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Black Kat Herbs

BlackKat Herbs

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BlackKat Herbs
  Sandi Wakefield



Location:  Smithville, TN

Employees:  me, 10 cats and 2 family members who can be bribed at times

Q: How did you start (or become owner) of the business? 
Just sort of happened.  I’ve always loved working with herbs.  I shut down my antique shop as I became burned out and my
hubby suggested an herbal business….16 years ago and still going strong!

Q:  What made you choose this type of business? 
I’ve always been interested in herbs and healing and when we moved
to Tennessee from Florida we had the land to start my dream.  My daughter has been diabetic from age 5 and I was always looking
for alternative ways to help deal with her diabetes.  It all just kind of fell together for me. 

Q:  What is your background? 
Grandmother was a healer and I learned from her.  I’ve taken Rosemary Gladstar’s Course
and Herbal Healing Academy Course.  I am a voracious reader and my office is lined floor to ceiling with herb and homeopathy
books!  I’ve taken David Little’s Homeopathic Course which is great for homeopathic information and I have taken a course thru
the British Institute of Homeopathy. 

Q:  What are your biggest challenges as an herb business? 
I think that financial is the biggest challenge.  Then there is keeping up with all the latest FDA rules!  Then just having enough hours
in the day to get everything done!  LOL   Another big challenge is finding new and different items to motivate customers sales and
keep them returning to the website.

Q:  What are the biggest rewards of being an herb business? 
My biggest rewards are owning my own company and meeting new people and helping them thru my love of herbs.  It’s amazing to
see the transformation people’s health!

Q:  What is your philosophy of customer service? 
I have been very lucky in this department because I pay strict attention to my orders.  If something is not right, then I only have myself
to blame….and I make it right with the customer.  It is all about customer loyalty and repeat business.  My customers are always
telling friends and family, so keeping customers happy is number one!

Q:  What makes you stand out from your competitors? 
Not really sure on this question.  I like to think that we are all doing this because of our love of herbs and the desire to help people
better their health.   I don’t look at others as competitors, but as fellow helpers in the fight to get alternative medicine into
mainstream society.

Q:  What plans do you have for your business?
I have another website in the works for natural animal health.  This is my passion so it will become a reality in 2007!  My oldest
daughter and grandson will be a major part of developing new products and the production.  I have a Newsletter and one of my goals
for 2007 is to do this monthly or at least bi-monthly.  Keeping in contact with customers is something that is important to me
as a business woman.

Q:  Is your family supportive of your business? 
200% supportive!  I am very blessed with such a great family!  My husband has always been my biggest supporter – Thank you Ray!  

Q:  What do you wish you’d done differently with the business? 
Nothing really – everything has evolved as it should and it has been a terrific learning experience for me…and I am learning every day!

Q: What do you think people starting out should know about getting into your type of business? 
That it takes a lot of effort and hard work and be sure that you have some money to tide you over the rough spots.   A
strong commitment to yourself and the business is essential because there are lots of obstacles and pitfalls when you have your
own business.  It definitely is not for the faint of heart!

Q:  How has the internet helped/hurt your business? 
The internet has helped me immensely.  I live in a very small town.  Very allopathic oriented and not all that open to alternative
medicine, although it is getting better as more and more *northerners* and *Floridians* move into the area.  I did not want to open
 a *store* and be tied down, so the internet has been great.  It goes everywhere in the world for me and some of my best clients are
in foreign countries.

Q: How long has it taken for your website to pay off? 
Well, I keep making changes to the site, overhauling it, etc. so it is a work in progress and a money pit!  LOL

Q: What things have you done to promote your website? 
My web mistress does a really good job of making sure I am in all the search engines and we are always finding like-minded sites
to link to my site.  I also send out a Newsletter, although not as often as I would like but that is another goal for 2007!  I also belong
to several groups and organizations – The Herb Growing and Marketing Network being my favorite one!

Who are members of The Herb Growing & Marketing Network.  Each issue of our online Bu$iness of Herbs features a member profile.  Find out about who are members are, what services and products they offer and some interesting facts they've learned along the way about having a natural products business.