Business Startup Spotlight: Tomboy Organic Skincare Co.

Tomboy Organic Skincare

At Tomboy, we are using herbs and roots from the deciduous forest to create skin care products for our own brand of women, the Tomboys!

Tomboy Organic Skincare

Melissa Kreis-Stephens

Name: Tomboy Organic Skincare Co.

Location: Deer Lodge, TN


Product / Service Offering: Organic skincare

Founder Interviewed:  Melissa Kreis-Stephens, Founder/CEO

Other Key Management Team Members: Carolyn Campbell-CFO, Somer Stephens-Chemical Engineer, Halle Stephens-Sales, Rachel Mayes-Intern

This article is part of our Business Startup Spotlight series featuring entrepreneurs and their companies.  We hope that these founders’ interviews will inspire and motivate you as you undertake your own entrepreneurial journey.

Tell us a little about yourself with a focus on what motivates you.

I am Melissa Kreis-Stephens, the Founder of Tomboy Organic Skincare Company. I have a B.S. in Forestry, Wildlife & Fisheries from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and a teaching degree in Chemistry. I have a passion for whitewater kayaking, rock climbing, and medicinal plant chemistry. I am motivated by the belief that outer beauty is an echo of your physical, emotional and spiritual fitness and that health is a function of a strong connection to the Earth.

When did you establish your company and where did the idea originate?

Tomboy Organic SkincareI started formulating recipes in 2001 (while teaching) after a high school science experiment produced a very effective remedy for poison ivy. A business idea was born.

Customer Discovery can make or break a business.

What need or needs does your company seek to fill for its customers?

Our products address sweat, dirt, and exposure to the elements, deliver results, and fill the adventure skin care niche.

What is the one thing that sets your company apart from its competitors?

At Tomboy, we are using herbs and roots from the deciduous forest to create skin care products for our own brand of women, the Tomboys!

What was the biggest challenge you faced while getting your company up and running, and how did you overcome it?

Tomboy Organic SkincareWhich month? Which year? Cash flow was probably the biggest obstacle. I was raising three children and working four jobs!

Funding Options for Women Entrepreneurs.

Are there resources you have utilized that other founders might find compelling or useful?

Yes, SCORE Association is retired business professionals who offer advice and resources.

What steps have you taken to secure funding for your company and what, if anything, would you do differently if you had to start over?

I have created this very cool grassroots company by myself and in cash. I am a big fan of Dave Ramsey. I would do it all the same!

Is Your Startup Investable? Find Out Now

Have there been any questions you have had as an entrepreneur of a fledgling startup that you had a particularly hard time finding the answers to?

Yes, I have had equipment challenges. Finding vats and filler machines have been difficult.

Find all your business equipment with Kwipped.

What challenges, if any, are you grappling with?

Moving from my home kitchen into a manufacturing facility has been challenging.

What is the most helpful tip or “hack” you’ve ever learned, stumbled across, or been given?

The most helpful thing was a book, “The Science of Getting Rich”, Wallace D. Wattles, 1910. It isn’t what it sounds like; it was a classic that was ahead of its time. Wattles discusses the idea of completely removing all negative thought from your repertoire as a precursor to success and your spiritual responsibility for managing extreme wealth.

Is there anything else you would like to share about your company?

In 2016, Tomboy won the American Choice Best Brand Award. That same year, Tomboy’s War Woman Scar Oil Salve won Trailblazer Girl’s Top Skin Care Products of 2016.

Are you familiar with other startups you believe should be spotlighted?  If so, we would like to hear from you.  Tell us about them, sharing in your comments below!

Sandra Sloan

Sandra has previous supply chain and business operations experience which she is leveraging as an author with FundingSage focused on spotlighting entrepreneurs and their startup efforts.