Santa Cruz SBDC

Terra And Self

“I highly recommend the SBDC to any small business in Santa Cruz, and I think having people that are knowledgable in the industry is definitely one of the biggest perks of the SBDC.”

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Terra and Self is a sustainable beauty products company whose mission is to create environmentally ethical cosmetics that incentivize body positivity and inclusivity. The owner, Kenne Johnson, is a brilliant entrepreneur who turned her passion into a successful, profitable business.

From a young age, Kenne knew her calling was to start her own business that would allow her the freedom and satisfaction that come with being one’s own boss. After pursuing an education in graphic design and entrepreneurship, the perfect opportunity presented itself when COVID forced us into confinement and Kenne had to make a pivotal decision about her life trajectory. Growing up, skin care was not a familiar topic to Kenne, until she got a job at a cosmetic company where she learned about its importance healthwise, as she also became more empowered given how confident she felt when taking good care of herself. This planted the seed for her entrepreneurial journey.

Kenne is not just focused on creating good quality cosmetic products that have a positive impact on her clients, but also on the environment, by promising safe, vegan and organic ingredients, as well as recyclable, biodegradable packaging. Contrary to most companies in the beauty industry, Terra and Self aims to uplift its costumers, by enhancing their natural features, without perpetuating unrealistic beauty standards.

Despite her business based academic background, Kenne felt at a loss of knowledge and resources to kick start her business, which led to anxiety and stress as a solo entrepreneur. Working along with advisor Jake Nelson, Kenne focused on creating more traffic by increasing wholesales and optimizing direct-to-consumer-sales, in an effort to go from local to regional and national sales, and in order ro get additional working capital to purchase materials, she started looking into getting a grant. After finding out about the Dream Fund Grant, aimed at promoting entrepreneurship and small business in California, Keith Holtaway helped Kenne with the financial aspect of the application, and the reviewing of the later-on submitted business plan.

Hoping to improve her online sales, Kenne also completed the Clicks2Bricks program offered by the SBDC, where she worked on developing her website to attract organic traffic and improve her brand’s credibility. This task included defining profit margins and a shipping strategy, as well as working on SEO(Search Engine Optimization) to increase the business’ rank in search results. To do so, she received guidance on how to navigate Google, and she learned to improve her choice of words in her website to generate more visibility and attract potential customers.

Juggling a full time job while enduring the hardships that come with starting a business can be very taxing, which is why it became key to come up with a plan that would remove the necessity of a full-time job, so as to realize Terra and Self’s growth potential. Hence, a suitable path for Kenne would be to maximize her time by batching more products, and to figure out the number of monthly customers needed to quit her job to allow for motivation to take her business to the next level.

Since the beginning of Kenne’s journey with the SBDC, Terra and Self has experienced a $2,800 increase in sales, as well as an increase in their part-time staff. After being approved for the Dream Fund Grant, Kenne is confident she will be able to advance her business by expanding, upgrading her production and hiring more staff to maximize productivity and prevent burnout. Her next goal includes opening a retail space in Downtown Santa Cruz that could serve both as a retail and production space, and offering workshops to share her knowledge of skin care.