[Women Working It is an outgoing series on women entrepreneurs and business owners in Memphis.]
Cake pops. Dog treats. Custom tea blends. Lauren Wiliams-Batiste has always had plenty of big ideas.
“I've created a million businesses in my head,” she said. “I'm an Aquarius. That is one of the traits of Aquarians—creativity.”
In 2016, Williams-Batiste opened Ele & Ivy Tea Company with a business partner she met while working as a community organizer and education advocate. When her co-founder moved out of Memphis to attend graduate school in 2018, Williams-Batiste took over as sole owner.
She rebranded as Elle's Elixirs
and expanded the product line to include CBD and CBG herbal and floral blends.
The blends are versatile and can be smoked, sipped as a tea, or added to a bath or shower.
"I wanted to destigmatize using hemp and CBD, particularly for Black women," said Williams-Batiste. "We have been using CBD products, but we don't see ourselves in a lot of brands and products"
"I wanted a place for Black women to learn about CBD, learn about hemp, learn about the benefits and how you can incorporate them into your wellness routine," she continued.
Now, the former teacher is launching a personal brand as a wellness educator.
“People care about the product that they're consuming, but people also want to know about the person behind the product,” she said.
“I'm here for women. I'm here for Black women. I'm here for us finding liberation and freedom through wellness. And, you know, times are hard right now. Times are really, really hard.”
Williams-Batiste sat down with High Ground's Brandi Hunter to discuss her newest endeavor, the benefits of CBD products, and the impact of the pandemic on her business.
Elle's Elixirs are flower and herbal blends that can be smoked, sipped as a tea, or added to a bath for soaking. (Lauren Wiliams-Batiste)
THE Q & AI remember when Ele & Ivy only sold tea. Why did you to start offering CBD and CBG products?
When I became the sole proprietor, I had to really think through what direction I wanted to go in. I knew that I definitely wanted to offer hemp and CBD products.
In my postpartum bounce-back and recovery phase and getting my bearings as a new mom, hemp and CBD really helped my anxiety in my first year. My baby, she's only two, so I'm not that far out from that stage. But it really helped me and it helped a lot of moms around me.
Have there been barriers in business that you’ve had to overcome?
There have been barriers and things that I've had to learn, but one thing that really helped me was other women. Particularly Black women business owners who have truly carried me through as mentors in communications or marketing, branding, PR. It has been everything for me since I've launched. Other Black women who believed in me as a business owner, and seeing maybe parts of themselves in me, have helped me.
I'm so grateful for the outpouring of love and support that I have received.
You're building a new brand as a wellness education. Have you figured out what wellness looks like for you?
Some days it might just be me making a cup of tea at the end of the day, while everybody's asleep at two in the morning. That might be my only time with myself and downtime.
A lot of days, especially in the pandemic, it's talking to my best friend. She lives in Virginia, and that is something that brings me joy. I think it's important to find moments where you're reminded of your full self, not just one aspect of you. Not just “Lauren is a mom” or “Lauren is a business owner” or “Lauren is a wife.”
I try to make sure I'm nurturing my friendships because I find real joy in my friends. I love a good bath, adding some Elle's Elixirs, and helping my muscles unwind. Lately, I've been working out.
How have you had to adjust your business during the pandemic?
We haven’t done in-person events since early February. My in-person sales were my biggest revenue because I have a product where you can experience it.
The week the pandemic hit, I actually had the Soulful Food Truck Festival. That was our event that we participate in every year and one of our biggest selling events. The event still went on, but I chose to pull out of it because of the safety and the uncertainty at the time.
I had to find a way to create that experience for my customers in other ways.
Some of the ways have been reaching out to retail storefronts that are still open. In the beginning of the pandemic, we were in one retail store. We're in about five retail stores right now. I upgraded my website and added an “About” page
so people could still get that connection and still understand who I am, how Elle's Elixirs was founded, the principles of our company. And I expanded some of my products.