What’s up, Healthpreneurs! Welcome to another incredible episode of the Healthpreneur Podcast with yet another amazing and inspiring guest. Today we’re talking with Rachael Pontillo, an entrepreneur who helps women reclaim their skin, sense of Self, and world so they can love who they are and live their lives.
This is no small feat, but Rachael is making it happen with her two thriving businesses. One is a private skin health coaching practice, and the other is the Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance, which works with skincare professionals and aestheticians. By working with both the consumer and the professional, she’s making an impact by supporting both sides in their quest for skin health.
Rachael became an entrepreneur by need. No local businesses understood or followed her integrative approach for holistic aesthetics, and she prioritized a lifestyle that allowed her to spend time with her family. Tune in to hear how Rachael created an online business around her lifestyle, what she’s learned along the way, and why knowing her “WHY” changed it all.
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In this episode Tanya and I discuss:
- Bringing something brand new to the market vs. finding a market that’s “warm.”
- Building a business around your lifestyle and methodologies.
- A product launch gone wrong and what she learned from it.
- Human connection and its value in a digital world.
- Knowing your “WHY” and building your avatar.
- Why neglecting your numbers will damage your business more than you know.
3:00 – 9:00 – Rachael’s businesses and journey to success
9:00 – 14:30 – Why Rachael created an online business and the results she saw
14:30 – 20:30 – Lessons learned: Know marketing, R&D, and audience before a product launch
20:30 – 26:30 – Looking at your “why” and creating your avatar
26:30 – 30:00 – Knowing your numbers
30:00 – 34:00 – The Rapid Five
What You Missed:
Our last episode was a solo round where I talked about self-neutering your future.
What that means is your current actions right may be severing any potential personal or business growth.
Luckily, this self-neutering is one that can be reversed and I’ll share with you HOW in this episode.
You can listen to the episode here: Have You Self-Neutered Your Future?
Hey guys, how’s it going? I hope you’re doing great. Welcome to the show. Today, we’ve got a cool discussion with Rachael Pontillo. We met a couple of years ago over dinner, and I knew we needed to touch base because I appreciate what she’s doing.
She was doing something specific, which was helping people improve their skin. It’s such a great niche. You’ll get to see exactly how Rachael transitioned from one-on-one aesthetic work in-person to building a thriving online business.
I’ll give you a little bit of her background. She is a bestselling author of the book “Love Your Skin, Love Yourself,” and the co-author of “The Sauce Code.” She is an AADP and IAHC board certified international health coach, licensed aesthetician, and natural skincare formulator and educator.
She’s also the president and co-founder of the Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance, and the creator of the popular skincare and healthy lifestyle blog Holistically Haute and online course, Create Your Skincare. She’s an avid herbalist, self-professed skincare ingredient junky, and lifelong learner.
Without any further ado, let’s welcome Rachael to the show, and let’s see how she went from one-on-one aesthetic work to building a thriving online business.
Rachael, welcome to the Healthpreneur podcast. How are you?
Rachael: I am great. Thank you so much for having me.
Yuri: You’re very welcome. We connected a couple years ago over dinner at an event. You had a good energy and you’re doing some cool things. I wanted to reconnect and see what you’re up to these days. I’m happy to have you here.
Rachael: That was a fun dinner. I remember it and our conversation, so thank you for remembering me!
Yuri: Absolutely. Can you give us the general overview of your business model and what it looks like?
Rachael’s businesses and journey to success
Rachael: I have two different businesses in the holistic and integrative skincare world. One is a private skin health coaching practice and online course that teaches people how to create and customize all natural boutique skincare products for themselves or for their business.
I also have a professional organization called the Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance, which works with skincare professionals and aestheticians. I work with health coaches and nutritionists who support skincare clients. We offer a membership program that provides educational opportunities through printed, online, and educational resources.
We support anyone who is interested in advancing an integrative approach to help the skin through that program, and we’ve got a certification program coming in 2019 as well. Both businesses are from my home, and I do them both with very small teams. My main business of coaching and online courses started first, and then as an aesthetician and health coach myself, I started wanting to see more integration of the nutrition and the topical skincare in the aesthetics world.
I was going to trade shows and not seeing much of that integration. In my own journey, I knew how crucial it was to have a healthy diet, a healthy topical skincare regimen, the right mindset, and the right lifestyle choices.
If you want to create sustainable change and lasting results with anything health-related, but specifically with skin issues, it requires a shift.
