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Terry Carter of Travertine Spa: “Not everyone is your customer”

Quality: Not everyone is your customer. Some people prefer generic products with synthetic ingredients. Our customers read the labels and care about quality natural preservatives. Cost: Establish realistic pricing. Customers are savvy and will comparison shop. Market: We spend a part of every day marketing our products to tv, influencers and retailers. As part of […]

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Quality: Not everyone is your customer. Some people prefer generic products with synthetic ingredients. Our customers read the labels and care about quality natural preservatives.

Cost: Establish realistic pricing. Customers are savvy and will comparison shop.

Market: We spend a part of every day marketing our products to tv, influencers and retailers.


As part of our series called “5 Things You Need To Know To Create A Very Successful Lifestyle Brand”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Terry Carter, CEO, Travertine Spa Collection, a seasoned business professional with over 30 years of combined experience in entrepreneurship, corporate strategy, international business, product development, product placement and intellectual property law. His career ranges from positions in government and law firms to Fortune 500 companies.

Terry began his career in Japan as a United Nations trained Information Officer coordinating development assistance in Asia and served as an interpreter for the deputy mayor of Yokohama. He earned a BA in International Affairs with a minor in Japanese from the University of Puget Sound. Terry then went on to earn his Juris Doctor from the Washington College of Law at American University. While he was a law student, he worked in the patent and antitrust group at Morgan Lewis and Bockius LLP, one of the largest law firms in America. Further studies include corporate contracts and international joint ventures at the National University of Singapore. Terry also served as a project finance intern at the Export Import Bank of the United States where he drafted the Ex-Im Bank Charter for Funding Request document, which was then reviewed and approved by Congress.

Terry is a strong analytically and creatively. He amalgamates all of his experience into his projects. While brand building, he will draft his own contracts, conduct FTC research, create fragrances and manage trademarks.

While exploring his creative side, Terry worked to make skin and body care products as a hobby. This hobby later became the noted Travertine Spa Collection. He solidified his knowledge of product formulation and fragrance by studying at the Institute Supérieur International du Parfum, de la Cosmétique de de l”Aromatique Alimentaire (ISIPCA — Paris).

The Travertine Spa brand has been featured on BRAVO network’s the Real Housewives of New York, Good Day LA, ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, EXTRA, NPR, Women’s Wear Daily, Entrepreneur Magazine, the LA Times Business section (cover) and with numerous with noted celebrities, musicians and athletes. Travertine was awarded the coveted distinction of a Forbes Travel Product of the Year. He also gained placement on some of the most exclusive retail shelves in the country, including the Ritz Carlton, Bellagio and Aria hotels. He mentors local youth in entrepreneurship and teaches perfumery at his atelier in Orange County, CA.

He is extremely skilled in French and Japanese. Terry brings extensive perspective to the table and is well known for his bold and out the box approaches that succeed.

Terry’s personal interests include tennis, kayaking, cooking, and various business ventures. He enjoys working hard, writing and luxury travel.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your “childhood backstory”?

I was born in Los Angeles. My parents were both entrepreneurial. Very Southern African American in culture. Meaning, respect for elders and education were high priorities.

Can you tell us the story of what led you to this particular career path?

I am a sapiophile. I am constantly learning and challenging myself. After college I was an employee of the Japanese government in Yokohama, Japan working as an interpreter/liaison between NGO’s and the United Nations. Following my graduation from law school I developed my skills in corporate and intellectual property law. Presently I am a Paris-trained perfumer for my own brand of luxury organic skin and body care products. Some may think I hop from one career to another. In actuality, I bring everything I’ve learned with me. In my current business this means that I can write contracts, file trademarks, translate in three languages, formulate products, write copy and promote sales channels. I’ve established a company from the naming process to obtaining placement on some of the most exclusive (and competitive) shelf space available. I also consult new businesses on entity formation. I’ve been blessed with many gifts and I want to use them all.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When I first started I didn’t know how to make labels. I bought large sheets of standard blank labels. I cut out each label with an exacto knife and they would smear if touched and fall apart in contact with water. In time I found a label company where I could place a small order for processional quality waterproof labels. An early client called my first labels “earthy.”

Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

Steve Harvey, the comedian had a morning radio show. In one broadcast he talked about people wanting to start projects or businesses. He said, “the best time to start is now.” That resonated because I am a “doer” and see how people will continually seek education before beginning a venture but never actually begin. I didn’t want to get lost in that cycle.

