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Natty Contrera 

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#WCW: Business Edition | Silver Market CO | WV LOCAL | PHILLY MUA | Philly Blogger

February 27, 2019

Finally, I'm back with some WCW blogs. I hope I can stay consistent for everyone. These are some of my favorite blogs to do but they are always the hardest. See, it's not because there is not a TON of women owned businesses - I just want to always make sure I promote and empower the best ones on my platform. 

 

I came across Silver Market Co as I was on a work trip for a WEEK in West Virginia. Yes, an entire week, a few months back. I should of done an entire blog of all the things I did that week but that's neither here nor there. I know people often think work traveling is five star hotels in Miami next to a pool, but sometimes, they are at the Sheraton in Charleston, West Virginia googling yelp reviews of the local sushi spots. 

 

To be honest, Charleston, West Virginia is pretty cool. There is a handful of towns within 45 minutes of Charleston that are also pretty cool.  I found the Silver Market Co products is one of these towns. (It's originally made in Point Pleasant, WV -- where the 'sighting' of Moth Man was created.**) .

**I didn't know what Moth man was prior to this trip, either

 

During my work travels, I was visiting a friend who happens to live in West Virginia. We met during a photography retreat. She is a photographer and I was there as hair/makeup artist for the shoots. She took me to some delicious places to eat, some cool stuff to shop and more.  We ended up at this trendy open market space called Tulsi at the Market in Huntington, West Virginia to find a gift for my roommate. I always grab my roommate and my boyfriend things when I travel for work as "Thank You" for watching my adorable** dog. (Adorable but an entire handful).

 

I came across these gorgeous soaps with beautiful packaging and great smelling products. Low and behold, I bought myself a handful of Silver Market Co products. I instantly fell in love with the Rose and Kombucha Toner. (Heads up; that is also the creators/owners favorite product. Sounds like I  know how to pick them). I started messaging her on instagram and well, here we are.  So let's get to know her

 

 

 

MEET >>> Silver Market Co. and what they are all about

 

Q: What type of business do you have?

A: A small batch organic skin care manufacturing company

 

Simple and easy right? Wrong. The owner goes into amazing detail about what and why this was started. It was one of the longest answers I've ever received but I felt the passion through every single word. 

 

"SM Co products are made from scratch from chemistry formulations to raw ingredients. A lot of technical work goes into making skin care. There is a lot of trial and error, and sometimes weeks are spent on formulating one recipe and testing it. I'm always my own guinea pig. So much research goes into finding the right ingredients and a lot of labor goes into making the final product. It's not glamorous work, but a lot of people think that it is because the finished product is so appealing.

 

Silver Market Co is a start up company which means the operational side of things is total chaos. I started this company by accident and it grew very organically. I'm in charge of accounting, marketing, sales, customer service, production and packaging. This means I don't get any days off, and also letting go of some control is difficult for me. I started this business with very little money, maybe $300 to buy some ingredients and containers. It was meant to be for homemade Christmas gifts. I made products for myself because I couldn't find a brand that was both natural and affordable. I guess other people couldn't either, so I literally started selling products on the side of the road in my tiny home town of New Haven, WV. To give you a visual, it was just me and an Amish family selling produce and baked goods. I still laugh about it because I hear other start up stories that begin at these hip expos and pop ups in the city. Meanwhile, I was happy to have flagged down a few cars driving by. Silver Market Co is based in Point Pleasant, WV - right in the heart of Appalachia. The economics of West Virginia are bad. Like really bad. I have a master's degree in Sociology, but I focused my studies on the socio-economics of Appalachia and ICTs (Information and Communication Technology). This was also kind of an accident. In grad school, you have to focus on a problem and then you're evaluated based on how well you organize, theorize and attempt to resolve that problem. I had been looking for an escape from West Virginia my entire life. Suddenly, I had to ask myself why and the question became "Why is West Virginia so shitty?" Subsequently, that became the focal point of my academic career. The more I discovered, the more obsessed and angry I became. After grad school, I got a government job doing quantitative research tracking West Virginia's prison population and recidivism rates. It was disheartening and the office atmosphere was miserable. I had this idea in my head that I would be able to influence policy and educate people on how to dig our region out of a black hole. I didn't do any of that.

 

I've always been very black and white when addressing my problems. I ask myself if I'm happy or unhappy. If I'm unhappy, I then list out all of the things that make me unhappy and then I eliminate them. I grew up in small town WV with a family that is consumed by addiction and generational poverty. My family is extremely loving and also hilarious, but their downfall is short-term life expectancy. Even as a kid, I understood how short life is. I don't expect to have perfect days every day, but I learned that I'm happiest when I'm working towards something that I'm passionate about. I've always needed to feel that I was serving a purpose to do my best work, otherwise, my time is wasted.

