Success Comes with a Warm Spirit
By Bruce Freeman
Nadine Thompson, president of Warm Spirit Inc., headquartered in Exeter, New Hampshire, is an African American entrepreneur who conceived a business that provides other African American women the opportunity to become entrepreneurs. Utilizing the tried and true network marketing model used successfully by cosmetics giants Avon and Mary Kay, Nadine envisioned a company that would help women take better care of themselves, both physically and spiritually. After graduating from Smith College, with a Masters in Clinical Social Work, Ms. Thompson worked a s a child and family therapist, and as Dean of Students at Phillips Exeter Academy for six years before founding Warm Spirit in 1998. Warm Spirit consultants offer a variety of “wellness” products – from botanically based bath and body creams, through aroma therapy, to homeopathic tonics and extracts to relieve minor aches and pains from causes ranging from headaches to menopause. Ms. Thompson was inspired by Madame C. J. Walker, a successful African American entrepreneur, who ran a similar business in the late 1800s. Warm Spirit started with five consultants and six products. Now, after six years, Warm Spirit offers 200 products through 9500 consultants with $10 million in sales projected in 2004.
Getting started wasn’t easy especially in the economic climate since the late 90’s. Starting a national homeopathic preparations company was daunting enough; directing it to African American women, who have not traditionally viewed themselves as entrepreneurs, assertive sales people, or even consumers of this type of product line, was an even higher hurdle to overcome. Today however, Ms. Thompson knows that African American women enjoy the healthy and luxurious feeling Warm Spirit products engender. She finds that once consultants can connect their motivation to personal goals they become eager to be trained in entrepreneurial skills. Often, African American women’s goals go beyond traditional financial rewards; they also think in terms of opportunities for their children and giving back to the community. Nadine Thompson finds that her schedule of traveling, with constant meetings and training sessions provides an example that motivates consultants who also must sacrifice time with their families and leave their comfort zones in order to succeed. However, the flexibility and freedom that comes with creating your own schedule, as well as the financial rewards, have prompted many of the consultants, some who have MBAs themselves, to leave their traditional jobs behind. This year, Warm Spirit is offering a prosperity candle, perhaps a symbolic message to its consultants as well as its customers.
Professor Bruce’s Words of Wisdom
From the first road-trip Nadine Thompson undertook to offer her line of six wellness products, it was clear that flexibility and time management were going to be key. Although she is now able to take her children, (ages 11 and 8) along with her occasionally, she still must leave home more often than she’d like in pursuit of her entrepreneurial dream. This is not only true for Nadine as a female, but also for entrepreneurial male counterparts. However, there are compensations. As an entrepreneur myself, I recognize that the ability to be at home for my children, to go to teacher conferences during the day or to pick up my girls after school is a luxury not often available to those who work for other people. Yet, there are many times when my business requires 24 hour a day focus and attention. Being an entrepreneur requires years of hard driven work – and as Ms. Thompson notes, “Entrepreneurs don’t get paid just for showing up,” – perhaps that’s one of the things that sets entrepreneurs like Nadine Thompson apart from the rest, the recognition and expectation that making it is going to require sacrifice. It’s certainly one of the things that makes entrepreneurial success so sweet.
Provide African American women with a path to entrepreneurial success.
Could This Work For Me?
Helping others help themselves drives your own success.