“Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.” This powerful quote by Anita Desai could not be more poignant for today’s #sheShines spotlight. It’s so true that travel often inspires far deeper experiences than a fleeting vacation high. Travel can completely redirect you down a new path, open up doors you never thought you’d walk through, and if you’re lucky, travel can sometimes lend a hand in helping you to become the person you were always meant to be.
Channing Hesse, 48, was working as a commercial lawyer in the suburbs of Chicago when she took a trip to the Philippines with her sister. A graduate of Northern Illinois University with a J.D. from Chicago Kent College of Law, she always thought that she would simply remain a lawyer. Little did she know, this trip would change her life and transform her career in ways she could have never imagined. With no running water, no electricity and many stricken with illness, she saw how desperately the people of this little island called Illing needed her help. Having already been bored with her law career, she turned her passion to help into a purpose, starting Farmacologie, both a business and a non-profit that helps provide a substance called Moringa (a plant-based powder that is rich in protein and nutrients) to those who are malnourished. Discover her journey:
Let’s start from the beginning. What prompted you to start Farmacologie?
I was on a trip to the Philippines where my sister and I felt so compelled to do something for the people on this tiny island in the South China Sea called Illing. They had nothing, no running water, no electricity and lived in mud huts. Some of the people living there were starving, as they never got off of this island. We inquired about the natural resources and learned that “Malunggay” grew on the island. We quickly learned that this was the Moringa Oleifera Tree that had amazing superfood properties, and had been studied in other countries for its ability to reduce cholesterol, blood pressure, give natural energy and help all kinds of diseases caused by inflammation. We then developed formulations with moringa for energy, inflammation, lactation and for general well being.
What businesses or career moves helped shape Farmacologie or led you to it?
It was bored with my law career and this ultimately led me to the Philippines and to the moringa tree. I offered to give free legal help to a friend, Nancy Economou, who had a dream to bring solar lights to third world countries. I helped her get her dream established with the formation of Watts of Love (a not-for-profit) and obtain its IRS 501(c)(3) certification. We traveled back to the Philippines and Haiti to deliver solar lights. I bought packs of moringa to breastfeeding women in Haiti to help nourish them and their infant children and did a feeding program for kids in Manila.
What steps did you take to prepare for your business launch? How did you know you were ready?
I was quite bored with my job. As a commercial business lawyer, all I was doing was helping companies sue other companies for money. It was always about money. I wanted to do something that had more human substance to it. Once I saw the plight of the people on Illing, I knew I wanted to do something to help. My sister and I did a lot of research into moringa and consulted with other experts in the field. We then consulted with marketing experts to help launch the business.
Can you tell us about the philanthropic arm of your business? What is it like to run both a business and non-profit?
The non-profit is way more fun and rewarding. The heartfelt thank-you’s and hugs I’ve received from mothers of the children we were feeding was worth everything. There is always people in the world to help, so we never run out of people to help feed or educate about the benefits of eating moringa.
What has been the biggest learning curve you’ve faced as a business owner?
That I’m no marketer. I think I can do it all, but I’ve quickly realized that I need the help and expertise of others.
Do you have any advice for other future lady bosses considering making their side hustle dream or passion projects their full-time reality and career?
If you died tomorrow, what will you regret in life? If you have that passion, then you will always regret not taking the chance to make it happen.
We absolutely love the way you styled your Body Bark piece. How would you describe your overall look/style?
One thing about me that may surprise people is…
I’m a classical pianist.
When I’m not working you’re most likely to find me…
Swimming, watching Breaking Bad, or having a cocktail with a friend (or all 3)!
My all-time favorite lady boss mentor is
Thanks so much to Channing for sharing her passion and career insight with the Body Bark community! Hopefully, you’ve found a bit of inspiration in her story. Tell us about the boss lady risks you’ve been taking, and join us next month for a chat with another #SheShines entrepreneur!