I had the pleasuring of chatting with mommy mogul Kim Cross, after her inquiring about sponsoring Meet the Authors – The Ultimate Experience. I wanted to hear her story on how she transitioned from the Navy to a fearless mommy mogul 10 years in the making..
Tell our readers a little bit about yourself.
Ok, but just a little bit. 🙂 I am a mom of two of the funniest, witty, 1000% fellas in North Carolina. I served in the Navy where I met my main squeeze and bestie husband. We’ve been living and raising our kiddo’s in Charlotte, NC for almost 13 years now.
I am a lover of essential oils and all things fragrant. My psoriasis has created a space for me to need to study up on various oils and natural products that won’t cause irritation. Ten years later and tons of research, trial, and error–I’ve got formulas that work. I love getting into my “lab” (as my family calls it), getting into a zone of creating, and releasing the next new “thing” that makes skin feel awesome! That is an awesome feeling for me and I want to share that with the world. I’m hoping to open Zhi as a quaint boutique in Charlotte in the near future.
How long have you been in business? And what made you start a business in the industry you are in?
Zhi has been around for 10 years this month (August). Yay! My background is hair care–I spent 17 years behind the chair between a local salon and my home (shhh…). I loved that I could take hair in the worst condition and make it feel like new money. It’s always been my passion; what I loved. I took a break from hair and enlisted in the Navy. While there, I started to develop skin issues that ultimately became psoriasis. I love for my skin to feel, look, and smell good. Psoriasis had essentially taken that away so I began to dabble in making natural products that work for me while working at my last salon (many many thanks to Mrs. Price of Carol’s Daughter). Trial, error, a seed planted here, a seed planted there, and tons of research and I’m where I am with Zhi today. Goat’s milk soaps that make your skin baby soft without irritation, goat’s milk lotion to compliment the soap, and soy candles that don’t aggravate breathing conditions has become my passion.
I see you are a mom boss. And that can be hectic with kids, home, work, and building a business. How do you manage and balance it all?
Honestly, I go through so many emotions being the “boss”. I’m always excited, as are my three fellas when I have something new for them to try…or when I’ve made a new sale from someone I don’t know. I’m frustrated when I have this awesome idea and just…can’t…make…it…work. I’m tired many days because life does not stop for me and my dream to make Zhi a household name. The kids still have to go to school, get haircuts. The family still has to eat. And of course, my husband cannot be neglected; he’s my roadie. But then there’s always that amazingly useless thing called guilt.
I do feel a level of guilt trying to juggle all that the Lord has given me responsibility for. It’s something I really struggle to manage at times. One day there may not be a fork anywhere but in the dishwasher, maybe a few days there isn’t a towel in the linen closet but in the dryer. Dinner may even be pizza three out of five days of the work week. I’m amazed at how many little things can stir up that guilt that I should put Zhi to the side and be mom/wife. But at the end of the day, I have to remember the end result; which is my family well taken care of and my brand being a well-oiled machine. “To whom much is given, much is required….” Keeping this in mind keeps me level, motivated, and keeps the family on track.
What keeps you motivated and inspired to continue building your business?
Thinking on it, two things keep me motivated and inspired. I deeply believe I create an awesome product that I cannot keep to myself–it has to be shared with all that I can reach. The Lord has placed so many gifts in the hands of the people of the world; Zhi is my gift and I want to use it to the best of my ability. I love-making products that make others’ skin look and feel amazing; especially people who have skin issues. I have seen the difference goat’s milk soap and lotion makes with my skin, my husband’s skin, and others. The feedback makes me smile til my cheeks hurt!
Also, the fact that so many before me have done what I do and found success keep me pushing to build Zhi. Others have paved the way. How can I not keep moving? I remember being so enamored with Madam C.J. Walker years ago. I was a student at Dudley’s Beauty College here in Charlotte and I was so very bored with having to do book work. I just wanted to do hair…that’s it. We were talking about products and different product lines when her name came up. We talked for a while about how she became a millionaire with the products she made, but it was her life “in a whole” that struck me. But essentially, from then until now I’ve got SO MANY women to look up to.
