The LoCo Experience

EXPERIENCE 71 | Kathryn Higgins, Founder & Silencia Cox, CEO of Motherlove Herbal Company

July 11, 2022 Ethan Lee Season 2 Episode 71
The LoCo Experience
EXPERIENCE 71 | Kathryn Higgins, Founder & Silencia Cox, CEO of Motherlove Herbal Company
Show Notes Transcript

 Kathryn Higgins and Silencia Cox are the Founder and CEO, of Motherlove Herbal Company. They create organic products for herbal remedies, specifically for pregnancy and breastfeeding. 

We talk about Kathryn's early inspiration for her business, combining her father's medical background and her mother's herbal background. We also discuss the funding, how you get something like this going, and what the values and principles are of the company. 

These two are an inspiring pair of women and I really appreciated having them on the podcast today. Tune in and I hope you learn something new! 

Curt:

This episode of the local experience was with Katherine Higgins and Valencia Cox and Katherine and Valencia are the founder and CEO, respectively of mother love herbal company. Katherine retired about five years ago and we talk a lot about. The business transition of Valencia into that CEO role, but also growing up with the company when they were slow cooking herbal recipes on the stove while they labeled packages, uh, to be sent out to the very few retailers that carried them in the early days. So, um, it's a great story of. Catherine combining her father's medical background and her mother's herbal background and knowledge and just being a researcher the whole way. So we talk a lot about the founding, how you get something like this going, what the values and principles are of the company that first $10,000 loan that allowed them to hire some employees and expand their product lines. And really just every step of the. Finding relationships that led to more good things. And so Valencia was, uh, instrumental in getting the company into Walgreens, which required a big move and expansion and much hiring and much capital. And so we talk a lot about where you get the confidence in the skills to manage a business, even though you've grown up in it the whole time, uh, having that wide spectrum approach toward business. An important thing to build. So these two are an inspiring pair of women, and I just really appreciated having them on the podcast today. And so I hope you'll give it a listen. Welcome back to the local experience podcast. This is your host Kurt bear, and I'm honored today to be joined by Catherine Higgins and Valencia Cox. And, uh, Catherine is the founder and president of mother love herbal company. And Valencia is the CEO and Catherine's largely retired and we're gonna talk all kinds of stuff about natural remedies and mother-daughter transitions. And I'm just really excited to dig into this story because I don't know it like I should. So, so Lindsay, I thought we might just start with you. Can you describe mother love? To

Silencia:

our listeners, certainly, um, we make herbal remedies specifically for pregnancy and breastfeeding. Um, we are a local Fort Collins company that manufactures just on the street. Yeah. Um, all of our products are herbal based and largely certified organic, but really specifically for that mom and baby experience, now

Curt:

you do remedies. Do, do you also, you don't create formulas. We

Silencia:

do. We've created all of our own baby formulas. Yeah. In like bottle fed formulas. No.

Curt:

Well, because of, what's been in the news lately, I was like, I probably got people knocking at your door.

Silencia:

Oh my gosh. It's heartbreaking. Part of the news is so sad. I, my heart goes out to so many parents right now. We do not make infant formulas. Infant formulas is a, I smell an opportunity.

Curt:

sorry. Anyway, I'm a squirrel chaser, but please, uh, bring us back to mother. Love.

Silencia:

Yeah. Everything we do when I think formula, um, I think herbal formula. So we make, um, Herbal remedies. Um, primarily body care mm-hmm SAS oil sprays. Mm. And then some herbal supplements as well. Um, that help that you can take internally, mostly, uh, focused around helping to support breast milk supply. Okay. So

Curt:

to feed those little buggers and to kind of heal up from those little biters and stuff,

Silencia:

and really focusing on the mom during her most precious time of life, what

Curt:

a, what a neat thing, what a joy to be able to serve that demographic, right. It really is. And tell to me about the. Business is there, how many employees, um, where are you distributed to things like that?

Silencia:

Yeah, we're distributed actually across the United States. We're in about 13,000 retail locations. Um, we have 22 employees. Um, some of which are most of which are local and Fort Collins. Um, some of which work remotely. Wow. Um, And then we are also distributed into 20 countries. Wow. As well. Um, our, our main focus is in the United States, seems like a huge, we do have some international dis distribution as

Curt:

well, huge footprint for 22 employees. And do you manufacture most of your products as well?

Silencia:

We manufacture all of our own body care products. Okay. So anything that's topical mm-hmm goes on your skin. We make, um, and then we use a co-man to produce all of our herbal supplements. So anything that you take internally is made by another manufacturer. Gotcha.

Curt:

Gotcha. According to your recipes and things like that. Yeah. That I suspect Katherine came up with, um, Katherine, can we jump in the time machine? And let's just talk about like the earliest roots. Before we kind of unfold the business journey, but where did this

Kathryn:

come from? Well, sure. Let's uh, the earliest routes are actually my upbringing. I was, uh, raised, born, raised in Rochester, Minnesota. It's a very medical community. My father worked at the Mayo clinic there and I grew up in the country. We had acreage with beautiful gardens and my parents, uh, my father had beautiful flowers. My mother grew herbs. And so this is really my foundation. And then, um, in, uh, 1965, I came to ski in bale and said, wow, I'm home. And so when I came to college in the late sixties, I came to CSU, cuz I just really wanted to be in, in uh, In Colorado. And that's when I started to learn about the herbs and the wild plants, the plants that I could grow, I had, um, all throughout the seventies, I took, uh, oh, any classes I could get at CSU night classes. There really was not much out there. As far as books, there was UL Gibbons stalking the wildest asparagus, but there were very few books. So I would, I, there was no schools, so I am self taught and no. Long before the long before the internet. And so, yeah, I would go gather things and take him to CSU. JD Harrington actually was a professor there and he wrote the book, the edible plants of the Rocky mountains. Interesting. And so they sometimes would have classes. Uh, I was out college by this time, but they'd have classes that I would go to and, and, or take things in there that I didn't, um, recognize, but mainly I was learning which people would call the common weeds or things that you can grow in your garden. And then in, um, and so then I just started taking all this time to make these concoctions, these oils sprays, SAS lotions. I mean, just out of anything to see what really worked. And the other thing I did was, and like

Curt:

using yourself as a tough subjects.

Kathryn:

Sure, sure. Or friends that were friends. No, I had no kids at this time. Okay. But yeah, anybody who was willing to try it. Sure. And, um, I also learned about the, uh, plant dyes. So I made many, many different plant dyes, uh, from plants mm-hmm and then would knit, uh, hats, little crystal ambulance, things like that. And then in, um, 1983, I got pregnant with my oldest daughter NCIA and I said, oh, well, I'm gonna make these things for me. And I, you know, made formulas out of plants that I grew, or some things like plantain, which people might call a weed, marshmallow and things, uh, calendula. And I've heard that to, to, you know, prevent stretch marks and I made diaper creams and baby oils and, uh, used them on me and CEL and shared them with friends who really loved them. So I just started, you know, giving them to friends. So I

Curt:

wanna take a step back because you were just sounds like you were just, ravenously hungry for knowledge of this whole, right. Do you. No. Aside from your mother's herb garden and your dad's medical background and stuff, like, is that the foundation of your hunger for that, or?

Kathryn:

I, I think so. Yes, I think so. But also, oh, I don't know. Um, just. Okay. I'm a TAUs. Okay. the bull. Well, and also TAUs is, is, uh, born in the spring. And so I just love, um, you know, just plants in the springtime and being in, and it's a meditation to just walk in the woods. I actually in the seventies put a tepee up in risk canyon, so I could have a space, a sacred space, quiet space to go, and then just start learning and gathering and sit. And, and that's what feeds my soul. My spirit. And

Curt:

was this on private property? Did you get chased off? Yes. Yes,

Kathryn:

no, no. It was never did get chased off. It was a friend's friend's property up in, up in risk canyon. And interestingly enough, I ended up, uh, marrying the neighbor. Oh, there you go.

Curt:

And having seats and caught your eye when you were, uh, in the tepee

Kathryn:

hanging out. Yeah. And just, and just running around. Yeah, I like it. And I was feeding his goats, you know, down in the meadow, gathering herbs, feeding his goats and yes, we ended up getting together and, um, in 1985 I decided to start teaching. I, I felt I knew enough to start teaching others about the local edible and medicinal plants. Yeah. And so I give a class on edible plants. Uh, we advertise it down in town, you know, it put little flyers up around town and, um, bring people up. We had acreage and bring 'em up and show 'em the wild edible plants. And then I'd bring em in and feed 'em net lasagna, a salad made of. Completely weeds, dandelion greens, lambs, quarter thistle, stalk, uh, uh, violet leaves, and then I'd make 'em dandelion muffins seal. Lindsay would help me gather the dandelions and she's three years old. And, you know, kind of, do you use all the parts of the dandelion? Well, actually I, the, the, um, yellow part is what I would add to the flower for the muffins. And then I would, uh, in vinegar and water with the, um, stalk make little pickles, and then the, the leaves would be in the salad. Sure. Yeah. And, and then dandelion wine and, uh, you know, people would go, oh my God, I'm, I'm eating dandelion. It was really a learning, uh, a learning for them on, wow. I am spraying these dandelions, which are bringing toxins into my body, into my house. And, uh, yeah, dandelion is actually one of the best liver herbs to take these toxins outta your body. So it's just. It, it was really a teachable moment. Interesting. And then I would also take 'em out and, uh, show 'em the, the medicinal plants and then we'd come in and make a first aid kit that they would take home. So

Curt:

SSIA Valencia, Valencia mm-hmm um, tell me about like your first memories and, and were there other, are there other younger siblings in the family too?

