Bringing Indigenous Values to Business

August 8, 2019

Six years ago Patrice Mousseau began making all-natural eczema cream for her daughter, at home in her crockpot. Today she is the owner and operator of Satya Organic Skincare which makes USDA Certified organic, NPN approved eczema relief cream.

“Business and money has the power to influence our entire society in a way that’s almost unrecognized; how powerful having your own business can be in instituting change in the world at large.”

In this episode:

  • How Satya grew from Patrice’s kitchen to a thriving business, exporting from Canada to Hong Kong
  • The biggest lesson Patrice has learned about entrepreneurship and running a business
  • How Indigenous values influence how Patrice operates her business
  • Using business as a positive tool for change
  • What Satya is doing differently to ensure their product packaging is safe for the environment

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Show Notes

Transcript

Patrice: Hi, my name is Patrice Mousseau. I am the owner, creator, founder, CEO, woman of many hats for Satya Organics inc a nontoxic, non-steroid anti-inflammatory for skin issues like eczema.

Vicki: Thank you very much for joining us today. Patrice, I’m thrilled to have you here.

Patrice: Yes, thank you so much for asking me. I’m always happy to talk with SheEO.

Vicki: Did you always want to be an entrepreneur and start the business that you started?

Patrice: Oh God, no. Absolutely not because in my, in my perception of what an entrepreneur was, couldn’t be farther from who I was, which was, you know, I saw a person who ran a business is somebody who’s really interested in money and numbers and spreadsheets and suits and briefcases and, and frankly being a man, probably never something that I ever considered. Um, my, my sort of path has been in the other side of the brain, which was in journalism and uh, reserve radio and television hosts for many, many years. And that’s what I thought I was going to be doing forever. But a couple of things happened. One, I discovered that the journalism wasn’t really following the path that I had hoped it would be, which was to actually, you know, be of service to society at large and kind of shaped culture. And instead, I found that the direction of, of journalism has been not necessarily one that I want to be involved in. And then I had a baby and my baby got eczema when she was eight months old. I took her into the doctor and the doctor’s only option to me was cortisone creams, steroid creams, topical creams on her, on her little body at eight months old. And being a journalist, I’d actually seen stories about the detriments of using steroids in the long term. And I was like, there is no way I am putting this on my child. So I thought, you know, I’ve got the research skills, I’m up all night breastfeeding anyway I can research. And I looked at the academic studies that had been coming out in the last few years, the existing medical research. I looked at traditional medicine, you know, triple checked everything the way that a good journalist does and then took that information and created something in my crockpot in my kitchen that cleared Esme’s eczema up in two days.

Vicki: Oh my God. So what in the world made you think that you could go put a bunch of things in a crockpot and make a solution? Like that’s amazing.

Patrice: I don’t know if I ever really thought why not? I Dunno. I I, I will. I guess, you know, I, I really wasn’t looking to make a business. I really wasn’t looking to, to go, okay, this is going to be something larger than just helping my own child. And the thing is it helped my child so quickly, like in two days. And I had made a whole bloody crockpot and I was like, what am I going to do with all this? So I went to the mommy and baby Facebook group that I was a part of, which, you know, moms do. And I said, does anybody need any? And then immediately I had to make like three more crockpots cause people were, were travelling like literally hours to come and buy some of this product from me because everybody, yeah.

Vicki: Wow. And so you did that how many years ago?

Patrice: Well as May is seven now. So I, I did my first crockpot and she was, you know, like eight months, so six years ago. And then actually I didn’t even, um, I didn’t even consider it to make it a real business. I was just kind of doing it on the side and, and making you know, just enough money to cover my costs. Um, originally until I met Madeline Shaw who is, as you know, of course another SheEO, well the, for one of the first SheEO ventures, and I was doing a favor for a friend. I was interviewing her for a podcast and we just hit it off and we ended up talking and she’s very intuitive and she said to me, I don’t know what it is she said, but I, you need to come to this SVI, this women’s entrepreneurship conference, Social Venture Institute in Vancouver and bring your product and you just need to come with me. And I was like, oh, okay. I went and I just saw all these women who were doing businesses that weren’t based on all those things that I thought business was supposed to be. They were basing it on their passion and the purpose over profit and they were more interested in creating things in businesses and a society with integrity and values and trying to actually make a difference in the world while still having healthy, successful businesses. So I thought, wow, these people are amazing, these women are amazing. I want to do this. And that’s, that’s how I started.