If you had the opportunity to start your business over again from the ground up, what would you do differently?
I’m sure there is something I’d do differently, but really thinking about it, I’m not sure I’d have the level of knowledge that I’ve gained over the last 10 years. I’m so blessed to be able to help my friends and family members that are looking to start a business. Getting a mentor at the onset as opposed to later would have been a tremendous asset. Knowing about potential obstacles instead of facing those same obstacles, I believe, could have saved loads of time and progress. Nonetheless, I’ve not always liked my journey, but I’m grateful for it.
As a female entrepreneur, what challenges have you faced with your business? And how did you overcome it?
I believe growing up predominantly around males (way more boys than girls in the family) and working in predominantly male fields in the military came with this underlying sense of having to push harder, be stronger, think smarter than everyone else came with an uneasiness when it came to being a female business owner. Weird, I know. Being in a field that has majority women, I was honestly intimidated. Before, with all my jobs, I knew what needed to be done to get where I needed to be in aviation electronics. I was tough, almost hardcore. Then getting out of the military and going into beauty (the polar opposite almost), it was intimidating to think of softening to my environment. Some of that was just the progression of going from service-member to civilian; a beast all on it’s own. The other part was adjusting to not being “one of the fellas”. I never work makeup anymore, my conversation was nothing like any other female I worked with, and my skin was jacked (thank you, psoriasis). Simply put, I didn’t fit in and it terrified me.
It wasn’t until I had been in business for a while and I began to come in contact with more and more women that were “All for one and one for all!” I loved that there were folks out there willing to freely share the ins and outs of the industry. It was an awesome feeling to feel accepted more and more…regardless of what my skin looked like or how plain I looked compared to others. So I overcame that intimidation by becoming more accepting of my new community. I had to stop thinking I was alone on my journey to build my business. Simply put, I had to learn that NO ONE CAN DO IT ALONE.
Are there any nuggets of wisdom for aspiring entrepreneurs?
DO NOT give up. Keep doubt off your lips and feed your passion. That urge, that nudge, that seed…it’s not going anywhere anyway until you take hold and nurture what’s been itching to get out. So take the leap! Jump back into the game! Step it up a notch! YOU CAN DO IT! There are tons of examples of female business owners that have been there and done that, there is no reason to think, feel, or believe you cannot do the same.
That one step of faith can make all the difference in your life. My mom had me think about Indiana Jones (yea, I know…we’re huge movie watchers) when he stepped out on that stone bridge. He had no idea if he was stepping in the right place if he’d fall, or anything…he closed his eyes and stepped. We have to look at our opportunities that way also. You’ll never know if you don’t step out. Faith that you are living your purpose, that God is paving your way, will take you WAY farther than doubt that you can achieve EVER will.
Are you working on any upcoming projects? And what can we expect from you in the future?
I’ll be attending the 5th Annual Charlotte Natural Hair and Health Expo as a vendor on September 24th. Looking forward to connecting, educating, and having an awesome time.
My husband and I will be starting our Coats of Many Colors Drive this October. I’m super excited about starting the drive! We will collect coats, hats, and gloves for local homeless veterans and their families. Last time around, we collected 250 coats, 43 hats and pairs of gloves, and 60 pairs of socks for our veterans and their families! The generosity of the community allowed us to present warm weather gear to a huge chunk of veterans that would have been so very cold otherwise. That’s always an exciting time and I encourage others to reach out to their local VA to see how they can help the homeless vets in their area….it makes a HUGE difference.
Shortly after that, I’m looking to launch my first soap club! It’s a wonderful way to have healthy looking, super soft skin without worrying about reordering every month. Stoked about that!!!
How can our readers stay connected with you?
I’m all over social media now, but my website is www.zhibathandbody.com. I’ve got a couple of blogs there, a gallery of what I do and some images of my work and ways to contact me. My social media handles are:
Google Plus (plus.google.com/+Zhibathandbody)