Silencia:

Yeah, my first memories it's, you know, I was an only child for the first five and a half years of my life. So, so kind of at the birth of mother love, um, I was just me and my mom in the woods. Uh, both my parents were, you know, budding entrepreneurs and my mother was, I remember going onto the woods and her going on herb walks and teaching people how to make different things at particularly the edible things definitely have eaten a fair share of Dan line muffins in my debate day. Um, but also making. You know, oils and SAS and, you know, our kitchen was filled with crockpots and Mason jars, and there was just kind of mom's kitchen was all these different herbal remedies. That was the

Curt:

R D department. It was the RD and the production department and certainly, and all of that

Silencia:

shipping department. Yeah. So that was, that was, you know, infused in my life. It's part of my DNA, like growing up, watching an herbalist at work and watching an herbalist, um, and a teacher. Yeah. Teacher inventor. And then my, uh, younger sisters, I have two younger sisters, uh, came along five and seven years later. And you know, as mother loves, grew more, yeah. You know, became a little, it started different thing. And pushing like the confinement of our home. Right. But in the, in the beginning days is definitely, you know, walking out into the woods and wildcrafting, and identifying the plants. As I remember being a little girl and being able to identify all the plants in the woods

Curt:

and you have like a little basket, so you could carry some of the harvest for mom and stuff. Yeah. The hardest

Kathryn:

part was telling her, you can't eat everything. Right. She was out there eating the sand Lilys and the clovers and, and the blue bell flowers and yeah. Yeah. So, um, in 1987, actually, um, Columbine market for those who, who lived here for a long time, uh, they came up to my classes and said, uh, wow, we wanna carry these things. We hear you're giving away. And we hear, they really work. And I said, That would be way cool. I'm gonna call it mother love for mother earth and motherhood, because those are the products that I was giving away. Right. And, uh, yeah. So then that was a big, huge step of, uh, having little handmade labels. Mm-hmm I wasn't just giving things away. Now. I had to have little handmade labels on, uh, made with love. Use with love, decorate 'em with colored pencils and sold them. The co oops, I don't know what's going on. I had little handmade labels, uh, made with love, use with love decorated, uh, with little hearts and flowers, with colored pencils and, and sold them at Columbine market and the food co-op. And then I had an aha moment. I sat down and I said, am I gonna stay local? Or am I gonna give this to the world? Hmm. And that was. A huge shift in my consciousness. Yeah. Because it was not being done. Um, herbal products for pregnancy breastfeeding, wasn't being done.

Curt:

Right. I've never really seen anything. And

Kathryn:

so, and this is, this is 80, 88,

Curt:

right. So I want to go back a step again with you. Um, were, were you a single mom? You didn't oh no, no, no. Okay. So,

Kathryn:

so you, no, I married the man that whose goats I was feeding fair

Curt:

enough. Okay. I, I wasn't clear

Kathryn:

about that. Yes. And, uh, and I moved into his house that he had built up the canyon at the end of the little dirt road there. And, and so then when I said, I'm gonna give it to the world, then I said, how am I gonna do this? We lived at the end of a little dirt road. We had we're on a party line. Uh, of course, no computer, no fax machine, uh, no internet, of course, no revenues to speak of. And, um, Yeah. So I, and, and also, uh, ups would come up once a week to Right. So I had some challenges. And the other thing is, um, where am I gonna get the help? Where am I gonna get the money? Right. So I talked to several banks, uh, turned down many times and finally a banker did agree to loan me $10,000. And she is my banker to this day. That's awesome.

Curt:

my, uh, my father started a farm when I was in elementary school. And he was with that banker for 30 years. Yeah. Or something after, after like seven people turned him down and I actually went into banking in part, because of that story of helping somebody get going exactly. Still, still with me today. Do you wanna give her a

Kathryn:

shout out or him? Uh, well, it's Sue Wagner. Oh, she is? Yeah. I love Sue.

Curt:

Yeah. I love

Kathryn:

Sue too. I think she likes me too. She's helping me to this day. I mean, all the time I have her on speed dial and. Go in and we just go have coffee and yeah. Yeah, just

Curt:

so, but she was an early believer really? I'm sure husband,

Kathryn:

this was back in, in Wells Fargo. This is probably in 89 90. Yeah.

Curt:

Well, was it even Wells Fargo or nor west bank or something? It was. Mm,

Kathryn:

well you, it could, what was it? I think it was Wells Fargo. Was it nor west. Okay. I think so. Okay. Anyway, so I've just, just still with her today and now she's at bank of Colorado and so got some money. And in 1990, I got real printed labels, you know, from a printer with plates. Right. And my husband said to me, well, what, what do you think about barcodes? And I'm going barcodes, why would I ever need barcodes? right. And, but I did, I did put barcodes on it. And so then, uh, the next step was, um, to get help. Yeah. And so I, um, Got a program going with apprentices. Uh, several people wanted to learn about herbs and so they would come up and we'd pick an herb, let's say nettle. Yeah. So we'd go out. I teach 'em everything. I knew about nettle that day. We'd go out and gather it. And then we would make a tincture. And a tincture is a, um, mixture with alcohol and water to extract the herb that you can take, you'll see tinctures for sale,

Curt:

home to

Kathryn:

fidgets and stuff. And, and that is one of the herbs that does help increase breast milk. So we would do that or we would go out and gather herbs and we'd make a S so I had this help. It was an exchange of information, knowledge. There was no money exchange. Yeah. But, you know, help. And so I did that for probably three years. And at the same time, um, I decided I need to, uh, figure out a way to go see accounts in other. In other, in other states. And so I picked, oh, what I thought were four progressive towns, uh, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Santa Fe, New Mexico, Portland, Oregon, Austin, Texas. And I would go to the library. And at this time this is ninety, ninety one. Uh, you, there was phone books in the library. All right. So I would go and look up health food stores and get their numbers, call 'em up, say, are you interested? And then I'd make a list of the people in that town who are interested and I'd get a map, a paper map, right. I still have all my paper maps in the garage and I'd, uh, spot out case full of samples, well samples and knowledge. And so then I would go, uh, plot it out, make a, uh, you know, make and then make appointments depending on where they were on the map. And, uh, there was no GPS, no cell phone. So I'd go out there and I'd. Think where I was. And then I'd say, wow, I don't know where I am. There's no GPS. I go find a, a phone booth and call, where are you? Where are you? Here's where I am. And so did that for years. And in 1991, uh, it was October, 1991. I went into a small store in Austin, Texas, and they said, God, we have nothing like this. We would love to carry it. That was the one and only whole foods at the time. Oh, that's wild.

Curt:

Yeah. Really wild. And so were you like talking to, what's his name? That was the phone. No, no, no. I

Kathryn:

was talking to the, the woman who had the front desk lady no, no, well, they did have departments. They had, uh, you know, a body care department and a grocery department. Yeah. But it was a store. Gosh, uh, probably a little bit bigger than our local food co-op now, but yeah, you know, it is a very small department and. I'm not quite sure her name, but then she, she went and opened other stores. And so we just actually just rode along with that hotel a little bit. That was one of the big turning points in the business was getting into a, um, you know, a, a chain store where as they grew and, and they expanded all over the country. Yeah. So did we, we were carried course in every whole foods.

Curt:

And so, so Lindsey, I wanna get you back into the conversation a little bit here. You're what, like nine years old or something like that by this time? Yeah. Eight years old. Yeah. Eight or nine years old. And you're living up the canyon still. Is that right? Oh yeah. Yeah. And, and what, what was your dad doing?

Silencia:

My dad is, uh, a contractor focusing really on solar. Okay. Um, so he is a green builder. And does, at that time

Curt:

he was already, yep. Oh,

Silencia:

wow. He had been. Building, you know, I was kind of, he had done a couple custom homes, um, but just starting to get kind of into his kinda a Jack of trades of Jack of all trades, but also, um, was starting to build some spec homes and things as well. So he was off running his business. My mom was off starting her

Curt:

business. And you were raising your two younger sisters? No, no, no. who are all free range

Silencia:

I would describe us as pretty free range. Uh, um, but you know, I've always seen, I've just come from a family of two entrepreneurs. So I seen both my parents running their own businesses and, you

Curt:

know, mom canyon life is kind of like that too, right? Yeah. Like people, uh, have a lot of independence mindedness up there and community as well. Mm-hmm you know, if, if you needed help or you guys needed. Somebody checking on the kids. It was probably easy.

Silencia:

Yeah,

Kathryn:

definitely. Yeah. The neighbors were somewhat close, but yeah, we lived, um, you know, somewhat off the grid. We had the goats and I made all our cheese and yogurt and oh, wow. Uh, the milk and, and, uh, all our, all of our, um, water was our solar, solar water. Wow. Um, only wood heat. Uh, all the, all the girls were reach cloth diapers. Yeah. With no dryer, you know, lines across the wood fireplace. And we'd walk several weeks in the winter and I'd haul the food in and out in a, on a sled. Wow.

