Nikki Wangler, 32
Lives in: Phoenix, Arizona
Nominated by: Lynsay Hilsabeck
Nikki Wangler finds her inspiration in everyone she meets and everything she encounters. Her connection to the mind and body has borne her a career and helped her find the love of her life (more on that later!).
After a few false career starts in publishing and as a make-up artist for the stars in L.A., Nikki found herself drawn to creating beauty products that were good for the body and for the soul. She officially founded Flora Apothecary in 2010, having worked a day job concurrently for three years before it found its feet (and its fans) and flourished into a successful business.
Nikki was nominated for Friday Best by the equally mindful and fabulous Lynsay Hilsabeck and when speaking with Nikki, I was struck by their similarities. Both these women are open and joyful and optimistic in a chaotic world. Nikki especially, who is expecting her first child in March 2015, is radiant with excitement for the future.
We think you might feel the same after reading her story.
Could you give us a little snapshot of your life right now?
Okay, so right now, I’m going through my first pregnancy. It’s been challenging but also a blessing at the same time. My husband, Jordan, and I have been together for seven years, married for three. I own a business called Flora Apothecary. I manufacture, create and distribute organic skincare out of Phoenix so that takes up all of my time! I have retailers across the country, in fact I’m in my studio right now getting ready for a show on Saturday.
So that’s my life right now! It’s a really beautiful life. We live in Phoenix, we just bought a beautiful house in this really cool neighbourhood called Arcadia. It was built in the 40s and we’ve spent the last six months remodelling it and it’s just really charming and sweet.
My life is really simple and beautiful and I wouldn’t change anything.
Let’s talk about your business a little bit, what was the very beginning of Flora Apothecary? What was the seed that made this whole thing take off?
You know it really started about six years ago, I was really heavily into the yoga movement and really trying to be healthy and treat my body well. At that time I was in publishing but I had also been a make-up artist for thirteen years previously. Before marriage and all that I had lived in Los Angeles for a brief moment working at MAC Cosmetics, living a really great life, doing celebrity’s make-up, doing movies and music videos. But what I was noticing is that all the products that I was putting on my clients were crap.
I mean they’re full of chemicals and it takes less than 30 seconds from something hitting your skin to get to your organs. When I found that out, it just really resonated with me and I wanted to clean up not only my health but also the products I was using on my skin.
So it was really just a hobby. I started to create soaps and little body polishes and things just for myself and then, about five years ago, I decided I was going to give some away as Christmas presents and it started from there. My friends wanted to order more and I really enjoyed making everything and I really enjoyed researching and formulating the products. I started a little etsy shop and it went really well, and then three years ago I quit my job in publishing to do this full time.
What was your job in publishing?
I was in sales. So, nothing fabulous…just sales.
They’re starkly different jobs…
They are. They are really different. I loved the magazine world though. I worked in lifestyle and art magazines and it was so much fun. I learnt so much and actually the sales job taught me a lot of the skills that I use right now in my business. I’m the only one here meeting with customers, selling this product, marketing it and promoting it. So they’re vastly different but the work I did then translates into what I am doing now.
So is your business becoming the thing that you envisaged or has it been something that’s gone off on its own and become something different?
You know, it’s been on track. I’ve had realistic expectations. I’ve been my own worst critic but I really try to take constructive criticism from other people and then just better myself everyday, better myself with my business, better myself as wife, better myself as a person. That’s my daily mantra.
What I am always striving for is trying to make sure that I create a really clean, natural product that people want to come back for, but one that also just gets better and better every time. To answer your question, I think it’s exactly where I envisaged it going and, you know, the sky’s the limit. I have no idea where it will go.
Until I am desolate, until I can’t pay for gas, can’t pay for the roof over my head, there’s nothing that is going to stop me.
I found that I created success just by taking that leap of faith, quitting a conservative good paying job with insurance and doing something kind of wild and crazy with a lot of competition…and it’s paid off. It’s really rewarding. It makes my soul happy and it makes other people happy.
It’s really lovely that you’ve found a job that makes your soul happy and that you feel really content in. What have been some of the challenges along the way? I know some of our readers are in similar positions, looking to do what they love, and I think they would appreciate some advice.
