With Thanksgiving fast approaching, the vision of an overflowing cornucopia is such an iconic image for this time of the year. The first thought that usually comes to mind is something along the lines of a bountiful harvest, but often less visible are the seeds and careful cultivation needed to bring these results to life. By now, many of our original New Year’s Resolutions may have fallen through the cracks with the twists and turns of these unique times. However, what if we’d spent this year tending to those goals like difficult crops? For Vicki Engsall, co-founder of The Jojoba Company, she’s seen firsthand how life-changing it can be to trust the process and harvest wisely.
20 years ago, Engsall’s father and co-founder of their company, Ian Turner, planted a jojoba plant on their Beresford Farm located on the eastern shores of Australia. A serial entrepreneur himself, Turner recognized the potential of taking a risk on something that had never been done before.
“He was one of the first to plant a jojoba in Australia and nobody else really had planted jojoba in Australia,” revealed Engsall as we spoke about their company in our recent interview. Explaining how the jojoba plant is native to dry, rocky American soil, her father’s steps to be the first were risky. However, it was his entrepreneurial attitude and habits that led to the creation of a business whose legacy is growing greater every day.
Plant The Seeds And Help Them Grow
“His intention really kind of changed the direction for me and my family,” remarked Engsall. “If it wasn’t for the farm, this company wouldn’t be here today,” she affectionately stated.
Eight years after her father planted the seeds for their farm’s first jojoba plant, Engsall was a schoolteacher, but as soon as she saw how promising the crops were, her father’s entrepreneurial influence helped catapult her into a new career. As a long-time sufferer of common skin concerns like redness, irritation, and eczema, Engsall quickly recognized the true potential of their one-of-a-kind crop and bottled it up, founding The Jojoba Company in the process.
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“Our goal for the company is to really help people feel confident in their skin and to empower them to help themselves and actually get the skin they want without being dependent on an endless amount of products. It’s what jojoba does,” she declared. The Jojoba Company’s products are all botanically-derived, always free of additives and harmful chemicals.
Engsall stated that from the time she was very young, she struggled with which skincare products to use and the wavering confidence that came when nothing worked. But once she started using jojoba - a plant used for centuries for health treatments and hair and skin remedies - her obsession with endless products completely ceased. “We know that the skin is intelligent and with Jojoba, the skin can save itself,” she said of the plant’s natural properties.
Engsall explained that what she believes as the downfall to modern skincare is the fact that most giants prey on the confusion of consumers and tout controlling routines that keep them buying empty products. “Jojoba actually mimics our natural skin saver, it’s actually the closest botanical match to our skin’s natural oils found in normal, healthy skin, so it can actually allow the skin to function as it was designed to before we started cleansing it, exfoliating it, masking it”.
The partnership of Turner’s seeds and Engsall’s mentality of getting back to skincare basics is exactly what has helped The Jojoba Company become the empire it is today. Here are a few more pieces of insight that Engsall was kind enough to share.
On Building A Loyal Consumer Base
When asked about what it takes to build a loyal consumer base in a saturated market like skincare, Engsall was quick to point out the importance of effective communication as the first thing that should be cultivated.
“We always communicate with our customers through social media, but also personally through emails,” she began. “We look after the VIP’s really, really, really carefully,” she further emphasized, like sending them new products before they launch. “We look after our customers [and] make sure that [they’re] always educated and feeling in communication with us.”
Noting how the effects of jojoba can be felt across all skin types, age ranges, and concerns, therefore eliminating a concrete target market, Engsall still stressed the importance of understanding who buys their products. “We have done extensive market research into the behaviors of the customers who buy our products,” stated Engsall. Through countless focus groups and hours of shopping with their customers, a target emerged, allowing for the team at The Jojoba Company to really cater to their most loyal consumers.
“The first one we identified was our ‘fixer.’ She was driven by frustrations, like feeling like her skin is unpredictable, fearing that she’s sort of disempowered that she’s trying yet another product that doesn’t deliver results. The other person that came out of our market research was the ‘optimizer.’ Everybody wants to improve their skin, but they’re not feeling in control of their skin and how it’s changing. They might be feeling overly-marketed in anti-aging ads,” related Engsall of the two categories of customers The Jojoba Company routinely markets to. And it’s this knowledge that’s helped their brand gain the trust of its buyers bringing recurring sales that have led to the replacement of the wheat, barley and rye crops that previously grew on the family farm.
On Working With Family
“I’ve learned that it takes patience,” shared Engsall on her experience of working with her father and sister as integral members of The Jojoba Company’s corporate structure. “There’s an extra dimension, I think, when it comes with family - the emotional extra dimension. And to be aware of that, I think is really important.” Engsall iterated the clear difference between working with strangers and family as having heightened emotional levels involved where things are made better when the emotions are left out of it, helping to protect the relationships from disagreements in the business and vice versa.
It was Turner who helped Engsall realize entrepreneurship as a viable career option through his own example. When it came to funding his hand was there too, giving Engsall access to Beresford Farm’s jojoba plants in order to start formulating The Jojoba Company’s first products. Additionally mentoring her through the entire process of startup, she believes their partnership to be invaluable to the business.
On Trusting The Process
Engsall was transparent about the many trials and tribulations the farm and business faced when it came to cultivating jojoba, which is the only plant in the entire plant kingdom that produces a liquid wax rather than an oil.
“It’s taken us a long time,” she stated on what it was like to be the first farm in Australia to grow their special strain of Wadi-Wadi Jojoba, specifically developed to grow in their soil. “We had a lot of failed crops in the beginning.” But nurturing the uncharacteristically rich soil of their crops surrounded by wine and olive vineyards helped them create a pure jojoba product with a strikingly high percentage of nutrients and omega fatty acids not found in any other strains.
Now 20 years down the line after the planting of those first seeds, Engsall indicated that the family has finally “nabbed it,” perfecting their growing and crushing strategies over time. Learning through trial and error and leaning on their extensive network of fellow World Jojoba Council members and jojoba farming experts, The Jojoba Company has been able to nearly double their farm’s size year-after-year and help bring an ancient super ingredient back to life for the masses.
Original article from Forbes.