Curt:

Mm-hmm yeah. So you were low carbon footprint before anybody ever said what's a carbon

Kathryn:

footprint, correct? very cool. And, and, and, you know, and Charles was, did, did solar and man of all trades and fixed everything and yeah, he did the cars and the fix it up and I did the medicine and the. Yeah, the food canned all the food for the winter. Yeah. When

Curt:

I tell you what, if there's ever like a, uh, post apocalyptic or whatever, you can come up to North Dakota and be part of our commun there. Cause we're gonna need medicine, women

Kathryn:

like that. Yeah. As well. Yeah. As long as the things plants are still growing, right?

Curt:

Yeah. I'm hopefully I'm adjusting. Um, but I can see how you would just be a, a tremendous value, not just to your family. Mm-hmm but you know, as, as you mentioned, like taking this to the world and letting what, you know, cause none of that knowledge was necessarily new, new, it just wasn't being taken to the world. Like you read and learned about these different properties and things like that. And, and came up with ideas and combinations and saw what. mm-hmm but it wasn't like brand new knowledge necessarily. A lot of it just had never been aggregated,

Kathryn:

but my philosophy is go through the open doors and write timing. Yeah. Give gratitude and give back. Yeah, I love it. So, um, so then after we got into whole foods and we were really national yep. Uh, ex expo west is a, uh, trade show for, uh, natural products. It's a natural product trade show. It's an Anaheim. And so we get a booth there and we would go there and, and, you know, thousands of, uh, stores from all over the country all over the world really would come there and, um, you try to, to see, see what they wanted to buy. And so we would meet a lot of buyers at those mm-hmm and this was 93 when I started this and we had a little table with the, with the products and just learning, learning, teaching, teaching. Yeah. And because. It was a big learning curve for the public. Right. And another big learning curve for the public was, you know, what do you see on a label? What is, you know, what does it all mean? So I've been doing a lot of teaching yeah. With, with things like that. Um, and then, um, after, uh, after whole foods and doing the product expos, my other big aha moment was what about taking this to the healthcare professionals? Oh, because here we are products for lactation, the only thing they had was, um, Raglin, which is a, um, prescription medication to increase breast milk, like a steroid almost. Well, it had, I. I wouldn't say that, but it has detrimental side effects. Right. So then I started going to the international, this is 98 international lactation conferences and, um, meeting lactation consultants who were very, very wary of herbs. Right. So it was, again, a lot of talking about it and I met several of them who decided to try it. Yeah. They loved it. And so then they not only carried it in their practice, but many of them were able to get it into the hospitals. Talk to me about

Curt:

like, impacts, like what are we talking like 10% more, 40% more is just like, it's hard to say. I don't

Kathryn:

know, but it did get to be hundreds of hospitals. Right. So, but I don't, but I can't give you percentages. Right. Sorry. I didn't know. But because what, what these people were doing, they weren't just, most of them weren't selling it, but they were recommending it. Sure. So then they'd say here in your area is where you can get it. Right. So it's hard to. but, you know, as, you know, as they recommended it, then vitamin cottage was starting in sprouts. And so they all, so you really

Curt:

got kind of swept along with

Kathryn:

that. Well, and they'd go into the store and say, you have this. No, we don't. Yes. We wanna carry it. Right. Because people are now asking about it. Exactly. Oh yeah, exactly. So, so that was a big turn. It was really a

Curt:

grassroots movement. Like mm-hmm, you, weren't knocking on the doors of these vitamin cottages and stuff like that, as much as I'm sure you were too, but, but when they have their customers asking for your products,

Kathryn:

exactly. That's the door opener and, and that's why this, this was like the after whole foods was, was the next big open door. Yeah. Then yes, you're gonna go to what your healthcare professional might recommend.

Curt:

Now, one of the things, you know, we've been talking about supply chains and stuff like that so much in the nation lately, I have to think, as you're starting to scale this business, you're like, where am I gonna get enough nettles in things? Or is it not that way? Are they just so abundant? It

Kathryn:

wasn't that way back then, because what my, all my formulas are really based on what I was growing and gathering. Mm. So they're very common. What a lot of people would call we dandelion nettle, calendula planting, very, um, not exotic. Yeah. Not hard to grow. Uh, so back then it was not a problem. uh, I think

Curt:

I saw Lance looked at me like, yeah, things are different

Kathryn:

now. Sometimes things are different now, but we're, we're talking about the nineties right now. Yeah. That's all the farther we are right now. Fair enough. Yeah. And, um, yeah, so, so, um, after working with lactation consultants, then the next big step of a challenge would be, um, certifications. What, you know, third party certifications. Yeah. Like organic, right. So certified organic now the FDA coming every other, yeah. Every other in passing FDA inspections. So that's huge when you're dealing with pregnancy breastfeeding hospitals. Yeah. Healthcare professionals. Yeah. Yeah. So, so then, uh, that was another step that was really took a lot of paperwork, a lot of documentation yeah. That, you know, starting, you know, all of this documentation

Curt:

and by this time, what was your team like? Like you had a couple production people, maybe, maybe

Kathryn:

10, 10 people already. Yeah, I would say maybe 10 because, uh, it, um, in 95, actually in 1995, I moved out of the house. Oh. And, and, uh, uh, they were building Kinsley Plaza. People who were local here, no Kinsley Plaza. Sure. And so I got, you know, grounded tenant there. I was anchor tenant there. And so then we had an office in the back room where we could do production and shipping and things like that. So, so that. And then, then the FDA would come there and, and, or organic certification. I actually went to organic, uh, trade association conferences as well to learn all about the ins and outs of how to do this. But that was a, you know, a big shift too, to get, uh, really third party certifications that you're not just saying, oh, a little monkey and now we're cruelty free. Yeah. So we got, you know, cruelty, free certifications, kosher certifications, uh, like I say, yeah, organic certifications. Talk to me about

Curt:

the business skills. I, I assume that all throughout this time, you're not only the, the head inventor and formula maker and farmer and organizer, but also the person that's meeting with bankers and hiring people and figuring out all that as well. Mm-hmm did you have a mentor or, um, were, was it you and your husband kind of figuring it out together separately, but together? Uh,

Kathryn:

actually I was. Winging it And, uh, my brother who was very financially conscious, started talking to me and I said, I didn't know what an IRA was. I didn't know anything. And he gave me this book, smart women finish rich. And I said, this is fascinating. Nice. And that so that was another, that was another aha moment. And another shift on how to do this, but of course, then I had to get, uh, health insurance and we had to get liability insurance. Sure. And, and, and all of that was a whole new door that I had to, no, I, I had no clue. I had no clue. So I just learned, yeah. I learned everything made a

Curt:

mistake here and there, but, uh, you know, they're usually not

Kathryn:

fatal probably no. So far, I think, I don't think they're fatal. Yeah. So, um, yeah, so it just kind of kept growing from there and there. And then the next, um, big shift was, um, women who really wanted to get these products, cuz they were recommended by their lactation consultant. They worked, they did not like the taste of tinctures. Hmm. So, uh, that was really kind of a, a point of now how do we grow and maintain, you know, the, the clientele. Yeah. And so I, a friend of mine actually had a contract manufacturing business and we started brainstorming on, um, how do we take a tincture? Keep it a liquid and put it in a vegetarian capsule. I've been a vegetarian for 40 years. Right. So how do we put it into a vegetarian capsule? Because normally, uh, when you see most liquid they're in a gel cap, right. Which is gelatin, right. So this would be a whole new thing. Nobody was, you know, doing anything in a vegetarian capsule, right. As a liquid, not a powdered.

Curt:

Right. Cause that, that, that alcohol could disolve that

Kathryn:

capsule, right. It would dissolve it. Yes. How do you take the alcohol out to make it a concentrated liquid and then give it something to keep it a liquid? So that took about two years, but then we came out, mother love came out with the liquid capsules, which are really our best sellers as far as, um, internal products go. Interesting.

Curt:

Mm-hmm and so by this time, Valencia, you are a teenager. I gather, um, yeah, like describe your young self. Like, were you a student, were you fascinated by the business? Could you not care less? Were you an athlete?

Silencia:

I was definitely, I was fascinated by the business because I really thought the things that she were make, that she was making were awesome. That's cool. I loved gathering the herbs. I really was fascinated by plants. I loved being in my mother's garden. Um, I would, you know, I grew up helping in the business. Sure. Whether it was gathering herbs or, you know, kind of our nighttime activity would be to watch a movie and label products. right.

Curt:

So, um, putting those, uh, what are those, those codes on the things? Second, second label

Silencia:

cleaning. Dried herbs, right, right. Um, when I was in junior high, I went to ULA putter junior high school. I grew up, uh, going to stove Prairie elementary. Cool. So a really small school, like how many kids are up

Curt:

there at stove Prairie those days, or these days, if

Silencia:

you know, um, at, at that time they had a 50 person capacity and there was seven grades. So I went there kindergarten through sixth grade. Yeah. My class sizes were usually four to five people. Yeah. I

Curt:

graduated high school in a class of five. And so it's basically the same size school YouTube.