The nutrition people were saying, “You can do it from the inside-out. You don’t need topical stuff. You can just use coconut oil. All you need is a great diet.” Then the aesthetics professionals say, “Oh my God, coconut oil is terrible. It’s going to give you acne, and food doesn’t affect the skin. You can eat whatever you want, as long as you use all of these very expensive active ingredients and get all of these wacky treatments.”
It was hard for me because I come from the educational background from both sides. I got the good and the bad. I started to sift through what’s real and what’s hype.
What I saw was that you do need elements of both. I would say that you need to work on the inside-out more so, because skin cells are built inside. They’re not built outside, but we have to protect them once they do get to the outside. The skin itself is such an incredible, miraculous organ. It performs so many functions, and we continue to discover new ways that the skin integrates with other systems in the body, so it is so important to care for it properly on the outside.
But nobody was talking about this back in 2010 when I started putting these pieces together and making these realizations for myself. Then I started to duplicate the method that I use for myself with my clients in my practice at that time.
I started seeing the same types of results, so I was like, “Okay, this is not a fluke. This needs to be talked about in the professional market.” So, I spoke about this integration for the first time in 2012 at a holistic aesthetics conference. Even then, at a holistic market, people were looking at me and thinking, “What is she talking about?”
I decided to devote everything I could online – whether it was my books, courses, blog, or social media – to show the importance and integration of both. I wanted to create an environment for professionals who are also making this connection and seeing the impact that this connection has with their clients.
I wanted them to have a place where they could find their people, find resources, and build this practice together.
I’m all about collaboration. We constantly invite our members to do webinars with us, contribute to our blog, and get featured on social media. We are all about paving this path together. It’s not me dictating, “This is what nutritional aesthetics is.” It’s saying, “Come on you guys, you’re doing this too. You might have been doing this even longer than I have. Let’s do this together.”
I’m excited about it.
Yuri: I want to pick up on a couple things. One, you saw a gap in the market. You said, “There’s two views on this, and they don’t really jive. Let me bring my perspective to the market,” which is very smart, because you filled the gap of what you saw was missing.
The second thing is that you chose aesthetics, which is not something most people would do online. It’s like a massage therapist trying to do massage therapy online. It’s not very easy to do that.
How did you go about taking a tactile profession like aesthetics and turning it into a lucrative path online?
Why Rachael created an online business and the results she saw
Rachael: It came out of my desire to work from home so that I could be present for my family. Later, that became even more important because I homeschool one of my children. I fell in love with aesthetics because I had acne and struggled with it for many years.
There is nothing you can do to replace an in-person aesthetic treatment or a good facial massage. There is nothing that can replace that, but I practiced the way I wanted to practice. That’s number one. I wanted to be home with my kids, but I had a hard time finding a spa around me after I graduated with my aesthetics license that practiced how I wanted to.
Where I live in Pennsylvania, the laws currently state that if you want to practice with your aesthetics license, you must have your own business or be an employee. It’s not like some other states where you can rent a booth or room in an existing spa.
I was not in the position to start my own brick and mortar practice at that time, and no local spas hit the nail on the holistic head that I was looking for. Their definition of holistic was using safe, nontoxic products, and that’s about it.
Nobody was talking about food. Nobody was talking about some of the less invasive treatments. People were still into the, “Let’s scrub it, zap it, and burn it away,” type of mentality. That’s for some people. It’s not for me. It’s not how I practice.
I realized that I needed to find a way to get the message out there and teach about it. Also, I felt strongly about helping people. I started doing facials. I’m not going to lie. It was on the DL. I would have clients that were local come over or I would go to them.
I hope nobody on the state board is listening. I don’t do this anymore, but years ago, I did. I would practice on the sly.
I wanted to practice and test my protocols and modality. When I had local health coaching clients, I would infuse facials, facial massage, and I would make products for them. I would send them home with home care routines as well as their own facial massage protocols that I wanted them to practice.
It’s just like when you have a health coaching session and you send your client off with a few action steps and some goals to work on. What I saw was that they were getting results outside of whether I was giving them a facial or not.
Now, this is not to discount the value of a facial or in-person treatment. To me, there is nothing more valuable than allowing yourself to receive healing from another person whose only job in that moment is to give to you. That is the ultimate gift you can give to yourself. I encourage people to continue doing that.
