EverButter and Erica met during an event in Chicago. She was a panelist, and as we were listening to her speak we immediately knew she was a person to get to know. As the event was closing we introduced ourselves and it was like we were supposed to meet. Erica has this great, dynamic personality with the brains to go with it. She is a force, and we are happy to know her.
Erica and her business partner quickly became our favorite people. It was like we knew them. We are inspired by what they are doing and creating and we hope that she inspires you as she did with us.
Erica Douglass is EverButter's "Love" of the month!
I am a girl who fits in no one box. I am analytical, yet artsy. Spontaneous, but calculated. A serious clown some may say. I’m a walking oxymoron. I do not seek validation from the masses, but rather hold myself accountable to a higher power. I often have no filter, but find that I say the things other people are thinking. I am a people person who has a natural instinct to help others. I work hard. I play harder. I love the hardest. I am unapologetically me, and happy that God created me to be exactly who I am.
EverButter - We all know you as Sister Scientist on Social Media, but we knew you first as mSeed. Will you please explain to everyone what mSeed is, and how it came about?
mSEED group provides strategic growth solutions to aspiring entrepreneurs and established businesses in the beauty and personal care industry. Our expertise, across a broad spectrum of functional areas, allows us to aid in expediting growth, mitigating risks and providing innovative solutions at the highest standards of service and integrity.
We are a group of beauty industry veterans that have worked at some of the most successful hair and beauty companies in the game. As we saw the industry shifting, and more entrepreneurs entering the space, we decided that we would use the experience, expertise and network we have developed across our 55+ years in the industry to lower the barriers of entry for smaller and emerging brands.
We currently offer services in product manufacturing, product development and marketing/branding services. We like to consider ourselves a “one-stop-shop” for people with ideas who don’t know where to start, and gap fillers for entrepreneurs who are trying to grow strategically and cost effectively. We don’t only root for the underdogs, but we’re fighting with them.
EverButter – Please tell us a brief history of your schooling and jobs before mSeed.
I attended Stanford University where I earned a B.S. in Chemical Engineering. I then returned to the Chicago area as a National Institute of Health Fellow in Biochemistry and Molecular and Cell Biology at Northwestern. Once I decided to leave academia to pursue a career that was more tangible, I started at a company called Universal Beauty products. And eventually I took a position at Namaste Laboratories, makers of Organic Root Stimulator (ORS) products. There, I worked my way up the ladder to become the Director of Research & Development. I decided that I wanted to learn more about the business side of the beauty business, so I decided to go back to school at Northwestern University to earn a MBA from Kellogg School of Management with a concentrations in Entrepreneurship & Innovation, Marketing Management and Business Strategy. It was during my tenure at Northwestern when I launched mSEED group.
EverButter - Being a woman in America and graduating from one of the best schools and working for one of the top hair brand companies, what made you decide to branch out on your own? I am sure you were making a good amount and starting a start up takes a lot of money, how did you get up the courage and gumption?
The landscape of the beauty industry is changing rapidly and I believe that the future of innovation in this space more so lies in the fate of the entrepreneur. One thing that I always encountered was people with great ideas that had no clue how to get started. I would often point people in the right direction only to find out that the people who I pointed them to could only help them with one aspect of the bigger picture. Also, a number of companies don’t want to work with the small guy because their infrastructure is built to accommodate the big guys. After becoming frustrated with seeing so many great ideas not come to fruition, I decided that if something needed to change then I had to be the change. I’ve been blessed with so many opportunities in my career that allowed me to study, learn and execute a number of facets in building beauty brands for global brands. And I now see it as my responsibility to impart that wisdom and provide a helping hand to people who have aspirations to be in this space. Yes, it was very difficult giving up a steady direct deposit and all the perks that come with working for a big company, but there is nothing like waking up every day and knowing that you are living in your purpose and building up a community of people around you. And that feeling is better than any amount of money in the world.
EverButter - Do you think that at this point in time, things are shifting to entrepreneurship? Why?
Entrepreneurship is the new black. Everybody is getting bit with the bug. I think that so many people are pursuing entrepreneurial paths because they are starting to realize that the securities of corporate America are not as secure anymore, and there is more to life than just a steady paycheck. Companies are working people harder and longer with fewer rewards and benefits and it affects your quality of life. Today, thanks to the World Wide Web and the infiltration of social media, the world is a lot smaller and the success stories of entrepreneurs are highlighted in very big ways, making anybody feel more empowered to feel that they too can be successful with their own ideas. I think it’s great! This country was built on entrepreneurs and I am excited that more people in our communities are starting to believe in themselves enough to take the plunge.
EverButter - So, you were this teenager in college, sweet and bubbly girl (laugh out loud) did it ever cross your mind that you would have your own company?
Growing up my goal was to climb the corporate ladder of some big company and break barriers for women and minorities. I was groomed to have the mentality that if you work hard, and follow the rules, you’ll make it to the top. And that is true for many, but as a minority female, I found that it wasn't always the case. Although many would say I had already built the foundation for a pretty successful career in corporate and “I was on my way to the top,” I looked around and realized that I didn't necessarily want to be with the people who were “at the top.” The people who I felt deserved to be at the top the most were often overlooked for not fitting into a box that they didn't know they needed to fit in. So I decided that I would just eliminate the box all together and build a company that encouraged people to build their own damn box, or sphere, or diamond. The way I see it, we have too many boxes and I'd rather see a world full of diverse shapes and shades, rather than another box.
EverButter - If someone came to you asking for advice about starting their own business, what would be your first response? Why?
I would immediately start asking a series of questions: What’s your vision? Why is this important to you? Who is your target consumer? What makes you different? What do you want to achieve with your brand?
You have to know where you’re going in order to know where and how to start building. Building the proper foundation for your dream is key. If you build a sloppy foundation, your dream is at risk to tumble down right when you start gaining momentum. A good foundation has a well thought out strategy at the base, but sometimes you have to just get started, feel things out, and then develop your strategy after you know more. Just don’t wait too late to get serious. It’s better to fail fast and pivot, otherwise you can stay on the wrong path for a long time.
EverButter - Seeing how this earthly life is a once in a lifetime chance, what would be your one word of encouragement to others so that they make the most out of it?
Ask yourself two questions every morning: When you leave this Earth, what do you want to be known for? How will your life impact others? Every day is a gift that cannot be wasted living the life that somebody else wants you to live. Stop feeling the need for public validation, but rather follow your passion, unapologetically, and find a way to make it something that is a part of your life every day.
EverButter - Our one last question? What makes Erica Douglas, Erica Douglas?
Hmmm…good question. I would say that what makes me me is my ability to live life on my own terms. I don’t feel the need to fit in a box, or be classified. I just live life to the fullest, trusting God to show me the way. As long as I’m walking in my purpose, then I feel fully connected with who I am, who I was created to be, and really don’t look for validation or permission outside of that.
EverButter - Ok, so we lied, our final question is, where can our viewers find you at?
You can find Sister Scientist below:
SisterScientist.com, facebook, instagram and twiiter@sisterscientist, twitter@sistersci
If you are starting a beauty brand, whether it be products, or a salon, or you’re blogger that needs help building your blog into a full time business, then you can visit us on our website at mSEEDgroup.com and submit an inquiry from there.