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

I love the Nike tagline “Just do it.” I started the Travertine Spa Collection after 2 lengthy conversations with a formulator. I now have a line of about 30 products with more added annually. I took the risk and launched our Eucalyptus Steam Shower Spray and it is now redefining my industry. We are sold in Whole Foods Markets nationwide and exclusive resorts. I wanted to teach perfumery and though it took time to develop a client base, I am launching my classes online to interact with a global student base. Many worry about “what if.” I encourage entrepreneurs to consider “what if” things work out better than you could ask or imagine. “Just do it.” So much richness in 3 simple words.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. For the benefit of our readers, let’s define our terms. How do you define a Lifestyle Brand? How is a Lifestyle Brand different from a normal, typical brand?

Our tagline is Treat Yourself WellTM. Accordingly, our concept of a lifestyle brand is to create quality essentials that our clients can enjoy in a variety of areas in their day. Clients identify with or aspire to our message of wellness. Some non-lifestyle brands may specialize in one utilitarian product. I live and breathe essential oils, organics, comfort and luxury. Our messaging is of immense value as people are looking for self-care tools. We create complimentary wellness products that range from a luxury aromatherapeutic Steam Shower Spray to grooming products and bespoke fragrance creation.

What are the benefits of creating a lifestyle brand?

You can engage the customer in a variety of their needs. When I was in the concept stage of Travertine I saw that people didn’t know how to relax, wouldn’t splurge on themselves or felt guilty about doing so. We give our clients a reason to take a few minutes out of their day for themselves. The other day. I took some time to stretch and steam before work. It made such a difference in how I approached my day. A lifestyle brand is more than a logo on a variety of products. Our clients trust our brand and we honor that trust in our formulations.

In your opinion, what is an example of a company that has done a fantastic job building a believable and beloved Lifestyle Brand? What specifically impresses you? What can one do to replicate that?

Balmain. Olivier Rousteing has elevated the brand to stratospheric levels. He is innovative and people are loyal devotees of his work and buy the new collections –even given the premium pricing. The new men’s embroidered jackets are phenomenal. I don’t think replication is of value. Rather, take inspiration and create your own unique stamp on the world. When I am creating products, I may be inspired from one ingredient from another product. Recently I was focused on spearmint in a body product that I buy. I translated that into an essential oil blend that I call Spa Day. It has the most ethereal top note of sweet spearmint. Many Travertine Spa products are concepts that I have created from travel inspirations. They are truly unique.

Can you share your ideas about how to create a lifestyle brand that people really love and are ‘crazy about’?

I see it as a formula. Need + Messaging+ Quality + Consistency + Pricing.

What are the common mistakes you have seen people make when they start a lifestyle brand? What can be done to avoid those errors?

They don’t make a product that the customer needs or wants. Many tend to create vanity brands. I wouldn’t buy a shirt that has some company owners name on it (especially as I don’t really prefer loud branding). I would buy a quality shirt with great material, great fit and a message on it that I support.

Let’s imagine that someone reading this interview has an idea for a lifestyle brand that they would like to develop. What are the first few steps that you would recommend that they take?

Spend a minimal amount of money testing your concept with people who do not know you and are not invested in your emotions.

Ok. Thank you for all that. Here is the main question of our discussion. What are your “5 Things You Need To Know To Create A Very Successful Lifestyle Brand” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

Ethos: are you a sustainable brand? Made in America? Against animal testing? Think about this before hand. We started off as a cruelty-free and vegan brand 17 years ago before the terms were common knowledge. I wanted quality products and though it costs more, it is worth it for amazing products.

Sourcing: Know where your products are coming from. Do you agree with their practices?

Quality: Not everyone is your customer. Some people prefer generic products with synthetic ingredients. Our customers read the labels and care about quality natural preservatives.

Cost: Establish realistic pricing. Customers are savvy and will comparison shop.

Market: We spend a part of every day marketing our products to tv, influencers and retailers.

Super. We are nearly done. Here are our final questions. You are an inspiration to a great many people. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

Continuing with my international development work, I intend to be a player in and hope to inspire the establishing micromanaged economies in some of the poorest places on the planet. Poverty should not limit one’s ability to thrive.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

Tim Cook. He’s brilliant while humbly running a trillion + dollar business. I have a couple of suggestions to improve iPhone functionality. I know a great restaurant near the Apple campus.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

My pleasure. Take some time to Treat yourself well!


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