I think the biggest challenge and probably what any entrepreneur or artisan goes through is self-doubt. You know, lying awake at night, thinking, What the hell am I doing? I’m crazy! Is anyone ever going to buy this? Am I ever going to make a living out of this? Maybe I need to just go do something that’s more stable.
It’s fear. It’s fear and self doubt but those are all just created in our own minds. The way I overcome that is to just look around me, look at the blessings that I have, be content with where I’m at, know that I’m creating something valuable that people want and keep moving forward.
Until I am desolate, until I can’t pay for gas, can’t pay for the roof over my head, there’s nothing that is going to stop me. And that’s something I would say to other artisans out there…just keep going. If it makes you happy and you feel like you’re doing something that is of value, keep going.
Obviously you have to have money to live. That’s why I suggest to start small. I kept my publishing job for three years while I was launching this company and I worked day and night to create what I have. I’m open to every opportunity that comes my way. Nothing’s too big or too small, nothing’s not cool enough.
Also, I have an amazing husband, he supports me, he is my biggest fan. I mean, he financially supports us, he tells me to keep going and I think having that type of partner in your life that encourages you, or anybody in your life that encourages you, helps you keep going.
Absolutely. Let’s talk a little bit about your immediate family then…we’ve interviewed a lot of mothers and also women without children but we’ve never interviewed a pregnant woman and I want to ask you, what is it like being pregnant?
Oh my gosh. It is surreal. You, all of a sudden, change. Everything about you changes without you even knowing how or why it changed. You’re so depended on by this little tiny foetus inside of you and everything we do and say really impacts this baby. You have to be so responsible and so grown-up, it’s crazy! [Laughs] You can’t have any slip-ups.
It’s the only time in your life when you want your belly to grow and grow and grow and you want to show it off. It is also exhausting and nerve wracking and you think, How am I going to raise this child? What are my methods going to be? What am I going to name this child? All these things come up but I really just try to take it day by day and enjoy this really miraculous bond that happens just instantaneously. It’s so wild how natural it is to just be pregnant!
We’re all here together, we’re all here striving to be the best that we can be and I think honouring that in every person that you encounter can be a source of inspiration.
And what do you hope for your unborn child?
You know, I just hope that my child is healthy. I know everybody says they want a ‘happy and healthy child’ but that means so much.
I want this child to experience all of life and all of joy and all of what it means to be a human being on this planet. And in terms of interests…what are they coming in with? What is this child’s purpose coming into this world? I want to help to find that out and let that child be and do that, whatever it is they’re supposed to do.
That sounds like maybe the way you were raised? Do you remember your childhood very well?
Yeah, I have a bizarre memory where I remember everything! I had a beautiful childhood, I have one sister, we’re fifteen months apart and I just never felt unsafe, I never felt inadequate. I had great parents that supported us no matter what, good times and bad. In fact, I would say my mum is probably one of my best friends.
I feel like I must have done something good in my past life because I don’t have any bad karma.
What’s your mum like? Can you tell us a bit about her?
She’s fabulous. She’s just an incredible woman, a kind, strong, wild, spirited leader. She is tender hearted and driven by the love she has for her family.
She’s also absolutely stunning, so I have great genes from her. She’s just a lovely lady.
Do you have any role models that you kind of look up to now? Family or friends?
I don’t think that I have anyone that I specifically look up to. I think that everybody that comes into your life has a purpose. With people around me, I try to be open to what their purpose in my life is and what my purpose in their life is. So I would say that everybody inspires me. We’re all here together, we’re all here striving to be the best that we can be and I think honouring that in every person that you encounter can be a source of inspiration.
I just want to jump back very quickly, this just popped into my head! As you are pregnant, on the verge of welcoming a child into the world…do you think that the world is a healthy place? Do you feel hopeful about the way the world is at the moment?
I feel the world is in a funny transition. There’s a lot of chaos going on but I feel like there’s always chaos and right now, it’s this time in our world where social media is so integrated so we know everything that is going on.
For me, I think it kind of emphasises the choices that we have. You know, you can go right or you can go left and everything you do has an equal and opposite reaction. So I think it’s actually kind of a great thing, I hope that this world teaches my child that you have free will to go either way.
