“Once you make your first order with me, you’re apart of the family. I don’t see people as customers,” says Millicent Richardson, the Maryland based owner of Addictive Apothecary, a luxury home and spa goods brand.
Family is what fuels the love and care that goes into each product. Richardson’s business, Addictive Apothecary started in 2011 as a bonding opportunity. “My daughter was the one who initiated this, she wanted us to spend more time together,” said Richardson. The duo spent about a year modifying their products before they launched. “We started off with candles and began selling them at local flea markets.”
During her the initial stage of her launch, she faced the issue of criticism. “The toughest thing for me to overcome was dealing with people who were like ‘Well I can go to Wal-Mart and get candles for $5’” As an entrepreneur trying to establish one’s brand, it is important to stand firm in pricing.
Addictive Apothecary’s line of products include candles, diffusers, beard care, body butter, and scrubs. Scents include coconut lime, pink hibiscus, papaya mango and many more. The most popular scent undoubtedly is cashmere. Millicent found that this scent is the most universally loved. “I have a 65-year-old woman who regularly emails me and tells me to never get rid of that scent,” she shared.
Millicent talked about the important factors of pricing her products. “Because everything is all vegan and I don’t use fillers, the quality is high. I always tell people a little goes a long way.” Her pricing considers the quality and longevity of the products.
Her staff only consists of two people, her and her daughter which isn’t surprising. This along with the fact that she still works full-time is an example of a large trend among black women entrepreneurs. The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City released a 2018 Black Women Business StartUps report that explored why a large number of the businesses are micro. The report states, “Most black women entrepreneurs work part-time in their businesses, less than 39 hours a week.”
Black women make up 59 percent of black-owned businesses. American Express produced a 2018 State of Women-Owned Business Report that gave context as to why the rise in black women-owned businesses has been so rapid. “From 2007 to 2018, higher unemployment rates, long-term unemployment, and a much greater gender and racial pay gap led women of color to start businesses at a higher rate out of necessity and the need to survive, rather than a desire to seize a market opportunity.”
The challenge of juggling a full-time job, motherhood, and a side business is all apart of the grind. “I would love for this to be my full-time job but for now, it’s not. My kids say I have two full-time jobs,” said Richardson. For now, she works from home and fulfills her business obligations whenever she has time throughout the day. “If I’m seriously working on filling orders, I make sure my kids are good, and then I work all evening. Sometimes until 2 or 3 in the morning.”
Although it is a business, Richardson is not in to for the money. Her hope for this year is to have Addictive Apothecary products in specialty boutique stores throughout the country. Even with the goal of expanding, she relishes the personal connections she makes with customers. “I’ve had people call me at 2 a.m. just to talk and I don’t ever wanna lose that,” she said.
Check out the Addictive Apothecary website here. You can also follow them on Instagram @addictiveapothecary.