Vicki: That’s incredible. And again, starts with one woman encouraging another woman, which is incredible. Surrounded by radically generous people. Thank you Madeline. And then also just this rethinking of what business can be, right? We have these stereotypes in our minds the stories that we tell ourselves all the time, the 24 year old in a Hoodie, you know, the dude with the suitcase and the ability to create businesses on your own terms is, is still sort of a new thing.

Patrice: It’s so powerful. One of the things as a journalist I would always, you know, trying to find the reason behind things. And I’d always say to myself, look for the money, because money is the great motivator for society for so many people and business and money has the power to influence our entire society in a way that’s just almost unrecognized. How, how powerful having your own business can actually be in instituting change in the world at large.

Vicki: So talk to me, is eczema a big problem in the world?

Patrice: Absolutely. So, and it’s actually a growing issue. The incidence of Eczema has gone up about 60% in the last 10 15 years for people and we’re talking about 20% and that this is average. 20% of the world’s population under eight at some point will suffer from eczema. And if you go to developed countries like North America, Pacific Rim, Europe, the incidence is actually even higher. It’s also very prevalent for adults. And for a long time the only real options out there were steroids or, and there’s a lot of other products on the market that are also full of parabens and fragrance and you know, things that are actually irritants for skin that large companies have been trying to pass off to people as a way to, to deal with their, with their eczema. But if anything that’s actually exacerbating the problem and they’re just in it to make some profit. So that’s why I think that my company is so incredibly different is because we are five ingredients. We are simple. Everything in it for the five ingredients are actually active anti inflammatories and the only thing that isn’t is the bees wax, which is there for moisture, texture and protection. Everything has a purpose and it’s very, very clean and simple and certified organic and been reviewed and approved by Health Canada. So it is the best of the best on the market. And that’s what I think people deserve as well. And that’s what you know, we want to provide.

Vicki: So you’ve been getting so much, uh, energy coming your way. You’re an indigenous entrepreneur, which is incredible. Uh, and uh, can you tell me a little bit about how you started to export? Like how did that happen that you started to take your product outside of Canada?

Patrice: Yeah, it was an accident. So I was at a trade show called CHFA, which is the Canadian Health Food Association here in Vancouver and one in Toronto as well. A trade commissioner was there and she went by my booth and she said, oh, this is really cool. She’s like, can I, can I have one of these? I’d really like to show it to some people. And I said, oh, sure, you know, go ahead. And I gave it to her and I didn’t, I completely forgot about it. And then it turns out she was a trade commissioner for Hong Kong and she had taken it to Hong Kong and showed it to a bunch of distributors there and they were all interested. And so I had to kind of, I’m an, I was in a very fortunate position, I could kind of pick and choose and, and figure out what person that I wanted to, to make a partnership with. So I spent time asking questions and everything else. And then I ended up with Suburba Farm, uh, Richard and Adelina Chen and they are just fantastic. They have my back 100%. It’s a great relationship. And now we’re, we’re launching Hong Kong at the, we had an event at the, at the consulate there, and we’re looking at a bunch of stores just to start our Pacific Rim, uh, Asia Pacific expansion.

Vicki: So from three crockpots in your kitchen to Hong Kong. Amazing. In a pretty short period of time. Really fast. And so how are you scaling? How are you figuring that out?

Patrice: I’ve come to the realization that I can’t do it alone. I cannot do this alone. I have to keep telling myself that because I’ve been trying to do it alone for a long time. I think because it was sort of a, a question of you know, I have to do it alone. I have to do this to prove that I’m smart enough and hardworking enough and, and all those things to try and do it alone. Um, but actually Mary Jane Ryan at SheEO reminded me that actually when you reach a certain level of success, you can’t do it alone anymore. So what I’m doing now is I’m, you know, pulling in amazing people to come and help me. I have a retail expert, Kenny Vannucci. And, uh, my salesperson, Carol, who both of them had been in the industry forever, bringing in a, an operations person. Um, and he was the former COO of Vega, which was, uh, which is a really large brand here in Canada that was recently sold. His name is Mark Wilson. He’s all amazing and uh, just kind of figuring out how to structure the company in a way that is going to allow for, for rapid growth coming forward. You know, moving forward.

