Meet Jodi McKee! Jodi knew back in the mid-90’s that she’d someday have her own business. Fast forward to today; Jodi has started multiple businesses and most recently opened her dream store, Jewelweed! She’s a mom, health advocate, and has a strong entrepreneurial spirit. You’ll love her career path story!
Tell us about your business.
I opened a health and wellness store in downtown Wayzata, MN this spring. I curate a collection of herbs, teas, flower essences, aromatherapy products, bath and body, facial care, jewelry, crystals, burnables, books, and more. All with a focus on natural and organic products, sourced preferably from small businesses owned by families or women (local when possible). I also offer classes in the realm of herbal medicine, spirituality, holistic healing and more.
On the website under the tab “Meet the Staff” I have a lengthy narrative about how I got into herbal medicine many years ago. It is a story about my son, a frustrated mama, and how herbal medicine turned things around for my family.
THE EARLY DAYS
Describe your childhood in one word.
I can not think of one word to describe it. I was born to a teenage mother, which inherently includes a lot of challenges. I was loved and taken care of but things were not always easy. I have tremendous respect for my mom. The circumstances of my childhood have definitely shaped the woman I am.
Describe your childhood personality in one word.
When you were a little girl what career did you dream of having “when you grow up”?
Being a teacher.
What was your first job?
I worked at my local library. I loved the smell of new books, and I still do.
THE LEARNING YEARS
Where did you attend college?
The University of Minnesota. I have a degree in Accounting from the Carlson School of Managment. I was the first one on both sides of my family to get a college degree.
What was your first job out of college?
I worked as an auditor at Deloitte.
List your jobs until you started your own business.
- Library as a page
- Adventure Club, before and after school childcare at an elementary school
- Graco Inc. I worked at Graco in customer service as a receptionist and then in accounts payable. They had a tuition reimbursement program that paid for my college.
- Deloitte as a Staff Auditor
- Eide Baily as a tax preparer
- Started my own company selling baskets the summer my oldest son was one (I actually sold $10,000 worth of baskets at home parties!)
- Did data entry nights from home so I could stay home with my kids during the day
- Worked for my uncle’s remodeling firm doing the accounting work
- Worked for a residential interior design firm doing accounting work
- Began doing design work at the design firm
- Partnered with the design firm owner and opened up a retail furniture & accessories store
- Opened up my own interior design studio
- Began teaching and doing consults out of my home as an herbalist
- May 2018 opened Jewelweed
THE ENTREPRENEURIAL YEARS
What year did you decide to start your own business?
I remember saying in my early 20’s one day I would have my own store (so mid-90’s).
Why did you decide you wanted to start your own business?
I really enjoy the freedom that owning your own business allows. Not only can you set your own schedule, but you set your own path, which is really important to me. I find inspiration often and want that to translate to what I am doing in my professional life immediately. That can happen when you have your own business.
I did have an idea that I would have my own shop years and years ago but did not have a clear picture of what that might be. At that time, I was using and teaching about herbs and natural remedies, and people had no local place to buy what I was talking about. I felt there was a need for this kind of shop. I kept thinking, why isn’t there a store like this around? I realized I had many experiences that supported a health and wellness store, so I decided to open the shop I had been wishing for.
How is your business different today than when you first started?
I started out of my home and mostly taught people I knew, past clients, neighbors, and friends. Now I get to meet, talk with, and teach new people all the time. I have a much broader audience. It is so fun – I love it!
What three lessons have you learned running your own business?
1. It is a ton of work. Three times what you expect.
2. Surround yourself with people you trust and can depend on.
3. Listen to your intuition.
What’s next for your business? Top 3 goals.
1. Perfect my product offerings at the shop.
2. Get my online store up and running.
3. Roll out my own product line.
What’s your strongest skill set that’s helped you succeed?
My accounting degree and experience with small businesses have helped me so so much! All my businesses have been profitable. My experience helps me make solid decisions based on the financials, plus my intuition has been key for me. I can be creative while having a real sense of what is happening with the money (which is important for any company).