I was giving sessions over Skype, over the phone, and in person, and the people I met with in person weren’t necessarily getting faster results when having actual facial treatments done. I started seeing that it was more about the consultation, relationship, time, trust, and accountability that they were getting.
We established that trust and were working on the food, mindset, and topical. Those became the three spirals of my methodology.
I made it work since I couldn’t find a place that practiced the way I wanted to practice, since I wanted to be flexible for my kids.
Yuri: That’s awesome. There’s a good lesson for the listeners, too.
Products and services are great, but for a lot of people who truly want to transform, like in this case, their skin, having that one-on-one and accountability from a professional makes a huge difference. They’re investing to commit to doing the work as opposed to just being passive and allowing you to work on their face.
There’s a lot of value to what you just said there for someone listening who might be into health coaching or virtual consulting.
What failure did you experience in business that set you up for later success?
Lessons learned: Know marketing, R&D, and audience before a product launch
Rachael: I wouldn’t call it a failure because I don’t believe in failure.
I am one of those people who believes that if you screw up, you just start over again and do something different. I don’t like thinking about things as failures. But one thing I did that I quickly retreated from and got off the drawing board was my own small product line soon after I started my business.
I was intimidated as heck. I had no clue what I was doing on the marketing and branding side of things back then.
I knew I needed a logo, and that things should match. I knew how things needed to be labeled legally. But creating a product that was needed, timed properly, and that people found value in enough to spend money on it at the time did not work out very well for me.
I worked with a lab that told me they made products one way, and I found out years later that the way they made products was not the way I was led to believe. So, that was not great. I learned a lesson to make sure I know very well and not just take someone’s word for it.
If I’m going to work with a lab, I’m going to go to that lab. I’m going to see how things are done. I didn’t do that. I was going off word of mouth recommendations, and it ended up not being great, so I ended up pulling the product line completely. The biggest problem was that I just wanted to get a product out there. I wanted it to be easy.
I thought, “I’ve got to have a product.” It’s not that I didn’t want to take the time to formulate something amazing. It was a cool product. It was based on something that happened in my life; a healing and transformative experience.
There was a story behind it, but I did not know enough at that time about the importance of market research. Like what we talked about earlier: gauging the market, looking for gaps in the market, and seeing what we can offer to fill that gap. Also, as I mentioned, people weren’t doing much online with this type of stuff back at that time.
Now, it’s everywhere. We have green beauty bloggers everywhere. We have so many brands to choose from. We have so many people learning to make products. It’s amazing. The market has shifted so drastically in a very short period, but back then, that hadn’t happened yet. It was still fringe.
I was so excited about this product. It was a couple of different products that I bundled together as a kit.
Like I said, there was a story and I was talking about it. But people didn’t care. There wasn’t enough social proof yet. It hadn’t gone mainstream enough yet, so that people had already seen it in a bigger publication than mine. That was a big wake up call, and made me want to learn more about marketing, gauging the audience, and identifying something with a story, a personal love, and that I want to share.
But something that people already get. It doesn’t have to be something that people have been doing for years already. I’m a big believer in innovation. I’m a big believer in introducing things into the market, but it helps if that market is already warm, and if there’s already some outliers who have started talking about it and are asking questions.
That curiosity is what you need. That’s what happened when I decided to shift my model primarily to coaching and education. There were already a couple of books written about making skincare products and using nutrition inside-out for skincare. There were already a couple of people writing about it in some way.
I just put the pieces together, started making that connection, and taught about it to the professional audience and consumer level. I believe in doing both. We need to have educated consumers and educated professionals, because when you have an educated consumer who goes to see an educated professional, the results are going to be much more effective. It’ll be a better experience for both the consumer and the practitioner when you’re speaking the same language.
That was a big pivot that I made.
I’m glad that I did, because if I would have sunk more resources into trying to get that product line out there or grow that product line, I probably would have had to close.
Yuri: It’s very tough to push a new idea into a marketplace without billions of dollars in advertising to raise that awareness. I see this all the time, especially in the health space. I made this mistake, too, when I was starting. I had an amazing idea and thought people would love it. Then, crickets. It’s nice to innovate, but it’s also helpful to ride a current wave. It makes life a lot easier.
With that said, in a marketplace where there’s a lot of awareness and competing products, what advice do you give other people to stand out when there might be a thousand others of the same type of thing?
