Black Owned Business Spotlight: Popped Handmade

Hey loves! New things are coming to TKS and one of them is the Black Owned Business Spotlight. Interviews with Black owned and operated businesses will be featured in the "spotlight" to celebrate and promote group economics. Take a read of the first one!

Carla Miles is the Handmade Creator-in-Chief of Popped Handmade, LLC. She spent years working in various industries ranging from customer service to education to market research before realizing that entrepreneurship felt like home. She loves DIY projects and thinking of new skin care recipes. She lives on the south side of Chicago with her husband and 4 year old daughter.

1. What's the name of your company and the story behind why you started it? 

Popped Handmade began out of my love for natural skin care products and a newfound love for making my own lotions and whipped body butters. The very first time I sold my products was in November of 2015. I was a stay-at-home mom of a 2 year old and about 20 weeks pregnant with my son who was recently diagnosed with a fatal birth defect, leaving a 99% chance of his death after birth (if he would survive until birth).

Selling my products at local vendor fairs was something I did to keep myself sane from being consumed with grief. I sold my products throughout the Chicagoland area from the south side of Chicago all the way to Brookfield, IL. I was everywhere. I don’t know if I really had big plans for Popped Handmade at the time, but I knew that it was something that I could control at a time when I felt powerless. I began to realize that it was a new dream for me since the vision I had for my family wasn’t working out as I’d hoped. Over the last few years, the purpose of Popped Handmade has been to provide affordable, quality skin care products while encouraging women to live their most POPPED life-positive, optimistic, and powerful.

2. What kind of products do you sell and which product is your favorite? 

Right now we’re focusing on moisturizing products and will slowly add more product lines such as cleansers and exfoliators. We offer luxuriously whipped body butters, solid body butter bars, and very soon will be facial oils! My favorite product right now is our Eucalyptus Whipped Body Butter. It has a green tint due to it containing a special butter from India called sal butter and has an earthy scent; it reminds me of fresh soil after rain (in a good way)!

3. The natural skincare industry has increased in the past few years. It's amazing that more and more people are using more natural products for skincare (and beyond). With that being stated, what makes your company stand out from other companies who also create and sell natural skin care products? 
Unlike similar natural skin care companies, our products are handmade and without fragrance oils. We only use essential oils to scent our products and our focus is more so on skin health and improvement than fruity, synthetic scents. We’re not trying to be Bath & Body Works! Because a lot of our customers have sensitive skin or conditions like eczema they feel comfortable using our products since we don’t use perfumes and fragrance oils. We also aim to use ingredients that are often rarely found in commercial products, especially products that are moderately priced. An example of this is our use of kokum and sal butters, which are hard to find in many other natural skin care products due to being more expensive than shea and cocoa butters.

4. Since opening your business, what has been the most inspiring moment you've had? 
We made our debut at the Black Women’s Expo in Chicago last April and it was a scary and humbling experience. I’d been going to the Black Women’s Expo for years with my mother and I always wanted to be a vendor there, not knowing what I would eventually be there selling. There was a moment at the expo when a mentor and her mentees stopped by the booth and asked me what advice I would give to her girls. I told them to never give up and keep trying even if they failed. It felt bizarre to be someone that these girls were looking up to when I felt like I was just out there trying to find my way like everyone else. It was inspiring and humbling.

5. What's your favorite thing about being a Black woman business owner? What's the most difficult and how do you endure the struggle(s)?
I love the idea of taking control of my destiny and doing something that allows me the flexibility to be there for my family and create something from scratch that will have an impact on generations after me. Entrepreneurship for me is about building a legacy and setting an example to my young, Black daughter that she can truly do anything if she works her butt off and never stops learning. There are many difficult things, but primarily it’s tough as a Black woman because I feel that we don’t often have access to the same resources that our White counterparts have. We often don’t grow up with the same financial literacy or with family members that are in a position to invest in our dreams. We often have to figure things out on our own, which is tough. However, I have such strong faith in God and in the vision He’s given me that I know things will work out in time.

6. Where do you plan to take your business in the next 5 years and how do you plan to go about this journey? 
I plan to expand the variety of products that we offer, implement spa parties, and organize my own vendor events. It’s a great time for small businesses and I’d love to help other small businesses have a venue to reach new customers as Popped Handmade grows. I have a lot of big goals for my company and I plan to implement them one thing at a time. I think it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all of the things you want to do, which can feel paralyzing. However, I try to remember to take everything one step at a time.

Thanks for speaking to TKS, Carla!

Use the coupon code KENDRO10 for 10% off on the Popped Handmade Etsy site!
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