Business Highlight: Modern Rituals – Jesse Waetford

Modern Rituals is a botanical skincare and beauty brand focused on producing sustainable, self-care products for mind, body and soul wellness. They believe in helping modern women find rituals to achieve balance in their everyday life and step into their highest potential.

What did you do before you started your business? 

I have been a stay at home mama to our beautiful daughter Rehutai who was born at the end of June 2019. I also had so much fun running another small business with the most beautiful group of friends, selling essential oils and other natural products. 

How did you get started? What is your story? 

With a background in essential oils, the idea of going off on my own and creating my own personal brand felt like a natural next step. Modern Rituals came to me as an idea when I lay awake in bed one night. 

She pulled me into the early hours of the morning, where I remember brainstorming my heart out. I remember saying to my husband Kawiti that it was like being tapped on the shoulder by a long lost friend. 

As a mother and wife to my high-school sweetheart, I have always wanted to design my life to work around my family. This was a BIG part of why I decided to follow my dreams and create Modern Rituals. 

modern rituals essential oils on a tray with flowers

Was starting a business easy? If not, what challenges have you encountered on your journey?

There have definitely been challenges along the way, whoever said starting a business was easy, must have been a saint. There is so much I have learnt along the way, from brainstorming ideas, to actually developing and formulating the products. Learning how to brand yourself and market your business to your ideal customer…it has all been a huge learning opportunity. 

Starting a business amidst a global pandemic, which has impacted so much of our everyday life, has shown me how much we need self-care for our mental and spiritual wellbeing. 

How often do you compare your business model to your competitors? 

I am frequently comparing our business model with other brands that serve a similar audience to ours. I think this is a great way to study what has worked well for others and offers some insight on what you could potentially improve in your offerings. In the beginning of developing our brand, studying other companies also served as a great way to help find our point of difference in the beauty industry. 

I love to use instagram as a tool to stay engaged in what other brands are offering and to compare our business model to other brands. I believe it is crucial to know who your competitors are, even if like me, you prefer to refer to these brands as friends, not so much your competitors. At the end of the day we are all small business owners trying to make a positive impact in the lives of others. 

What do you wish you knew before you started your own business? 

That it takes a lot of time and planning, especially if you are going to be doing most of the work to start out, by yourself. I also worked out pretty quickly that you can’t do it all, otherwise you can become very time poor and end up not being able to put out your best work. 

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of going self employed?

Work out what your strengths and weaknesses are. If you are going into business with someone else, find out therese as well and figure out what areas of the business you would both be best suited to focus on. If you are starting a business on your own, work out if there are any areas where you could pay for help (i.e. Website design, branding, photography – these are all skills that require lots of time to learn if you are thinking about doing it yourself). 

What has the entrepreneurial journey taught you? 

That it definitely takes a lot of hard work and dedication to run a business. Being passionate about what you do and having a strong why is what is going to help you get out of bed in the morning, especially on the hard days. 

If you had to do it all over again, what would you change or do differently having the knowledge you do now? 

To not try and do everything myself and hire help when I need it most. 

What is your biggest business failure and how did you overcome that situation?

We haven’t had any big failures – yet. I guess we will share when we have.

Modern Rituals owner Jesse with her husband in front of water

What gets you up in the morning?

My beautiful daughter Rehutai will usually be the first to wake me. My husband sometimes will wake me with a hot cup of coffee – such an amazing man! 

What is your why? Why do you do what you do? 

I want my children to know that it is possible to follow your dreams and to do something you love. I also want to be around while they are growing up and have the ability to schedule my work around them. 

My husband and daughter are the most important people in my life and it is my dream to create a balance between work (doing something I absolutely LOVE to do) and being a stay-at-home mama. They are my biggest reason why I started Modern Rituals. 

What is something you still need to learn to improve your business model?