Silencia:

Well, I graduated elementary class five. There's five of us. Yeah. So then I went to the big school down in the big town, the big school down in LA port. Um, and it was just down the street from Kinsley Plaza. So I'd walk to mom's work after school. We did not have 10 employees at that time. I was one of five, I think. And I would help ship, so we'd have to, you know, ship our products out. Sure. And we'd only use, you know, use boxes or secondhand boxes. So I'd go to Overland foods or I'd go to the liquor store and pick up extra boxes, case boxes and whatnot. Bring the six or seven boxes that we needed for the day. Yeah. Wrap up all the orders ship 'em out. I love it. Hand write, you know, in my you great handwriting yeah. Hand write the ups labels. Um, and so yeah, I was, I mean, always been fascinated by the business and started working there when I was 19. Okay. So I had GRA I mean, yeah, I had worked there. Yeah. You didn't get paid since I was born, I volunteered there.

Curt:

you're like, I still didn't get paid at that time,

Silencia:

Cathy. So, uh, I volunteered at mother love until I was 19. Uh, which is when I. Officially started

Curt:

working there. Very good. So were you ever selling, like to individuals like mail order catalogs or things like that, or just, I assume you sell online sales now at least, or since internet, but at that time you probably didn't cuz it wasn't like practical to send a little jar of stuff, whatever to,

Kathryn:

oh, we didn't have a website and people, how would they learn a vote? people would, people would just come in the door cuz they'd see our sign, you know, there and they'd come in the door. Sure. But, or hear it word of mouth. And it was easier to come in the door than go to the co to the store I guess. But you know, port people,

Silencia:

yeah. We didn't really have very much direct to consumer sales only because it's really niche demographic. We like remained focused on pregnancy and breastfeeding primarily because that's really the niche that my mother was in when she. Really developing products. Yeah. And then like Catherine mentioned working with lactation consultants, they became the influencers, they were the ambassadors for you. Right. And part of the challenge of our particular products set is it serves a really small period of time in life. A very, very important time period in your life. Yeah. So we're really the experts. And if you got

Curt:

repeat customers, it's like maybe once or twice anymore, like people don't have five kids, even they have two or three, they can tell their friends, but it's kind of a sensitive issues that not everybody talks about.

Silencia:

Well, it's definitely, uh, very short time in life. Yeah. I mean, you're only pregnant for nine months, even if you breastfeed for several years and you do that several times, there's still an end to the life cycle of the consumer. Yeah. Yeah. So having that influencer, being a healthcare professional, being a midwife. Being a lactation consultant. That's kind of the repeat business yeah. Was recommended to their clients. So we always stayed really focused in that niche. And when I started working there, there were five of us total. I was the second person quote, unquote, making the products. Okay. Um, and it was just, we were talking about this the other day, our, our production schedule, uh, these days compared to those days was massively different. Um, but we would hand pour every product we'd right. The way that we made the products was in Turkey roasters. Mm-hmm it holds about three gallons of oil. Most of our products are olive oil based. Oh, wow. And then we infuse them with different herbs. Sure. So you put the herbs in the oil and you'd do a slow cook on it. Right. We'd do that in, you know, crop pot, and then these Turkey roasters, and then you'd strain out the herbs and you'd melt bees wax, and you'd thick in the product and you'd. Oh, interesting. Poured into a little one or two ounce glass jar.

Curt:

Do you like whip it to get the bees wax suspended with

Silencia:

the oil or anything? No, it actually, um, they're oil together. Yeah. The oil and wax are happy together as long as it's hot when you pour it. Right. So it has to be a hot fill, which has plenty of challenges, right. Because has to be warm and you have

Curt:

to, there's a reason they poured hot oil on the people trying to storm the castle. Cause it's hard to handle.

Silencia:

It's it's warm oil melt, melt, temperature of bees. Wax is about 150 degrees, so, oh, okay. So it

Curt:

won't burn you bad or nothing

Silencia:

like that. It's not okay. Um, but it is, you know, what we used to do by hand we'd Lale it into a, um, it's some sort of picture poor one ounce at a time, nothing clean.

Curt:

There's always a drip here

Silencia:

or that and that. And uh, yeah, so that was kind of, so what was your job? I was in production product, product, product producer, product producer, producer. And

Curt:

was it with Catherine or was there another product?

Silencia:

So at that time, Catherine was. Uh, you know, out selling the product, she was, she was on the road. She was on the road, miss mother love. She was miss mother love.

Kathryn:

And all these other things that you talked about of insurance and healthcare and bankers bankers,

Curt:

and yes, well just one banker. So that made that one part easy. Yes. Yes I Sue, but so Catherine, talk to me about, um, like Valencia's place in the business and were you excited to have her a part of it? She'd always been a part of it, but now that she was out of high school and things and made that kind of choice, was that exciting

Kathryn:

for you? Cause I, I, I knew her and I knew her, you know, I knew, uh, that she could do it. Right. I knew her ethics. I knew her. Uh, yeah. Yes. I was very proud to have my children work in the business. Yes. Yeah, yeah. You know, to, to, to carry on the legacy so to speak. Sure. If they didn't want to, I could cope with that. But the fact that they were very interested in yeah. The legacy of the business and carrying on mom's yeah. Story.

Curt:

So bring me forward a bit. Um, you were firsthand viewer, then this is like early two thousands.

Silencia:

Is that right? Yeah. Early 2000, 2002. Okay. This year I celebrated my 20 years of mother love. Oh. 20 years of being paid by mother love. Right. Um, so yeah, I was a producer. One day we would make oils and salves another day we would do tinctures, me and this other gal would alternate, who was producing the product Uhhuh in the morning. The other person would chip, the other person would pour. And then in the afternoon we'd package. So we'd label everything we did. All of the making of all of our products. And we used to do, uh, two weeks, we, we call them pars, but kind of what our quota is for about two weeks supply. And at that time, our best seller, which is nipple cream, um, we would do 250 units was a two week supply for us. Oh, wow. Um, but we do that all by

Curt:

hand and what's an, can you flash forward as what's a two week supply of nipple cream now a two

Silencia:

week supply of nipple cream now is about 12,000 units. Wow. So definitely that's tremend.

Curt:

Yeah. So you were still pretty small. Do you have a, a guesstimate of what the revenues of the business were kind of at that time, at

Kathryn:

that time? Oh, probably at that time, I would say. uh, half a million, right?

Silencia:

2005. We actually broke our half million dollar mark.

Curt:

Wow. Okay. Yeah. Yeah. And it was just a slow, you know, 20, 20% a year. Not that's that slow, but you would grow a fair bit every year, but there wasn't any like huge breakthroughs along this time. Or

about

Kathryn:

this time two, there were two big breaks. Okay. One was coming out with. Liquid capsule. Yep. That was, I think two, two oh 2005. Do you think? Yeah. About is when we came. Yeah. The other thing was, um, this man called me, uh, from Hungary and said, I am in town. My wife has found your products. She loves your products and she wants to carry your products. I said, okay. So he came actually to, to the business. Yeah. And, uh, she ended up being our, our European distributor. Oh, cool. Yeah.

Curt:

that's a, yeah.

Kathryn:

And you know, I've been, I've been over there a couple times to see her, uh, to her office and, um, stay with them and yeah, mm-hmm well,

Curt:

I think something I'd like to draw out here is just the importance of that investment you made in. Liquid caps mm-hmm right. You mentioned that you worked on it for a couple of years. Testing, refining, figuring it out. Mm-hmm you know, it probably cost you not short of $50,000 in time and money. If not 150,000.

Kathryn:

Yeah, it was my input and, and, but it, the contract manufacturer is who, oh, carried this because he makes them for us. Gotcha. He makes them for us, he, uh, bottles them and ships them to us. Gotcha. So it's. So you're like, you could figure this out well, and, and now, and now he does it for not just us, but he figured out the process. Yeah,

Curt:

yeah, yeah. So, so it was a big investment. He owes you still, but, uh, yeah, as it turns out, uh,

Kathryn:

have to think of it that

Curt:

way. well, it's cool. It's, it's a great, well, it's a, win-win win kind of, uh,

Kathryn:

absolutely absolutely convers and he's, he's still to this day, a very close friend that's I've gone down and stayed with him. Yes mm-hmm.

Curt:

very cool. So yeah. So the international sales starts, the liquid caps is taking off mm-hmm mm-hmm um, who's running the business kind of, so to speak while you're. Off Galvan, trying to build relationships with other grocers and things like that. Or is there any necessary there

Kathryn:

since, since you was there and you know, I'd be gone maybe three days kind of thing on a monthly basis?

Curt:

Well, no.

