Take time and touch base with yourself. This has become popular recently and is very helpful. I do it every morning for at least a half hour. By practicing mindfulness and connecting with myself, it puts me in a happier place for the rest of the day. It helps me stay grounded, centered and positive.
As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Carolyn Harrington.
Carolyn Harrington is the founder of Maty’s Healthy Products, which she was inspired to create after giving birth to her daughter, Maty, who suffered from severe heart defects and due to medications, developed symptoms that could not be cured by conventional treatments.
On a mission to reclaim Maty’s health, Carolyn immersed herself in the research behind natural health as well as restorative and immune boosting ingredients. Through this research, she began applying modern knowledge of these natural healing agents to age-old remedies and created her own line of all-natural and organic products, better known today as Maty’s Healthy Products.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?
The story began when my daughter, Maty, was born with severe congenital heart defects and had multiple surgeries before the age of five. Though the surgeries helped her heart, she was left with a weakened immune system which brought on symptoms including hair loss and psoriasis. I turned to the medical community for help with these symptoms but was told repeatedly that safe treatments were not available for patients who were Maty’s age. I grew so frustrated, that I started my own research and connected with a homeopathic doctor to see if natural alternatives could help relieve my daughter’s medical issues. After seeing Maty respond to these holistic treatments, it ignited a passion to learn more and not only help my family, but others. In my studies, I would find old-time remedies that your grandmother would have used generations ago. But with my new healing techniques, I knew I could enhance them to make them more powerful and effective. And so I did. The results became Maty’s Healthy Products.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?
Once we had the idea for Maty’s and started coming up with formulas, it was my husband who said we needed to share our formulas with the world. We decided to take our remedies to the Natural Products Expo West — the biggest natural products show in the country — and said let’s see what happens.
We only had 21 samples we filled in our kitchen, and made digital labels for them. We took out a 1/3 of a booth and after one weekend, we had a commitment from 3,000 retail outlets around the country that wanted to buy our products. We walked away excited, and said to each other, now we have to figure out how to manufacture this stuff. That’s where the real work began.
From an entrepreneurial perspective, the main lesson is if you have an idea, if it’s your passion, go for it. It’s great if you can trial it first and see if there’s interest but these days you can now test it out on an online retail site to see if it will sell. You don’t necessarily need to have manufacturing plans in place. More than likely if you have an interest in something, others will be interested in it too.
Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When it came time to redesign our packaging, we worked with an external agency that had a great reputation. Our goal was to be in the health and beauty care aisle with the main drugs, next to the pharmacy, versus in the natural products area, which was a different area that attracted different buyers. In order to do this though, the agency felt that we needed to redesign the packaging to look like a drug, so when shoppers came by, they wouldn’t be put off by a natural looking package.
When this was presented, Bob and I kept asking ourselves, why are we trying to look like a drug when every other brand is trying to look like a natural product?
Due to time constraints, we went with their idea and it almost broke us. With marketing, there has to be a connection with a product’s messaging and look. The big lesson we learned is if you have a gut feeling, you have to go with it. There are experts out there and their right more times than not, but when you get that gut-wrenching feeling, a call to check in with your instincts, you have to listen to it. Experts are experts but they won’t know your brand like you do.
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?
My husband, Bob, had the big vision for Maty’s — he has the ‘go big or go home’ mentality that really pushed me to see what this brand would really do. He was a manufacturer’s rep, so he knew that we had to focus on retail if we wanted to see success with the brand — I was happy with focusing on natural stores, but Bob wasn’t stopping at that.
Ok perfect. Now let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?
I began my career as an engineer, but since I started this journey to Maty’s, I shifted my focus to natural healing. I could have become a holistic health practitioner, but by doing that, I probably would have seen about eight people a day and hopefully make an impact. With Maty’s, I impact people nationwide with our products and show them there is a lot you can do with food-based products in your home. Maty’s is about educating people that there are things natural ingredients can do to help with life’s health challenges like pain or the common cold.
Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.
- Take time and touch base with yourself. This has become popular recently and is very helpful. I do it every morning for at least a half hour. By practicing mindfulness and connecting with myself, it puts me in a happier place for the rest of the day. It helps me stay grounded, centered and positive.
- Being active and keep moving. Being in shape effects your overall health, so it’s important to keep moving.
- Being true to yourself and getting rid of inner conflict inside of you. I tend to be methodical in my thoughts and the way I do things. Many times, when I’m forced outside of my comfort zone, I start to feel uneasy. When you don’t live true to yourself, it can have a negative physical effect on your health. It may not show right away, but a physical effect can result a few days, weeks or even later in life.
- Eating best for you. I’m not a nutritionist, but I’m not convinced there’s one diet that’s right for everyone. I’m vegetarian mostly. But my sons eat mainly meat. Find the right one for you but make sure it’s based on whole food and nothing processed.
- Listen to your body. When you’re taking the time to touch base with yourself, your body will talk to you. If you learn to listen to it, you can get a lot out of it. I live in Boulder now and love hiking here. Sometimes, I’m hiking, and my hip will start hurting. That’s my body talking to me. I’ve learned to do something right from the start, instead of letting the condition continue. Your body might be telling you that you have too much stress, eating wrong, or too tired. If you start to re-adjust, that will help the ailment from continuing.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?
‘Let food be thy medicine.’: There’s so much you can do to help yourself with food that you have readily available in your house, that can be found in a natural food store and what can be found in nature. It’s empowering when you take care of yourself and don’t need to rely on someone else to solve your problems. Medicine is great and has a purpose, but before going straight to the doctor, there are certain things you can try first with whole food and let Mother Nature be the healer.
What are your “6 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
- You’re required to play every roll. My husband and I like to say, ‘you’re in an orchestra and are required to play every instrument.’ This is what is required of you when you start your business. You’re suddenly an account expert, R&D, marketing, etc. It’s hard to be prepared for that. So if you are one who wouldn’t like to play every instrument, then maybe it is a sign this may not be for you.
- Trust your gut. You’re not going to be the expert at everything. Trust those experts you hire but it’s more about trusting your gut and what feels right.
- Capital. ‘Just double it.’ Double whatever you think you need. It is hard to predict ups and downs, so it is always helpful to assume you need more to help protect when there are downs.
- Persist through adversities. You need to keep the end game in sight. When you take two steps forward, you may end up taking one step back. You need to keep plowing forward to your goal even when you hit a down.
- Learn from the lows. In hindsight, starting a business is a roller coaster ride with high highs and low lows. I learned that there are reasons for the lows. It can be scary when it happens but, in a day, or two you realize there was a lesson to be learned.
- Develop a relationship with a local bank early on. A relationship with a bank can really help. There might come a time when you need extra capital and if you don’t have a relationship with a bank, it can be hard to get capital right away.
Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?
Those are all great causes but the most important to me is mental health because it has huge impact on our overall health. I think the mental health of this country and the people in it is taking its toll. There are a myriad of negative emotions out there including depression, not having a good self-image and being self-conscious in public. These can have a dramatic negative impact on our lives and on our physical health. These negative emotions can even block any type of healing and keep us from living the healthiest lifestyle.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
· Instagram — @Matys
· Facebook — @Matyshp
· Twitter — @Matys