Karen Greenoe

Coaching Call with Karen: Katrina Sellers of Jules and Vetiver

On today’s episode of the best balance podcast we are going to be doing something a little bit different. We are jumping into a conversation with my girl Katrina Sellers who started Jules and Vetiver, a fine fragrance company back in 2018. I have had the pleasure of sitting front row watching this girl grow in herself and in her business. But what we are going to be doing today is peeking behind the curtain on some of the struggles us entrepreneurs grapple with on a daily basis. I will affectionately called the segment Coaching Call with Karen, y’all know how I love my alliteration! Support and mentorship in your business is so incredibly important so I hope that this episode will encourage you to see that you are not alone. 


Katrina: I quit my corporate Job in 2018 to launch Jules & Vetiver, Charlotte’s first fine fragrance company. I’m part of a new(ish) phenomenon in the perfume world: self-taught, small-batch, indie perfumers. We’re shaking things up in the dusty, uptight fragrance world!

Our batches are small, and our formulas are based entirely on client feedback, giving our followers the opportunity to directly collaborate with us on our products. Many scents are locally or seasonally inspired. We also offer custom and semi-custom fragrance, where clients build their own scents based on their individual tastes. Our mission is to provide the most customized, educational, hands-on perfume experience our clients will ever experience. 


Three biggest strengths:

  1. An obsession with making clients happy makes everything I do extremely customer-centric. I’m a hospitality lover at heart, and I’m driven by a desire to delight people.
  2. A sense of humor, which is essential to get you through the tougher times of entrepreneur life. If you can’t laugh at yourself and the messes you sometimes get into, you’re going to crack at some point, period.
  3. Being a nerd at heart. When you’re naturally a curious person, it’s easy to passionately delve into a certain subject matter and want to learn everything you can about it. And the more you know about your field, the more you’re curious enough to keep learning and growing and getting better all the time, the better your business will continue to be.


Three things I struggle with:

Katrina: Self-doubt. This is probably true of most, if not all, business owners. Whenever there’s a setback, or things are slow, there’s always a temptation to look at it as “a sign”. A sign that you’re doing things wrong, a sign that you’re destined for failure. The single hardest thing as a small business owner is to push through these moments. I think a lot of businesses don’t make it for this reason. All it takes is to cave during one of these moments. You have to remind yourself that you’re committed to the cause and you’re not going to bail. I need to remind myself that I love this too much, even when things are hard, to allow that to happen.

Karen: Let’s first talk about The Social Media Comparison game. I would encourage you to use social as a place to share, of course but also use it as inspiration and fuel to move you forward instead of looking inside and saying “they did it so well, how could I possibly do it any better?” It really is a double edged sword but can be a powerful tool if you let it. 

Second, take the pressure off of “failing.” Really, what is the worst that could happen? If your worst case scenario is you have to put the dream of your company on the back burner and go back to a traditional JOB, is that really so bad? I also like to periodically take the time to look back and see how far I’ve come. I find it very encouraging to remind myself where I was only a few short years ago. I’m doing something that so few people have the courage to do. And that is amazing! Bottom line, you will continue to fail, but the most important thing is to look at those as learning experiences to move you forward.

Lastly, I know we are both mothers of girls, so I want you to think about the values you are instilling in her. When your sweet girl looks at you building your own empire, show her what is possible. Remind her that there is no glass ceiling. If she were in your shoes, would you want her to berate herself? Or would you tell her to take her supposed “failures” and use them as a learning experience? Show her that you are kind to yourself and that will be one of the most important gifts you can give to her. 


Katrina: FOCUS! One of the hardest things when you’re in the early stages of being an entrepreneur is the fact that you’re likely a solopreneur. You’re doing this alone. It’s not as glamorous as it sounds, sometimes, being your own boss. No one’s telling you what to do, and that sounds cool in theory, but…no one’s telling you what to do. You’re setting strategy, you’re setting goals, you’re making everything happen. You need to remain focused and you need to have a big picture strategy, otherwise you’re going to get distracted and reactive and you’ll end up working hard, on everything that your distracted brain thinks of, but it won’t manifest itself in anything constructive. Staying focused and being mindful of strategy is the key to working smart instead of just working hard. Establishing OKR’s has been so helpful.  I need to give myself time for creativity. If I’m productive it just makes me feel better! 

