We had the good fortune of connecting with Jennifer Parker and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jennifer, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I’m not normally a big risk taker but I do believe that success requires some degree of risk. I enjoy stability in my personal and professional life. I maintain a schedule and a routine daily. My friends and family joke that I am not very spontaneous because I like having control over situations. However, I do take risks sometimes. When I started my business, I accepted that I was taking a relatively small risk. The overhead is low, I make the products myself and I am the only employee. Working in my home gives me control over the product quality and inventory levels. I get to choose which markets I sell from and I was able to create my own website. I also get to be creative with the various scents I offer. So even though starting my own business was a risk, I’ve still been able to maintain some control over aspects of it.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
The Lavender Mermaid came about because I wanted to participate in the Smyrna Outdoor Market but I didn’t really know what to sell. My sister suggested I make bath bombs and the business grew from there. I remember that at the first market in June I had a small table with about 10 bath bombs for $2 each. Looking back, it’s really funny. It reminds me of a child’s lemonade stand. I wasn’t happy with how that first day turned out so I started looking around at ways to make other bath products like sugar scrubs. It was pretty easy but no one else was offering anything like that so I dove in. By July, I had peach lip scrubs made from real peach juice, lavender body scrubs and bath bombs, and sunburn spray. While I wasn’t selling out every weekend, I was selling product and I was encouraged by that. By August, I was attending more markets and people were complimenting me on my product quality and had partnered with a local soap maker to sell her handmade soaps. I also had a few other business owners tell me my prices were too low. I still struggle with that. I really want to offer an excellent product for a fair price. I don’t want my customers to feel like they are being taken advantage of. I started an Etsy store and an online store, but all of my sales have come from in person interactions. My goal this year is to really start boosting my online sales and branching out to sell outside of Cobb County, Georgia. That doesn’t mean you won’t see me at a market or two!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
The first place I take everyone is Marietta Diner. There is something for everyone there. The next places would be the World of Coke and, maybe, the Aquarium. If we could get tickets, I would definitely want to show any visitor the Fabulous Fox Theatre. That is one of my favorite places in Atlanta! There are a couple of hidden gems like the Painted Duck, Sweet Auburn Barbecue, Muss & Turner’s and South City Kitchen. Last but not least, we’d have to visit the 10 High Club to participate in Metalsome Karaoke!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d like to give a shoutout to Karen and Shawn Garcia of Smyrna Swag. Not only have they supported my business by purchasing my products, they’ve given me worthy advice when I needed it. Karen especially always made herself available to answer my questions no matter how ridiculous I thought they were. I would advise any first time small business owners find a mentor that they trust to bounce ideas off of and answer questions when they have them. It’s an invaluable asset to business that can’t be put on a balance sheet!