Meet Cordelia Smith: Founder of Formulary 55
Cordelia Smith, the original maker and owner behind bath and body products brand, Formulary 55, started making soaps from her kitchen in 1993. After testing out several business ventures, Cordelia remained persistent in keeping up with her passion and found her calling when Formulary 55 was born in 2012.
With the company's growing success, Cordelia's products can now be found in 17 countries and in over 600 retail stores, including Anthropologie.
We had a moment to chat with Cordelia about her experiences and attaining the career of her dreams.
Name: Cordelia Smith
Education: Self-taught chemist. I studied photography in college, but never used it.
Tell us how Formulary 55 all started.
I have always had a bath and body care business (under various business names) and in 2012, I opened a small retail shop called, Formulary 55.
How did you come up with the name "Formulary 55"?
There was this cute little storefront on 55th Street a few blocks from my house that I really wanted to rent. I waited a few years for it to be vacant and when it was, I pounced! I wanted to sell other brands that were made by small manufacturers — so Formulary 55 was born.
What is a typical day at work like for you?
I am very much a night owl, so my day starts around noon. I get up around 9 am, spend a few hours at home hanging out with our dogs, making breakfast, relaxing, then head to work around noon. We have two locations that I work out of. One is where we manufacture most of our products, and the other is our live/work space. The first floor has my test kitchen, my office and a showroom. I bounce back and forth between the two locations all day. I personally only make a few of our products (the new men’s line and private label products), but I still pack most all the wholesale orders. During our busy times (like now!) packing wholesale orders takes up the bulk of my day. At night, I’m almost always at our main building working on social media, answering emails and dreaming up new products. Most nights I take a break at 7 pm to eat dinner with my husband (our CFO) and then get back to work until about 10 pm. I finish up my day with a bath. Always!
What is your idea of relaxing?
Getting away from work! We love to travel and pretty much always have a few trips planned on the horizon. In December, we are headed to Seattle to visit friends and family (that is where we are from) then in January, we are planning a trip to Iceland (I love the Blue Lagoon).
Any advice for other female entrepreneurs looking to start their own business?
Start slow and thoughtful. Don’t try to be everything to everybody. Be passionate about what you are doing or don’t do it. Don’t compare yourself to others on the internet.
Subscription services! I can’t stop! Trunkt, Green Chef, Rent The Runway — I love the convenience of online services.
Favorite place in the world:
My bathtub! We just moved into our dream loft a few weeks ago. The apartment is a huge labor of love for both my husband and I. The bathroom is larger than our bedroom and has three separate rooms. It is so indulgent and beautiful I can hardly believe it is all mine.
Name 3 items from your line you can't live without:
Our new shaving lotion — it leaves my skin so soft, our shea butter soaps in the men’s collection (the recipes are my original olive oil formula and the best soap you will ever use) and our ground oats face scrub. I use it all over. It’s the perfect exfoliant.
Words you live by:
“Today is the day.” It’s a reminder to make every day count.