Every Monday, we ask small businesses key questions. Here we speak to north-east entrepreneur Gemma Stuart, the woman behind Gut Wealth supplements.
How and why did you start in business?
When I first started studying gut health and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) I was just trying to get on top of my own gut troubles. Researching studies about beneficial bacteria and products from other countries, as well as learning from experts, it all came together to create Gut Wealth sachets.
People tend to suffer in silence with poor gut health. It’s my personal motivation to help them out.
How did you get to where you are today?
I describe my career history as “wiggly”. After leaving Oldmachar Academy (Aberdeen) and then graduating from university, I started working for big financial services companies and doing a fair bit of travel.
But I got a bit fed up with the grey buildings, white meeting rooms and beige lifestyle.
A lot of the time it was unnecessarily stressful, which wasn’t helping my IBS.
If anyone had said five years ago that I’d be helping others, when I was at my worst with my own painful bloating and worrying symptoms, I honestly wouldn’t have thought I would be able to help so many people.
Who helped you?
Since starting out I’ve realised people want me to succeed. My parents and friends are great cheerleaders. I listen to industry experts and always appreciate feedback from my customers.
My accountants, Infinity Partnership in Aberdeen, have been super helpful.
Importantly for an ecommerce business, I’ve had some digital support from my local Business Gateway. And as a member of the Federation of Small Businesses I use its excellent new business and legal hub.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever had?
If I was given a tenner every time someone told me to “follow my gut”, I could easily retire. It was US entrepreneur Bethenny Frankel who said “sweat the small stuff”. To me, this means when starting out you focus only on tiny decisions and always keep an eye on the detail.
What is your biggest mistake?
This is an easy one. My first batches were too big for some standard letterboxes, so it meant higher postage costs and depot collections for customers. Good news, that’s all sorted now. My two-week and four-week subscription boxes get delivered easily and, importantly, they’re also fully recyclable.
What is your greatest achievement?
It brings me so much joy every time I get a customer review or email, especially from those who’ve been hiding their digestive discomfort. I love to hear anecdotes from people who, after using my sachets, have been able to do things they felt they couldn’t before.
How are you managing rapidly rising costs and how could the government help?
It’s tough for businesses and households right now, and it’s hard to get funding if you don’t know where to look. I’m sure there’s help out there but it’s not easy to find.
What do you still hope to achieve?
I’m turning 40 so this year I really want to achieve the right work-life balance, with lots of fun and travel. For many self-employed entrepreneurs that’s the hardest thing to do.
I want to see more of what’s on my doorstep, travel the Highlands and get on more lochs with my paddleboard.
What do you do to relax?
So many things help me relax, like chatting with friends, going for a walk or making a tasty meal. My ideal thing is going to comedy shows and my favourite music gig of this year was Scottish band Young Fathers.
What are you currently reading, listening to or glued to on TV?
I absolutely love silly comedy. I am also known for asking people what they’re having for dinner, so my forever favourite podcast is Off Menu, with Ed Gamble and James Acaster. My not-so-guilty pleasure, The Real Housewives of New York City, has me hooked.
What do you waste your money on?
I live in black leggings, so have no idea why I’ve a cupboard full of clothes and shoes bursting at the brim.
What’s the first thing you do when you get up in the morning?
I’m a 7am starter, and the first 20 minutes is usually spent scrolling through overnight orders and any customer queries. Then it’s a shower, walk, prep some food and get stuck into my to-do list.
What do you drive and dream of driving?
I used to work for Mazda and drive an MX5, but lately I’ve thought about giving up my car. However, I need a car to visit my family in Nairn, so I just don’t want to let it go.