September is Sexual Health Month, Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month, PCOS Awareness Month and Chronic Pain Awareness Month. If you follow me, then you know that I have suffered from fibroids and I now have endometriosis. Finding an herbalist (a BLACK herbalist) was very important to me when I started my holistic wellness journey. Back in March, I featured Raine & River Apothecary in my Yoni Steaming & Womb Wellness Specialists blog and I'm excited to share more about her and her business here. Please be sure to visit her website and order ALL THE THINGS!
My name is Natasha Bony and I have always had a profound interest in health and wellness, starting from a young age in the Island of Trinidad. It was there that my grandfather first introduced me to what is known as “Bush Medicine”, and began to teach me about the benefits of natural remedies through his work in our hometown. There I developed the utmost respect and reverence for nature and its capabilities.
As a young woman I migrated to the United States, specifically Brooklyn, New York, where I still currently reside. A job as a fitness instructor at a local gym led to a chance meeting that would drastically change my course in life. There I met a woman who shared her own experiences as the owner of a health food store and wellness center, where I eventually started working.
Working at this wellness center I was exposed to a lot of people that were ill, and took an interest in the benefits and ingredients of different supplements. During my time there, I started to study the finer points of herbal medicine, and ultimately incorporated my compilation of knowledge into my own practice. Since then I has gone on to establish over 10 years of experience in the health and wellness field.
Throughout my education leading up to my current residency, I have discovered that there is an herb for every ailment, and always a person in need of specialized care. I have gone on to own and operate Raine & River Apothecary, where I formulate and create my products. I have since become a healer that my grandfather would be proud of. I know that my intention and passion for my work would make a tremendous difference to everyone that uses a Raine & River products.
2. What made you decide to become an entrepreneur? How did you get into your work?
I chose to become an entrepreneur because I wanted to be my own boss and I wanted to help my friends, family and community by giving them access to traditional high quality herbal medicine at an affordable cost. I’ve always had an interest in health and wellness, I believe in the use of natural products for healing the body, mind and spirit.
3. What were the best & hardest parts of starting your business, both personally and professionally?
The hardest part of starting my business was finding the liquid capital to build my business the way I’ve always envisioned it. I wanted to make sure every little detail was well thought out and I was able to give my customers products of high quality, another challenging obstacle I faced was when someone I considered a friend copied my product and attempted to rebrand it as her own. This taught me to become a more astute business person and to trademark my brand. The best part of starting my business was the feeling off having something that I could call my own and being able to work on my own time and still be able to spend time with my family and share my gifts with others around the world. Also being able to give back to my community.
4. What did you learn about yourself and your support system while studying/training and starting your business?
I learned that I am a jack of all trades because I had a lot to juggle while training to start my business such as, working full time, managing one business already, doing my herbal studies, being a wife and mother and being a home maker.
5. What is your niche? What defines and separates your brand and business from others?
What separates me from other herbal brands and businesses is that I am very particular with my branding and my presentation of my products. I want my customers to feel like it’s Christmas when they open a package from Raine & River. I have special branded tissue paper, tape that goes on my boxes, little dust bags with my logo for my products. We always try to include a gratitude gift in our packages. If I have to rewrap something 3 times for it to look the way I want, that is what I will do. My packaging is just as high quality as my products. Presentation is very important to me.
6. Describe the homeopathic culture & community in Brooklyn, New York.
In the area of Brooklyn that I lived in for many years, there is a large Caribbean community and so because most of us are from the islands and are used to using herbal medicine we are able to have accessibility to large number of herbs and herbal medicine. I also realized there is a new generation that are now more interested in holistic healing and herbal medicine because of herbalist like Dr. Sebi.
7. Where do you see your business in 5 years?
In 5 years, I see myself as a successful entrepreneur. Owning about 2 of my own brick and mortar herbal shops as well as having a larger following on all my social media platforms and just an overall growth in my business sales as well as having a strong loyal customer base established.
8. What advice do you have for any entrepreneurs looking to start or revamp their business?
My advice to new entrepreneurs looking to start their business is to stay focused, don’t get discouraged by other people’s opinions, keep your plans to yourself. Talk about things after you’ve already done it. Make sure you’re smart with how you budget your money for your business and no matter what challenges you may face don’t give up!!
9. Who do you look up to or admire in the herbalist community?
I look up to Karen Rose, she’s an amazing herbalist and she was also my mentor and teacher when I was studying herbal medicine. Karen is a role model for me because she is also a Caribbean woman who started her own successful herbal business, it’s nice to see women who you find relatable and look like you achieve those goals you envision for yourself so that you are able to see that you can do it too.
10. Tell me about your most recent "business win."
My most recent business win was that I got approved for a loan that was beyond belief and would be able to take my business to the next level.
11. How has your business changed this year and how are you adapting and/or preparing for next year?
As strange as it may sound, the pandemic was a blessing in disguise for my business because I realized how essential natural healers are to the community especially in times like this because many people are turning to natural medicines to help their bodies and immune systems. As for next year I just want to keep growing in my business and making strides towards my goals, constantly giving back to my community and helping others.