Kathryn:

Or just each trip. Yeah. For, I, I take about two weeks to travel, you know? And, uh, well, and when my husband was taking care of could take care of the kids and mm-hmm

Curt:

fair enough. Okay. Mm-hmm so, and I guess there's not that much, right? There's not a lot of walk-in traffic. There's, there's no there's daily orders and shipping things, answering the phones, not a lot of instability on staffing and things. Right. You just yeah. Do the things mm-hmm what were the other key jobs in the business at that time? Um, you mentioned kind of all the, you know, shipping and production elements that you were doing Valencia, but who, who else was, what were they doing? Was there a marketing element? Yeah,

Silencia:

there's definitely a marketing and sales, uh, side of the business, kind of the front of the house. We term it back of the house in front of the house. So, um, A lot of the forwarder facing invoicing and bookkeeping, et cetera. Um, and then obviously, you know, any type of customer service, any type of interaction, like most of our business at that time was wholesale, right? So it's other retail retails. So it more like an account manager account manager role. And we had a lot of employees that had been with us for a long time. And that again were the Jack of all trades. Everybody knew what they were doing. Everybody could, you know, kind of share in the responsibility. Everybody wore mini hats where people would, everybody would answer. If the phone rang, everybody would answer the phone and everybody knew how to take an order. Um, everybody knew how to enter an order into QuickBooks. We were all trained on the product. So people could answer questions about how to use the product, which product to recommend. Yeah. You know, it was kind of spread across front of the house, office

Curt:

people, and those that. You Catherine kind of that, cuz you seem, you strike me as like a very strong like planner, organizer, like process kind of person. And so where you're like, well, if we want to have a good culture and all the same systems and people take orders the same way, this is the way we're gonna do

Kathryn:

it. Well, not just, this is the way we're gonna do it, but we're all family. Yeah. And so that's what it is. We all love to help each other. We, we all have a vested interest in, in making this work and, and really a lot of our employees were family friends. Fair. Yeah. And then the other thing that changed too, from you were asking about the traveling is through the natural products expo, um, People would brokers would come up and reps would come up and say, we wanna, you know, we know about your products, how about you? We wanna carry that. And so that took a lot of the, um, travel off of me. Yeah. Because they, they were doing and then every now and then I'd go in as the owner and say, I'm here. And your questions I'd love to meet who is the buyers, but it took off a lot of my day to, you know, regular travel when we had the reps, cuz they were going and taking the orders, doing training, meeting people. Yeah. And expanding, expanding stores.

Curt:

Now something I've just wondered on just now is that, you know, maybe the last five years or 10, especially, but women, founders and women CEOs have gotten a lot more. Recognition and encouragement and things, but was that like, tell me about that environment for you. What did you get recognition for being like a women-owned founder, business owner, things like that. Did you feel pushback against?

Kathryn:

I never felt push back against it and because of course what I was doing would be a woman's knowledge because there sling breast milk cells. I had three babies in breastfed for years and yeah, so it's, it's a woman's knowledge. And, um, so no, I didn't have pushback on that, but we've always said that we're family owned and family run and

Curt:

you were just kind of quiet behind the scenes and selling through these retailers. It wasn't like today they would be showering you with women business kind of awards and things like that. Probably.

Kathryn:

And, and Celia can, speak to that.

Silencia:

We recently did just go through our, uh, women own certification. Oh, good. Uh, it was, you know, filling on all the paperwork. It's a tremendous amount of paperwork and documentation about. but yes, I mean, it is definitely, uh, a thresholds across is it is, um, a metric that a lot of buyers look for now. So when you look to different, uh, retailers, there's a certain percentage that need to be certified veterans, certified minorities, certified women owned. Interesting. Um, and so it's definitely helped us with some shelf placement. We just recently went through it, but having that story definitely gains respect.

Curt:

Yeah. You get all the credit you need. Yeah. You

Silencia:

know? Um, and, uh, yeah, that it's been some of the certifications that we've gone through in the past few years have definitely been a tremendous amount of work. Right. Uh, mostly just in the documentation, it's a little bit of make work well, you know, uh, but it really does help hold us accountable helps hold other businesses accountable helps. Say the message to the world of who we are and what we stand for. Yeah. Yeah.

Curt:

Well, I saw you speak the first time, Catherine, at a city of Fort Collins business recognition event. I dunno, it was sometime pre COVID, whatever that is, but that was where I kind of heard your story and it was, it was inspiring to me at that time. You, you did a great job and, and they did celebrate that. It was, you know, by women for women. And it seems like you've, I guess that's a natural part of your brand when your products

Kathryn:

are, as they are. It is. But once again, when I was talking about labeling, we are third party certified. And that makes a big difference when people, I think women especially are starting to look at labels and what do they say? And what is the true backing of this? Is it just words? Uh, yeah. You know, so, well, there's a lot

Curt:

of greenwash. There

Kathryn:

is women washing. That's why we wanna be, that's why we've been very, very proactive to be third party certified in everything we say, yeah.

Curt:

Is there like, frankly I've met a few women own businesses where the guy really runs the business and his wife collects a salary, but she doesn't really like, do they prevent you from getting certified? If that's the case, you, you couldn't, that's kinda like greenwashing to my eyes, frankly. And I've always kind of found it a little bit distasteful

Silencia:

you couldn't. Yeah, I certainly. have measures in place to kind of prevent the, just putting mom. That's why there there's so much

Curt:

paperwork. Right? Cause it just takes one person to mess with that kind of system. And then you're

Kathryn:

gonna have bunch more paperwork and going through the, the office I, I had. Oh, uh, we actually, we got incorporated in, uh, 1993 and I had to show them all of our incorporation papers. And who are the owners? Interesting. Who are the shareholders? Sure.

Curt:

Mm-hmm now did you raise capital? Um, we have never loved it's just a family owned operation has always been,

Kathryn:

we have never, um, gotten capital from just Sue. Well that's that's loans. Yeah.

Curt:

yep.

Silencia:

Yeah. We, we definitely have never gone down the path of having investors. Yeah. Um, you kind of lose control of what is special about yeah. Your business. Yeah. Of running it yourself. Um, there's, you know, it's definitely hard to run a business. Yeah. That you're completely self-funded. Um, People say this a lot too. Oh, you guys are overnight success. Be like, no, we're 35 years success. it took us many, many years and, you know, kind of doing a lot of the work ourselves. Yeah. And learning along the way. Um, we've never really positioned as being a company that's just gonna grow 200% year over year, have like a five year exit path. Like it was really founded by my mother for her family and just been slowly and generational business,

Curt:

by the way. There's a little more wine here if you'd like to refill. Oh, thank you. um, so I wanted to, when did you start to think about like maybe I'll lead this company someday? Was that part of your mind frame when you were in your young twenties, as, as mother love is continuing to kind of grow and develop in this

Silencia:

market? Yeah. All through college, I continued to, um, work at mother love in a variety of different ways, um, from, you know, Changing my college schedule around in order to do production on Wednesdays. Yeah, it's true. Um, to kind of, once I got into a schedule that I couldn't work during the day, I worked at nights at mother love. So I'd go in by myself and do all the invoicing and bookkeeping in the evenings. Um, and as I graduated from college, I had kind of had this real desire to, I, you know, I wanna move out of Fort Collins. I love this community, but I need something different. Yeah. And that was right at the beginning of 2008, there was some economic hardships we heard about that. Yeah. Yeah. I don't. So I was like, well, maybe now's not the best time to leave. Okay. A really great job. Right. Now's maybe not the best time to jump into the housing market. so I kind of had decided, uh, well, I'm gonna, you know, stick around mother love. Plus, I, I loved what I did. Yeah. I, I truly loved what I did. I more had a desire of like, I just wanna see what else is out there outside of four Collins. Yeah. So that's when I started working and kind of moving into more of a sales role. Oh. Um, so,

Curt:

so that kind of allowed you to get out outside of fourt Collins a little bit.

Silencia:

Yep. So Catherine would take me on all of her sales goals. I started going and doing the trainings to the buyers and doing the sales pitches and doing all of the trade shows. So really becoming a voice in the business. Yeah. Yeah. And more of the face of the business alongside of my mother. Yeah. Yeah. And about 2010, she started to say, I'm kind of ready to start thinking about retiring. And I had kind of raised my hand and be like, well, this is pick me. This is a cool business. Maybe we shouldn't sell it. Maybe we should keep it. Like, I would be happy to. Throw my hand in and try. Right. Which of course I didn't go to business school either. And yeah. What did you go to school for? Um, political science and history. Oh, interesting. Uh, yeah. Uh, liberal arts major from CSU their world renowned liberal arts school. Right, right. I just loved liberal arts, so, um, yeah. I didn't have any formal business training, but I had been brought up plenty seat of the pants.

Kathryn:

Yeah.

Curt:

neither did I, so yeah. So Catherine, talk to me about when you were working, uh, side by side with Valencia, is she like mother, like daughter or do you guys compliment each other more and you have different kinds of skills and thinking styles that were to

Kathryn:

together? Well, yeah. Yeah, that would be, we have different, um, skills, but we did different things. And so I actually retired in, um, 2015. Okay. Cuz I was 65 and, and, um, She, she knew all the skills. She knew all of the, and also by then we had other employees that could help with marketing. And so she could truly go into a CEO position and oversee, um, all of the, uh, people underneath her who were running production, who were running marketing, who are running the financials and just have an overview. Mm. And she's just very right. Very, she can see ahead. Yeah. Uh, completely trust her intuition. Yeah. And so, um, yeah, it worked well, I think the hardest thing for her was I hope I don't blow it well,

Silencia:

and I, that remains the hardest thing.

