A series of events led Tracy Adkins, a nurse practitioner specializing in women’s health, to entrepreneurship. First there were the chronic running injuries, which led her to try yoga as her new go-to physical activity, and from yoga she then learned about Ayurvedic, the thousands-year-old traditional medicine system from India. But it was really her daughter’s eczema outbreak that prompted this mom of five to start Jivana, an integrated skincare line that fuses modern ingredients with Ayurvedic botanicals. Adkins has met plenty of supply-chain obstacles during the Covid-19 pandemic. But the Eleva, Wisconsin-based entrepreneur is focused on slow and steady growth for her business.
Here’s our lightly edited Q&A, from The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project.
Tell us more about starting your business.
While I knew how to treat my youngest daughter medically – with steroids – didn’t want to go that route because eczema covered a very large surface area of her skin and I was concerned about the amount of steroids that she would have to take. Instead, I turned to Ayurveda as I knew that the root cause of eczema was not in the skin and we had to look deeper.
Friends and family also began to try my skin products and kept coming back asking for more. That’s when I got an idea of combining my passion for wellness and women’s health, traditional medicine and Ayurvedic knowledge into a brand, which is how Jivana was born.
How is your business different from others in your industry?
Jivana is the first brand to introduce ghee – clarified butter that is a staple in Ayurvedic cuisine and lifestyle – to skincare. Ghee has been known to have medicinal benefits and we’re proud to make a ghee-based skincare product that nourishes, protects and hydrates skin. At Jivana, we’re always fusing the best of Ayurvedic herbs with potent skincare ingredients like niacinamide, squalane, vitamin C and ceramides.
Tell us about your biggest success so far.
When I learned to live without needing validation from others, stopped fearing failure, discovered that I am enough and don’t require external praise or accolades because I have all I need within myself. That is success. Success does not come with a diploma or social status – it’s in your mind. And although it is a constant work in progress, the journey to detach from everything you can’t control, surrender, embrace the present moment, and truly embody self respect — it has been more fulfilling than any certificate or paystub I’ve ever earned.
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
When you have a very limited budget, it is extremely difficult to market and increase brand awareness in order to drive sales and scale up. We are taking baby steps, spending cautiously and being very specific about target ad spending.
Have you experienced any significant personal situations that have affected your business decisions?
Our relaunch was at the height of Covid. We were met with mass supply-chain delays, which set us back well over 18 months. We were able to strategize on some fronts and use the extra time to our advantage, perfecting the packaging and website. However, it also significantly delayed any revenue stream and disrupted our entire financial forecast.
What is your biggest tip for other startup entrepreneurs?
Don’t expect anything to happen on time. There are always so many moving parts and everyone is dependent on other people and operations. Now, whenever someone gives me a time frame, I double it. Two weeks means four weeks, one month equals two. And never burn a bridge – but this is true in life as well as business!
How do you find inspiration on your darkest days?
You cannot change anyone but yourself, so do that. And focus only on today. When we look to the past or the future we become anxious, angry or scared. Yesterday is over so let it go; we have no jurisdiction over tomorrow. Do only what you can do today, but do your very best at it. Then you will have no regrets.
Who is your most important role model?
Within the beauty industry, I adore Bobbi Brown. I have followed her since she launched her first lipstick. I would pour over the beauty book she published and have always been in awe of her laid-back yet classy style. Last summer I was on a webinar with her and she was like everyone’s best friend – so real, approachable, genuine…everything I imagined her to be. That makes for an ideal founder….someone who can execute business but be gracious and grounded at the same time. ◼