I “discovered” Cocoa Pink a few years ago (along with a lot of other people!) and promised to blog my review for these products. This review is now over a year late and deserves more attention than just a mere review. Cocoa Pink (aka Ilona Timoszuk) has grown her business to employ 10 people with a retail online shop and has several large wholesale accounts. She did it the old-fashioned way – with her own cash, her own sweat equity and a vision that she convinced other people to help her with (aka friends, family and paid employees).
These are the products I bought from her back in 2007. As you read through her interview today and tomorrow, notice how her style has changed in the last year.
Where did you find financing? How in the world did you grow to 10 people and finance that growth?
The way I finance CocoaPink is influenced by my father, who started his now multi-million dollar company in a similar manner, without any credit or loans.
I do not like credit; I never have. I do believe it is necessary for home buying, student loans, and autos, but I draw the line there and refuse to finance personal indulgences. I apply this philosophy to CocoaPink and I believe shifting awareness away from credit-is-the-only-way helps empower business owners – and it feels great!
I started small. I made a couple items and sold them. Then I reinvested 100% of my profits into growth. For example, I use $100 of my own money to make a few batches of Cold Process soap and maybe some lotion. I sell those and get $150 – I reinvest all $150 in more supplies to make more products. I sell those and now I have $225 and again re-invest, make product, and sell. I did not take any personal income until I I felt the business had grown to a size I felt good about, and we had enough capital that I could afford to give myself a salary.
When you begin seeing large numbers, it’s easy to feel tempted to spend. This is where it is important to remember your vision and what you ultimate goals are. For one person this may be an intimate business with just one or two employees, while someone else’s vision may be much greater. What is important is to budget towards that vision.
A person must to feel passion for their business while respecting its growth & limitations. Don’t borrow hundreds of thousands of dollars because you suddenly decided that you want your hobby to become a multi-million dollar empire. Let the company grow itself. It will take you to the size it wants to be. If it’s meant to get there, it will. However, bigger is not better, especially when your company owes more than its worth.
Do you have a big huge goal that you want to share with us?
If you ask my ego, it will yammer on about grandiose manifestations in Manhattan skyscrapers and first class junkets to Paris. My ego is quite dangerous. (grin)
So ego aside, my real goalswould be to demonstrate my values on a wider scale. There is more than enough resources and money available to us. Greed has no place in a business, and I am sick of watching corporate scandals and people not giving a @#$%& about their staff and customers.
CEOs are modern day kings. Their power, corruption, and greed remind me of yesterday’s monarchies. We may have overthrown these governments, but the same greed and power has reincarnated within our corporations. Employees work like peasants, earning next to nothing, treated like a number, while CEOs …well we all know what they are doing.
My biggest dream – the “huge” one is to work in a position of influence and maintain my strength (or stubbornness or heart or whatever drives me) to make morally responsible choices. Choices that are not about money-money-profit-profit – and come at any expense. I’d love to follow the models of CEOs like Howard Schultz (Starbucks), who was a pioneer in ethical business practices.
I’d love to stare greed in the face and facilitate its disintegration. I’d love to empower the hard working, bring employment back to the USA, and do this while being eco-conscious.
Yes, it’s “huge” – and I do not ever see it becoming a reality. I would be just as happy if more CEO “Kings” were de-throned and corporate greed was replaced by corporate generosity.
What sort of support network do you have around you? Like a Mastermind Group or a close knit family or …
My father. We are very close (he lives 3 miles away). My family immigrated from Poland when I was 3 years old and we had nothing. Just one suitcase and a teeny apartment in a very shoddy part of Boston. My father worked as a MIT professor for over 20 years. Now seeing how far he has come (working 80 hour weeks to get there) and to witness him run a company that employs over 60 people with such honor, concern and emotional connection to each employee – it’s my inspiration. He’s my moral compass as he has often sacrificed his own salary during
rough times to make sure his staff was taken care of.
Can you imagine? A CEO giving up their own income to prevent layoffs? That’s a man worth admiring.
I also have two amazing kids and a wonderful husband who remind me that there is more to life than work.
Check back Saturday for more of Ilona’s inspiring story!