Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal care but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Mariko McDonald, Owner and CEO of Grey Cat Apothecary, located in Montreal, QC, Canada.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Grey Cat Apothecary is an online boutique offering natural vegan soaps and skincare handmade with organic ingredients in Montreal, Quebec. Because our products are free of synthetic colours and fragrances, our customers tend to be people with sensitive skin or who otherwise value high-quality natural skincare.

Tell us about yourself

Like a lot of current online entrepreneurs, Grey Cat Apothecary was started during the 2020 pandemic. Near the beginning of the year, I took the plunge and started learning to make soap and quickly developed a few core recipes centered around natural ingredients that cleanse and nourish the skin. When I started offering my products through social media, I quickly sold out and decided that I had a product I could build a brand around; thus, Grey Cat Apothecary was born.

Although I love my brand and my products, I'd be lying if I said staying motivated every day was easy. There's a lot that goes into running a business by yourself, and it's easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day details. I stay motivated by trying to focus on making high-quality products that my customers love.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I think my biggest accomplishment so far is connecting with the right customers. I love it when customers tell me that they love our products or that our soap helped clear up their dry skin. Knowing that our products are helping the people they are meant for really motivates me to keep going.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

I think the hardest thing that comes with being a business owner is juggling all the different hats I have to wear and allotting my time correctly. At the moment, I'm not only the owner, but I'm also the primary manufacturer, I'm in charge of social media and PR, I'm also a photographer and a graphic designer, and the face of the company. Without systems and tools to keep me organized, I don't think I would ever actually get anything done.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Know your market. Just because you can do or make something doesn't mean it's the right thing to build a business around. Be sure that people find value in what you are offering. This goes for people just starting out as well as for people further along their entrepreneurial journeys.
  2. As much as you can, as soon as you start, develop and document your organizational strategies. The sooner you have clear processes on paper, the easier it will be to tweak and develop them as you scale and grow.
  3. Learn when to delegate. As an entrepreneur, it can be easy to just try to do everything yourself since the vision of your brand and your business is so clear in your head. But, being human, there's really only so much you can accomplish by yourself, especially if it involves learning new skills or investing in equipment. Sometimes delegating means outsourcing, sometimes it means hiring someone, and sometimes it can even mean implementing the right systems and/or software to streamline workflows.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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