Be Clean -- Becky Waddell
LH: Hey there! Can you tell us a little about yourself?
BW: I'm Becky Waddell, and I'm the owner of a little skincare shop called Be Clean! I'm a mom to my dachshund, Scooby, and a wife to my husband, Trevor.
LH: I love it! And yay I love dogs!
LH: Becky, can you tell us a little more about Be Clean? When did you start your shop, and why?
BW: I started Be Clean a little over a year ago, but I suppose the idea was bubbling inside me for many years prior. I had a background in natural skincare and over the years developed a pretty narrow palette with respect to ingredients. I was a label reader and quickly became frustrated with the green washing that is rampant in the beauty industry (and lots of other industries). But I was doing my school thing, and I had a pretty specific vision for what my adult life would look like. I got my BS in Applied Biology and my Master of Public Policy immediately thereafter. I knew I wanted to do environmental policy as my profession, so my husband and I moved to DC. And then I got involved in environmental policy in the DC scene, and frankly it just wasn't my cup of tea. I rather abruptly jumped ship and sought career-related refuge in the creative and retail scene, and it was there that Be Clean really came alive.
LH: That's so great that you were able to find what you wanted to do. I was also going to ask where you lived because most people we've spoken to are on west coast time so I was like I hope it isn't like 6 AM or 4 AM there! Haha.
LH: How did you muster up the courage to leave your job and start a business?
BW: I found that so many people who were either young, female, or in the policy world (or all three!) were stepping outside the confines of the city, professionally speaking, and pursuing projects that spoke to their passions. So I got brave and pulled my thoughts together... what I realized was no matter where I was in my career, I was always excited about and interested in natural skincare. And after working with small businesses, I was so inspired by their work that I wanted to create a platform to share the incredible things they were doing. So with plenty of nudging from Trevor, I took the plunge and started Be Clean. It's a place where you don't have to read the labels because you know the ingredients are safe and effective. And it encourages use of personal care products in a way that promotes overall wellness and appreciation of one's beauty, instead of preying on insecurities.
LH: I LOVE THAT! I love the transparency of your brand. That's a rarity in today's industry.
BW: So, I still work full time! I have throughout the last year and it's something that weighs on my mind all the time. I know that when the time is right, I'll realize it and take the leap.
LH: WOW! I applaud you!
BW: Well thank you! I hope we can continue to grow and really make an impact on the personal care "industry." It's weird to call Be Clean part of an industry. It just seems like a place to enhance your wellness, but there's power in participating in the larger industry conversation, so I hope we can do that effectively.
LH: So how do you find the time to work full time and run Be Clean?
BW: I just read your question and laughed out loud. How do I find the time? I'm not sure! I just do. We have a studio that is open on the weekends, and it doubles as an office space and shop (we live in a studio apartment and rather quickly realized that running a product-based business was not creating a healthy home environment in our already tiny space). But really, my evenings and weekends are solely devoted to Be Clean. I feel stretched thin often, but I also realize that the fact I'm even able to have Be Clean is something rare and I try to remember that when I'm feeling frazzled.
LH: I know that feeling all too well.
LH: What are some ways that you "recover" or recharge when you're feeling stretched too thin?
BW: Ooh. Surrounding myself with others who are in a similar situation has been instrumental. We're all sharing struggles and successes and it's great to have someone who can relate. It takes a lot of the pressure off.
BW: Let's see. I unwind in a few ways. I'll hang out with a friend and fellow business owner if time allows. But the daily stuff is so simple... I take hot showers (I know, scandalous for a skincare shop owner) and I usually stretch in the shower, too. Even if only for a minute or two. Sometimes I just need that momentary break. I often find that in the evenings my brain moves faster than I can work with, and pausing for a shower and a stretch can make all the difference. If I'm really on my game, I love going to Bikram, but that's a rarity these days.
BW: Also, I just got diagnosed with Celiac Disease and I'm learning that diet plays an incredibly powerful role in how I feel. NOT indulging in a glass of wine/salty or sugary snacks saves me from having to recuperate the next day.
LH: Our co-editor Olivia LOVES yoga and has been practicing it for over 10 years so she'll be excited to hear about Bikram. -- I'm so happy that you're being wise and kind to your body. Celiac Disease is a lot more common than we hear about and people don't always take it seriously.
BW: Ah, yoga! If only we all did it as often as we should. Bikram is incredible... I just love it. And thank you for your words about Celiac. So many people think it's no big deal... it's actually your body attacking itself, so it is a big deal!
LH: So I think it's super interesting that you work for someone but are also your own boss. What are some of the things that being your own boss has taught you? Is it hard to transition from employee mode to boss mode?
BW: That's a really interesting question, one that seems to come up a lot for me lately.
So, I would say that there are challenges to being your own boss and someone's employee at the same time. -- As an employee, I'm an employee (duh). I provide feedback and collaborate when needed or asked, but I'm not there to really mold things. And sometimes that can feel a little disengaging. But more importantly, at this stage, my business is becoming my priority and it's challenging to prioritize someone else's work. I do, but it's hard. It's sustainable for a period of time, but at some point it becomes a stressor.
LH: I can relate to that to a T!
LH: Can you tell us about a time in your business or life that really influenced you as a person and Lady Hustler, whether good or bad?