Curt:

I think what I'm, what I'm, what I'm starting to hear is that, that Catherine you've really got the, the execution and the, the in the beginning, you know, and, but I think I'm hearing that, that you might have a, more of a, that kind of visionary. Instinct in your realm, Valencia, which when you're founding something is miserable, because then you have to actually do all that work too. But if you can just kind of point at problems and have no, just kidding, but have a team that has systems in place and things it's kind of a sweet spot for that

Silencia:

kind of leader. Yeah. It definitely, Catherine had set up a really amazing foundation. Yeah. Um, you know, what we had was an amazing product line mm-hmm products are just a, the utmost quality and she's created a product line that's amazing. And has created relationships that are strong. Yeah. So we have this great product

Curt:

and the brand and the reputation and the products

Silencia:

are all just like the brand really strong. Yeah. And so when I kind of started taking over a bit, there was definitely a huge learning curve for me on. How do you run a business, right? What is a P and L sitting down and like learning how to right. Read budgets and those sort of things is like, okay, so this is more than just being the face of the company. This is more than just being a good salesman. This is more than just development project. It's

Curt:

kinda the chain trades job, right. It, I mean, or being, being the, the decide or being the owner, whatever that looks like.

Silencia:

And I definitely did not do it alone. I, um, we've hired some really amazing talent, like bringing in experts. I mean, the people that work for me are way smarter than

Curt:

I am Is there any folks along that journey, like, cuz it feels like mother love kind of really cut traction and hit its own, like in that 2010 through 2020 span and maybe keeps growing from there, but it like, it went from kind of a local family business to really becoming a, a. A force of sorts

Silencia:

in your industry. Big part of it obviously was working with healthcare professionals and getting kind of the, um, I will say respect that herbs deserve. Yeah. Um, but there was really a shift from being like we grew up in the natural space. Yeah. So we are a, um, natural brand that was born in whole foods that was in food co-ops across the us kind of the big shift for us, um, was in 2012, we were approached by Walgreens. Oh. And that was at that time, you know, Kathryn. Was transitioning had

Curt:

expressed her interest in not working so hard

Silencia:

she had expressed her interest in making a change. Yeah. And so I was having these conversations with the buyer at Walgreens and she said she, she approached us and was very interested in our herbal supplements for breastfeeding. And I had a real pause, like, Ooh, I don't, that's pretty mainstream. Yeah.

Curt:

Like, yeah. We're we're hip. We're kind of hippies

Silencia:

here. Yeah. We're hippies. This is a really home spun brand. I like working with natural food stores, et cetera. You're probably too big for us. This probably not a flattered, but flattered, but no thanks. Yeah. And then she tracked us down at a trade show a couple months later and said, I think you should

Curt:

reconsider this. And what were you thinking about this, Catherine?

Kathryn:

Um, I had said I'm, I would never do this, but the things that's changed in the last 10 years. And definitely since I left is social media. Mm. I, I don't have a Facebook page. I don't know much about social media, which is why, you know, I, we, I need that younger generation. Sure. Like NCIA, uh, so that's where the moms are and the moms want to go to where they can, uh, maybe do more one stop shopping. And when, when we put out, where would you like to see us? Those are the stores where moms were saying would love to see you there. Yeah. And so I have to go where my. People wanna be

Curt:

right? No, that makes total sense. Well, and, and what was the doctors groups and the kind of the grassroots through that medical professional? Now it's a Facebook mom's group.

Kathryn:

Well, somebody, it is. And also even with the healthcare professionals, please go find it. And, and we've got a lot of moms who don't have a natural, a big natural food store, like sprout or vitamin cottage or, well, any town under a hundred thousand doesn't have 'em probably. Yeah. And so they, they wanna be able to, um, to get it where they can yeah. Where they can. Yeah. And, and so I have to say, yeah, okay. That I I'm gonna go where, where they want us to be and where I can help the most people. And maybe that wasn't my vision 15 years ago, but that's my vision now.

Curt:

well, it sounds like you kind of allowed, was that kind of allowed to be kind of your oh, rabbit to chase

Kathryn:

Alexia. It all happened. All happened. With her. It

Silencia:

definitely was that moment that I was like, okay, what is this brand gonna be? Yeah. Who are we gonna be? Are we gonna expand into being in mass retailers? Are we going to, you know, what does this all mean? Yeah. Like the implications of going into a nationwide retailer, like that were many. Yeah. Um, and I definitely had pause and had like really check in with ourselves on, is this where we is, this the brand we wanna be? Is this where we wanna be? And it came down to, we made these products to help moms breastfeed. We made these products to help moms during their pregnancy. This, the reason we exist is to help women. Right. And if we decide we're only gonna help women who happen to have a whole foods in their town. Right. That was kind of counterintuitive to what we were actually trying to do. Yeah. Yeah. And the other part of it was. This is a way that we can reach more people, but this is also a way in which Catherine has spent the last 20 years trying to educate people about the power of plants. Right. And then the nation's largest drugstore goes, Hey, we, we wanna learn more about these plants. Can we sell these plants? We go, not for you. right. So it took some checking in with who we wanted to be, who we were and why we existed. And then can we produce enough? I, I guess, right, right, right. And so that was the big for me, like the big transitional shift yeah. Is when we decided we were gonna start growing the brand. Um, and after that, since that time we've launched into many more retailers. Yeah. And kind of no longer are just a natural products, um, company. Yeah. We're really a. Mom's product a mom's products company that happens to be natural and organic. Yeah. And kind of the beauty of that is that it spans into the natural mass and natural connect together. Yeah. Rather than just hoping that people come to us, we're, they're going, we're herbal, we're organic come to our website, buy directly. Yeah, it is. This is where you are. So you really have to meet moms where they are and offer them a better alternative to, you know, some of the other topical products that are on the market.

Curt:

I think that's really, um, one of the things I was thinking about was I had fear because I hear about Walmart and they're like, oh, you normally sell these. $5 a piece and we retail 'em for 10, but we're Walmart. So we wanna buy 'em for $3 a piece. Was it that way with Walgreens? Did you have to trim your margins on your product set to get into that many stores? We

Silencia:

really didn't. Um, we went in with our normal wholesale pricing and kind of what our standard products were. We didn't have to change the ingredients. We didn't have to lessen the quality. We didn't have to undercut our other customers. Who've been with us for years. Right. Um, and that's the same thing, you know, other huge retailer, retailer, quote unquote is Amazon, even though it's a direct to consumer model. Right, right. That's kind of an expected like, well, maybe I'll get it cheaper on Amazon. Right. And we kind of made an agreement amongst ourselves that the way that we were going to go into mass retail or going to go outside of the natural food stores was to maintain the quality. Yeah. We weren't gonna put in a cheaper ingredient in order to be there. We weren't gonna. Lessen the quality or make it cheaper in order to do it. And that allowed us to serve more women and not compromise our integrity.

Curt:

Yeah. I like it. Now, talk to me about that transition. Like I've I, to a certain extent I'm imagining there's a, there's a Simpson scene where Homer Simpson just kind of melts into the hedge and goes away. Um, but like, was it, were you embraced by the, the staff at mother love, they had known you for a long time and things. Um, was it, was there like a plan, did you hire consultants to help you communicate the change or anything? Or was it kind of home or melting into the head?

Silencia:

it was not homely melting into the hedge. Um, so there was a five year transition plan and then for three years, um, Catherine did part-time work. Oh, so she was still there. Yeah. Gonna hold my hand through it. Yep. While I was learning how to run the business and about the business, because then it's no longer just about the brand, which is really. What I had focused on. Right. I made the products. I had sold the products. I did several rebrands. I knew the brand. Right. I knew kind of the face, but there's so much more to a business than the face Yeah, for sure. Um, so during those three years, really focusing on the engine, mm-hmm, how to make the finances, whatever margins make the operations. Yeah. And that's really, when we started to expand our staff, the staff that we had had had been with us for a really long time, extremely loyal and super hardworking, and some were getting pretty old by now, too. yeah. Um, and then started to expand our staff to bring in some subject matter experts as well. Yeah. Yeah. Um, in 2013, about a year after we launched into Walgreens, we realized pretty quickly, like we were gonna outgrow our space in LA port. We'd gone from a single unit of a thousand square feet to five of those unit. So we're at and bursting of the seams, right? Um,

trucks

Kathryn:

couldn't get in

Silencia:

we didn't have any, we had, we didn't have a dock. Oh and gosh, there's no shipping door that was large enough to bring, we did

Curt:

like a $4 million year manufacturing company. Like we don't have a dock. We didn't have a bring your

Silencia:

hand truck. Yeah. You would have to have a lift gate and unload every single pallet of ingredients by hand. And so there became a point that was like, okay, we're gonna run out of, you know, manufacturing capacity. So in 2013 we did purchase, um, a building in Fort Collins. Yeah. And then did it Riverside, right? Yeah. Right off of Riverside. Um, and we did a complete remodel and build out on it to have, and of at the time we did it we still were manufacturing using these Turkey roasters to melt our oils and bees wax mm-hmm And, but we built it out in a way that we knew we were gonna have to run everything by steam and we were gonna have to have kettles. And, you know, our original kettle was 20 gallons. That one doesn't even get used anymore. Cuz it's too small. Um, and we had gone from, you know, these three gallon things to building out this.

Curt:

Yeah. I'm imagining like a brewery except for yeah. Mm-hmm with made with oils and BEWA and yeah, similar

Silencia:

lot of stainless steel, I'm thinking lots of stainless steel and we, you know, you support everything by hand using measuring cups, figuring out, okay, we're gonna have to have an automated filler. We're gonna have to have an automated labeler. We're gonna have to. So we kind of had to build out a vision yeah. Of what we wanted our production line to look like. Oh. And save the money for it. So building out that space was like, this is huge. How are we ever gonna fill all this space?

