Tell us a little bit about yourself and some of your passions.
I’m a thirty-something native Delawarean and Founder of Rooster Naturals. I have a BS from Wilmington University in Multimedia Design with a strong background in graphic design and business. Most importantly I’ve been married to my best friend for 16 years and we live on a cute little farmette with our furry and feathered menagerie. We are the proud parents of 2 border collies, 2 mini dachshunds, 2 cats (I know there’s a strong Noah’s Ark theme here), 36 chickens, 6 turkeys, and a hawk!
While I have many passions, none run so deep as those involving animals, nature and all things outdoors. That deep desire to feel more connected with nature and primitive hunting methods are what first inspired me to teach myself how to bow hunt when I was 15. That was a pretty big deal as I did not grow up in the country nor do I come from a hunting family. The pure love of hunting is what ultimately led me to go through the intensive process to become a licensed falconer. Falconry, the practice of hunting with raptors, is the world’s oldest, self-sustaining hunting sport. It’s the most incredible feeling and privilege to gain these majestic creature’s trust and be allowed to participate in what they do naturally. In fact, it’s hard not to become obsessed.
Because of my passion for hunting, I have a deep appreciation of knowing where my food comes from and started seeking out ways to live a more sustainable lifestyle. Being able to raise chickens and turkeys has been one of my biggest joys. Going down to the coop to pull eggs every day is like Christmas morning. I never know what colorful presents will greet me as I have a rainbow of possibilities. My chickens lay everything from pink, blue, olive, tan, cream, white and a host of colors in between. Nothing makes me happier than the look of surprise when people open a carton of eggs I’ve given them.
When not hunting or doing farm chores I love to camp, bake, mountain bike, ride dirt bikes or work on building my Jeep. I love to get dirty and am always up for turning a wrench. Being fiercely independent, I’ve always taken great pride in being able to work on my own vehicles. Given the time I dedicate to my business and all my hobbies it goes without saying sitting down and relaxing is not in my nature. But it’s all so fulfilling and I wouldn’t have it any other way!
The bloom team thinks you are so talented and so well-rounded! Tell us more about this and what you attribute this to.
I really have to give my mom credit for making me a Renaissance woman. She raised me as a single parent from the time I was 2 until I was a teenager. My mom encouraged me to try anything, explore any curiosity and exposed me to so many facets of culture. I know it sounds cliche but she taught me that I really could do anything I put my mind to and that things such as size, age, and gender don’t define or limit us. I think that’s what really lit the fire in me to want to experience and learn as many things that I could cram into this life. I’m totally a self-proclaimed nerd. I mean what other 4th-grade girl picks to play the tuba and is so small they had to sit on 4 phone books to reach the mouthpiece? I’m not afraid to put myself out there and try new things regardless of how I think it may be perceived by others. I played soccer on the boy's team in high school, I hunt, I ride motocross, I am building my own rock crawler Jeep, and I love to shoot guns. I just don’t believe in stereotypes and love being the book not easily judged by it’s cover.
Who or what is your biggest inspiration?
I draw inspiration from so many people and things but I think the most influential are other artisans and nature. I love seeing the work and creativity of other artists, be it ones in my industry or others. They keep me motivated and driven to keep pushing the envelope and challenging myself. Soap craft is surprisingly complex and by no means mastered overnight. There is such a vast array of ingredients, techniques, and equipment that all produce very different outcomes that I think it will be impossible to ever stop learning. Therein lies the beauty of social media and peoples’ innate need to share. It’s an endless pool of inspiration and learning opportunities. You will also find a lot of nature reflected in my work. It may be as subtle as a pattern or a color or something more obvious like a scent. There is so much beauty out there it’s hard not to be influenced and inspired!
What are some key personal or professional learning experiences that have helped shape you as a person?
My professional management career started at a young age and I quickly climbed the ranks, adding more responsibility and larger teams each time. In most situations, I was by far younger than the individuals I managed. It felt like every time I stepped into a new role there was instant prejudice due to my age and how I looked. It was as if I had to prove that I deserved to be there. I made the decision early on to start out by learning from my team. My opinion is that leaders should be able to support their teams, not just manage them, and that’s pretty hard to accomplish if you don’t understand how they do their job. It never feels good to be told what to do by someone in an ivory tower. I have never shied from jumping in the trenches and helping get work done or asking someone to teach me how to complete a task. Vice versa I consistently take time to show someone a new skill or an easier way of doing things. That has always earned me the respect of my team.
I have also found that being honest and a good communicator sounds so simple but is extremely effective and difficult for many. It’s easier for people to be loyal and engaged when they know where they stand and the why behind decisions that are made. I also believe that passion is contagious. These beliefs have made me a more effective communicator. Seeking out ways to overcome those pre-conceived notions and build relationships has taught me so much and really shaped how I interact with people in all facets of my life.
What was your inspiration/idea behind Rooster Naturals and how did you get started?
I’ve been making my own bath products for years and just giving them away to friends and family as gifts. Many have told me that I should sell my products but it never felt like a good time or I had doubts. Finally, a friend’s urging really resonated with me and I decided to go for it! I’ve always wanted my own business and I was really craving the pride that comes from making something with your own hands. Because of my deep connection with nature and what I put in my body, it only makes sense to seek that same kind of relationship with what I’m putting on it! And so Rooster Naturals was born.
My mission is to create beautiful, unique, nature-based bath and body products that won’t break the bank. I use premium natural ingredients and no harsh chemicals or detergents. All of my products are cruelty-free, ethically sourced and never tested on animals. Everyone deserves to be pampered by pretty, skin-loving products!
I have found so much gratification in my work. Soap making, in particular, satisfies the nerd and designer in me as it is truly a blend of art and science. I love to continue to add new products and create new recipes. It’s so satisfying to work with unconventional and exciting ingredients. Let’s be honest, getting to “test” all my products is pretty awesome not to mention the fact that my house always smells amazing.
What are some of your goals for Rooster Naturals?
I want to share my brand and hope to really extend my reach this next year. I plan to attend some larger shows and industry events. Also, while I cherish the face to face interaction with my customers, I’m working on my website as we speak and plan to launch soon!
How do bloom products help you achieve your goals?
In this perpetual age of technology, I like to kick it old school. There’s just something about writing things down that is still very endearing to me. I hand write every recipe so I can’t function without the notebooks. Fun fact: soap has to cure for 4 to 6 weeks so I am constantly trying to keep track of when a batch is ready for packaging. The Daily Planners fit the bill perfectly in helping me to manage. Lastly, I am obsessed with the Wall Calendars. I use it to manage my show schedule and when event sign up opens. It’s perfect for those in your face reminders. bloom really helps me organize my business and life. Plus I love supporting other women-owned businesses, especially ones that have a culture of inspiring and empowering!
We hope you enjoyed getting to learn a little bit more about Melissa! Do you have a #girlboss story to share? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to be our next featured bloom girl!
the bloom team