Going Golden: Our Happy Box's Sonia Whitfield
Prior to launching Our Happy Box, you worked in the corporate realm. How did that experience prepare you for the trials and tribulations of starting your own company?
Nothing quite prepares you for running your own business. Thinking back to every position I’ve ever had, I’m grateful for the experiences. They filled up my handy database that I pull from when making decisions. I suppose that’s it. When you have your own business, there are thousands of decisions you have to make and often, you have little time to make them. Having a diverse background in various industries and surprisingly good and bad team experiences has taught me what to do and, more importantly, what not to do.
At Our Happy Box, we focus on inclusion and respect. Our team is incredibly smart and passionate about the work they do. We try our best to uphold our mission of treating employees and others with kindness and respect. Being kind is so simple, it is what pulls us through the tough times when uncertainty lingers. Not to be mistaken for weakness. We run a structured and disciplined operation while having a ton of fun, because we love the work we do, with an incredible sense of pride. And we don’t sweat the small stuff. Things come up constantly. Even simple things, like when we switched to our email@example.com email to be managed by another person. I no longer got copied on the messages... and a few got lost in the transition. Imagine that I almost missed this opportunity with lovelierie!
You clearly genuinely care about making the world a better place. What do you want your legacy to be?
That’s a big question! Well, our intention is to blend giving and making an impact on the world a fabric of our daily life. Ingrained in everything we do. Something as routine as brushing your teeth in the morning can be doing good for others. In fact, the toothbrush you use to brush your teeth ought to be sustainably-produced and a percentage of the proceeds given to an organization that donates toothbrushes or dental care to those less fortunate.
Same with skincare. The brand of moisturizer you purchased gives 100% of proceeds to a chosen charity that month. You, as a consumer, suddenly joined the world of "our" without any extra effort on your part. Isn't it beautiful?
This world's beauty (as well as darkness) belongs to all of us; the good, and the bad. Together, we must take care of it. We live in the digital age which has brought the world closer and brought awareness of many national and global issues, yet we also live in the age of selfies and this sort of self-obsession.
Our hope is to make thinking of others a fabric of our society...The meaning of our name "Our Happy Box" defines our intention—a box delivering goods making an impact on all involved; employees, suppliers, customers and charities. In essence, our local and global communities and setting an example of compassion.
Do you think that more companies and brands should put their money when their mouth is when it comes to supporting those in need?
If it comes from within; a drive, a passion for a cause that keeps you up at night, or wakes you up at 4 AM, eyes wide awake with your mind saying "let's go!". Then it's right. Then do it, because it will be meaningful and it will be great, making a genuine impact.
Starting a nonprofit and then a for-profit supporting non-profits was such a personal evolution. I never thought I would be here, running an e-commerce-based beauty company that gives back to a different charitable organization every month. The product (skincare for now), or platform is secondary in a way, as the mission is the driving force. We happen to love our products and the people behind them. The entire concept evolved over the past few years through relationships with like-minded manufacturers and such. It makes sense now, like pieces of a puzzle coming together and I can’t imagine doing anything else.
Given my personal experience, I do believe that giving should be at the forefront of business operations and a requirement, not merely a tax incentive. Maybe "requirement" is a bit too extreme. And again, that’s where our philosophy at Our Happy Box fits in. By ingraining the idea of giving back in what I call “the socially-conscious consumer”, we all win. It is simply what companies do and what customers buy without guilt or stigma to push them to buy.
Fortunately, there are many organizations that are setting an example, like LXMI. Its founder Leila has been a source of inspiration. She simultaneously runs both a non-profit Samasource providing digital services while giving work to developing countries and for-profit LXMI, a luxury skincare brand.
I've had the good fortune of meeting many bright individuals, even at the corporate level who give back. Many organizations have a foundation within the organization, such as Salesforce, LinkedIn and Facebook, whose founder launched the Chan Zuckerberg foundation. These socially-conscious organizations are an example that the landscape of business is changing. Maybe not at a rapid pace, but we'll get there.
Our best sales are when we do local events. A customer will see another customer buying and then they too want to buy. It is human psychology. If more organizations are giving back and consciously supporting organizations, then others will follow suit. The one caveat is transparency which translates to trust.
Some charitable organizations might overspend on administrative costs or too few proceeds go to those in need. We realize that and we are on it! We are in talks to partner with other organizations that review and grade charities to ensure funds properly allocated. We choose only charities with high marks; the issue is that the smaller charities that need our help the most are not on the list yet; another addition to our mission! To help these small charities get the proper recognition and well-deserved grading.
Okay, now for something a little on the frivolous side! What products will you forever be evangelizing about?
Living in California, the sun dries out my skin, so I focus on hydration, both day and night creams and lots of SPF. Now in my thirties, my skin has changed and surprisingly for the better! It might be my healthy lifestyle - no alcohol or caffeine, substituting matcha, tea and lots of blueberries and avocados, or the fact that I’ve used all these creams for so many years and they work.
Okay, so here is my absolutely must have favorite list. One, Ryor Moisturizing Micellar Water. I use it morning and night, technically it is more of a makeup remover/toner, but I absolutely love it. Two, Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer.
I've stuck with the same nude color for over a decade. It’s light and provides just enough coverage to balance out my skin tone without actually masking my skin, plus it has 20 SPF. I put it on every morning and most days re-apply in the early afternoon. Three, Ryor Marine Algae Cleansing Foam for Problem Skin because it smells great and does its job beautifully.
Four, Ryor Caviar Night Cream or Ryor Marine Algae Night Cream depending on how much hydration I need. The caviar is incredibly rich made with sustainably-sourced caviar (from France) and macadamia nut oil. It feels incredible on my skin. In the morning I wake up and feel this beautiful glow. The marine algae cream is much lighter and soothing; it firms my skin nicely.
Tell us about your day-to-day beauty routine.
When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is grab a hot water with lemon. It’s so comforting and adds just enough brightness from our Meyer lemons (from our backyard) to wake me up. Meyer lemons are seasonal (winter), so during summer, I shop our local farmers market. I stopped drinking coffee a few years ago, but my husband still makes me a decaf every morning. He usually gets up before me, so a hot piping cup is usually waiting for me. I adore the reminder every morning of how lucky I am to have so much love in my life!
My biggest beauty routine staple is proper face cleansing. It might sound strange, but I use micellar water to freshen my face in the morning. A good routine does not call for this first thing in the morning, but I find it so comforting knowing that my skin is clean. It is remarkable to find speckles of curious bits on the perfectly white cotton round (even though I properly washed my face before bed). It must be a combination of the night cream and air particles or pillow particles? Another reason why you should wash your face twice a day!
Sweat is another big part of my beauty routine. I try to run, yoga, ski in the winter and dance. There are these fabulous dance classes at my gym, it is my guilty pleasure because I only get to go maybe once a week due to my full schedule, but after the class, I feel that I conquer the world. That comes in handy.
It took me a while to get into these good habits, especially after having kids and balancing work life with family life, but it is so important to take care of yourself; otherwise, you are useless to anyone. If you can’t sweat every day; at least take the long way whenever you can, park far from any entrance or use the stairs. A quick home yoga or stretch, even for 10 minutes makes a huge difference. Also, drink water!
Also, I go to bed shortly after my kids at 8:30 PM, sometimes I make it to 9 PM. Sleeping a minimum of 8 hours might sound impossible, but it is essential to glowing skin and overall good health and, most importantly, mental power.
One other thing I swear by is tea. Matcha or green on days that I need a little pick-me-up, but the majority of the time it’s caffeine-free. In the evening, I like a few cups of herbal tea.
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