So many skills I wish I had. I would love to have better financial skills and would love to learn more photography skills so I can take product photos whenever I need them. All things I can get help for in the meantime, but it would be nice to learn if I have the time. 

What other activities do you juggle whilst being a business owner, and how do you stay on top of everything? Any organisational tips you can share? 

I am still a full time mama most of the week. Our daughter has recently started daycare where she attends 3 days a week from 8.15am to 2.45pm. This gives me a little bit of time to focus on the business, otherwise I like to do a lot of work at night. 

Having a schedule is crucial where you can time block specific work days or work hours can be really important when you are trying to juggle work and kids. I also love to listen to audio books on self development when I am driving to and from day care drop off, or while doing house tasks like dishes. 

Do you have a life/business coach or mentor that helped you get to where you are? If so, would you recommend other people find themselves a role model or mentor too?

We were lucky to be introduced to Cecilia and James (the Robinson Duo) through the Princes Trust NZ. They have been incredible mentors to us and we have learnt so much already in this short amount of time we have known them. Another mentor that I have always had and am always so grateful to have in my life is my Mum. She has a background in both accounting and business and currently owns and managers 4 retail stores in New Zealand. She has been such an inspiring role model in my life and I am so grateful to her for everything I have learnt over the years. 

Is your business only in the NZ market? Or have you branched out into other offshore markets?

So far yes, however we would like to open to the AU market early next year. 

Have you ever experienced burnout, and if so how did you combat those emotions of feeling overwhelmed?

I guess this is one of the reasons why I started a self care beauty brand. Although I personally haven’t experienced massive burnout in my life, I see it all the time, especially in close family members and friends. 

I find that when you start creating simple rituals around some of the things you do everyday, such as taking a shower, applying your skincare, putting on your favourite perfume, brewing your morning coffee or pot of tea, sitting down in your office ready to start work…it can really help add intention and stillness to your day. 

● Whether it be adding essential oils to the corner of your shower and closing your eyes as you set an intention for your day. 

● Using a ritual mist as part of your morning face ritual and reciting a beautiful affirmation. 

● Using a pulse point oil throughout the day instead of a perfume to remind you of your intention and bring you back into alignment with your highest self. 

● Changing your morning brew to a sacred cacao or tea and creating a mini ceremony around it. 

● Smudging your office every morning with sage, palo santo or a smudging ritual mist to help create a sacred space to work in. 

● Or maybe you simply plant some crystals around your home and/or work space to help you tune into your creativity and help you create more presence in your day. 

What is your most recent favourite quote? 

This is a bit of a long one bit it resonates so deeply with me. 

“What’s more significant? A New York Times best selling author in the self help words, or a gardener who chats to people as they walk by on the way to work? Neither. Bigger, louder, more exhibitionist or more noteworthy doesn’t mean more important. Big things can be world changing-ly important. So can little, quiet, nobody-knows-about-it-things. The energy of our actions doesn’t take into account how loud we scream, they ripple regardless. Remember that next time you abandon your soul to create what’s big when what you crave the most is enough of a pause from the pursuit of palatial to pay attention to your everyday life. Simple is world changing, too. A lot of the most noble, planet changing people in the world won’t ever grace the cover of Times or touch an instagram grid. Their life still changes the structure of the world. Remember that the next time you reach for ‘big’ and ‘noble’ instead of what you actually really want.” 

– Peta Kelly

What’s one piece of advice you would ask a business mentor (the Robinson Duo) in regards to starting/managing/growing a business?

What is one of the most important pieces of advice you were given when you were first starting out in business?

Ultimately it comes down to focus. When we started Au Pair Link, Cecilia was working full-time, studying full-time and also doing Au Pair Link (full-time)! That’s simply not sustainable and our mentor at the time told us, that we’d have to pick. What would be Cecilia’s core focus? Au Pair Link. Which ultimately meant dropping out of school and quitting the job. Ultimately, you’ve got to have one key focus and being scattered across several different opportunities, is going to cost you your focus!