Through the Âme shop, a curation of sustainable products created by female-owned businesses, Latina sisters-in-law Alejandra and Morgan Guerra have made it their mission to amplify brands that make the world a better place. Their motto is that “sustainability is about progress—not perfection.” In other words, the goal is to become incrementally better over time through small changes, rather than trying to do a massive overhaul overnight. One way we can all do precisely that is via the way we spend our dollars.
The only problem? It’s easy to become discouraged when shopping for sustainable products, whether it’s due to the wasteful packaging or the misleading marketing, which is exactly what these founders hope to prevent with their thoughtful collection. We sat down with Alejandra, who goes by Ale for short, for more insight into why they founded the Âme shop, which includes everything from skincare to self-care to jewelry and accessories, and what that process has looked like from inception to now.
Knowing all that we know today, how could we start a business that is anything other than sustainable?
Tell me a bit about the journey that led you to founding Ame.
AG: My sister-in-law, Morgan, and I founded Âme while making gradual changes in our lives to live more sustainably. While embarking on this personal transformation, we became acutely aware of the guilt of perfection attached to going green that often discourages many from taking small steps in the right direction. Through Âme, we aim to remind our community that sustainability is about progress, not perfection — because every bit counts.
How did you strategically move forward once the idea came to you?
AG: Morgan and I have always spoken about starting a business together, so it was natural for us to create Âme. After generating the idea and doing lots of research, we worked with a talented designer named Vincent Fileccia, who helped us create our brand identity and brand book. We wanted Âme to be fun and approachable by those just initiating their sustainability journey.
After nailing down the branding, we set up the Shopify website and sourced the first collection of products we would feature. Of course, there are so many other things that happened behind the scenes, too, like all the non-glamorous aspects of starting a business like registering the company and opening up a bank account.
Were there any missteps along the way?
AG: We thought working with a warehouse from the very beginning was a good idea, and it has been our biggest mistake to date. Little did we know that we would have little to no control over the way our packages would ship to our customers. As a sustainable brand, it was crucial to us to minimize the environmental impact of our operations. Fast forward to launch week, and the first orders shipped wrapped in an absurd amount of bubble wrap—not on brand.
We quickly realized that we needed to take control of the shipping process and reclaim our inventory from the warehouse. The whole ordeal was a great learning experience. It wasn’t the most costly of mistakes, but it taught us that we need to walk before we can run, and to keep things in-house until we perfect our method before outsourcing.
What sort of products to you curate at Âme?
AG: We source sustainable products from small women-owned businesses. There are so many excellent sustainable products out there that don’t have much visibility or marketing dollars behind them. Part of our mission is to be the marketing arm for these brands by carrying them on our site and helping amplify them.
Sustainability is a vital subject for us because it is evident that the planet cannot thrive with the continued pace of our ecologically damaging habits. I recently read a scientific article that shocked me. It said that global, human-made mass now exceeds all living biomass. Knowing all that we know today, how could we start a business that is anything other than sustainable?
Why support women in this space, specifically?
AG: We want to support small, women-owned businesses through the Âme shop because women entrepreneurs typically have less access to raising venture capital funds. There are so many incredible women making unique, sustainable products, and we wanted to do our part to promote their work.
What are some of your favorite items in the Âme shop?
AG: I am obsessed with all our candles from P.F. Candle Co. The entire collection is vegan, cruelty-free, and phthalate-free—and obviously, they smell amazing! To me, there’s nothing more comforting than the warm glow of a burning candle in my home. I’ve found myself reaching for this product more frequently due to all the extra ‘home time’ we’ve gotten this last year and a bit.
In the same vein of “self-care,” I’m obsessed with our Gua Sha tool from CBJ Beauty Secrets. Truthfully, I’m not 100 percent sure that Gua Sha does all it proclaims to do…like taking years off my face. What I do know is that it’s become part of my nightly routine and helps me relax. It’s like a mini massage for my face. Face muscles get tired, too!
Do you have any advice for women who wish to start their own business?
AG: Yes! First, don’t let fear hold you back. Starting is half the battle. Also, do your research and don’t forget the marketing. If, along the way you need to pivot, then do so. There’s nothing wrong with doing so—it’s part of the growth process. Finally, chip away at your goals day by day.
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