Have you ever suffered from a rash, eczema, a sunburn or other skin ailment? If the answer is yes, then it’s time you meet Patrice Mousseau, the founder of Satya Skin Care. It’s currently the only scientifically proven, non-toxic, anti-inflammatory cream on the market — and it all started in a crock pot in her kitchen in 2014. Find out how her 8-month old daughter started her on this journey, and then share this story with a mom who needs it!
Q: What was the inspiration behind Satya?
I started my career in broadcast journalism, which included everything from talk shows in Toronto, to music shows on Sirius, to news with the CBC. My work took me all over the world, and it was at times extremely stressful. When I had my daughter, Esme, I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to continue on this career path.
The journey to Satya specifically started when Esme was eight months old and developed eczema. I took her to the doctor and was shocked to find that the only recommendation was a steroid cream!
"To my surprise, there wasn’t another product out there that was both non-toxic, and scientifically proven as an anti-inflammatory."
Drawing on my investigative background, I started doing my own research and coming up with things in my very own crock pot. I was already up all night with my daughter anyways — I might as well make it useful! After a few iterations, I had narrowed in on the five ingredients that worked, and within a few days Esme’s eczema was gone. Since I now had a whole crock pot full of this cream, I offered it to several of my other mom friends whose children also suffered from eczema. Within days, I was whipping up several more batches to meet all the requests I had coming in and I knew I was on to something!
Q: What were some of first steps you took in getting this product out of your kitchen and into the world?
My first official sales were at the Port Moody Farmers Market back in 2014. This was such a great way to test with a small batch of the product and be able to interact and get immediate feedback from my potential target market.
Q: When did you decide to pursue this as a full-time career?
I attended a women’s conference by the Social Venture Institute and I saw all these amazing women doing business with purpose and integrity. They were not just concerned about the bottom line, but also making the world a better place. I saw the women from Nature’s Path speak, and I thought, if they can do it, I can do it too!
I started working on all the regulations and paperwork needed so that my product would be USDA certified organic. I wanted customers to be able to trust in my brand. I also worked on submitting the paperwork to Health Canada so that it would be approved as an anti-inflammatory topical treatment.
Q: How did you break into the competitive retail space?
The very first store I pitched was right down the street from me — Dandelion Kids. When I spoke to the manager, she said she wasn’t interested as she was already carrying too many products. I asked her if she had any skin issues, and she replied, that yes, she had a rash on her ring finger that was bothering her. I left her the travel size Satya product to use and said I would return in three days to talk. She called me 24 hours later saying the product had cleared up her rash and she wanted to carry it!
Fast forward to 2016 and now I am going after Whole Foods and Purity Life, Canada’s largest distributor. We went from 70 stores to over 400 stores in two months. This meant I needed to figure out how to scale up fast. Clearly crock pots in my kitchen weren’t going to be enough! I found a lab to make the product, first in Kelowna, and now back here in Vancouver.
Q: How have you balanced starting your own business with motherhood?
It has been a challenge and there have definitely been days where I dropped the ball. I try to make sure I set aside time for my daughter every day, even though I am probably working more hours now than before. When she was three she started to go to preschool half days, and luckily that coincided with when the business really started to pick up and now she is in school full days.
"My daughter has given me so much inspiration. She sees her mom out there doing it and wants to be an entrepreneur now herself. She is always up to something new from running a lemonade stand to drawing art to raise money for the Terry Fox Run."
Q: What has been the most surprising to you on this journey?
Math has never been my strength, but I am surprised by how much I enjoy learning about the numbers side of my business. Now that we are in so many more locations, I really had to learn about cash flow and costing.
Also, people are wonderful! I have been fortunate to have so many supportive people with me on this journey. I wouldn’t be here today without everyone who helped me along the way.
Q: Where do most of your sales come from?
Right now it’s 60% from retail, 20% direct to retail and 20% online. I am looking to focus more on online sales and I’ve been learning about social media so that I can do more myself.
I’ve also just begun the process of exporting to Hong Kong. I attended the Canadian Health Food Association Trade Show and met with the trade commission there. I got great interest from distributors and suppliers and really had to narrow down the scope of what this would look like. It’s estimated that 1 in 5 adults in Hong Kong suffer from eczema so there is huge market potential.
Q: What are some of the ways that Satya gives back?
Every part of our process from our ingredients to our packaging helps to support the community and the environment. Our product is packaged in glass that is both recyclable and inert, so that nothing leaches into the product. The labels and boxes are made from 100% post consumer waste fiber, and all our inks are soy or vegetable based.
I have just launched a new form of the product — the Zero Waste Satya Pouch, that will cost less to ship, waste less, and can be transferred easily into your own reusable glass jar and is fully compostable.
All of my employees are other moms who work around their kids’ schedules. I pay them a living wage so that they can help support their families in the way that is best for them right now.
For me, it’s not just about having a great product, I want to have a company that I can be proud of that does no harm and gives back to the community and the environment.
Q: Where do you find inspiration?
Having great friends who also happen to run their own businesses has been a blessing — Andrea from Skoah, Madeline at Luna Pads and others. We laugh, cry and scream together! I try to find time to meditate every day, even just for 5 minutes. I feel like I am always running a mile a minute, so finding a few moments to take a deep breath helps to reset everything.
Also, instead of just staring at my to-do list every day, I look back at my “done” list. It helps to give me perspective on what I’ve already accomplished.
Q: Do you think being a woman presents its own set of unique challenges or opportunities in starting a small business?
Currently only 3% of all venture capital goes to women. So if you are trying to build a business and grow it, it can be challenging. I was very lucky early on to win a round of funding from SheEO, an organization that supports women entrepreneurs.
However, being a woman often means we get to know other women-led businesses and act as a support network for one another. Women can be much more vulnerable than men and are able to open up to one another about what they may be going through at work or at home. I’m not sure men always have that same level of emotional support.
Q: What’s one piece of advice you would give someone starting out?
You have to be ok with risk. Talk to other people who are in the industry you are thinking about and see where the gaps are and learn from them.
If this is something that is your passion then go for it! I love being an entrepreneur and I don’t think I would ever do anything else again. Every day is different and presents a new challenge. It can be stressful at times, but it’s worth it. Remember done is better than perfect, and don’t forget to eat breakfast!