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Life & Work with Jennifer Gonzales

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jennifer Gonzales.

Hi Jennifer, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
I could tell you that from a young age, I wanted to make “lotions and potions”. My Mom could tell you stories of me chasing her around the house with the “magical” concoctions I mixed up in my Barbie washing machine. Though that is what lead me to the beauty industry, it is not what pushed me to start my own brand.

I had reached critical burnout in my job. Too many years working in an industry that was letting me down and too many bad bosses. I loved the customers and working with people to help them feel better in their skin, but outside of that, I was miserable. Something needed to change.

Being in the industry from 16-years old, in every job position I could get my hands on. Stockroom worker, Sales Associate, Counter Manager, Brand Representative, Account Manager. I even obtained my Esthetician License. I learned so much about the industry good and bad. But in the end, I was tired of being told I was unattractive, overweight and needed to change to fit into their mold for the industry.

I heard for far too long, “Color within the lines”. I was tired of being told not only what was acceptable and who I should be but also that who I was at my core was wrong. I had been bullied a good portion of my life. I had dealt with racism, being Hispanic. I felt like the odd man out. Starting my own brand was a way of taking a stance. Being an Inclusive Brand was important to me, so everyone felt welcomed. Being here five years later proves that there are plenty of others out there like me.

Copper Cat Apothecary gives me a voice and a creative outlet. I took the first step making self-care products for a friend and couldn’t stop. People loved the items and I began selling on Etsy. Then took the leap and sold in person and began offering wholesale. It really has never stopped or slowed down since my first creation. It is a beautiful creative chaos that I love.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
The fear of even starting was a huge one. I have CPTSD, which comes with a heavy dose of anxiety. At times I was so afraid to fail, I wouldn’t even try. But I would hear my grandfather’s favorite piece of advice, “Next time you know better”. Meaning you don’t fail but learn from everything. It helped me tackle a lot of the what-ifs that I had. What if I fail? What if no one likes it? But next time, I would know better. I also reminded myself that I am a survivor of multiple childhood traumas, extreme bullying, and rape. Really, at this point, I felt I could tackle anything.

Another unique hurdle, I had spent my entire career working with people in person and then I was behind a screen, unable to communicate how I knew best. Unable to read body language or the tone of a voice. I couldn’t express my excitement or even have people test or smell products. It was an extreme learning curve. And I am still learning every day.

I had to learn my own limits. Before Covid I had 41 in person events in 90 days. Mentally and physically, it was exhausting. The downtime I should have had was used making and restocking items, shipping for the online shop. And eventually, I hit my limit. Running your own business doesn’t come with set hours or days. And when you are passionate about something, you never want to stop. Learning that resting is important is a hard lesson, but an important one. Selfcare… I tell everyone else to take time for themselves and I had to practice what I preached. That also meant knowing I couldn’t do every social media platform, be a content creator and make my products, get back to my customers and so on. It was too much. I have learned to plan out ahead of time instead of doing it all at once.

Learning to say “no” was also a unique hurdle and sometimes difficult. I had to land on my face a few times to understand. Especially when it came to people saying they were influencers. A valuable lesson here is that if someone is asking for free items, they probably are not a good influencer. There is this symbiotic relationship between brand and influencer, and people often have tried to take advantage of it. Another “no” incident was being offered a huge order early on for a subscription box run by a celebrity. However, the item that was requested went against my standards. They had wanted a politically themed item, and I never wanted my brand to dive into that arena. I wanted to keep the brand as a safe space, free of politics. After turning it down, I realized I had done the right thing. Yes, it could have launched my brand and given me a lot of attention. But it went against everything I stood for. I continue to turn down orders that are not on brand for me.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I would love to. Copper Cat Apothecary is an Inclusive Selfcare or Self-Scare Brand. I create Foaming Sugar Scrubs, Solid Fragrances, Soaps, Body Butters, Lip Balms, Cosmetics, Skincare and Candles. Everything from Traditional to Non-Traditional. I take mundane items we use without thought and make them something special. All items are handmade in small batches to ensure quality. And everything is within a reasonable price range so everyone can afford to try something.

You will notice a lot of sarcasm and wordplay in my products, which really sets CCA apart from other brands. It is never about “trends” here. The brand often reflects who I am. From our “Boo! You Whore” Foaming Sugar Scrub, which has a tiny ghost soap inside, to the “Blood of My Enemies” Collection. It is all in good fun. When asked, “What are you wearing?” Who doesn’t want to respond with “The Blood of My Enemies”?!

Throughout the years, Copper Cat Apothecary has grown a lot. From spooky to more traditional and back to a blend of both. The brand has been featured in multiple subscription boxes, which has been a blessing. I am now currently sold in a few women-owned online retailers as well. Each year the brand is hitting more and more milestones, gaining momentum.

My Grandfather told me to “put good back in the world”. I vowed that each year I would raise money for at least one charity. Over the years, I have been able to raise money for different types of organizations and bring attention to them as well. Everything from LGBTQIA+, Animal Rescues, The Red Cross, Anti-Bullying, our local Los Angeles Zoo, Mental Health to our current charity which is the Child Rescue Coalition to help stop the trafficking and sexual abuse of children worldwide. I’m extremely proud of that each year I am able to give back. Not many companies do, and I feel it is important that we participate in helping others.

I am grateful to have some of the most amazing and wonderful customers. They are funny, sweet, sincere, and often make me laugh. Which makes my job that much better. Copper Cat Apothecary wouldn’t be here without them.

How can people work with you, collaborate with you or support you?
Like with any creative or small business, share us with everyone. Tell everyone about Copper Cat Apothecary. Think of us when you want to sell self-care products in a shop. Ask your local Spooky Stores or even Salons that you want us in there. Like Us, Follow Us, Comment on our Posts. Engage with the brand.

It isn’t always about spending money. I think we can all understand right now a limited budget. However, sharing your favorite small business or artist is free to do.

To collab with Copper Cat Apothecary, just email me at CopperCatApothecary@Gmail.com. I’m always happy to create your dream or scream product. If you would like to do wholesale, please feel free to contact me. I offer a bevy of items with low minimum order quantities so everyone can participate.

Basically, cheer your favorite brands on. Gift our items come holiday or really for any reason. Include our soap samples with your orders. Every effort makes a huge positive impact for small businesses and artists.

Pricing:

  • $5-$25

Contact Info:


Image Credits:

Jennifer Gonzales / Copper Cat Apothecary

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