Vicki: It’s so amazing that like getting back to simplicity, we see this as a theme almost everywhere. All of the products and services and a lot of our systems and structures are just way too complex and trying to simplify things down is really part of the answer to getting back to a more sustainable economy. How important is it that you have just five ingredients in your product and what is the feedback that you get from customers?

Patrice: Well, I think people should be, it should be the right to know what they’re putting on their bodies. When, you know, when you look at this laundry list of massive ingredients and chemicals and things you can’t even pronounce, you know, half of them are carcinogens. Like that should not be legal, let alone promoted to people as, as, especially for something for children. So I think that it’s our rights as consumers to know what we’re putting on our skin. If we’re paying the money for it, we should, we should know that we’re getting the best thing out there possible. Simplicity. You know what you’re using and that’s, that’s what it’s, that’s the way it should be.

Vicki: Competitors that you have in this space who have all these other kinds of ingredients in, I mean what is the feedback you’re getting from customers who try your product?

Patrice: Oh God. Our reviews are just stellar. There is the occasional person that it doesn’t work for because nothing works for everyone. Steroids included. So I don’t want to say I hate it when people say the word miracle cream because there’s no such thing as a miracle. It’s science. It works for most people. I’d say 98% of the of people, but there are people are so happy because they’d been looking for something like this for so long that actually works and works quickly and works without. With that, there’s no side effects of my product at all. It’s all actually made from things you could eat, like it’s so clean and so simple and so effective that I have people who are emailing me and calling me on a daily basis saying, oh my God, this has been a life-changer for me. And then we need to tell and they want to tell all their friends kind of thing. I’ve literally had people come up to me in tears because you know they’ve had eczema on their face on their hands and it was literally affecting their lives and Satya has been the only thing that was actually able to help them. So that’s like a huge motivator for me too is knowing that I’m actually affecting change in people’s lives. Probably the way that I’ve been trying to do my whole life and here with my business, I’m finally able to do that.

Vicki: It’s pretty amazing, isn’t it? It’s like very gratifying when you have a business that has a strong purpose and is helping people and you get that feedback loop happening all the time. Like, ah, I don’t know about you, but I find it, first of all, it’s the only thing I could do is to be an entrepreneur in the world. But it’s also like the hardest thing every day to get out of bed sometimes when you’re really struggling. And so can you talk a little bit about how you deal with the tough times? What are some of your coping strategies other than laying on the floor in a puddle of tears? Well, yeah, besides that, thanks.

Patrice: It totally happens especially, and it happens, you know, whether you’re having the tough times and on the exterior it looks like great times. Like literally the last time I was in that puddle of tears was when I was having crazy amounts of success and I didn’t know how to handle it. And I didn’t know where the money was going to come from to fund my inventory. And I was just like, somehow I felt like such a failure because even as the product was becoming successful, I was still what I thought was messing it up. And the problem was, is that of course that I went, didn’t have the help that I needed. My coping strategy now is I’ve actually written a list on sticky notes on the wall of people in my life that I can call.

Vicki: Oh, great idea.

Patrice: I need to reach out to people and just tell my story. And sometimes it’s about listening to other people’s stories too, because if you’re so wrapped up in yourself, sometimes it just becomes like this feedback loop of heaviness and depression and oh my God, what am I going to do? And sometimes just having that conversation with someone and hearing what’s going on with them is enough to know that you’re not alone and you’re helping other people too by listening. And yeah, it’s, it’s reaching out to those people on my sticky notes and not, not just, you know, for the purpose of what, what can they like help me with? It’s just about making that connection with people and not being alone. And that’s huge.

Vicki: Yeah. It’s so interesting. I think this, uh, I have no idea why we get so cultured to be isolated, especially as women and this thing of like not asking for help. I mean it’s a, having people’s names on your wall is a brilliant idea because it’s just that constant reminder. There are other people out there, all you have to do is ask, I hear a lot of things with female entrepreneurs, like they’re wondering if they’re doing things right and as soon as you get into a relationship or conversation with someone else, you realize, oh my God, everyone else is kinda making it up too. And trying to figure it out. There is no right answer. That’s powerful.

