Tell us a little bit about yourself and your brand.
My name is Emily Chou, and I’m the founder of Dear Botanicals. I was born and raised in Canada by Taiwanese immigrant parents, and I created Dear Botanicals to celebrate the beauty of the natural world I grew up with. Inspired by things like the oolong tea of my parents' homeland, to the scent of cedarwood from my Pacific Northwest childhood, I create natural handmade soap and other skincare products that we can use to elevate our daily routines. I’m currently based in Andover, Massachusetts.
What inspired you to start your brand or craft?
I worked in my dream job as a documentary television producer for over 10 years. When I became a mother, I was fortunate enough to be able to stay home and take care of my two daughters full-time. But I really missed my work life, and the adrenaline rush that comes from writing and creating. I was really looking for something with a creative purpose that I could do, that would bring a little bit of that feeling back.
Making soap became that therapeutic outlet for me. I love that I can make something that is both useful and beautiful. Something that also has the added benefit of making bathing into a luxurious ritual. (I think any parent will tell you: shower time is sacred.) I look forward to that time alone at the end of the day as much as I look forward to creating a new soap!
How did you come up with the name of your company?
I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, surrounded by trees and mountains. I’m constantly inspired by nature, plants, and everything the earth has to offer us – these things are precious and dear to me. So I wanted the name to reflect that. The word “dear” not only means “precious” but it’s also such an affectionate form of address for a friend or loved one, which I really love.
What does an average day look like?
Right now, there’s no average day! I hope one day there will be. But as it is, I’m usually running around after my kids during the day, and then I make soap in the evenings after they’re in bed. I work on orders, packaging, and the back end of things on the weekends, and come up with my best ideas in the shower!
What’s your favorite part of the job?
I absolutely love the process of developing a new soap or product. I think about the plants or ingredients I want to highlight, I get to create a new scent, research how I’m going to create the colors I want, and then I get to make it and test it!
When you’re creating do you have a person in mind?
I do. I’m always thinking about that person who (like me) looks forward to bathing or showering each day, and thinking about what scent might lift their spirits, or how they might want to feel. I think about all of my best customers, and what they’ve loved – I like to keep them in mind as I create something new.
When was your business founded and how has it evolved over time?
Though I’ve been making soap as a hobby for a while, I founded this business in the summer of 2020 – yes, it’s a pandemic start-up! I started with just soap, but have gradually introduced a few other products as well.
Are there any challenges that you’ve had to overcome?
I think the biggest challenge for me has just been psychological. Going from my producing career to full-time parenthood, then to starting a small business – these have been such major identity shifts in a short space of time, and I’m still working through it. Can I call myself an entrepreneur? A founder? It’s hard to see myself that way even though that’s exactly what I am.
What is one piece of advice you have for a female entrepreneur just starting out?
Confidence is everything. And sometimes you have to just make a decision and stick with it, but know that you can always change or tweak it.
Let us know where we can follow you. Feel free to share any news on upcoming projects.