Emily McNabb Butler: “You can’t complain about what you tolerate”

The world is changing. Small businesses are getting more attention because we’re slowly dying. Small businesses are PEOPLE, not corporations, so when our businesses die, someone loses their job and the business no longer exists. We’re not the Amazons of the world and can’t survive without your purchase. Yes, YOURS. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly […]

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The world is changing. Small businesses are getting more attention because we’re slowly dying. Small businesses are PEOPLE, not corporations, so when our businesses die, someone loses their job and the business no longer exists. We’re not the Amazons of the world and can’t survive without your purchase. Yes, YOURS.

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Many of us now have new challenges that come with working from home, homeschooling, and sheltering in place.

As a part of our series about how busy women leaders are addressing these new needs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Emily McNabb Butler.

Emily McNabb Butler is the owner of The Good Hippie, an artisan, all natural, vegan, handcrafted skincare line in Austin, TX. As a professional dancer, McNabb Butler supplemented income with jobs in the selfcare industry to maintain a healthy mind and body. After 10 years in the holistic health industry, taking on The Good Hippie was a natural step.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

I’ve always been passionate about holistic approaches to health. I studied dance, kinesiology, and anatomy and physiology in college. My degree required an emphasis on alternative medicine and self-care to maintain a healthy, long career, so I was drawn to massage therapy, yoga, and other forms of self-care. I received my yoga instructor certification while living in NYC, and started working alongside licensed massage therapists, chiropractors, and estheticians. When I moved to ATX, I started using The Good Hippie products and was good friends with the founder of the company. I remember when she was still writing all of her labels individually by hand! The company has transformed since then and has grown substantially- though, you can still purchase the original product, the body oils, on the website today. The founder wanted to create a product she could use as an LMT (licensed massage therapist) that didn’t have the chemicals, preservatives, drying agents, or fillers. The commercial lotions spas offer service providers can be toxic and damage your skin when you’re “up to your elbows in lotion all day,” as the founder would say. Since then, TGH has expanded to many more natural products, but has also become a company that stands up for what is right when it comes to quality and practices. I’ve always been drawn to small businesses because of their stories and missions, and while I love teaching people about self-care and love, I think people are drawn to TGH because every tiny detail of this business has an ethos.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started at your company?

I had a customer ask me some REALLY good questions that taught me to be more educated about my products. She approached me at an event with no intention to buy a product, she just wanted to grill me about my process and quality. I love these questions and was happy she was asking really challenging questions because that means she holds the industry to a higher standard, just like me. She asked me how my Vitamin E was sourced. And honestly, the company had been using the same source for Vitamin E since the beginning, so I didn’t really have a clear answer. She explained that she had Crohn’s disease and had to be careful about whether vitamin E was sourced from wheat or soy. I was honest and said that I wasn’t able to answer that, but I promised to educate myself more on the vitamin E I purchased. Turns out my Vitamin E is derived from soy… She knew her stuff. And because I didn’t at that moment, she was tough on me. I’ve never had a customer ask me such specifics about the product. I remember the Vitamin E question because that is something I SHOULD absolutely know and be able to communicate with my customers. You live and you learn!

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

I AM! I can’t give any specifics yet, but COVID-19 has allowed me to slow down and really reconsider how I wanted to use TGH. I’ve always been drawn to nonprofits and I’m excited to support them and help them grow and survive. I’m hoping to team up with some of my favorite nonprofit missions to help spread cheer and art and promote a community that we all so desperately need right now.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Oh, goodness. I feel as though it’s taken a village. I have so many incredible people, primarily women, that have provided help, guidance, calm, an ear, or a shoulder. Austin has an incredible community of supportive female entrepreneurs, and we’re all very lucky to be in each other’s company. One in particular, Bre from Radical Girl Gang, has been a godsend. She has created a positive, female focused space, but also graciously lends a hand whenever you need it. We have a rule when we need each other’s help: we will not work for free. It’s a sentiment we force upon ourselves so that there is an even exchange of energy. Nowadays, now pass 20 dollars back and forth via Venmo as a courtesy when asking for expert advice, consulting, or product exchanges. Friends don’t let friends work for free. It’s a great exercise because both of us would absolutely lend each other a hand whenever, but we insist on compensating one another.

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Can you articulate to our readers what are the biggest family related challenges you are facing as a woman business leader during this pandemic?

I can’t really expand upon this. I do not have children, I do not have a team of people, and because of that I do not have any “family challenges.” I believe that my challenges have been that of any other business leader during this time. It’s difficult to say what the biggest overall challenge would be because it’s as if I’m running a completely different business. Everything we’ve learned as business owners changed overnight.

Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?

My husband and I are truly life partners and I do not feel as though I’d have any more family related challenges than him simply because I’m a woman in business.

Can you share the biggest work-related challenges you are facing as a woman in business during this pandemic?

