Wendy Williams is the founder and owner of Releve brands. She built her recipes in her kitchen, balancing the life of an entrepreneur and a single mother. Through persistent effort and ground-breaking innovation, she has sustained and expanded her business while facing the major obstacles of the pandemic and the resulting economic turmoil.
We sat down with Ms. Williams for a Q+A about how she started her business and how she has grown it into a full portfolio of natural, safe, and effective health and wellness products.
Why did You start Releve ?
I've always had an entrepreneurial spirit. I started to explore multi-level marketing companies, but I didn't find one that felt right for me. Then one day I found myself looking for a toxin-free hand sanitizer. I have always been a bit of a germaphobe, but I was also aware of the harmful effects of the ingredients used in name-brand hand sanitizers. To my surprise and frustration, I could not find a hand sanitizer on any store shelf that was made only from natural ingredients. That is when I decided to make my own hand sanitizer using only natural ingredients.
I started by researching the effects of different ingredients found in nature. I selected the ingredients that I thought would give me the results I was hoping for based on their medicinal properties. I then experimented with recipes in my home kitchen. Through trial and error, I came up with a hand sanitizer that I was satisfied with.
I gave my family and close friends a bottle of my hand sanitizer, asking them to try it and give me their opinion. The feedback I received was overwhelmingly positive. They loved the product and encouraged me to start my own business. Their support helped me realize that I had a product that people wanted, and made me think about what other products I could start making.
What struggles did you face launching your company ?
The biggest struggle when I was starting out was money. I invested my own money into securing spots in trade shows, where I offered people the opportunity to try my products. People were impressed with how effective my products were, and they started spreading the word to their friends and family. Sales began to increase steadily over time, and I re-invested the profits from the trade-show markets into an e-commerce store so my customers could order Releve products anytime and have them shipped to their doorstep. The convenience of online shopping increased return customer purchases.
The other challenge I faced was balancing my new responsibilities as a business owner with spending time with my daughter. In the beginning, I was learning on the job and I had to hire a babysitter to watch her on the weekends so I could attend trade show markets. Like many new businesses, money was tight. I was determined to make it work and as word of my products' effectiveness spread, I improved my time management and money management skills, growing my company to the point where I now can spend time with my daughter and run my business without having to sacrifice either.
How did you overcome the challenges of the Pandemic ?
The majority of our sales were still coming from trade shows when the pandemic started. Due to government-imposed lockdowns and a general fear of catching the virus, foot traffic at the shows had decreased significantly, which impacted sales. I focused on referring the people that did show up to my website, which helped increase my e-commerce sales. I had to be selective with which markets I chose to attend, and I budgeted the company finances so that Releve could endure if the situation dragged on for a long time. Fortunately, our customers continued to love and recommend Releve products, buying them online, which sustained the company's growth in a time of uncertainty. I am ever grateful for my customers' continued support.
When things finally shifted towards normal again, I was presented with a new challenge. People were attending markets again, but their interest was mainly in food items. I started selling homemade pies at my booth in order to attract their attention so I could talk to them. After informing them about the benefits and letting them feel how fast and effective Releve products work for themselves, I was able to increase trade show sales beyond pre-pandemic levels. Now that the country is back to normal, business has improved significantly.
What does your success mean to you ?
I love the fact that I am helping people. Pain is a distraction at best and interferes with people's lives in the worst case, and knowing my products help people manage their pain without exposing them to toxic ingredients feels amazing. It brings a smile to my face when people message me about how Releve products have worked for them and their loved ones.
My most important success is the freedom to spend time with my daughter. She has my adventurous side and I love that I can take time off to go on trips with her.
What challenges are you looking forward to next ?
My current goal is to increase our online sales. We have invested in advertising campaigns to gain brand exposure. We are also making efforts to increase our digital presence on social media so our customers can stay up to date with our newest product launches.
My next goal is to gain distribution in stores. There are a lot of steps along the path, but as we continue to grow, we are making steady progress toward doing so. It is my hope that Releve products will be on every store shelf in America. In the meantime, there are some exciting things in the works that I'm sure our customers will love.
Releve is a brand of the Wendy Williams Corporation. Family owned and operated, Releve is focused on providing effective health and wellness products made from natural ingredients. Founded and owned by Wendy Williams, Releve is headquartered in Humble, Texas.