Selling and promoting eco-friendly, natural body care products by day, and slipping into a sequin outfit, with backcombed hair and piles of makeup for a Motown show band by night, Megan Johns felt like she was leading a double life. That’s when she had an ‘aha’ moment. How could she sell and promote such healthy products during the day and then slather on miscellaneous chemicals at night for shows? She wondered what she was really putting on her face, and from there, the idea for her business, The Green Kiss, was born.
The Green Kiss is an online store and Victoria-based beauty bar that sells some of North America’s safest and most effective natural beauty brands. Megan Johns, founder of The Green Kiss, spent five years helping her uncle out in his local hemp store, where she learned about fair trade business practices, ethically grown and manufactured fabrics, and the idea that business—and life in general— really could and should be done in a better way. As time went on, Megan became more inspired to start her own business, and after reading books like “The Virtuous Consumer” and “Not Just a Pretty Face,” Megan discovered a newfound realization of what she wanted to dedicate her life to—reducing the amount of harmful ingredients that women were unknowingly applying on their skin daily.
“For me, it will always be the people that matter the most. Women should not be unintentionally poisoning themselves via their lipstick,” shared Megan. “I’m dedicating my business to help make it easier than ever to make the switch to natural products, and every day that The Green Kiss is open, I’m thankful to say we are doing just that.”
Megan has a bit of an unconventional background in the beauty industry. She grew up in the arts, both as a singer and dancer, and she continues to grow her singing career while running her business. She is currently the lead singer in a country band called, The County Line and uses her gigs as the ultimate way to test and try out new products for the store. “If the beauty products work for stage after a night of singing (and sweating under the lights), then they end up making the cut,” she shares.
Launching The Green Kiss, just like every start-up, has taken Megan a lot of time and dedication. After spending four years on research, developing a business plan and creating marketing ideas, her dream finally became a reality when The Green Kiss opened in 2011. What Megan discovered while researching was that the beauty industry had way more unethical things going on than she initially thought. “Once I started to do research, it was like peeling an onion back, as more and more unethical practices were revealed to me,” Megan explained. “I realized I had to get very clear on our buying guidelines and that continuous research was going to have to become a daily task.”
In addition to navigating the cosmetic space, Megan initially struggled with making sure that her business grew slowly and steadily without sinking her into a huge amount of debt. She wanted to work really hard for the first three years to prove that there was a demand and that the concept not only worked but made a profit, and has been successful doing just that with the help of her singing career, and her Futurpreneur Canada loan. She explained to us that in January 2015 The Green Kiss was still just a one woman show, and they now have four employees. The next move for Megan and The Green Kiss is to find expansion financing that will help bring her business to the next level.
While chatting with Megan, we asked her what her tips were for sourcing and buying different eco-friendly products from brands across North America, and she shared with us this advice:
1. Spend time to really research the company and their ethics to make sure it’s in line with your business.
2. Research every single ingredient in every single product to make sure that their complete ingredient list matches with your own personal buying guidelines.
3. Test and try products personally to make sure that they truly work before reselling them to your customers whose trust you have worked so hard to get.
Through the many ups and downs that Megan has experienced over the years of developing her business she has developed a business that in her opinion is “sexier than a health food store and smarter than Sephora,” and with that, Megan left other entrepreneurs who aspire to develop a business with the following advice: “No matter how much passion you have for the amazing and world-changing product or service you have, the reality is that it is your marketing that is either going to make it successful or not. If you know marketing is not your strength, find someone to work with that can really help you get your message across in a clear and concise way.”
Written By: Lauren Marinigh, Social Media & Content Creation Coordinator, Futurpreneur Canada