for, etc. What are you most proud of as a company? What sets you apart from others?
Here at Vital You we infuse herbal medicine & hemp into bath and body products utilizing the most organic and natural ingredients possible. What we are known for is our bath bombs. They are infused with an array of herbs & botanicals and contain 50, 70 or 100mg of CBD isolate. Currently, we also carry lavender and rose toner-mists with varying amounts of CBD. Within the next 6 months we will have a complete line of products including body butters, face masks and a few other surprises.

I believe what sets us apart from other topical CBD companies is our dedication to local & organic ingredients and the amount of love that is poured into each product. All of our products are handcrafted, and the bath bombs are made in very small batches, no more than 20 at a time. As for the ingredients, I don’t believe there is another bath bomb company on the planet that is using flower essences. Flower essence therapy, for myself and many others, can provide strong emotional body shifts. We are also committed to buying our ingredients locally, whenever possible, and even hand-pick some of the herbs we use in our products.

I really admire that every single product in the VY line has its own unique personality & intention. Whether it is for mental clarity, muscle tension or sleep issues, we deliberately choose the herbs, flower essence blends, gemstones, and so on..every single ingredient matters and has the potential to work synergistically, to provide the deepest level of healing. I am also very excited that our future products will be formulated and created by local herbalist women under this same intention.

And the component of this business that I may be most proud of is the VY team. If you were to peek into our production facility you would see us smiling, dancing, and laughing while creating the products. And hear me out, this Vital You Tribe didn’t happen overnight, it took time to build and to find people I trust. I’ll never forget the first time I left my employees to make a few batches of bombs on their own..I was like a Mom leaving her kid with a babysitter for the first time; awkwardly and slowly walking out of the door all “are you sure you guys are all good? Can I get you anything? Okay, well, call me if absolutely anything comes up!!”

These incredible individuals work their butts off, bring positivity and inspiration to the brand, and above all keep me grounded when I begin to feel overwhelmed or doubtful. I think it’s rare to find a group of people who are genuinely excited and passionate about helping you grow your business but when it does happen, it’s pure magic.

 When I see my employees or friends (who work as much as employees), really digging being in the VY space and the work they’re doing, it fills me with a sense of wholeness. I am exceedingly grateful for them, and I really, like really really, couldn’t do this without them. (insert happy crying & prayer emojis)

Do you have any advice for finding a mentor or networking in general? What has worked well for you?
I am super-freaking-lucky to be surrounded by supportive people who believe in me and VY, along with other entrepreneurs who are dedicated to their craft & passion. The overlying theme of finding these mentors and kindred-entrepreneurial-spirits has been for me to remain open to all advice and events that present themselves. Events such as the Big Wonderful, farmer’s markets, and pop-ups at local businesses have nearly always led to some sort of connection and sale. Also, without Instagram and word of mouth, my business truly never would have taken off. Believe it or not, nearly all 50 of the retailers who carry our products found us on Instagram.

I also greatly benefit from constantly filling my brain with success stories on businesses, particularly ones that are women-run. I recommend finding podcasts, audiobooks, and playlists that fuel your fire and keep you burning into the wee hours of the night, (’cause trust me, some all-nighters may be involved). For me, I love ‘How I Built This’, and ‘The Goal-Digger,’ podcasts, Jen Sincero’s books, and playing my spin-playlists on repeat (I’m jenswitz on Spotify if you need some hype).

And lastly, I admit that I do not know what I am doing a lot of the time, and with that, I get a lot of feedback and advice from people. I have learned to filter this advice and take the nuggets of knowledge that land and are relevant, but overall, people who have gone through this leap of starting a business have gone through similar challenges and are happy to help. I also now have a lawyer, a therapist, and an accountant who I turn to for professional advice, a Mother and best friend who I turn to when I need a boost of love and encouragement, and my team of helpers who allow me to have a little bit of time for a personal life.

Pricing:

  • 50,70,100mg CBD bath bombs: $10,$12,$14/ea
  • Lavender CBD Toner mists: ranging from $16-$30

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Melanie Rose Prince, Desiree Johnson, Thomas James Erny

Getting in touch: VoyageDenver is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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