On the topic of social media, because children these days obviously utilise social media certainly a lot more than you or I did when we were children, is that something that you think about or is that something that you’ll manage when it comes time manage it?
I do think about because I do have friends with children like that. One’s on one end of the spectrum where their child cannot eat at the dinner table or be in a vehicle without an iPad and without that constant stimulation and I can see the issues that it is causing. But at the same time, the child is extremely bright with the technology and is able to figure things out really, really quickly from the stimulation.
Then I have friends all the way at that other end of the spectrum that have never let the child see any screens so I think about that and think about what would be the happy balance… so that my child won’t be addicted to something but also not be so closed off that they don’t get to see what’s going on in the world.
You have to talk about the sticky moments, the moments that aren’t comfortable to talk about.
So in ten years from now, obviously you’ll be a mother, but from a personal point of view, where do you want to be?
You know it’s hard to imagine your life better when you feel like your life is so wonderful. [Laughs]
In ten years from now, I’ll be 42 years old and I hope to have just a really happy family, a strong marriage…it’s the simple things in life that bring me joy. I hope that Flora Apothecary expands across the country. I hope that it is something that will be able to sustain myself, my children and my grandchildren. But I really feel like if I was in the exact same place in ten years I would be happy.
You mentioned a strong marriage there, what do you think the secret is if there is a secret?
You know I think you really have to respect each other. I think if you have admiration and respect for the other person and if you remind yourself of that, you’ll have a hard time letting the other things bother you. Also trust. You have to trust your partner and you have to talk about the sticky moments, the moments that aren’t comfortable to talk about. You know, do you…not feel loved anymore? Do you feel that finances are a problem? All of the sticky things that no one likes to talk about…you have to talk about them!
So how did you two meet?
We met in yoga class.
Yep. A little over seven years ago, he was living with a friend of mine who had taken me to this yoga studio and the first time I went I noticed him and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, that guy is really good looking!’
The next week I went back to the same class and there was the cute guy again. After class I was waiting outside for my friend (his roommate) and he was out there waiting as well. We all went to dinner and we just got along really great and became really great friends and it just developed from there. I think having that really strong friendship before we decided to become official really helped our relationship. We got to know each other as friends first.
We’re kind to people, we think with our hearts, we have compassion, we can multi-task and these things come naturally to us.
So one question that we ask everyone is, what do you think we should be talking more about?
I have this weird thing where I’m very in to metaphysics and crystals and energy. People call it voodoo or whatever, it’s quite taboo, but I think we should be talking about energy more: how we react to somebody’s energy, how you can take on other people’s energy, and how that affects you, not only physically but emotionally and spiritually.
Interactions we have with people or technology really do affect you and then you go and affect other people so, if that makes sense, that’s one thing I think should be talked more about and shouldn’t be so taboo.
It makes sense. We haven’t had anyone else say that but I know what you mean. There’s seven billion little forces bumping into one another all around the world and you don’t know what impact all these things you’re doing have on everyone else.
Exactly, I think it’s about being aware and coming together as one large, global community and being compassionate.
As an endnote, you’ve achieved so much…can I ask what are you most proud of?
You know I’m proud of where I’ve come in my 32 years. I also have to say that I am very proud of my marriage. I chose the best partner I could have chosen and its just feels really beautiful to have somebody share life with.
You’re so similar to Lynsay, you have the same philosophies on life, I can see why you get along so well! Lynsay gave us this great answer to a question about womanhood so I want to actually quickly ask you the same thing…what’s the best thing about being a young woman?
Being a woman is just such a cool and beautiful blessing. Gosh, we’re kind to people, we think with our hearts, we have compassion, we can multi-task and these things come naturally to us. The friendships we have are so strong and womanhood camaraderie is a beautiful thing.
We also get to create life, that alone and in itself makes being a woman a beautiful thing.
Thank-you Nikki for sharing your story with us!
Things I Love
For all her beautiful gifts.
My incredible family
For their unconditional love.
This crazy, beautiful life
For all it has taught me, lead me too, and
lead me through.