We began in 1993 in Rogers AR. It took the first six months to get things organized, design a catalog, and place little classified ads in magazines with our toll-free number: 1-800-898-PURE.
Without internet or email, we waited for the phone to ring...
The phone and my desk were actually in our master bedroom in those very first days. It was not long before I shifted the office to a spare bedroom, then took over the garage, then the adjacent duplex. We had began this venture by printing the first retail catalog for the Oshadhi brand of essential oil. It was an excellent beginning to become familiar with a very wide range of essential oils.
A friend, named Tamara, was in a bible bookstore and saw a bookmark with the name IMANI on it. She gave it to me, and said "I thought of you right away and knew I needed to buy it for you". When I saw it I said, "This is the name for our Essential Oils!"
Then something difficult happened.
With our growing, but small, start-up businesses, cash was tight. We invested pretty heavily in printing and mailing a holiday catalog to about 30,000 people, still carrying the Oshadhi brand. We had gotten several thousand new names from business reply postcards. We hoped for a big holiday, but the return in sales wasn't enough to cover our costs and we were faced with the grim reality of failure.
My heart sank. We had a small family. I didn't know what to do. I felt that I had come to the end of my ability. I realized that God could do more with my "nothing" than my "everything" could do without God. So I determined in my heart to do nothing and wait for God to show me a way. I sat down in our living room and planned to fast until I had an answer.
Surprisingly, in minutes my wife, Stacey, got a phone call from a childhood friend. While chatting, Stacey shared our situation with her friend, Lara. Lara and her husband worked at a children's home and casually mentioned that we could always be houseparents to a cottage of children. Stacey kind of laughed it off, not expecting that being a houseparent was a viable option for us. After the call, she mentioned to me that Lara said we "could always be houseparents". I said, "ok"...she said "really?". I was ready to do anything.
On the way to visit the children's home, I didn't know if it was the right thing or not. Our mail-order business was still getting orders, but not enough to cover our expenses. A classic Catch-22. We decided to ask the children's home director what their greatest need was and also to share our business dilemma. The director said they needed houseparents for a group of 8 boys, then added that I could continue operating our business, using one of the large rooms in the building. I could work the business during the day when the kids were at school.
"I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity." - Oliver Wendell Holmes
I felt that God had given me back the business, precisely because I was willing to do whatever He wanted. As I've said, "Imani means Faith" and it was from there that Faith and Imani had a new beginning.
IMANI is a name to live up to. It inspired us to become entirely focused on Medicinal Quality Essential Oils from Organic and Wildcrafted sources.
As Imani got on it's feet, we realized that our time at the children's home was only transitional. Just before Y2K, we relocated to Northern Minnesota. We were back to having the business in our home, but our growing family caused us to move the business to a rental office space before purchasing our current building in 2005.