Today we present Jen Del Giudice as part of The Startup Magazine’s Female Founder Interview series. Jen has a great story as Founder and Owner of the LaGrange-Illinois based wellness studio and natural products company, LUXXE | HONOR.
As a pediatric nurse, Ms. Del Giudice always had a passion to help others. Over her nursing and health care career, she saw that wellness is critically enhanced with natural products and patients valued getting an education on toxins in products and learning how to treat themselves organically. The entrepreneur in her took over, and she opened LUXXE Organix in 2014. In 2019, LUXXE Organix grew into LUXXE | HONOR natural product company + wellness studio. Her service business offers oncology certified facials, massage, reiki, yoga, meditation among other services.
Like many small businesses during COVID-19, LUXXE | HONOR’S priority shifted to client safety and healthy living offerings to enhance the immune system. The company formulated its own hand sanitizer following a version of the World Health Organization and CDC guidelines and created a commercial and wholesale line of products for small businesses that are reopening. These shifts were part of Jen’s goal to help the business’s clients keep healthy while living in the New Normal.
We interviewed Jen to get more insights into her startup’s pivots and her entrepreneurial journey…
To get us started, give us a description of your company in 10 words or less:
Jen: LUXXE | HONOR is a natural product company and wellness studio located in the Chicagoland suburb of La Grange.
With a bit more detail, tell us more about what LUXXE | HONOR does? (Share with us what problem you’re solving)
Jen: My plant-based products and wellness services offer healing remedies to treat a physical condition or mental state. I love to create blends with medicinal properties that are made with no toxins. I also manufacture a line of natural/non-toxic deodorants, face and body, home and life products including body and face oils, hand sanitizer, all-purpose cleaners among many other natural products.
Going back to your company’s roots, what inspired you to start LUXXE | HONOR?
Jen: My girls suffered from gut issues and anxiety and I believe that it is not only the air we breathe and the food we eat but it is chemicals in products that are causing havoc on our bodies. I wanted to create an environment to educate people on the toxic nature of face and body products, and to give people the tools to mediate, and ground themselves. Skin is our largest organ and absorbs everything put on it. My goal is to provide education on safe and effective ways to treat the body with the least invasive approach first.
In this current environment, what have been the additional business challenges for you and how have you adjusted your product and business model?
Jen: The studio is closed for classes and facials, so I have had to pivot. I created a stronger hand sanitizer that I make with 190 proof grain alcohol. I have added an all-purpose cleaner and Castile soap made with the alcohol too! I am also creating a virtual membership and subscription wellness box for people to engage in self-care in the comfort of their own home. All of the products (see the LUXXE | HONOR website) are available in our retail store and online. I turned lemons into lemonade and feel this is an opportunity to grow my business and reach more people nationwide.
For your target market, do you see the current changes to be permanent? Describe what you think the “New Normal” will be like.
Jen: Yes, I do see the current changes to be permanent. In addition to continuing my traditional business model, I plan on growing my virtual membership, classes and subscription boxes. I feel in some ways that these unprecedented times have allowed me to take my business to a national level. I can reach more people with my wellness membership and natural products.
Beyond the Pandemic, are there other disruptive factors in the health and wellness industry that make it so promising?
Jen: The pandemic has forced us all to be more in tune to ourselves. People must find ways to decompress such as meditation. The disruption of the pandemic has also increased consumers’ interest in healthier lifestyles, for example, I have seen a spike in interest and sales in my stress and sleep blends, as well as my disinfectant collection.
Going back to your early career decisions, tell us what factors influenced your decision to be an entrepreneur?
Jen: I am a former registered nurse and aromatherapist. I was a nurse manager for a children’s shelter and wanted to continue to give back. With my nursing background and being an aromatherapist, I love to create healing blends that nourish the mind and body. I create my products using plant medicine that have healing properties in them. I have a crusade against the toxic products taking up most store shelves.
And what characteristics do you have that particularly contributed to your ability to jump from a startup success to a scaleup success?
Jen: I believe that God spoke to me and directed me to educate this world on toxins in products and provide wellness services that allow people to decompress. I have the passion to help others and am on a mission to educate this world on safe products.
LUXXE | HONOR is no longer a startup, it is a “scaleup”. As your company is growing, what are the primary challenges? Hiring? Quality control? Capital?
Jen: The number one challenge for me is marketing. I create my products using authentic, safe, and therapeutic grade-ingredients; however, many people still do not know all the amazing products we produce and services we provide. The market for people who are hungry about natural products and self-care is growing every day. I want 2021 to be the year that LUXXE | HONOR is known nationwide.
Do you have a thought about the LUXXE | HONOR “exit” options? Where does it go from here?
Jen: I am NOT exiting anytime soon. My goal is to grow my product company nationally and franchise the product company all across the states. I would love to see storefronts nationwide offering head to toe natural products to educated consumers.
Did you have to raise funds from outside investors? If so, describe that process, and, has going through the process of trying to raise capital impacted your vision and strategy for your business?
Jen: I fortunately did not have to raise funds from outside investors. My husband Rick is my rock and has encouraged me to follow my dreams as well as my three girls.
Perhaps for the future, what is the most important thing prospective investors should know about your company?
Jen: I would like potential investors to know that I honor (a word that resonates with me) every single ingredient that goes into my products and that I create my blends with thought, love and passion. I enjoy educating my clients on healthier product choices and believe that internal purity radiates external beauty.
That’s well put. What is the most important thing you tell other startup founders? What are your lessons learned?
Jen: One must trust his or her inner being and go with the flow when it feels good. One must pivot when stressful situations are present and grow his or her business organically, and never stop having FUN.
That’s fantastic, Jen. You’ve had an inspiring journey, and we wish you continued success. Thank you.
Jen Del Giudice, Founder and Owner of LUXXE | HONOR