Not long ago Michelle Mitchum had an encounter with an out of work graphic designer that would not only change her life, but move her to action thereby bettering the lives of others. "I'd seen her a few time when I got off the train in my neighborhood... she just didn't fit the stereotype." The young woman, who was panhandling, shared with Michelle that she was having a hard time making it from month to month. Her clients were either slow to pay her invoices or wouldn't pay at all. When she did get paid, all of her money went to outstanding bills leaving nothing left for food. Moved by this young woman's story, Michelle did some research only to find that a staggering number of people (including those with advanced degrees) were out of work and nearly homeless. This stirred in her the desire to support people experiencing hardship, and B'Cause It's Mimi was born. Michelle had been experimenting with making her own products since high school, her friends acting as willing beneficiaries. "The ingredients were always available on the streets of Brooklyn... my friends caught on and it became this underground thing among my friends." From time to time she thought about marketing her products, but decided to move on it when she met that young woman in her neighborhood. Her first initiative was to make soy candles as her initial product offering. Although she had never made a candle in her life, she figured if someone else could do it she could too. As a result she was able to make a contribution to City Harvest, the largest and oldest food rescue program in New York.
Today B'Cause It's Mimi's product offerings extend into an all natural line of bath and body products that are well-made but affordable. She is as committed to using natural ingredients as she is to using her business to make a difference in the lives of other people. In similar fashion to The Gap's RED Campaign and MAC's Viva Glam in support of AIDS research, B'Cause It's Mimi makes financial contributions with each sale to benefit multiple organizations. Michelle's vision is for the brand to become synonymous with philanthropic giving. She strategically schedules the company's contributions on a quarterly and/or annual basis in order to make a significant impact.
Michelle shares openly about the challenges of being an entrepreneur. Like most business owners, she worries about financial difficulties, stability, and how she will sustain herself when times look bleak. She is concerned with making sure the brand fully represents who she is while keeping up with the trends. She also encounters the same fear and doubt that most women experience around rejection, being accepted, and appreciation for the products being offered. "Many times I doubt if I will be able to continue, but quitting is not an option." Michelle says her friends and family have been a tremendous support to her in this endeavor. "When I'm short on stock my dad will run out to the wholesaler, my mom will make products and fill orders, and my friends will promote the business."
Michelle also credits her spirituality with being the reason she is able to continue pursuing her personal and professional goals every day. "Life is overwhelming when you have goals and are ambitious because of all the balls in the air." Michelle meditates and does yoga daily without compromise. She says it gives her clarity to move forward and establish goals. "There is no compromising my conversations with God every morning."
If the company's social media network is any indication, the world loves and appreciates B'Cause It's Mimi. It was the company's FaceBook fans that brought Michelle to the attention of Essence.com (on more than one occasion) and FoxBusiness.com, both of whom have done features on her and her products. She says her presence on social networking sites has made promotion easier and the referral process simpler. Through social networking, B'Cause It's Mimi has even acquired international customers as far away as Switzerland and London.
Michelle says that being in business has pushed her in so many ways. She is learning more about herself and her abilities than ever. She syas she has been forced to focus and her time management skills are so much better. "When there's no job security it forces you to focus, and focus on you. Before I wasn't necessarily thinking ahead... now with every situation I'm thinking how I can make it work for me and my business." Although Michelle still has another job, she will not take a promotion because growing her business and her brand is her priority.
With so much success, a reputable brand, and wonderful product offerings, Michelle shares words of caution and wisdom. Her advice is to have a plan and a vision, even if it is a skeleton. She says that initially we become emotionally moved and charged, but if a plan is in place there might be a little less fear as we face challenges. Her most important piece of advice concerns the challenge we sometimes present to ourselves. She says we get in our own way and we talk ourselves out of doing things. So she advises all of us with a goal, dream, or vision to never quit!
For more information on B'Cause It's Mimi visit http://www.bcauseitsmimi.com.