Looking at your “why” and creating your avatar
Rachael: I’m glad you asked that. This is something that I teach in the professional edition of my course. It’s become an amalgamation of everything I’ve learned from various marketing courses, Ted Talks, and books that I’ve consumed.
We must look at a couple of things.
We must look at your WHY. I’m sure many of you listeners know the “Start with Why” Simon Sinek Ted Talk, which is incredible. If you don’t, go watch it. It’s amazing.
Your WHY is important because if you’re not connected to your why, you’re going to burn out. You’re not going to care about your own business after a very short time.
But it’s not your WHY that is important necessarily for the big picture. You need to know your potential client’s why, because your why and their why need to be on the same page or at least in the same room. They don’t have to be the same, but they should be close enough so that the logical connections can be made.
It’ll be very difficult if you’re working with completely different motivations both on your end and your potential customer’s end. That’s one thing. Know that well. Know your audience well. If you think you don’t know it, talk to people. Get on the phone. Meet with people for coffee. It’s okay to do that when you’re first getting started with something, whether it’s a new business, product, program, or idea. It’s okay to do that.
A lot of people have stepped away from doing that. They just crowdsource on social media or extending out surveys. People want human connection, and when we’re trying to connect with people in a human way in a digital format, we must have that human experience involved. We get that by talking to humans, by communicating with them.
The other thing I want to bring up is that we’ve got to talk about the ideal customer avatar. It’s turned into an online business cliché, and it’s not a bad thing. It’s very important. We need to know our client, but we also need to understand that sometimes there is an ideal client that we create that is never going to manifest into real life.
I encourage my students to come up with an avatar because it’s a great starting point. I like to have them write it as a character in a little play so that they can understand that person. Then, I make them find a real person who comes really close to that.
They don’t have to know them personally. It can be a celebrity. It can be somebody that they follow on social media, but don’t know very well personally. Then I make them study that person and get into that person’s head.
It’s a mashing of a few different philosophies, but it’s what has worked to scale my business, and my students are really taking to this blend as well.
Yuri: Nice. What I’ve found with the avatar exercise is that, a lot of times, people will create an ideal avatar that reminds them themselves or someone close to them. It’s important to pinpoint our target clients.
A lot of times we get into business, especially in the health space, because we want to solve our own issues. Or, we went through our own issues and want to help others avoid the same thing. A lot of times, we’re creating stuff for ourselves 10 years ago.
If it helps people given that they’re most focused on that journey, just focus on yourself or a family member if it’s someone you’re trying to heal from a distance.
Rachael: I’m glad you brought that piece up, because you’re absolutely right.
So many of us are in this because of our own personal experience. I certainly am, and I’m not going to lie, there are definitely versions of me in every single one of my avatars.
I think what’s important when you do that exercise is to be very honest with why it took you so long.
What were some of the hang-ups that were in your mind that held you back? Where did you self-sabotage? What objections did you give? Don’t just say, “She lives in this nice house, has her family, and blah, blah, blah.” That’s not the meat of what is going to get you inside of a customer’s head. That won’t help you find a way to inspire them to work with you or buy from you.
It’s important to know the stuff about yourself that maybe you don’t always like to face, if you’re using yourself as an avatar.
Yuri: Yup. It’s all about them. There’s a very big difference between asking someone, “Do you have acne,” and being able to paint a picture of sad moments in their life.
You can say, “Do you have acne?” Or you could say, “Did you wake up today, look at yourself in the mirror, and say, ‘Oh my God, this again?’” Getting into the obstacles, fears, and frustrations of your avatar, and portraying that message in a way where they think, “Wow, this is what I’m going through every single day,” immediately has them bond to you.
When you can tell people what they’re going through better than they can themselves, they find it immensely powerful.
What have you had to learn the hard way as you built your business over the last couple of years, and how can you help others avoid that mistake?
Knowing your numbers
Rachael: I’m going to be totally transparent, and say that you’ve got to be on top of your money. It is so important to know your numbers. Act like you’re going on Shark Tank and if you get asked for your numbers and you don’t know them, you’re going to get completely chastised by Mr. Wonderful or by Barbara.
Take control of your money even if you don’t like the numbers. Oftentimes, in the beginning of your business, you don’t like your numbers. That’s okay. You don’t have to like your numbers, but you’re not going to like your numbers if you don’t know what they are.
You’ve got to have that awareness. I recommend that people work with some sort of cash management dashboard. From the start, get your numbers up there. Know your accounts. Have your accounts separate. Work with the right types of professionals.
