I didn't really think about investors because I never looked at it as, "In two years I'm gonna be here, and in three years I'm gonna be here, and in five years I'm gonna be here." I was watching it grow and watching it evolve and learning with it.
I started to blend my own fragrances in my 20s. I was flying by the seat of my pants. I had books on essential oils and herbs, and I took those basic recipes and just added to them. I pretty much spent the summer of '93 selling at flea markets and craft fairs, neighborhood things that I could get to and just kind of set up a card table and put out my product. When the weather changed and there weren't as many outdoor flea markets going on, those customers were calling me to get refills on their creams and shower gels and things, and that started people shopping in my apartment. It was very small, very organic, and I just kept reinvesting into the company; the company would make money, I'd put the money back in. I started in '93 and I didn't get my first business loan until 2001.
In 2003, I met Steve Stout, a really brilliant marketing and advertising person. Steve really understood what I was trying to do with my brand. He invested in Carol's Daughter and became my business partner and he was responsible for putting together our investment team, which includes Jay-Z, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith. And they formally became a part of the company in 2005.
I feel like some people too quickly want to be very, very, very successful and they think the way to get there is to get money, and if you haven't built a brand and you go to someone for money, you kind of don't have anything to trade, and you have to have something to trade when you don't have the cash or else you're going to have to give up too much equity in order to have that person involved with your company. So what I did--I knew that I was at that point--, I said, "Okay. I've been on Oprah, I've opened my store, I'm in the process of writing a book; I've done everything that I can possibly think of to move this business along to the next level, and everything that I need to do requires capital or knowledge that I just don't have…." now it was time for another person to come in, and let's see where this can go.