Curt:

A lot of puzzles to solve when you are going through that much transition. So any particular folks you'd like to give credit to, for, uh, mentoring you through that process or helping build some of those key systems and

Silencia:

things like that? You know, I was a really, um, a, a huge mentor to me, um, was I joined a Vista group. Yeah. And so I was around other business owners and CEOs. And about this same time, like, as you're taking the reins yeah. As I'm taking the reigns, I was like, I feel like I need some outside advice. Yeah. Cause I really knew mother love well, but I didn't really know how to run. Yeah. The business very well. So, um, it was great to have other people kind of give me some perspective. Sure. And other people give me, um, an idea of. You know, how, how businesses are run. Right. And I, I learned so much from that and that wasn't just my Vista chair. That was all of the Vista businesses, especially the other folks in there, especially the other folks in there. We've had amazing employees over the years, too. I mean, countless employees, too many to

Curt:

give you'll leave a bunch of people out. If you mention anybody,

Silencia:

I would leave everybody out. um, I will say that, you know, at this time also my youngest sister, Jasmine started working in the business and doing, um, the operation side. So I was very, you know, forward facing brand side and she was very ops facing, um, production side. Yeah. So we're kind of opposite sides of the same coin. Cool. Um, and she was a huge partner, like understood the pressure of being. Yeah. A family run business. Right. And what if yeah,

Curt:

yeah. Um, well it's a big expansion too, right? Yes. Like at the same time. And I don't know if you probably took on a little bit of leverage at least to buy some equipment B finish the

Silencia:

building definitely had to. Thank you, Sue. Thanks Sue. Hey, Sue Wagner. Thanks. Um, had to, you know, borrow money to right. Build the building out and uh, some equipment and those type of things, but it was really looking to like, what is this gonna be? Yeah. Yeah. Um, now that we're moving into these new areas, like yeah. What, what is mapping out that, what is it gonna be? What are we gonna need in order to have enough employees have enough revenue have enough space? What's the demand

Curt:

gonna be for our products? Yeah. How, how do we need enough capital to capacity to make all that stuff?

Silencia:

So that was really the puzzle that is trying to solve at that time. Um, and it's just com you know, added on. Year after year of, so you're still in Vistage today. I am no longer in Vista. I left Vistage after, um, COVID started up. Mm. Yeah. Um, but I'd still give a huge, a huge credit yeah. To like getting in some perspective, and then we've hired, um, a couple, you know, hiring some executives mm-hmm has really helped. I mean, hiring people who know the bus know business, no business and, um, can kind of be my, my right hands has been huge. Very cool. Um, so we've had, um, several executives that have really just pushed, push the business along and helped grow it and, you know, obviously give us outside perspective for sure. Um, which has been hugely valuable.

Curt:

So Catherine, talk to me about, um, well, like what are you doing with yourself now? You've been kind of fully retired for over five years now.

Kathryn:

Uh, seven, I think seven. Yeah. I, um, I was on a road trip in Oregon and came across a little town yahoos. Okay. In Oregon and bought a, bought a house. Oh, okay. So we go back and forth. It's right there. Five minute walk to the beach, town of 700, uh, like it. Where is that at? On yahoos is 20 miles south of Newport. Okay. I've been to Newport. Okay. 20 miles south, right there. And it's walking in the big trees. So it's been, it's been really fun. I, uh, it's a complete, I would say I'm an expert here, complete novice there. Right. So I take all these pictures. Jasmine actually put this app on my phone, uh, picture this where I can take a picture of a plant and it'll tell me what it is. Oh, right. I mean, totally, totally upgraded from, from back in the day. So yes, it's uh, that I go back and forth. I still have, I have a acreage, uh, north of town by Terry lake mm-hmm and where the kids grew up after. After mother love started working in being in Kinsley and SI was in junior high and I'm doing the canyon twice a day. right. So we eventually that came got, yeah, Charles and I went, went and, uh, we saw this for sale by owner right there, um, in north of town and on an acre. And that's great. We just, we bought it and that's where I, I still have that place

Curt:

today. Yeah. Very cool. Very cool. And you mentioned your youngest sister is involved with the business. Is your middle sister?

Silencia:

Our middle sister has worked there on a variety of different roles. Um, she is a mother of four. Oh. So she is a, she gets a pass well, she's

Kathryn:

also, if she wants it, she's used the product successfully too. Right. Product tester

Silencia:

testimonial. She definitely has her hands full being a mother. Um, my youngest sister recently last year became a mother as well. Oh. So she has transitioned out of the business and is focusing on yeah. Her own motherhood journey. Very good. Mm-hmm

Curt:

um, one last main thing on the business journey here that I'm curious about is what's next from here? Like, are there aside from just steady growth and maybe more international markets and things like that, are there any big opportunities for mother love in the future or, or just kind of slow and steady?

Silencia:

We've always been slow and steady. Um, that's been our well, except for the Walgreens thing was pretty crazy. Walgreens thing was pretty huge. Um, but we have always remained focused on, you know, we get lots of advice, oh, you know what? You, you should make beard oil or you should do this. Or, you know, why don't you guys make shampoos and lotions? And there's so many like possibilities to widen our demographic reach and we know we could do it. We make really great products,

Curt:

reputation, and credibility and product

Silencia:

quality, but our brand is really focused on mom. Yeah. And so we feel that going deeper with mom and making sure we're supporting her and her needs and helping that journey is it's gonna be our focus yeah. To go deeper. And so that really means being available in more places. Yeah. So if we're expanding our distribution, um, whether that's domestically or internationally, making sure that wherever she goes, she can walk in and grab the mother love product that she needs. Yeah. Rather than trying to order it online or driving 20 minutes down the road to our local retailer, like there's so many, um, parts of the P you know, partners along the way that have yeah. Taken, you know, trusted mother love and put it in their stores and helped grow our brand and like making sure that it's available for mom when she needs it is. Always our, our focus and our journey. Isn't it

Curt:

amazing. Catherine, how many, like relationships there are along the way to reflect back on, you know? Oh, I did that. A lot of people might like Catherine built this great company and she transitioned it to her brilliant daughter. And, but yes. And there were 9,000 people along the way

Kathryn:

that, oh, so many people it's just, yeah. As I said, there's just gratitude for walking, you know, walking through the open door. And of course it was right timing because it was built on a foundation of hadn't been done and I have Valencia and, and it just completely worked out and yes, com there's just so many people. And I do think about that. I sit there and sit down my patio and, or just walk the ocean and think, wow, wow. The craziest thing that's ever happened to me is this story. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And the other thing that I find fascinating too is we started out with my foundation of medical community, my father, a doctor, the gardens. And I look at my mission as how do we blend the two and which I feel I did. Yeah. I brought herbal knowledge to the medical community.

Curt:

Yeah. Which is tremendous, you know, medical community wants to put a pill on it so much. And if we could put herbs on it instead, uh, we'll be better off for

Kathryn:

the most part. I just feel that that is a mission that I accomplished of coming full circle from yeah. Where my life started. Thank you.

Curt:

That's great. Solen. Any other kind of reflections on the business journey before we jump into our closing segments here?

Silencia:

Yeah, I think for me, it's, you know, it just a tremendous honor to carry on my mother's legacy and be able to. Take what was started in her kitchen. Right. And really spread it out to the world. But it's, it's a journey that is not done alone. I mean, I certainly so many people along the way have helped, you know, formulate, um, my opinions and guide me along the way and do the heavy lifting, like being ahead of a company is a very small role within the whole company. I mean, there's so much that goes into it. And I, I just wanna say, like, I could never do this alone. Like it is an honor to carry this on, but, uh, there is so many people behind me. Carrying the lion's share of the weight. Yeah.

Curt:

Agreed, agreed. That's uh, one of my favorite quotes is I think it's Helen Keller alone. We can do so little together. We can do so much. Mm-hmm um, we always have a closing segments, uh, faiths, family politics, and it's just share whatever you would like to about each of those topics. And, um, happy to have a short break here if you guys want to, or we can keep rolling too. Let's roll.

Kathryn:

Let's roll.

Curt:

Let's roll. Let's roll. Uh, who wants to start?

Kathryn:

Well, I think we've talked a lot about family. You have, and I, this never would be without my family. Yeah. And you know, my family's my rock. This is it's my world. I love it. You know, and mother love and motherhood I'd have to say mother love was a little easier than motherhood.

Curt:

one of the things I like to do is have, uh, moms or parents, uh, do a one word description of their children. Which will be interesting with Valencia right here in the room. Would you like to give each of your daughters a one

Kathryn:

word description? Well, a one word description. That's hard. Um, if I have to come up with one word, I have three redheads. that's that? That says a lot, but they're all, um, they're very independent. They know their world and they're they go for it? I

Curt:

love that. Uh, who's your favorite, obviously? I ask all the questions. Let's

Kathryn:

the family dog.

Curt:

so let's see what I talk about

Kathryn:

my favorite

Curt:

I'm teasing, of course.

Silencia:

Um, yes. Uh, hilarious. um, as, as far as family, I, I am not a mother. I, I don't have kids. I've kind of known from a young age that I didn't really wanna be a mother. Yeah. I've really enjoyed. Um, Being part of other people's motherhood journey. Yeah. Um, being able to help provide quality products for people who are, who are moms. Yeah. I think that man being a mom is the hardest job in the whole world and somebody's gotta do it and I am a hundred percent there to support the women who choose to of you. I am here for you. Um, and the, you know, so I, I don't have children and I, I, you have fur babies. I do. I have, I have one dog, um, who truly is the most spoiled dog in the whole world. Um, would you like to

Curt:

describe him in a one word description?

