Mamaprenista Cinder Trout on Opening a Natural Beauty Brand, Abature, with Her Daughter
Hi Cinder! Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business:
Hello, my name is Cinder. My daughter and I co-founded a natural beauty brand dedicated to lip care called Abature. We make lip scrubs, lip serums, and lip balms all proudly packaged plastic free. Our wholesale distribution channel is currently only available to professional estheticians and spas. We also sell retail through our website at www.abature.com. In the past you had to choose between an effective product (full of chemicals and preservatives), or a natural product. We worked diligently in formulation and chemistry to achieve a safe, vegan, cruelty-free, and EFFECTIVE natural product. The story about our brand cannot be told without explaining the name, Abature. Abature is an old word we found in an antique dictionary. A noun, and hunting term defined as “the trampled down grass and sprigs of a stag in the forest,” and “the path a deer makes as it passes through the woods,” or our favorite translation from french reads “the mark of a beast of the chase.” Hunters would say “let’s follow the abature,” or path of the deer. It felt serendipitous as we were meeting challenge after challenge formulating a natural skin care brand to have found this word aligning us with the idea of forging new paths. Our brand mission was already there, we just needed a special way to talk about it. Abature was it. Forging paths in female leadership, sustainability, and effective natural products are the three pillars of our business.
So Cinder, what excites you about being an Entreprenista League member?
Connections with likeminded women, the ability to network for my business, and have an opportunity to share my resources with other women who are starting out.
Starting a business of your own is not for the faint of heart, so what made you take the leap to start your own business?
I’m creative by nature and couldn’t stop designing new things if I wanted to! My brain just works like that. I’m drawn to it in a purpose sort of way because design.
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
I was raised on a cattle ranch in a small town in Colorado, educated as an architect at the University of Colorado, and studied language and design at the Leonardo Scuola Divinci in Florence, Italy. Despite my rich studies in architecture, I only practiced a short time in an architectural firm. The scale was too big, I practiced instead as an entrepreneur or teacher. I taught photography, art, and design build at a private high school in Boulder before starting my skin care brand. Prior to that, I owned several small businesses in fashion, photography, and design. I’m a highly educated designer, but self-taught chemist.
Did you always have a feel that one day you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
No. I didn’t even know the word “entrepreneur” until after I had already started and sold my first business. I’ve always been very driven and curious though, and knew that would likely lead me to a creative career.
Initial marketing strategy is SO important! How did you first market Abature?
I didn’t have a marketing strategy when I started… gasp! I just wanted to make something beautiful, that worked, and made the world a better place. I was purpose driven in product design, not marketing. Marketing came later, naturally, as we built the brand. Very few aspects of my business went as planned though… I repeated a brilliant phrase by Cheryl Amyx “Don’t panic, pivot” to myself often.
How did you manage manufacturing a product with a shelf life?
Scaling manufacturing of a product with a shelf life. In fashion, you have to worry about trends, in cosmetics, shelf-life. Not just of raw ingredients, but finished goods as well. We chose early to manufacture our own products and it was a good decision because it allowed us to scale at our own pace without having to over invest in inventory and then have shelf life expiration waste. Negotiating lower minimums with raw ingredient suppliers was a challenge, but I was surprised at how many companies were willing to help us get started.
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
The formulas are my biggest accomplishment, I formulated everything myself. I didn’t know anything about cosmetic chemistry 8 years ago when I started this project. I took classes, watched YouTube videos, hired consultants, and spent hours and hours researching raw ingredients, scientific process, and doing experiments. It wasn’t always fun and rarely easy, but I learned a lot and I was unwavering in my goals to create a sustainable, safe, natural AND effective skin care brand dedicated to lips. It was hard work I’m proud to have done myself.
Work/life balance is an ongoing journey. What are your best tips?
When you make your own schedule and you’re working with a small budget, it’s hard to find work/life balance, but I believe it’s vital. Not just for yourself, but for your work too. When I take adequate breaks and let my mind rest I perform better. I have 2 tips for success with work/life balance. 1. Don’t be afraid to take a nap! I sleep in the middle of the day regularly. I work in the lab in the morning, nap in the afternoon, and then manage my overseas business from home in the evenings. The break in the middle of the day gives me a boost and helps me shift my day from active physical labor to computer work, and my body gets in a rhythm with that cycle. 2. Schedule rewards. My Dad was a big advocate of planning something you enjoy into your daily to-do list. Especially if you have a particularly hard or frustrating to-do list that day, he would often tell me to reward myself with a simple pleasure like ice cream, watching my favorite movie, or even something more substantial like a spa treatment (I save this one for super hard days like tax day!).
What’s a piece of advice you can share that you wish you’d known when you first started your Entreprenista journey?
Starting your own business is risky. A lot of people fail. It’s ok if you fail. You will win and you will lose, you will fail and learn over and over again at varying scales of intensity. It’s ok. If you lead with purpose, even when you fail, it will be worth it.
Cinder, you have lots to celebrate! What have you achieved recently that you’d like to celebrate with our community?
We made the final cast for a reality TV series competition for entrepreneurs produced by the famous MTV star, Wes Burgmann! We’re very excited to compete for the title of “Best Entrepreneurs!”
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
Skin care dedicated to lips was a great place for us to start, but we are anxious to get colored lip products to market. We want to develop a color line that solves a lot of lip color obstacles- dryness, chemicals, toxic dyes, and occlusion + wear length. We’re also in R+D to develop a refillable pocket-sized vessel for our products to reduce packaging waste even further.