Funding. Women received 2.2% of VC funding goes to women owned businesses. I see women owned businesses closing up shop left and right. We’re watching our community shrink. It’s scary seeing how easily your business can be taken away after putting so much of yourself into your vision. The biggest challenge is the stress. I feel that I have to constantly work, but at some point, there’s nothing more to do but wait. I wait for orders to fill or emails to respond to between researching for grants and funding opportunities. Many of the “big opportunities” I was working on at the beginning of the year quickly disappeared in March and April. It’s truly as though the women owned community’s futures have been put on pause.

Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?

I’ve been reframing this time as a mandatory vacation. During that time, I’ve been working on creating new relationships and pathways for the business. I’ve truly been able to slow down during this time- as much as I don’t want to- and some days the slower pace can provide new insights or can manifest into “I need to be doing more.” In those negative moments, I go back to “mandatory vacation.” Though, it’s not sustainable to be on vacation much longer. More recently I’ve shifted gears and started focusing on corporate holiday gifting. This has been a great way to stay busy and feel productive! Many big companies that are still functioning normally will still need to provide gifts to employees or clients. Luckily, I can help with that!

Can you share your advice about how to best work from home, while balancing the needs of homeschooling or the needs of a family/being married?

My advice is to make your schedule accommodating if someone is unable to make theirs more accommodating. I try to stop working around 5 pm so I can spend more time with my husband when he gets home from work. It also enforces work/home boundaries for my own schedule. Sometimes this doesn’t always work out, and that’s okay.

Can you share your strategies about how to stay sane and serene while sheltering in place, or simply staying inside, for long periods with your family?

I’ve been asked this question a lot since the pandemic started. The question lends assumption that I have answers. The truth is, I don’t. I can tell you the ways in which I’ve changed my routine, like walking my dog A LOT more and adopting randomly timed at home workouts to keep building my energy. I want readers to understand that you’re not alone if you feel like you’re going crazy and so many others have their “stuff” together. Social media can make us feel guilty for not being as successful or for being lazy, but it’s all a show. As much as I’d love to have all of the answers, I refuse to be another social media personality that some puts on a pedestal. We’re all doing the best we can and I’m more than willing to share my little techniques with the world, but I’d also like to hear everyone else’s! And you’re handling this pandemic like a champ because you’re still here. That’s impressive.

Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.

Here are the things that have kept me motivated.

  1. The world is changing. Small businesses are getting more attention because we’re slowly dying. Small businesses are PEOPLE, not corporations, so when our businesses die, someone loses their job and the business no longer exists. We’re not the Amazons of the world and can’t survive without your purchase. Yes, YOURS.
  2. Women owned businesses and other minority owned businesses are getting more attention. We’re becoming more aware of the social injustices in the world and we’re constantly educating ourselves about how to change our spending habits. Instagram has an option to tag a small business and they’ve even given all businesses a swipe up feature! THIS IS HUGE and a privilege usually reserved for bigger voices, but this is what is wrong with our spending habits. We’re constantly fed the same marketing from the same company and because the industry is so oversaturated with 3 big companies, the little guys aren’t given an opportunity to be seen. Now this feature doesn’t cure all of our problems, but I think it’s comment worthy when small businesses aren’t given an opportunity simply because we’re deemed unworthy due to our smaller following. This is capitalism at its “finest.” At least now we have a few of the actions available to bigger corporations.
  3. When we all emerge from our caves, I know we’ll all be that much more grateful. And I think it’ll speak volumes as to how long you remain grateful. I’ll be watching how long the gratitude lasts. We took our lives for granted, and I believe a lot more people will approach their days with wonder and awe.
  4. Many businesses have taken this time to go on mandatory vacation or evaluate what their vision is for the company. I’ve been able to slow down and really consider the good I want to do, and I will emerge with a new nonprofit partner!
  5. We have an opportunity to have more compassion! Let’s admit it, we’ve all been through hell and back. I know we see plenty of memes and inspirational quotes with a sentiment similar to “be kind to everyone. You never know what they’re going through.” But I think now that we’ve all been through something equally traumatic, we’ll be able to reflect upon this event when trying to understand what someone else may be battling. COVID-19 isn’t the only battle we’ve had to fight, but it’s one we now all have in common.

From your experience, what are a few ideas that one can use to effectively offer support to their family and loved ones who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?

I think consistently calling and reaching out to loved ones that are having a particularly hard time is a great way to offer support. When reaching out, talk about the good that’s happening in your world- no matter how small. I still call my mom when I’m feeling anxious, and she’ll always take the reins of the conversation and tell me about her pets or daily errands to distract me. You can also send them a care package that encourages them to unplug from the world! I’ve put together so many packages like this.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

You can’t complain about what you tolerate. It keeps you positive and moving forward. Whether that looks like letting something go or deciding to change something.

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Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

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