Terry Carter is the founder of the Travertine Spa Collection, a lifestyle luxury brand that travels the globe for inspiration, ingredients, and ancient skincare rituals. The result is vitamin-rich, botanical, vegan, and cruelty-free products.
Terry is a seasoned business professional with over 30 years of combined experience in entrepreneurship, corporate strategy, international business, product development, product placement, and intellectual property law. His career ranges from positions in government and law firms to Fortune 500 companies. As a way to escape the stresses of the boardroom, Terry sought out quality spa treatments across the globe, which ultimately inspired the creation of the Travertine Spa Collection in 2004. Since then, we have been featured in Forbes, have an Amazon best-selling product, and continue to grow our catalog of high-end, spa-inspired products.
StarCentral Magazine recently caught up with Terry to discuss his journey as an entrepreneur and here’s what went down:
Could you please tell our readers a brief background about yourself and how you started your business?
I have over 30 years of combined experience in entrepreneurship, corporate strategy, international business, product development, product placement, and intellectual property law. My career ranges from positions in government and law firms to Fortune 500 companies. I have a B.A. in International Affairs, a J.D. and I studied perfumery in Paris. I speak English, French, and Japanese.
As a way to escape the stresses of corporate life, I decided to care for myself in natural and healthy ways. All things spa became my escape and eventually my business. Since launching the Travertine Spa Collection our products have been featured in Forbes and on Amazon as an Amazon’s Choice product. We recently launched nationwide at Whole Foods Market stores.
When did your entrepreneurial flair first reveal itself?
Likely in 6th grade when I would buy specialty pencils from the teacher’s supply store for $.15 and resell them for $.25.
How did your life look like before being an entrepreneur?
My work was demanding but I like pushing myself. I have been fortunate to work in jobs where I could voice my opinions and use my skillsets. Becoming an entrepreneur was not running from something but a courageous step off of the corporate ladder to see what I could build on my own.
As an entrepreneur, what is it that motivates and drives you?
I consider myself “a doer”. I believe in my ability to solve problems and invest my time, money, and efforts in myself. I want to see what I can build.
In one word, describe your life as an entrepreneur and explain why.
Grateful. I continue to remain grateful for every product sold and I’m humbled by my experiences in this journey of creating a business from scratch.
What were your top three motivations for starting your business?
To create products of high quality for people to treat themselves well. I wanted to create a quality line of products that encouraged clients to appreciate the present moment. Lastly, I wanted to build a financial legacy to promote education.
In a sense, I wanted our brand to represent a sanctuary from the daily demands of life. The Travertine Spa Collection empathizes with the need to get away, rest, and heal.
What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful business?
I believe there are five key elements for starting and running a successful business:
Ethos: are you a sustainable brand? Made in America? Against animal testing? Think about this beforehand.
We started as a cruelty-free and vegan brand 17 years ago before the terms were common in the lexicon of beauty products. I wanted quality products and though it costs more, it is worth it for amazing products.
Sourcing: Know where your products are coming from. Do you agree with their practices?
Quality: Not everyone is your customer. Some people prefer generic products with synthetic ingredients. Our customers read the labels and care about quality natural preservatives.
Cost: Establish realistic pricing. Customers are savvy and will comparison shop.
Market: We spend a part of every day marketing our products to TV, influencers, and retailers.
What are the three biggest challenges you have faced growing the business and how did you overcome them?
Prior to starting the Travertine Spa Collection, I worked for a prestigious Fortune 500 Company. I had a great salary and great benefits. I was laid off during the recession of 2008/9. Looking back, it would have been hard for me to walk away from the financial security of corporate America. I had a mortgage and other responsibilities. Starting a company while unemployed during a recession was a risk. In the end, I chose to believe in myself and my abilities. It’s important to invest in yourself and take the necessary steps to move forward. Years later, I’m now running a small business in the midst of a global pandemic.
I started with a little capital. Marketing in skincare and beauty is very expensive. I learned how to do PR on my own. Now we manage our PR internally. We have placement on almost every major TV network. The business has been featured in publications such as Entrepreneur, Forbes, Los Angeles Times, and numerous noteworthy blogs.
As we grow, so do the operational needs. We are constantly working to improve our system.
What form of marketing has worked well for your business throughout the years?
We use social media platforms like Instagram to reach people all over the globe. Marketing strategies are constantly changing as society continues to evolve. My biggest target is to make sure everyone feels included and seen.
As you grew the business, what have been some of the most important leadership lessons you have learned?
As the business grows, I not only look after myself but also employees, office space, recurring expenses, and a product line of 30 items. Managing constantly changing health and safety protocols is an added measure of responsibility. Irrespective of the situation, I prioritize a collegial workspace and the health and safety of my staff.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
Steve Harvey, the comedian had a morning radio show that I listened to on the way to work. In one broadcast he talked about people wanting to start projects or businesses. He said, “the best time to start is now.” That really resonated with me as someone who wanted to start a business. I wanted to make sure I didn’t get lost in the cycle of information paralysis, where you continually take in so much information that you no longer know where to begin. Seeking an education in your field is great –as long as it does not become a crutch due to fear of starting or failing.
What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?
Find a tribe of like-minded people who are rooting for you and who will challenge you. When you find a product or service that you want to devote time to establishing, spend a minimal amount of money testing your concept with people who do not know you and are not invested in your emotions.