I recommend a good tax person. If money is not something that you have been on top of in your personal life, if it’s something that you don’t like to look at, or if you don’t like to talk about it, I recommend working with someone who can help you work through some of those mindset issues. If you don’t have the right money mindset and if you’re afraid to look at your own numbers, you can’t grow.
I had some money issues. I had some debt when I started my business. I still have some debt, but I know now what my spending is. All my spending is purposeful. I can see the numbers changing. I can see where every bit of money goes and to what areas of my business now. In the beginning, I was blissfully blind to all of it.
I thought, “Oh, it seems like a good thing to invest in, and the money will come later.” It was probably a very immature way to go about starting one’s business, but like many of us when we start a business out of need rather than out of being an entrepreneur or having a business background, we don’t always know these stickier topics.
If we’re people who have had a negative money story, experience, or conditioning, it’s something that can stop us and trip us up later down the road. If that’s a challenge for you, I 100% recommend getting some support in that area. If you’re starting your business or you’ve already started and you’re not there yet, pause and take control of your numbers.
Know your money like you know your kids. It’s so important.
Yuri: That’s great advice. This is especially true if you’re running physical products like skincare or supplements, because cash flow and inventory changes the nature of your business in a big way.
If you have this stuff thought out ahead of time, it helps. Even if you’ve got a CPA, accountant, or CFO doing this stuff, it’s important for you to have a good understanding of your numbers. Get the most important metrics. Have a look at your cash flow every week, because I’ve seen bad things happen when the entrepreneur delegates finances and never looks at anything.
That’s when people lose money. that’s when people get stolen from. Not good.
The Rapid Five
Rachael, this has been very illuminating. Thank you so much for sharing everything you’ve shared with us. Before we finish, I have The Rapid Five, which I forgot to warn you about.
These are five rapid-fire questions I ask all our guests.
Answer whatever comes top of mind. It’s nothing incriminating. It’s all good. Are you ready?
Rachael: I’m ready.
Yuri: What is your biggest weakness?
Rachael: Oh my gosh, time management.
Yuri: What is your biggest strength?
Yuri: Nice. What’s one skill you become dangerously good at to grow your business?
Rachael: Web design.
Yuri: What do you do first thing in the morning?
Rachael: I wake up my kid.
Yuri: Nice. Finally, complete this sentence: I know I’m being successful when…
Rachael: I know I’m being successful when I wake up, wake my kid up, and check my email, because I know that there is going to be lots of payment notifications waiting for me.
Yuri: Nice. That’s always good. Rachael, this has been a lot of fun. What is the best place for our listeners to check out what you’re up to online and stay in touch?
Rachael: My main website is rachaelpontillo.com. My online course is createyourskincare.com. If you are interested in learning more about integrating nutrition and aesthetics to advance an integrative approach to help the skin, the Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance website is nutritionalaesthetics.com.
Yuri: Awesome. Rachael, thank you so much once again for sharing your journey and your wisdom with us. It’s been a lot of fun to reconnect. Keep up your awesome work.
Rachael: You too! Thanks for having me.
I hope you guys enjoyed that interview. I know I did. It’s always great to speak with entrepreneurs. Our speakers are doing unique things with their businesses, niche, products, and services. That’s what this whole podcast is about.
It’s exposing what’s possible and the different opportunities that arise. You don’t have to be overwhelmed or try to do a thousand things, but maybe there is one thing that resonates with you the most.
I hope you enjoyed today’s show. If you have, then remember to subscribe to the Healthpreneur Podcast on iTunes. Click the little purple subscribe button on your iPhone. If you care to leave a review or a rating, that would be awesome as well.
If you’d like to speak to me or our team, we have a great 45-minute free session called the Result Accelerator Call. If you would like us to help you take your health business to the next level, and specifically figure out how you’re going to attract more clients predictably, how you can convert them without feeling sales-y, and how to deliver an amazing result for them, then we’d be delighted to help you.
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It’s a call about you, your business, and the results that you’re looking to achieve. If we get to the end of the call and you want us to support you in any way, shape, or form, then we’d be delighted to tell you about how we can do so. If not, that’s totally fine as well.
That’s all for today’s show. I want to thank you so much for joining me. I look forward to seeing you in our next episode. In the meantime, get out there, continue to be great and do great, and I’ll see you on our next show.
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