Herbs and natural health have been a hobby for the last 16 years. I have experience using herbal medicine to treat my family. Raising three boys, I’ve had lots of opportunities to practice. It comes naturally to teach about herbs that have worked for my family and me. Over the years, I have studied with many herbalists both locally and afar. I have seen plants heal in real and profound ways. I love sharing my wisdom with other people in hopes it might increase their health and well-being.
Lastly, my parents were gardeners. I was raised around plants and have had gardens my entire life. When I learned I could grow home remedies in the garden I already had, I was hooked! I call it my homegrown apothecary. Many of the plants I use are considered weeds, so you do not have to be a gardener to be an herbalist but they do match up nicely.
On this journey, who have been your three most supportive people?
My mom and my husband! My three boys cheer me on too!
THE BUMPS IN THE ROAD
Have you had any hardships or setbacks in your business or personal life? How did you overcome them?
When I was 40 I got really sick. I like to say my thyroid went crazy. I had sub-acute thyroiditis. It is a condition that causes your thyroid to spit out all the thyroid hormone so you are in a state of hyperthyroidism. I lost 20 pounds in 6 weeks, and going to the grocery store would leave me so tired. I sometimes could not go in and I had a hard time driving because I felt totally confused. Next, your thyroid slows down and you go into a state of hypothyroidism. This causes you to gain weight, have low energy, and generally not feel good. It was a debilitating condition for about 6 months.
My doctor told me I had to take thyroid medication for the rest of my life and that I had no choice. I did research on what was happening in my body and why. Not just from medical doctors but any writings and information I could find on the subject. I visited healers and other alternative practitioners to get help and support. This was a big wake up moment for me. At the time I started to feel sick, I was working in a retail store partnership, had a full load of design clients, was on the PTA, volunteered at my children’s school, and was taking much of the responsibility of raising my three boys and running the household because of my husband’s demanding job. Socially, I was trying to be everything to everybody – it was all too much. Looking back, I think, of course, I got sick! How could I not? My lifestyle was not sustainable and left me with no time to take care of myself.
To get better I needed to change everything, and I did. I took a hard look at my life. Seven years later, I can say my life is completely different and my thyroid is functioning normally. I have become much more discerning about how I spend my time and my personal health is a primary focus.
I quit the PTA. I only volunteered for things I really wanted to do (not out of guilt, shame or trying to be the best mom in the world). I got out of the business partnership that was never a good idea in the first place. I only took on clients that were a good fit. I enrolled in life coach classes and learned about boundaries. I discovered what I really enjoy, this included thinning out the people I spent time with to only those I actually enjoyed being around. I reconnected with nature. I quit trying to be everything to everyone. I got enough sleep and ate food that offers deep nourishment. Because of all this, my work with herbs increased, as did my understanding of the body, natural health, and how your lifestyle can make you sick. It was a profound lesson and one that will continue to shape the rest of my life.
ALL ABOUT YOU
Did you always dream of owning your own business or was it a surprise on your career path?
This is the fourth business I have started (including a partnership), so this was not a surprise. It’s the way I prefer to work. As I began teaching about herbs, I started to have ideas about how I could combine my love of plants, interior design, and a store; Jewelweed was born!
What are your hobbies outside of work?
My hobbies have always been plants and natural health, I’m so happy to say that is my work now too! I also enjoy traveling, reading, and hiking.
Tell us about your family.
I am the mother of three boys AGES 21, 18 and 12.
Describe your career path to-date in one word?
United Plant Savers
Age you’d like to retire at?
I am not sure I will ever retire!
Travel location on your bucket list?
Trip to Italy with my boys and nephew.
Introvert or Extrovert?
Totally an Introvert
Night owl or early bird?
I would like to be an early bird but am often a night owl.
Favorite podcast, YouTube channel, or blog?
Blog: One Willow Apothecary Woolgathering and Wildcrafting
Favorite business book?
It is not a typical business book, Finding Your Way in a Wild New World: Reclaim your True Nature to Create the Life you Want by Martha Beck
Favorite business tool?
Instagram, pic tap go, quickbooks.
Three female entrepreneurs you admire:
Juliet Blankespoor from the Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine.
Rosemary Gladstar, renowed herbalist and author.
Leah Brzezinski – Founder and director of Arete Academy (A school for twice exceptional kids)
article photo credit: Terra Sura Photography
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