Karen: I’ve definitely struggled with this! I would start with boundary setting. When we are not given a task framework from a boss like we would in a traditional job, it can be hard to stay on task. We also end up filling all available time with work related tasks rather than being hyper productive. I’ve found that when I have more time to fill, I actually get less done. Start by setting your big three at the beginning of the day in knocking out those three most important tasks right away. You’ll be amazed how much more productive your date feels!


Katrina: Finances. More specifically, having to make decisions constantly about where and how to spend, which are the areas worth investing in, which aren’t. It can be stressful to have to constantly decide how to allocate money, especially in the early years when the money pile is pretty thin. There’s a lot of wondering if you’re making the right calls (see “self-doubt!).

Karen: This one is a tough one! Finances have always been so hard for me. Even when I have money, I hold on to it with fear. But, the fact is, money is a renewable resource. You cannot make perfect financial decisions 100% of the time just like you can’t expect yourself to be perfect in general 100% of the time. But go with your gut. If you look into an opportunity and it seems like it would be a good idea, go for it. If you feel a pit in your stomach about an investment, it is probably a good idea to either look into it further before jumping in or walk away entirely. Yes, it is easier to and faster to have massive success when you invest a ton of money, but slow investments are ok too. I’ve only ever taken on a smallllllll SBA loan when I first started and other than that, I always wait until I have the money to spend it. 


Questions for Karen

Katrina: How do you set your business strategy? How often do you adjust your plans? 

Karen: I’m very lucky in my business. We have very natural breaks in our business that just so happen to be pretty evenly spaced. The first is in December/January and the second is in July/August. I make it a point to take these slower months to reevaluate, to sit down with my team, to step away and think. I feel into this routine because of the seasonality of my business but I do highly recommend finding at least two times per year to take a step back and reevaluate. 


Katrina: How do you stay optimistic and motivated? 

Karen: By looking back and seeing how much good I’ve done! Affirming to yourself that you are doing big things and there is not another YOU out there.


Katrina: Do you have a lot of entrepreneur/small business friends? Or do you have working friends? Do you think they relate to your lifestyle, or not really? 

Karen: I’ll be honest, I lost a lot of friends when I first started my company. Not in a bad way, they just kind of fell away. We were in different phases of life. I was newly engaged and a business owner while a lot of them were working 9-5’s and were single. I made an effort to connect with people within my industry who could relate to the demands I worked with and my crazy schedule. It made it easier but it is still hard. Its just a whole different world we operate in as business owners. I’m trying to be better about reaching out to friends, in and out of the industry, to stay connected. You NEED friendship, no matter what kind of work you’re doing. 


Katrina: What’s the one key thing you’ve learned in the last five years as a business owner that has improved your business, or your ability to handle managing it? 

Karen: OUTSOURCING! Oh my goodness, I used to hold on to EVERYTHING in my business with the tightest grasp. But now, I know that I don’t NEED to do everything and it is worth it to essentially buy back my time. We are only given so much time so to me, that is my most valuable resource.


Katrina: How do you not feel guilty indulging in personal time, vacations, etc.? Or do you? (I always feel like I don’t “deserve” to take liberties like that, even though I was fine with it when I had a corporate job! Now things feel different, like I’m always supposed to be in Masochistic Entrepreneur Mode.) 

Karen: Oh girl, I feel you on this one! I used to feel that if my clients KNEW I was taking time off, they would, for some unknown reason, be mad at me! Crazy, right? But I’ve been making massive improvements in my mindset over the past few years. Yes, owning a business is a big deal, but at the end of the day, it is your job, not who you are. Setting boundaries to protect your personal time is CRUCIAL. When its time for you to take a break, communicate with your clients when you are going to be out of the office, and DO NOT FEEL GUILTY! Everyone needs a break every once in a while!


What are you most excited about right now in your business?

We launched a subscription collection a few months ago. It allows clients to get two new surprise scents each month, and then vote on which was their favorite. It’s been so fun to learn what our clients like, and it allows us to tailor our full-sized offerings to their tastes. It essentially allows them to play with new scents each month while also directly curating our collection. It’s the type of collaborative experience I love having with my clients. I’m excited for that collection to grow, and for us to further expand our bespoke and semi-bespoke offerings, like our in-person Fragrance Bar.


Where can people find and connect with you?

We’re online at www.julesandvetiver.com, and Instagram/Facebook/Twitter at @julesandvetiver. We’re currently carried by a few stockists in the Charlotte area, but most of our customers buy directly from the website.

November 15, 2019

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Karen Greenoe