Spotlight on Small Business: Curious Nature Apothecary

At Dell, we love our small business customers! Not only do we love supplying their technology needs, we love hearing their stories and seeing their business thrive.

There are 27.9 million small businesses (<500 employees) in the US compared to just 18,500 firms with over 500 employees (Small Business Administration). That makes for a lot of variety in the small business community: what they do, who they are, where they operate, why they operate.

As the VP of SB at Dell, one of the best parts of my job (can I even call it that) is meeting the people who make up the small business community. Every story is unique.

So we’re starting a monthly series to shine the spotlight on a small business, who they are, and their unique spot in the small business community!

First up is Curious Nature Apothecary, an apothecary out of Rhode Island that sells a line of “botanically based, naturally aromatic products for body, skin and senses.”

Two women standing in kitchen
Jill Sarmento (left) and Gina Browning (right), founders of Curious Nature Apothecary [Photo Credit: Stacey Doyle Photography]
Erik: When did Curious Nature Apothecary get started? What motivated you to get started?

[Photo Credit: Stacey Doyle Photography]
Gina and Jill: Our business has been growing slowly since 2014. We’d been chatting about the possibility of starting a business for a few months. We were experimenting with and formulating a product line. We were honestly motivated by the fun we were having working together.

E: What is your favorite thing about being a small business?

G&J: Since it’s just the two of us, we get to do everything! Though it can be overwhelming at times, it always keeps things interesting and we’ve learned a lot. Having control over all the details and seeing the process through from formulation and packaging to marketing and sales is immensely gratifying.

E: What is the biggest challenge associated with being a small business?

[Photo Credit: Stacey Doyle Photography]
G&J: Since it’s just the two of us, we get to do everything! Yes, that was the same as our answer to our favorite thing but still probably the most difficult. Compounded with the fact that our business is our side hustle, effective time management when tackling multiple simultaneous tasks becomes a major challenge.

E: How has technology played a role in your business?

G&J: Our business celebrates analog things, like nature, getting outside, disconnecting, slow living, and self-care. Without technology, though, we would have had real difficulty sharing our message. Our website and social media accounts are our primary way of connecting with our customers and reaching potential stockists.

…as we grew, we recognized a need for more efficient systems across many areas of our business…

E: How has Dell been a part of your small business journey?

[Photo Credit: Stacey Doyle Photography]
G&J: As we’ve grown we’ve recognized a need for more efficient systems across many areas of our business. Dell has been an ideal fit for us; our Dell laptops are paired with large Bluetooth-enabled monitors at the office so we can enjoy portability and flexibility along with high performance.

[Photo Credit: Stacey Doyle Photography]
E: What makes Curious Nature Apothecary unique?

G&J: Our products are uniquely us, emphasizing fresh ingredients of exceptional quality and gentle, authentic aromas. We draw inspiration from our love of nature and our favorite memories, places, and stories.

E: What is your advice for other small businesses?

G&J: We’ve been so fortunate in our mentors, collaborators, and friends. As small business owners, we can grow and succeed when we support other small businesses, share knowledge, and foster partnerships.

About the Author: Erik Day

Erik Day has been at Dell for over 16 years. He first joined the company as a temporary consumer sales agent in 1999 shortly after finishing his Bachelors of Psychology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Erik has held multiple sales, merchandising and marketing leadership roles in his tenure at Dell which has taken him to 25+ countries over 5 continents. Erik spent 2009 to the early part of 2013 leading Retail Merchandising, Retail Marketing and CSB Direct Media Budget and Planning for the Europe, Middle East & Africa region. Most recently, Erik has been responsible for leading an outstanding team of sales leaders covering large format retailers and CSB distribution channel partners across the United States and Canada. Between 2013-14, Erik built a $500M Acquisition business in retail and helped grow Best Buy over 50% YoY between 2014 and today. Erik is an avid tennis player and just got married in August of this year. He loves spending time in Up North Michigan on the Lake with his husband Craig and their 2 Samoyeds, Chester and Chase.