BW: My mother is the ultimate Lady Hustler. She is a constant source of guidance and inspiration to me about what and who a strong woman is. She has experienced a lot of adversity in her life and has never given up. We have made it through some rather tough times together and I feel like her grit is one of the main things that gets me through when I feel totally overwhelmed. -- But, more immediately, my friends Katie Stack of Stitch and Rivet and Kate Sornik of Kate Bakes. They are the hardest working women I know and I go to them (mooch off of?) and their hustle for inspiration and feedback... probably more often than I should! Oh and Morgan Hungerford West from A Creative DC. These three ladies... without them I would probably be a little lost.
LH: What are some of the things your mother's hustle has taught you?
BW: Gosh, things I've learned from my mom's hustle. Where do I start?
BW: First and foremost, I've learned that everything is going to be okay. Every time I am upset or worried, she reminds me that everything will work out. It always has. And that reminder is often all I need because it kind of stops me in my tracks.
BW: She has also taught me that you have to stick with things, even when they're hard or uncomfortable. Just recently I asked her to essentially bail me out of a problem, for lack of a better term, and she responded that I should really try and work through it and use the problem to my advantage. She also has so much compassion and love for me. I mean, honestly, my mom's love and support has allowed me to be who I am without feeling afraid. And not everyone can say that. So I feel very lucky to have her as my mom.
LH: Your mom sounds incredible and I'm so happy to say, a lot like my mom. It's such a great thing to hear about women having AMAZING mothers who help consistently build you even as an adult. They also give the best advice even if it doesn't sound appealing at the time.
BW: Totally. You don't realize it when you're younger. It takes challenges in adulthood to really see the ways your mom/parents helped build you.
LH: I always thought that was such a cliché. You don't realize until you're older. But now I'm like oh yeah, absolutely, yes, for sure.
LH: Speaking of advice, do you have any financial tips for Lady Hustlers trying to start their own business?
BW: I did not grow up with a high degree of financial security, so risk is very scary for me. But, it's practically the first thing you have to deal with as a business owner. So come to terms with it at the outset. And also be realistic about what it costs to start a business. You may have saved up plenty, or you might not even have enough to cover the paperwork. Don't fool yourself!
LH: That's great advice.
LH: What general advice do you have for your fellow Lady Hustlers?
BW: Oh gosh. Be brave and don't give up? Don't compare yourself to everyone else. I was in a room full of Lady Hustlers the other day, and almost every single one of them confessed that they were afraid, insecure, or anxious about their future. And that's totally okay. The point is, we are all in this together, so build bridges and not walls.
LH: That's perfect! I love this answer so much. Build bridges, not walls. That is so, so, so good!
BW: Haha, I thought it was a little trite, but it's true!
LH: If you could shortly educate people on why it's important to use great and natural products like yours for their skin and beauty needs, what would you say?
BW: Your skin is your friend, and it should be cared for and nourished. So much of what we've been told about our skin is wrong and has created a cycle of unhealthy practices. Natural products will work with your skin to help it achieve balance without creating more problems. Most of today's commercially available products are comprised of "ingredients" like thickeners, fragrance, and preservatives. These do nothing for your skin and often exacerbate underlying problems. Truly natural products do away with all that and deliver therapeutic ingredients and nourishment... that's it.
BW: Also, the brands available at Be Clean are all made by hand by some of the nicest people on the planet. People who choose not to prey on your insecurities, but instead choose to help people nourish themselves. And I think that is hugely important, and a large part of what makes shops like mine different. We celebrate YOU, not who we think you should be.
LH: That is amazing and is exactly what sets Be Clean apart from other shops. I've personally found that skin care lines, shops, and experts are telling me what I should look like and what my skin should be, rather than helping me manage who I am right now. I love that and I love your hustle!
LH: Bonus silly questions. -- What's your current favorite song? What's your favorite hustle fueling snack?
BW: I love these questions. Oh my goodness. First, about the music. Music is vital to my ability to power through my day. My preference changes often, but my regular rotation looks something like: "Grown Woman" by Beyoncé, "Blessings" by Drake/Kanye, the entire "Days Are Gone" album by Haim, anything by Young the Giant, and anything by the pianist Philip Glass. Like. I can't emphasize how important this list is! Oh and Taylor (Swift), obviously.
Favorite hustle snack... avocado. In smoothies, with plantain chips, by itself...
LH: DRAKE AND BEYONCE AND HAIM!? Who are you even? Our best friend?
Philip Glass too!? You're perfect!
BW: Hahaha Philip Glass has written the soundtrack of my life, starting in early high school. If I met him I'd probably cry. And Drake and Beyoncé and Haim... their energy keeps me going!
LH: Yes. YES to all of that.
LH: What role does your husband play in your hustle?
BW: My husband! Oh, my husband. He's the one who really encouraged me to start Be Clean. Now, his role ranges from carpenter (he built everything in our shop) to tax man to graphic designer. He does a lot!
LH: Yay, Trevor!
BW: Hahaha yes, definitely! --Well, let me know if you have any other questions! This was so much fun.
LH: Girl, this was AMAZING. I am so glad we got to chat with you.
BW: Thank you again for this opportunity!
LH: Thank YOU! It really was our pleasure. Xo