Jefferson always had a penchant for natural approaches to health. She says, “It began with my own personal interest in using natural products as a young girl. I always liked the idea of something that smelled good, that was good for me, and I just think it was part of the culture and the environment of growing up in California.”
When she moved to Atlanta 25 years ago, Jefferson started working part time at an herb store. Encouraged by the store’s owner, she decided to open her own establishment, a health food store with a juice bar and vegan take-out cafe called HerbShop Cafe.
But Jefferson went through her own health challenges when she became pregnant with her first child and ended up selling the business. “I was not able to manage it,” Jefferson says. “So, I took some time off.”
Nevertheless, it wasn’t long before she found herself missing the business. “My husband took care of the household and said, ‘Hey, let me take care of you. You take care of our children.’ That was great, but I’m an entrepreneur,” Jefferson says with a laugh. “So, year one when I was at home with the baby, I said to him, ‘We’re gonna have to figure this out. You’re going to have to work with me because I gotta get back out there’.”
And that’s when Sacred Waters Wellness Arts Studio was born. While Jefferson had been out of the business, her vision had been evolving–she wanted to expand her offerings beyond retail to include services. Having remained in contact with many of her customers, she was struck by how many were struggling with gut health. And so Jefferson–already a certified herbalist–got additional certifications under her belt, including nutrition and colon hydrotherapy. In fact, that’s where the name of her wellness boutique comes from.
Jefferson says, “I was actually in a class, and I think the instructor talked about how sacred the body is. And I thought if I’m going to be working with water, I want to develop the idea of sacred waters because I want to add all of these different healing modalities. So, I came up with Sacred Waters Wellness Arts Studio.”
Jefferson acquired the physical space at the end of 2007 and opened for business in 2008. Since then, she’s had 15 years of collaboration, learning, and growth.
Jefferson describes the health-conscious community as one that is small and even blends with counterculture. “It’s still really a small community because we’re dealing with Indigenous traditional practices, some may even say we’re dealing with folk medicine or what they may call folklore. So, it’s a very small community,” says Jefferson.
For that reason, it’s all the more important to Jefferson that she connects with like-minded practitioners. She explains that “support is a verb, and we need to support each other in order to be successful with reaching people who want the type of services we offer.” Jefferson regularly collaborates with other natural health practitioners and professionals–from massage therapists to Reiki practitioners to yoga instructors.
Her collaborative approach helps her business, but perhaps more importantly to Jefferson, it’s part of an integrative approach in support of the body. “When I collaborate with another practitioner or professionals, my goal is to give our clients the best possible experience and results,” Jefferson says. “It takes more than one experience–it takes multiple experiences–and that’s what makes it therapeutic for someone’s body. It’s not just that onset of feeling good at this particular moment, it’s creating a holistic experience and process so that you are sustaining your health over an extended period of time.”
Some of Jefferson’s favorite collaborations involve classes with guests that include global icons and local healers alike. “One of my favorite events was How to Brew Your Own Kombucha,” says Jefferson. “We had that done by a provider. She provided a kombucha kit. So you had everything that you needed to get your brew started, take it home, and finish things up.” She’s also hosted classes on chakra healing, crystals and gemstones, and how to make your own herbal remedies.
When it comes to marketing, Jefferson has tried it all. That includes Google ads, local print, radio, and even television commercials on major cable networks. But she always posts updated information on social media–you can find her shop on Instagram @sacredwaterswellness.
When Jefferson first started, she did everything manually, using a cash register with card swipe. So, when she saw Clover, her interest was piqued, and she made the switch. While she can’t remember precisely when that was, “It’s been a long time,” she says.
She finds the organization of the dashboard particularly helpful. “If I need to generate reports, that’s at my fingertips.” Especially, she says, “because I’m a retailer, so I collect tax and have to pay tax. And I get to see how much I collected daily or monthly or however I need to. That’s really helpful.” She’s also a fan of how easy it is to integrate her eCommerce app. “Being able to add my inventory and have it linked to an eCommerce app, I like that. So someone can purchase from my website and it goes into Clover.”
Over the years, Clover has helped her business evolve. Jefferson says, “One of the things that I’ll say about this business is that it’s operated almost like a mom-and-pop shop up until the last few years because, although I’ve had the longevity, the growth has been slow. I’m starting to realize it takes a certain fortitude and fierceness to really push your business to certain limits in terms of growing your revenue.” And while one of her challenges is finding like-minded people to help grow the business, she “definitely sees that the growth with having Clover–it’s made it much easier.”
Just as Jefferson maximizes her reach through collaborations and marketing efforts, she also extends her impact by presenting her products and services at festivals, expos, and special events. That’s where her Clover Go comes in handy as a supplement to her Clover Station and Clover Mini.
Jefferson says that she conducts most of her private sales at festivals and events. “And so we do some local festivals that are geared toward healthy eating, nutrition, cleansing, and detox.” For instance, she has been a regular vendor for almost ten years at a three-day festival called the Wonderful Wizards of Raw, an all-raw vegan plant-based foods extravaganza. Jefferson says that “these are not like the health events where you have the Red Cross or similar organizations. These are festivals with music, speakers, dancing, and lots of energy. Some are outdoors, and some are indoor events. I like to describe it as just beyond the grassroot movement.”
In the next year or so, Jefferson is looking forward to expanding to a new location that she already has her eye on. “It’s a new development that will be in close proximity,” she says. Jefferson is keeping it close to the chest for now. While she’s planning on keeping the same name, or some variation of it, she says she’s “currently developing more of a concept for Sacred Waters.”
She’s open, however, about her plans to start a high-quality and effective line of signature products. She also wants to publish a book to, she says, to “further develop myself professionally and to help more people who are learning from me. But I want to advance as well as I matriculate in life–as I become wiser, I like to say, ‘I’m not against aging. We all want to age. We just want to age gracefully’.”
Her advice to young entrepreneurs? Listen to your gut. “Although we learn from other people, what’s for someone else isn’t always for us. So, don’t be hard on yourself. It may take you a little bit longer or you may get there faster. But don’t be hard on yourself either way, and always have gratitude.”
As a professional and as a person, Jefferson offers this tip: “Learn as much as you possibly can. The learning process is forever.”
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