#WIB – Q&A With Michele Carelse CEO & Founder Of Feelgood Health

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1. Can you please tell us more about your business?

A. Feelgood Health is an online health store with thousands of natural health products for the whole family, including adults, children, babies and even the family pet! We deliver conveniently to your door all over South Africa. We also have a wholesale division called Natural Wholesalers, which supplies natural health products to health shops, pharmacies, vet shops, and other outlets offering natural health options to their customers.

We’re one click away from delivery of your favourite herbal and homeopathic remedies, health foods, aromatherapy oils, vitamin and other health supplements, as well as planet friendly gifts and other spoils. All our products are 100% natural, mostly plant-based and we have a very strict ingredient policy to keep it that way.

2. When, how and why did you start your business?

A. I am a Clinical Psychologist by profession, and I started Feelgood Health way back in 1999 with a small range of herbal and homeopathic remedies to complement the work I was doing in my psychology practice. I have always believed that natural is usually the better option and definitely the first choice, before resorting to prescription drugs. This small range grew in popularity and size very quickly and Feelgood Health was one of the first e-commerce online stores in South Africa. Our products are now sold worldwide, and we have added many other like-minded brands onto our offering over the years.

3. What is your role in the business?

A. I am the CEO and also the formulator and developer of our new brands.

4. Where did you study and what did you study?

A. I did my undergraduate degree via UNISA while working and raising three children, then completed my Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology via UWC (University of the Western Cape).

5. How did you finance your business?

A. I bootstrapped my business from the beginning, using bond money, money from my practice and whatever other money I could get my hands on. This allowed me to gradually grow my business and expand my product offering. Last year, I was fortunate to secure venture capital funding from Enygma Ventures, which has really helped to turbo-boost our growth and expand our offering and our footprint.

6. Describe your average workday, if such a thing exists.

A. My average workday is not so average and depends very much on what I am currently doing. There is always daily staff management and training to do, as we pride ourselves on offering not only products, but also a support service where customers can ask our advice, in order to make their best choices. I also spend a lot of time working on formulations and product development.

7. How do you balance your home life and your work life?

A. This was definitely a challenge while my children were growing up and I have to confess that I often burnt the candle on both ends. As a working mother, I was fortunate to be able to drive my children to school and pick them up after school, as well as spend time with them – but this often resulted in working very late at night and sacrificing my sleep. Now that they are beautiful young adults, it is a bit easier and I get a bit more sleep. I try to go for walks and keep weekends clear for family time.

8. What drives you and inspires you?

A. There is nothing more encouraging for me than receiving feedback from customers who have used our products and benefitted from them. Our remedies are very effective, and we often hear from customers whose children are doing better at school, whose babies are sleeping well and whose pets are no longer suffering from itchy skin. It is also very fulfilling to know that Feelgood Health is providing jobs for people and contributing toward the economic growth of our country.

Another great motivator is contributing towards providing products that do not harm the environment and we are very conscious about plastic usage and proper waste management, as well as making sure that no harmful chemicals get into our bloodstreams – or the planet. As a business we believe that by keeping our carbon footprint down, we help our customers to do so too. Change takes place one person at a time!

9. Where and when do you have your best ideas?

A. There is something about night time, and especially 2am, when my brain wakes me up and starts having great thoughts! My best ideas are often born then. Otherwise, they come to me during times of relaxation, when I am not thinking of anything – or when I am doing something else and a new idea pops into my head. I am definitely never short of ideas – only short of time to implement them all.

10. Where and how do you market/advertise your business for sales leads?

A. Being an online health store, Feelgood Health makes use of Facebook and Instagram ads as well as Google Ads. We also have a strong presence on Facebook. That’s where our customers spend lots of time, so we spend time with them there, too. In fact, our customers are our best advocates and we could literally not grow our business without them.

Natural Wholesalers, our wholesale division, advertises on Linked in, and we also have reps around the country to visit our wholesale customers and grow new business.

11. What is next for your business?

A. Since we received venture capital funding, we have been focusing on rapid growth. We are already well known on the South African market, but want every household to experience the benefits of being a Feelgood Health customer. We make natural health easy in so many ways and partner with our customers to care for the planet. We’re also focusing strongly on growing our wholesale division and looking at expanding into the rest of Africa and the USA. 

12. What advice would you give to female entrepreneurs hoping to start their own business?

A. You are much more capable than you think! Start small, but make sure that you start! I have actually found that founding and growing my own business has been perhaps easier and definitely more fulfilling than working in a corporate environment with its glass ceilings and tendency to undervalue women’s contributions.

You should not expect to reach your goals overnight – growing your own business takes perseverance, persistence and time, not to mention the ability to ride the waves that entrepreneurship always brings. However, women are tough and resourceful! If you keep at it, you have a good chance of success.    

For more visit: www.feelgoodhealth.co.za

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