Silencia:

Mm, I I'll, I'll go spoiled. uh, she's a little blue healer. Who's by my side a lot. Nice. As far as kind of any, any faith. Um, I truly believe in kind of. Putting energy into the universe and what you put out comes back to you. Yeah. And your, that your thoughts are super powerful and they are the creatives of your world. Yeah. And that, you know, this, some of this has fallen into place pretty unconventionally. I mean, I don't, yeah. There's Providence at hand. I don't have a business background. Neither. Neither does my mother. And, uh, I think that we're both pretty savvy at it. Yeah. And have built something that's pretty beautiful. And a lot of that was my mom always says, walking through open doors, trusting your intuition and, uh, Knowing when, when to lean in and when to

Curt:

back off. Yeah. Yeah. One of my other favorite quotes is, uh, Henry Ford. Whether you think you can or think you cannot, you are correct. And I think that, you know, to set that example of empowerment for your three fiery redheaded daughters, Catherine, is a testimony to that belief. Um, any thoughts to share on faith?

Kathryn:

Well, um, give back gratitude. Um, we're here for a reason. We make a difference in the world and, um, just, you know, when I started traveling, uh, for mother love, I was overwhelmed at how many people, how many things are out there. And it really came back to how can I make a difference to somebody every day right here, right now? Yeah. You know, it's just, it's overwhelming if you, if you. you, you have to just look at your own world and just be kind

Curt:

yeah. Be kind well. And the more you travel, especially into places of, of less, uh, affluence than Fort Collins of which almost every area in the world is, uh, you can't help, but be grateful. And mm-hmm, reflect on that. Mm-hmm um, so Lindsay, you said that you were a political science and history major, but that you didn't have much to say about politics. How could that be?

Silencia:

I've learned to bite my tongue life lesson.

Curt:

We have very few listeners Well, what would you like to say? Or, I mean, we got a lot of political, you know, both local, uh, political environment, um, national political environment. Is there any soapbox topics for you?

Silencia:

Um, I, I. My biggest soapbox topic is really around environmentalism. Um, I am a big believer that we are the generations that are going to help steward the earth. I mean, you can see environmental impacts that are happening from biodiversity to changing whether, whether or not you call it global warming or whether or not, um, I

Curt:

think all those damn whim Wells are causing it.

Kathryn:

killing the birds, huh?

Curt:

Well, no, I think they actually stopped the water from moving over the passes, uh, properly. Hmm. Yeah, I've been researching. I'm not dumb, but it, yeah,

Silencia:

I, I firmly believe that. Um, it does take all of our parts to, um, Make make the world a better place. Yeah. Leave the world

Curt:

better than I think living small is a big part of that

Silencia:

kind of living living small is part of it. Um,

Curt:

but I like to travel, you know, and if I want to go to an airplane and go to Cancun, dammit and, and drink 17 margaritas while I'm

Silencia:

there. I think that there's definitely a balance in, um, what the individual wants and needs. Cause I have that too. I love to travel. My, one of my favorite things is to travel internationally. Yeah. And also having, yeah. Having a small footprint and being focused on what individuals can do to, you know, leave the world in a better place, whether or not it's picking up trash that you see on at a Trailhead. I mean, like not my problem. It, it is our problem. Yeah. It's all part of it. Um, so for me, I think, um, it's really about. You know, low impact and yeah. Um,

Curt:

well, responsibility, I think I'm hearing responsibility, personal responsibility,

Silencia:

a lot personal responsibility for sure. Mm-hmm um, but I don't have a particular soapbox, no topic

Curt:

so I, they were showing the, uh, the Biden approval ratings, uh, graph widening since the start of this term. What should he do to turn it around?

Silencia:

Oh, I think I I'm gonna go. No comment on the politics. all.

Curt:

Catherine, what would you care to share on the politics and of the

Kathryn:

conversation? Well, I, I don't, I have a, no comment on the politics, but I agree with ency, the, you know, the environment, what can we do about the climate? What can we do to, um, preserve the rainforest? Um, you know, I I've been on the board of trees, water people. Oh, good of, um, Sebastian's awesome. Love Sebastian and, and, uh, And just, how do we help people, uh, make a living, uh, who, you know, give them opportunities, listen, listen to what people need and, uh, as opposed to telling them, uh, and, and, uh,

Curt:

yeah, I bet you like my motto. I've had a motto for about 10 years. That's actually part of lo think tanks motto. Now it's, uh, ask of your needs and share of your abundance. Nice, nice. Now, because that, that notion of asking for you what you actually need too, don't ask me about your wants. I want all the things, including a trip

Kathryn:

every, or, and, and then how, and. And I think the local people can give you the answer better than somebody coming in and telling you. So, you know, that's what

Curt:

totally. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I mean, there's so many cases of that. Like send wheat to Africa, to feed the starving people and then drive all the African wheat farmers out of business. So they're more screwed than they were,

Kathryn:

you know, be an example and yeah, and, and, um, my house is run on solar energy, you know, and I have all the way, all the way, all the way. It runs the hot tub, the house, the, uh, heat heat pump for the cooling. I have an electric car. Yeah. I love it.

Curt:

Yeah. Our electric car's fun. Well, it, oh, you don't have fast one. Yours is a Prius or something,

Kathryn:

uh, or not, it's not fast because it's the faster you go. The. The more power you lose, but fair enough. There are some drawbacks, you know? Yeah. I, I have to stick around

Curt:

town I, I, I had a, a BMW I three for a while and I used most of my battery getting up to the top of risk canyon, but then it charged back. But on the way back up, yes,

Kathryn:

we have a CA a fund drive. We have a cabin up, um, off the peak tope highway and yes, it's and I go up there and it's like, Ugh, but then I just coast all the way down. Recharge it. Yeah.

Curt:

Fair enough. Yeah. The local experience, um, Katherine, would you like to start this one first? Is there a, a particularly crazy time in your business journey that was really formative or unusual, or really comes to mind? When I say that, as

Kathryn:

I mentioned the story, we just heard the whole thing. The whole thing is crazy on how this hippie, uh, living in a Tippie, uh, spirit business. And now it's all over the world and my kids are running it and. thank you.

Curt:

right. It reminds me of the talking heads. How did I get here? Yeah. Did my beautiful,

Kathryn:

like the talking heads? Yeah, me too. Like the talking

Curt:

heads. So let's see anything, uh, in particular jumping

Silencia:

at you. For me, it really was that decision of like what what's next for the brand what's, you know, are we gonna grow into yeah. You know,

every

Curt:

man Walgreens.

Silencia:

Yeah. Are we gonna, um, move into more, um, mass retailers? Are we gonna buy this new building? Are we gonna build this? Like, are we gonna do this? Right. So at, you know, and it kind of all happened around the same point of like, we're gonna say yes to taking on more retailers, we're gonna say yes. To taking on more manufacturing. We're gonna say yes to hiring a bunch

Curt:

of people. A bunch of people like taking on a bunch of debt. Yeah. That's we have to, and plus you just got the keys to the car from, from mom kind at that same juncture. We were handing it over. Yeah, it was, it was

Silencia:

pretty, it, it was pretty intense time. Like learning how to run a. Being given the responsibility of running the business and having all these opportunities coming at us really fast. Yeah. I love it saying yes. I mean, luckily I haven't, uh, driven into the ground yet and uh, I've

Curt:

hold only

Silencia:

good things so far. So, and it's really, I mean, it's been a huge learning experience. Um, but you know, one of, probably the greatest honor of my life,

Curt:

would you, um, like to, if there's, I don't know that we have a big mom's demographic, but would you like to share with moms that want your products, uh, where to find you? I know it's at retailers a lot, or can they find locations on your website of where you're deliver distributed and things?

Silencia:

Yeah. Our website is mother love.com and. We do have a store locator on there that has all of our retailer locations, um, within a certain area, if you're local to Fort Collins, um, the food co-op and clothes, pony are downtown locations. Um, we're sold in whole foods, sprouts the vitamin cottage. Um, we mentioned this before. We're also sold in Walgreens. We also are now sold in, um, Walmart. Oh. So, uh, you can pick us up there as well. Um, Lucky's yes, we're in Lucky's market as well across the us. We're in, you know, yeah. A lot of places, a lot of places, but in Fort Collins, that's where you

Curt:

can find us awesome. Catherine, any, uh, final words of wisdom for, uh, moms, uh, that might be wondering if your products are for them.

Kathryn:

If our products are for them, um, It depends on, uh, do you wanna prevent stretch marks? Are you breastfeeding? Are you having trouble breastfeeding? So that would be something that, uh, you would kind of have to think about product or ask or ask your lactation consultant or your doula or your OB GYN. Uh, but my words of wisdom are, gosh, moms, you're great and more power to you, and it is a journey and I'm a grandmother of five and I'm still a mom. I love it.

Curt:

God speed. You ladies. I sure appreciate you sharing time with me today. And, uh, I'm really honored and thanks very

Silencia:

much. Yeah. Thank you. Great.

Kathryn:

You meet.