I never get tired of interviewing women and finding out how they have built their business and what gives them the drive, strength and chutzpah to carry out their dreams. Its a pleasure to feature Bonnie Cannavino, President and Founder of Amrit Organic and Red Cherry Labs. I first met Bonnie years ago when she worked for Bioelements and then again as a Spa Director, and we have stayed industry colleagues seeing each other at industry events in which we get to catch up on our business and lives. I have great admiration for Bonnie who started her business later in her career and has all the gusto needed to grow this business into an amazing specialty organic boutique lab servicing those concerned about healthy skincare and body care for the professional day spa market.
BC: Bonnie, tell me about your career path and what lead you to creating your own lab.
Bonnie: This was the most unexpected journey. Little girl, with big dreams just hoping for a great career in Make-up artistry…that turned into a full circle of opportunities! From struggling to make a splash in renting salon space, to a highly successful Bridal Makeup Business “One Beautiful Face” building it, working 52 weekends a year, 4 assistants and 3 hairdresser to managing my first DAY SPA and then off to work for Revlon’s Midwest European Division. I successfully completed a 5 year program to build several of Revlon Brands selling Rights to Davidoff. Then Bioelements, newly launched, leading me to building a national brand and managing Distributorships. But it didn’t stop there. I then found this experience launched me into General Management of Maxine Salon & Spa for 5 years building into a multi-million dollar business including the branding of Private label and Formulating Natural Products. Little did I know, after leaving, I would open a spa business consulting business and get connected to formulating a brand of the first Organic Manicure & Pedicure Products in 2004, that moved me into creating the Red Cherry Certified Organic Lab, from a lack of finding a resource to formulate my products to my highest standard of organic and spa professional excellence. Whew!
BC: How did you come to choose to create organic products?
Bonnie: Growing up on natural home cooking and prepared nutritious school lunches, even through College, gave me the insight very young to be healthy and strong. I chose the beauty Industry because of its ever growing grassroots. It was a natural to me and I saw a great need in our industry to preserve beauty not just from the outside but changing how we use and experience a healthier lifestyle and creating a healthier salon and spa environment. Creating organic products had to be about authenticity and active principles, taking us away from the traditional footprints of formulation. Thus the environment and beauty is detoxified, strengthened, stabilizing the endurance of more youthful and lasting beauty to be handed down and treasured. Know that the personal care industry is not new, but has a rich history of natural and organic material bases that changed in the 20th century and as an industry we recognize the need for the balance of these precious Organic Compounds to bring health with the wonderful new sciences of Cosmeceuticals to maintain balance and youth. My company I put in the forefront of these new horizons in our industry.
BC: What's been the most challenging part of ownership?
Bonnie: Of Course, It’s wearing all those hats! But the most exciting part is, as you and your business grow, you get to put a hat on someone that believes in the dream and you get to put a new one on. With every part of business there is growth in watching and market stimulation. The responsibilities expand and it’s recognizing the good and the pitfalls by bringing forward all your past experiences of success forward. I’m a future thinker tending to forecast 3 years out. So, I surround myself with grounded professionals that can see where I want this company to go and improve, thus knowing your own weaknesses is the key!
BC: What's been the most rewarding?
Bonnie: Seeing our industry change for the better and growth of health and wellness, but the reward for me is being a central impact to that change. My own personal grow coincides with the spa brand and business movement, which is my passion and ability to present and give back to my industry is the ultimate gift to my mentors and those around me.
BC: In this endeavor, what skills have you gained and how did you grow personally and professionally?
Bonnie: My two skills: Successful Business Development thru Professional Individual Growth, which you cannot separate in an intimate people business and the other, is Creativity. I was so lucky to have the opportunity to learn from others by diving directly in. My mentors gave freely and I have the ability of knowing how to surround myself with like-personalities, a “key” the factor in success to every position I attained. I have the utmost integrity, never to abandon. I believe in long relationships and solid foundations.
BC: I imagine starting a business in a historically low economic time had been challenging, what motivates you every day?
Bonnie: There is an advantage to every economic wave. The organic material resource to product formulation is the hardest today because of its sensitivity to popularity, draught, war and disease. Motivation is never a problem when you have a passion for what you do, but it’s the serious decision to know your success and how you got there to taking on a journey with commitment and determination. I love what I do and I embrace and take responsibility for every action and its wonderful outcome.
BC: What advice would you have for entrepreneurs thinking of starting a business?
Bonnie: In one sentence…Be the art of listening, recognizing the truth and red flags to making the correct decision.
First be humble and list out in columns all your strengths and weaknesses. List all the tools of your successful background knowing why it’s successful. Do not go into a field you have not experienced without success. Seriously decide if you are a self-starter, a sticker and a motivation with tireless energy. Make sure you can handle failure and the ability to know why something failed and if you have failed those around you. There are so many individuals that think it’s easy but are not equipped in the business they create. Business is math and consistency, communication, marketing experience, quality and control, trouble shooting and recreation…to a bottle of Champagne once a year!
BC: What's the best advice you have been given in business?
Bonnie: OMG…I have had many, my mentors were wonderful…but several things stick out: First…keep it as simple as possible, second never be afraid to seek out answers and thirdly keep your relationship whole and growing.
BC: What are the 5 things you can't live without?
1. My husband who encourages me to go for it…he sees my success and passion
2. My associates and all my relationships, they are most precious
3. My clients and all those students who are not afraid to pick up the phone and ask for my opinion
4. Estheticians, spas and medi-spas, I have and can inspire to great careers
5. For this industry that has given me so many rewards for my efforts, knowledge and creativity
I thank you Elaine…for bring me home to my humble beginnings!
Bonnie, Thanks for sharing more about your career and business, inspiring story filled with many examples to continue to grow within your industry. I think our readers will enjoy learning more about your career path. See you soon~