Lets Chat: Franklin & Whitman
"Clean ingredients, friendly humans, happy dogs
Let’s chat with fellow small business owner, Christopher Cieri. A fellow Bok Business, Chris’s Franklin & Whitman is affectionately known around here as Frank & Whit. Handcrafted all natural vegan & cruelty free hair and skin care products with a social mission... What more could we be looking for in our Rug Diary blog series?
We’ll let Chris take over, but first, we feel the need to tell you about our Frank & Whit cult fav:
- Chris has changed the game for us when it comes to Hyaluronic Acid Serum. No, really, he offers up full size samples with a friendly smile and firm lesson to use it on wet skin only. His emphatic reminder about how hyaluronic moisturizes through bonding to available water molecules has really stuck with us: mostly because this product is so rich it actually makes a noticeable difference in our routine when used properly. After cleanser and toner, before oil and moisturizer.
The star of the second part of the routine, Sarah's favorite in particular, is the Vitamin C Eye Serum. This dreamy chamomile and palmarosa scented roller is the dark circle treatment we swear by for anti-inflammation and fine-line diminishing. Add a layer of the silicone, water and alcohol free Walnut Hill Facial Serum to the rest of your face before moisturizing and you’ll never look back.
This holiday season Minimal Chaos is excited to offer you Frank & Whit's newest product lineup in our showroom...
Franklin & Whitman candles feature a luscious blend of soy waxes with natural crackling wood wick. They are of course vegan & cruelty free and free of toxins, phthalates, mutagens & carcinogens.Shop our curated collection of Frank & Whit candles in The Souk this holiday season...and in case your wondering, our cult favorite candle scent is The Fairmount Park candle ;)
Describe your business to us literally, and then again (figuratively, conceptually or in mood, energy, idea, ethos) or combine the two!
What part does community play in your business?
Our BOK community is huge, from the friends who supply products to us (bowls and bottles from Stover Ceramics and Remark Glass) to the shops, like Minimal Chaos, to just friends who I can chat with about life.
Creating a sense of community with our customers is very important as well. Having an amazing group of like minded individuals trust us with their skin care is something we don’t take lightly.
What are some surprises that have come up for you or pivots that you have made, willingly or not?
There are too many to count! One of the best parts of owning a small business is that we can be flexible and pivot whenever we need to. A friend of mine works for a large corporation and he said anytime they have to pivot it’s like turning an aircraft carrier around in a pool. It takes a million small moves and takes forever. Owning a small business allows me the freedom to tweak who we are on a daily basis. I love that!
Have you always wanted to own a business/work for yourself?
I like to think I am a serial entrepreneur lol. I have started more than a few different businesses in my life. Some have succeeded and some have not. The beauty of the modern world is you can start a company online and run it in your down time while still holding other jobs. For instance, I have always been a “photographer” but one day I decided I wanted to formally launch a photography business and within 24 hours had a website built and social platforms ready to go. Now that business takes up 25% of my time!
What are your favorite aspects of running your own business? Which aspects do you least like or have the hardest time with?
I love the fact that I have some control over what I spend my time and energy on on a daily basis. That can get totally overwhelming at times but I always try to remind myself that while I may be juggling fifty balls at once, but only a few of the balls are made of glass, while the others are made of rubber. I can drop the rubber balls till another day, I just have to catch the ones made of glass today. Once you realize that, things tend to become more simple and, in turn, easier to accomplish.
One of the hardest parts of running your own business is sometimes you feel alone on an island and you have no one to turn to for business answers or support. That's where having a strong support system in your personal life plays such a big role.
When did you know you were ready to open your business or take that next big step like renting a studio space, etc? What were you doing right before?
I was running Frank & Whit out of my basement for the first year or so while still working my “real” job. I knew it was time to rent a space once I felt the need to hire extra help. About five years ago we had a really successful sale and it took my wife and I like twelve days to make, pack, ship everything out, while both still working our full time jobs. Lots of 1am nights! As soon as that sale was over I made it a point to find a space to rent so I could hire someone to help me. BOK was the top building on my list and luckily we have been here ever since!
At the time I started Frank & Whit I was the VP of a local tech company and in charge of our B2B division. I loved my team but the work was very stressful and I didn’t have much control over our marketing messaging and POV, which was frustrating. Starting Frank & Whit allowed me the opportunity to create a business that had an ethos that matched my own and I loved having total control over that from the beginning.
How did you name your business?
I knew I wanted an old timey/apothecary sounding name. For some reason I wanted it to be “something AND something” while also having some type of Philly roots. At the very very beginning the only products we sold were beard and shave serums. Ben Franklin didn’t have a beard, while Walt Whitman did, so it made perfect sense! Plus it was a great marriage between the entrepreneurship of Franklin and the creativity of Whitman. Also both have quotes that are some of my all time favorites.
We're so grateful to have small business friends like Chris, and to have a way to share their work with all of you. There are sure to be even more future collabs with Frank & Whit so stay tuned.