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Success is second nature
The Hamilton Spectator
Ron Pozzer, the Hamilton Spectator

Ellen Solondz turned profit from her first business into capital for a second venture.

Ellen Solondz retired at the early age of 40, a milestone most people can only dream about.

"I guess I did things backwards," she says. "(Retirement is) not all it's cracked up to be."

Five years ago she came out of retirement to build her own company, and life has never been better. Solondz has more energy in her voice than most people half her age.

Solondz, 52, graduated from a fashion arts program and began her career working for Simpson-Sears in Hamilton as a management trainee. She moved up the ladder until a new business opportunity sparked her interest.

In 1981, Solondz bought the rights to market Aloette natural skin care products in Australia. She sold her home and car, picked up stakes and moved halfway around the world.

Aloette was already a common name in North America, but selling it down under was different. She had to rewrite the entire marketing plan and sales course.

She also helped to develop product and manufacture it in Australia, all of which was good preparation for what was to come. In 1991 she sold the rights to the company, making a healthy profit on her $200,000 investment, and came home to retire.

After a good long rest, recreation and travel she began to think: "If I ever do it again ..." and "what if ...?" When a successful business person starts thinking that way, it's just a matter of time until they find the right product, place and time to start a new business.

That's what happened with Solondz. A first-generation Canadian raised in a German home, she had been exposed to natural products for wellness and healing. She began looking for such a product, something that was natural and had longevity.

She set off to Europe to find what she was looking for, eventually developing her own line of natural products that are manufactured in a 180-year-old German factory.

Her three lines -- pleasures, essentials and remedies -- are all manufactured with pure essential oils, and directed towards women.

Her investment in the new venture was $1 million, mostly from profit from her first venture. In 1999, Burlington-based Second Nature opened for business.

Using the direct sales marketing plan she developed, she pays consultants to market the products to consumers directly.

"It is a model to share the revenue. In fact, we use people to advertise our products. So consultants actually receive the money we would have invested into advertising."

In five years she has amassed 250 consultants across Canada to sell her products.

She encourages her consultants to find several signature products that they love, and market them first. She sells products and finds consultants at trade shows, health fairs and women's events.

Consultants earn about $10,000 a year, and as much as $15,000 as managers.

Her still-growing company is grossing $450,000 to $500,000 a year.

Solondz can be reached by phone at 1-877-866-7622 or on the web at

Lessons learned

* Be sure to source quality in all things. Solondz kept searching until she could find the right products to market.

* Keep doing -- standing still actually moves you backwards. Even though Solondz had a successful business and had retired at 40, she chose to continue to grow and build another business.

* Be proud of working hard and enjoy it ... it means you are alive!

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