Hi! I’m Lori. Welcome to Terra Cotta Pendants! If you’ve been here before, go ahead and
Or first read…
It was the spring of 2003 and we were on a mission – two missions, actually.
Our first mission involved our children, Tasha, 16 and Alex, 14. My husband Auguste and I wanted to engage them in a family business, one we could build together. This would give our children an experience in entrepreneurship and it would offer them the opportunity to be involved in generating the income that would fund their university education. Mission #1 was to empower our children.
Our second mission came from my experience as an independent distributor. To build my business, I held “How to Use the Oils” workshops to answer the often-asked question, “But how do you use essential oils?” Diffusing them was the simplest answer because it allowed the user to immediately experience the benefits through inhalation. However, the diffusers on the market were very expensive and my customers were not purchasing them.
I recognized that because they lacked this simple method of use, they were leaving these precious essential oils on a shelf and – worse – they were not getting the amazing benefits from them. This was a frustrating situation for an independent distributor of essential oils.
I learned that terracotta is the most natural and effective diffusing medium. So I found a piece of terracotta clay at a local bead shop and tied it with a piece of cord to wear as a diffuser pendant.
At my workshops, I showed them my diffuser necklace and explained that it diffused essential oils into my personal breathing space, allowing me to experience the benefits of essential oils all day long. At workshop after workshop, they asked me where they could get a wearable diffuser necklace like this. I directed them to the bead shop which, unfortunately, soon closed.
It finally dawned on me that we should make diffuser necklaces, the four of us. And I realized something even more exciting: this was the family business we could do together.
I was aware we didn’t have any knowledge of online marketing or experience working with clay, or for that matter, a kiln, but little things like that had never stopped me before. And then, as if to say it was a sane thing to seriously entertain such a crazy idea, something amazing happened.
Every year we went to a giant yard sale in our community. While we were there that spring, Auguste came across a large and unfamiliar appliance. A man working there said it was a kiln. It was in need of repair, but Auguste, a Jack-of-all-trades, could fix it. He asked the man how much money they wanted for it. Fifty dollars, said the man.
We had a kiln.
Now we could begin to work on our second mission: to empower independent distributors and marketers of essential oils by providing an affordable wearable diffuser to their customers so everyone could experience the amazing benefits of essential oils all day long.
To start a business, we also needed pendant designs, a website, and solutions to about a dozen product and back-office details. I didn’t forget that we also needed to develop techniques for working with clay and acquire online marketing skills. But we were one step closer to the reality of the doubly empowering business.
After Auguste made the repairs to the kiln, he began to experiment with clay. His artistic heart and soul combined with his educational background in engineering and photogrammetry resulted in beautiful terracotta pieces and trade-secret methods of handling the clay.
Now we had to figure out how to build a website. I had a quote from a fellow who said he would create a website for $50 per page and I was considering hiring him but Alex recognized that we would need a lot of pages for our business, that this would become expensive. “I can make the site, Mum,” he said. And just like that, at fourteen years old, Alex became our Webmaster.
While Alex designed the website and Auguste created the first Terra Cotta Pendant designs, Tasha and I applied ourselves to the logistics of the product; sourcing cord, packaging and shipping materials; designing the cards for the packaging and establishing the price structure for the pendants and for the shipping. We also had to learn how to use a kiln.
All this happened in the spring of 2003. In mid-June, we took our first batch of pendants from the kiln, Alex launched the website and Terra Cotta Pendants was born.
Mission #2 was to empower independent distributors and marketers of essential oils by providing them with an affordable diffuser so their customers had a simple way to use essential oils. Once participants in my workshops had Terra Cotta Pendants, they stopped asking how to use essential oils; they were diffusing them every day with their Terra Cotta Pendants.
The first independent distributor of essential oils was officially empowered. It was me, yes, but it was a start.
Tasha and Alex returned to school that fall and Auguste and I continued to operate Terra Cotta Pendants. The following summer, Alex rewrote the code of the site so he could create a shopping cart. Each summer after that, he made improvements to the site, adding an affiliate program, a search function and more. Auguste continually created more pendant designs. Tasha found a way to improve the packaging and took it upon herself to take better photos of the pendants. Later she created four designs of her own, and later still, one more.
We had so much fun together, united in our efforts to build the business, working hard with high hopes for the future. We held regular “staff meetings” at the kitchen table and celebrated each success together. When I received an Email with the subject “INCOMING ORDER” (Alex set it up this way), I rang an antique bell I kept by the computer and everyone came running from wherever they were in the house. We addressed growing pains together; a kiln firing that resulted in pieces that broke in our hands and another that over-cooked the pendants to the colour of dark chocolate.
Meanwhile, I loved connecting with independent distributors and retailers of essential oils and hearing their stories.
Our first mission was to provide an empowering experience for our children as they earned the money to put themselves through university. Let me catch you up on that.
First Tasha, then, two years later, Alex graduated from High School.
By 2007, they were both in university yet they remained committed to the family business.
During her second year at Mount Allison University, Tasha pitched an idea to create a special pendant for her school’s Shinerama campaign. She designed the “Shine On” pendant, her fifth. This initiative won the Award for Best Secondary Fundraiser. The following year, Tasha led the school’s Shinerama campaign.
Alex was very busy with his Engineering studies. But whenever I emailed him with “Site problem” in the subject line, I heard from him nearly immediately.
In 2009, Tasha graduated from Mount Allison University. After taking a year to work and travel in Europe she went on to study for her Masters/PhD in Clinical Psychology.
In 2012, Alex graduated with his Engineering degree at Dalhousie University. He was accepted into the Master’s Program.
Throughout their years in university, Tasha and Alex were resourceful and confident in their ability to take care of themselves, and they knew we had their backs.
Three months after his graduation, at the age of twenty-three, Alex died suddenly in an accident. It crushed us. The three of us banded together and soldiered on. For Auguste and I, working in the business was the only thing that gave us comfort; Alex had so prioritized his family and our Terra Cotta Pendants venture.
Four years later, our marriage came to an end but we both remained dedicated to our family business. We decided to continue to operate the business together. The 2009 photo of the four of us still graces our pages. We leave it there to remind us of the early days and the spirit with which we started Terra Cotta Pendants.
We are as committed to mission #2 today as we ever were: To empower independent distributors and marketers of essential oils by providing personal diffusers so everyone can feel amazing wherever they go.
Thank you for accompanying us on our journey. I’d love to hear your essential oil story!
Come and see over 100 beautiful ways to make the world a happier place one drop of essential oil at a time.
With love and gratitude,
P.S. You can connect with me at any time via Email or FB Messenger through the links here!