 

So, I put in my resignation notice, wrapped up my projects, left government work and never looked back. I had no job, very little savings, and no defined business plan. People always ask the question, "weren't you scared of losing everything?" The answer is no, because I've never had anything. I guess that's the beauty of growing up poor and kick starting your adult life off with massive student loan debt. Being on the bottom isn't that bad when it's all you've ever known.

 

The reason I left my job to pursue my own business rather than finding a more fitting job was because I knew there were no jobs for me. I've never fit in here. I love my home, but I've always been the black sheep and I was tired of trying to fit in boxes that weren't designed for me. I also had this deep desire to help our region and maybe even other girls like me. I felt like I had this burning secret that no one wanted to hear. I knew from my own research that the quickest and most sustainable way to improve our economics and thus our well-being was through economic diversification and grass-roots movements. The change had to start small from the inside. For years, federal dollars have been thrown at Appalachia, but the money is rarely allocated properly and sadly strengthens corruption and misconduct at the institutional level. I knew no one would listen to me unless I created something of my own, so that's what I've been doing for three years now.

 

The purpose of Silver Market Co. has never really been about skin care, but more about problem solving and sparking hope and inspiration in other people. I started getting a lot of questions from other women in my area who also wanted to start businesses. This is how I gauge my company's success. I want to see other businesses begin to pop up around me and I want young girls recognize the same leadership in themselves that they see in me. Three years ago, I went to my town's Economic Development Authority to ask for resources on grants and small businesses loans so that I could better direct these inquiries. The director told me to stop what I was doing and to not involve anyone else. He told me that he was working on retaining new industry for our town, something that would make an impact. This is how all citizens of West Virginia are treated. We are dismissed at every corner while an elderly white man claims to make decisions in "our" best interest. I was uncertain of my business when I first met with him, but I left that office with a promise to myself that I would become that industry. This is what my company works towards every day. I found a silver lining that I never thought was possible and that's where our name comes from. A lot of people think we sell jewelry, but I don't want to change it, because the story is in the name and that's the best part about us. Our products are now offered by a couple dozen different retailers across the country, but mostly in West Virginia and Ohio as well as online."

 

Did every single one of you feel every bit of female empowerment, passion and love in all that or was it just me? I started to dive deeper into her wanting to help other women in West Virginia and small businesses everywhere. 

 

 

 

Q: What advice could you give to women about running their own business?

A: Your success is wrapped up in your work ethic. You don't have to be a creative genius, or the kid that graduated at the top of their class. You don't have to graduate from shit if you don't want to. I know people who are more creative than me, and I know people who are smarter than me, but neither of those things are the primary reason for their success. If you don't have good work ethic, you won't have a good business. I'm a firm believer that even the craziest ideas can be made possible if you work hard enough.

 

Q: What is your favorite product/service you have? 

A: Our Kombucha & Rose Facial Toner. I love the biology behind this product and I love that we ferment our own vinegar. This product has changed my skin and also the way I think about unusual ingredients. Probiotics are now trending in the beauty industry, and I don't feel like I have to catch up with anyone. And I'm from West Virginia.

 

Side note: The Kombucha and Rose Toner is by far one of my favorite toners I'VE ever used. It works great with all my other skincare -- Yes, even with my Sunday Riley Good Genes. It is light weight and lasts forever. Definitely check it out. (Use Natalie15 for 15 percent off) 

 

 

Look at that! I seriously love Silver Market Co Packaging. Everything is inviting, minimal and so aesthetically pleasing. I want to get a glorious skin fridge in a giant house, with a beautiful bath tub and subway tile to display all these picture-worthy products. (Yep, that is manifestation right here at its finest). The colors are glorious and Silver Market Co goes into a little more about that. 

Q: What gets your brain moving?

A: Color. I've always been hypersensitive to color and sound, and my obsession with color drives my creativity. I'm constantly looking for new patterns and textures. I'll go so far as to take a picture of old chewing gum on a sidewalk if the color combination is right. I tend to see things abstractly, so where someone sees a pile of trash, I see an assorted rainbow. It keeps me optimistic because I tend to see beauty where others don't. I think this type of stimulation keeps me on the go, always looking for the next good piece of inspiration.

 

Q: Since you're always looking for the next good piece of inspiration; WHO is your inspiration and why?

A:  I've never really had a specific role model. I admire a lot of different women in politics, art and business, but I'm most inspired by my family and friends. I make a lot of sacrifices for this business. The biggest one is not being able to spend much time with them, so I like to think that the time I invest in my business will somehow make it back to them. 

 

 

 

Q: How do we find out more about what you’re up to? 
A: Instagram is my jam. That's where I keep you posted on the latest products, workshop catastrophes, updates and it even has a direct link to our Etsy shop so you can purchase online.
Kelsi Boyd at silvermarketco@gmail.com,

Facebook | IG @ silvermarketco
 

AND FOR ALL MY FOLLOWERS
USE NATALIE15 for 15 PERCENT OFF 

 

Until the next #WCW blog
lattttterrrrrr,

 Natty 

 

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