Here at Veeda, we love chatting with innovative, inspirational women—especially when it comes to getting real about women’s health — and our friend Cary Caster from 21 Drops® is exactly that.
21 drops® captures the incredible healing powers of the purest, most effective essential oils and therapeutic blends. 21 blends. 21 solutions. From headache to heartache...
Cary Caster, shares her story and the importance of scent, plants and essential oils for the wellness, health and immunity system of people.
Many businesses are started because of a personal experience. What was your inspiration?
I have always believed in the powerful healing ability of plants, which evolved into a lifelong study. With my understanding of using essential oils (EOs) to bring balance to the mind, body and emotions, I was able to see what a difference they made in my life and the health of my family. I wanted to make the beneficial use of incorporating EOs easy for the average consumer without needing the years of study or understanding of all the safety concerns that can be part of using EOs.
Why is 21 Drops unique? What’s the story behind the name?
21 Drops is unique because we take the guesswork out of using EO’s. Our blends are a combination of 3-5 EOs, safely diluted in an organic Jojoba carrier in a roll on applicator, making it easy and practical for the consumer. Each condition was matched to a specific number and color to add several layers of meaning and power to deliver on each blend’s targeted promise. The number 21 is a “coming of age’ and 21 Drops represents a 21st century approach to health.
How difficult was it to go from inspiration to implementation?
For several reasons, it has been difficult to implement the true desire of sharing the effectiveness of the product. We had packaging flaws and it took a few renditions of our other packaging to get the language correct to convey our messaging. On the other hand, we’ve made tremendous headway and have had numerous successes. We were delving into new territory with the way we positioned essential oils, and the differences between the “Beauty” and “Wellness” market are huge and we had to adapt!
What have been some of your biggest challenges so far? How do you deal with and overcome challenges?
Our biggest challenges by far have been exploding sales. I believe it has been the need to educate the public that has been the barrier for larger sales. The buyers for many retail locations love the product and “get it” and reorder frequently on the wholesale side, but the consumer is harder to educate. We deal with this hurdle by having a focus on EO education! We are also building a strong sales team that is well trained so they can represent the brand to the appropriate businesses and then train and educate the business staff on the benefits of essential oil therapy.
What kind of reception have consumers given you?
People love the branding of the product and that was intentional to draw people in so we could have an opportunity to educate them on EOs. Once we have the chance to explain the differences in the quality of the oils we use and their physiological benefits, it becomes an easy sell. I’m always surprised when people ask,” Do EO work?”. Most of all our modern medications are the artificial synthesis of these natural plant chemicals we’ve know and learned about from the historical use of plants for centuries.
How have you approached people’s misconceptions about essential oils and do you think there are any?
There are huge misconceptions about essential oils because the quality on the market and the retailers utilizing them in the past have been more for fragrance and not for their therapeutic purposes. Essential oils are literally liquid chemicals extracted from plants, each with their own unique components that work on our physiology. Just like eating vitamin and minerals, these phytonutrients help bring balance and wellness to our bodies in the right doses; EOs can also be harmful if used inappropriately. The most dangerous misconception being touted as helpful is the recommendation to take essential oils internally. This is extremely dangerous and not safe and could cause serious damage to the internal lining of the esophagus and stomach and an imbalance of our natural internal flora if misused over time.
How do you research and choose the ingredients you use?
I have had 1000’s of hours of EO training, here in the US and abroad in both the UK and France where Aromatherapy is a complimentary modality. I attend an annual conference on EO research and reside on the board of the AIA, so I pride myself on keeping up to date with the most current information, as well as subscribing to most of the EO trade journals. I am a member of a wholesale distillery database. But the only way to confirm the quality of EOs is to have 3rd party testing labs to validate that they are pure, unadulterated and meet international standards of quality for therapeutic use. This is what we do at 21 Drops for all our EOs.
How are you building your brand in the online and offline world? Where can we buy your products?
We continue to expand our physical distribution daily into new Spa and retail venues. We have a store locator on our website so you can find a location nearest you. Also, we sell directly to the consumer on our own 21 Drops website, where we will be featuring some new exclusive products. We also recently opened our first retail location in Delray Beach, where customers can come in and learn more about the products first hand and explore some of our newest offering. We look forward to offering aromatherapy classes and teach those interested in learning more about this very special modality.
How do you feel about the products' transparency policy? Do you think enough companies are following these kinds of rules?
Today the misuse of the words “natural” and “pure” make it very difficult for the consumer to have full transparency about the quality of their products. We provide access to our annual EO GC/MS reports on our website, which is the only information that offers full transparency when it comes to the quality of EO’s. Very few companies provide this information, as it’s an extra cost to provide this testing on various ingredients on an annual basis.
Tell us a bit more about your business mission. Do you think these types of initiatives can shape and change the industry as a whole?
Our mission at 21 Drops is to provide the best quality blends and products we can to ensure we are making a difference in the way people are feeling. I think the more educated the consumer becomes, the higher the demand for quality will arise! While I sometimes worry about regulating access to EO’s, I do think there should be a basic level of education required to be selling essential oils to other people. A required certification program could be similar to the level of education needed for estheticians, massage therapists or personal trainers. My basic certification course in Aromatherapy was 300 hours, and that should be a minimum requirement for people promoting and selling EOs.
How do you nurture your corporate social responsibility? Are you involved with any charities?
21 Drops only sources our EOs from organic farms or wild crafted areas that utilize sustainable and fair trade practices. I believe the planet, our Mother Earth, is suffering terribly from abuse. As a company, we are huge supporters of many botanical and environmental programs because that’s my background and passion: United Plant Savers, The American Botanical Council, Sierra Club, Nature’s Conservancy, Natural Resource Defense Council, Green Spa Network, to name a few.
What’s your motivational mantra?
My motivational mantra is “Live Deliberately”. I believe every moment of every day we make choices, and the more deliberate in our choices, the more proactive we can be in creating our desired outcome. I have also been “Daring Greatly” lately, so that seems appropriate for me constantly putting myself into new uncharted waters!
Can you share some favorite personal tips for health and well-being?
Spending time outdoors is an utmost priority for me to help me to clear my mind and connect to feeling “source” and grounded. While I attempt to eat clean food that is as “close to the source” as possible and drink lots of water, I also live by the 8-8-8 rule. It is the balance of 8 hrs. of rest, 8 hrs. of work and 8 hrs. of play that affects all that we do and helps to bring brings balance to the body mind and spirit to stay healthy.
What has been the greatest success for 21 Drops so far and what hopes do you have for the future?
The greatest success for 21 Drops is all the wonderful attention we continue to attract due to both the quality of our design and the level of quality of our product. We have launched our very first retail location where we can test new products and learn from the consumer what their needs are beyond what we are already offering. I hope we continue to be successful so we can develop natural products that can really make a difference in people’s lives and the way they are feeling so they can truly be their best selves!
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