Patrice: Yeah. And it’s nice to visually be able to see like this group of people who have your back, whether you’re on the phone with them or not. Like you know that there’s people out there that you can reach out to and you should because isolation is the killer.

Vicki: Absolutely. And so where do you want things to go with your business? What’s your dream?

Patrice: My dream is that I really want to be a multi, multimillion multinational company. I want to bring this idea of clean products that actually work and actually help people everywhere. Like we need to hold this entire industry up to account and go look, you need to start making good products for people that don’t harm them and actually help them and do what they say do what you say they they do and if we can be sort of a role model for that and then customers know that they can demand that sort of things, then hopefully we can actually start instituting change and not just for the products themselves but the way that a company deals with their environmental responsibility, which is a big deal for Satya as well. So you know we really want to make change.

Vicki: So On the environmental sustainability note do you want to talk a little bit about your packaging and how you think of your whole business in terms of the environmental sustainability besides having just five simple ingredients that are all edible?

Patrice: Yeah, so what we will want to do is the idea behind Satya is to pursue truth. Is the actual meaning behind the name of Satya. And to me, my higher truth was to create a business knowing that it helped people but also did no harm, does no harm to our customers, does no harm to the people who work with me, our suppliers and in particular the environment. Because very often when you see you know, products that are out there and are super cheap and you’re buying them, somebody’s paying the price somewhere, right? Whether it be a worker or the environment, the chemicals are being dumped into your waters or plastics or whatever. We’re going to do this. We’re going to find a way to make this as environmentally sustainable as possible. So we use glass jars, we use metal lids, we use recyclable paper, we use tins we just recently launched, which is something I’m super excited about is these hundred percent compostable pouches that you can buy online right now. It looks like plastic, but it’s not. It’s actually made from wood fiber and corn, non GMO corn. And so you can order these and then you just squeeze them out into your own glass jar and then melt it. And then you’ve got your Satya at home. But it’s no garbage and it reduces the carbon footprint from shipping, and it’s way cheaper for shipping too. So you go from $9 for the jar to $2 for the pouch, so it saves you money and there’s no garbage. We’re also going into a partnership. We want to do a twist stick, and I was trying to find a good environmental option for that. The Best I could do was recyclable plastic. So what we’re doing is a partnership with a company called the plastic bank. We’re going to be doing offsets for every piece of plastic that’s ever used in the product. Um, whenever you buy something, we’re going to basically be paying someone in a developing country to harvest plastic out of their waterways so it doesn’t get to the ocean. Then they take that plastic to a local depot with the exchange that to be recycled for medical care, educational tuition, or household items. So it deals with ocean plastic and poverty. So until we come up with a, a really good environmental option for the stick, that’s what we’re going to continue to do. We’re also carbon neutral with the great bear rainforest. You know, whenever we try, whenever something new comes out that that is a better option. We try and do, you’re doing a sampling program now. We’ve always never did that samplings because this little pouches were super wasteful. There’s little plastic pouches, you know, that they give away and in stores. So we found a new solution to that that uses tin and paper. So that’s really exciting. So that’s coming out as well. So these are all things that are super important to us and that can be done at any company that says, oh, it’s too expensive, or whatever. That’s bullshit. Like you can find a solution, you can find a way that’s better. And the more people that try and do it, the cheaper it becomes. And the more that the system has to change to accommodate things like compostable packaging and a better recycling programs.

Vicki: This is so awesome. I mean, I think this is one of the things we keep seeing with our SheEO Ventures is that every single part of their business is intentionally thought through to be part of the circular economy. And to be solving the SDGs. And I mean even move, trying to move away from recycling even, right? Like how do we actually get the circular economy I think is amazing. It’s just really just a design issue. Yeah. Yeah. And as a female founder in charge of their own company, you can do things your own way. You don’t have to follow anyone else’s rules. Right. Which is awesome.

Patrice: Yeah. Like just think a little bit creatively and realize that there are no rules other than what you put on yourself. To me, I mean like a large multinational may go, oh, well we just put out a bunch of these, you know, samples, sachets, these little pouches, um, and give them away to customers in the store. But I’m like, we don’t have to do that. Let’s find a better solution. And that’s what women do so well is we think creatively because we have to, you have to make it work.

Vicki: You are an indigenous entrepreneur. One of the things that’s, uh, very important to us at SheEO and I think important for the planet if humans are actually going to survive is really understanding indigenous practices and how you and your culture is managed to survive on this planet a lot longer than it looks like the rest of us humans are doing with our practices, which are a nightmare. And so can you talk a little bit about what it means to you to be like this incredible representative from your community and why this matters to you?

Patrice: One of the lessons the indigenous community is actually going to be able to bring to business and is doing it now, and it’s something I think that western businesses kind of catching up on is this idea of instead of a hierarchy, you know, this pyramid of power, indigenous cultures are all based on a circular way of looking at things. Everyone is bringing some values, some thought everyone has value and, and things to, to bring to the table. So we’re a lot more accustomed to looking at the larger picture and all things from all the different aspects. And that’s just sort of a more natural, ingrained cultural perspective. You know, we hear the value that that women bring and we hear value that children bring and elders and people have to, you know, two spirited people. Like everybody is bringing something unique to the table. And I think more and more people are starting to catch on to that, that the more voices you have, the stronger your businesses. So I think that’s a uniquely indigenous value that’s coming forward also. And this is sort of an extension of that, which is this idea about the environment. The environment is a part is sitting at the table too, right? The environment is bringing the, the raw materials to our businesses. So we also have a responsibility to the environment as a partner.

Vicki: Yeah. I think this is something that’s crazy, uh, economic notion that we have, that everything that doesn’t fit in the economic model just becomes an externality. And so we just don’t count it. So we really just don’t count the true cost of what our goods and services and like they’re very extractive. And so I read this scariest statistic recently, which is basically not one single sector on the planet is profitable if you actually add in the environmental costs. Right?

Patrice: Or to gain for long-term loss.

Vicki: Yeah. Well and, but the fact that we literally consider ourselves to, you know, the environment is like this sort of external thing as opposed to like, we cannot survive without ecosystem services. None of us can unfortunately, now that is coming to pass in a very painful way with climate change and what’s happening in this world. So as you sort of step back, and let’s talk about Esme for a moment, you have this amazing daughter who’s her eczema by the way,

Patrice: She’s awesome. I’ve never had to use steroids on her and now it’s like bumps and bruises or if she gets like a scrape or a little, you know, a mark or something, she’s just like, mummy I need product. And so she, she puts it on herself too. It’s a multipurpose use in our household. And I think a lot of other households, I think they likened it to, um, you know, that Frank’s red hot, I put that shit on everything. So that sort of has become for a lot of people moving just even beyond Eczema to, you know, psoriasis, rosacea things, but bug bites and sunburns and wind burns and just, you know, so many different things. Yeah.

Vicki: It’s sort of this cure-all salve, I find that, yeah, my husband uses it for everything too. A cut or whatever. He’s like got the Satya Yeah. So it’s kind of interesting to see like the unintended consequences or like opportunities that it can work for beyond even what you originally conceived up, which is a kind of fun thing too.

Patrice: Yeah. Like, I mean I use it for, what do they call that? The thigh Chafe, you know, in the summer when you’re working. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Vicki: That’s interesting. So you are about to hit a number of other countries. Do you have another market in play yet or what’s, what’s next country for you do you think?

Patrice: Well, we’re going to really study how Hong Kong plays out and how we need to structure the company to best serve that. We don’t want to be just going blah everywhere as yet, although we do have a ton of interests, we just telling people to kind of be patient with that and you know, they can, they can order online and we, we sell online all around the world and we could ship and I, and especially with the pouch now because shipping is actually quite inexpensive, um, even internationally with the pouch. So we’re, we’re doing that, the eCommerce still. But as far as moving into other countries, we’ll definitely probably go into more countries in the Pacific rim. But our big market, which we haven’t even touched yet is the USA that’s going to be probably our next big, big push.

Vicki: And if you had an ask for listeners who are tuning in from around the world, what would it be? What do you most need? How can we help you?

Patrice: You know what, if you love Satya or you want to try Satya, use the code SheEO for 20% off. If you want to try it and then tell your friends, because honestly, the more people that know about it, the more people realize that there are other options out there, the better the system will become and hopefully, you know, help you as well.

Vicki: Awesome. Well, thank you very much, Patrice, for joining us today. Really appreciate your time and thank you for your leadership and showing us another way of doing business.

Patrice: Of course. Thank you so much, Vicki.

 

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