Cat or dog? Ketchup or salsa? Shower or bath?
Sometimes personality profiles are as simple as this or that. Without question Eden Prairie’s Raulla Mitchell, founder and owner of Red Note Botanica, is a bath person. “I can’t tell you how many answers I’ve found in the bath,” she says. “I owe everything to the bath,” – including her skincare for the bath line, which features rose milk and shea butter bath soaps, sugar scrubs, ultra-rich lotions, whipped soufflé creams, body butters and perfumes in 20 fragrances.
The fragrance line reads like a list of steamy romance novels: Sweet ‘n’ Sexy Dragonette, Tea Party à Deux, French Kisses in Winter and Mei Mei’s Sweet Summer Dreams, to name a tempting few.
Mitchell’s products are botanically based, paraben and sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) free, void of artificial preservatives and cruelty free. The essential oils are certified 100 percent pure, and ingredients adhere to the cosmetic industry’s compliance standards in the United States, United Kingdom and the European Union.
Make no mistake, Mitchell’s entrepreneurial spirit isn’t just skin deep. She delves into her business with healthy doses of enthusiasm and thirst for knowledge. She started Red Note Botanica in October 2012 with 120 products. Today, the line includes 127 items with more on the horizon. Individual products range in price from $9.50 to $45. While the online business is Red Note’s bread and butter, products are featured in stores in Minnesota, North Dakota and Michigan.
“I like the line because it offers our guests something different in terms of scents,” says Julie Eischens, owner of Future Concepts Studio + Spa in Eden Prairie. Red Note products are featured in the spa around holidays including Mother’s Day and Christmas.
“They are more pure, more healthy, better for our guests,” Eischens says.
Mitchell was introduced to the concept of aromatherapy while studying film at La Sorbonne Nouvelle in Paris. Much of her business has a decidedly French influence, but the name Red Note is a nod to a Chinese tradition of sending red notes or love notes. Mitchell carries on the custom in each purchase by including one of five red love notes, featuring pearls of wisdom from Nathaniel Hawthorne and Oscar Wilde.
Before launching Red Note, Mitchell spent 20 years at the helm of Richter Casting, a local talent agency for feature films, print and television advertisements and industrial videos. The casting agency operated during Minnesota’s prolific film production period in the 1990s, and Mitchell worked on films such as Drop Dead Fred and Untamed Heart. While the work was exhilarating, the commitment pulled Mitchell away from time with her daughter Claire, then a preschooler. “I wanted people to know when I do something, I do it all the way. There’s a time when you can do it and a time when you need to go another direction,” she says.
Sometimes a “new direction” is simply a fresh approach to a simmering passion. Remembering her time as a philosophy and French literature undergrad at the University of Minnesota, Mitchell recalled hours spent amid the cosmetic counters at Dayton’s. She knew then what many wise women know now: smart skin care begins before the onset of aging. “As a college student, I’d splurge on skin care,” she says. “Clothes are gone. Your skin is forever.”
After her daughter started first grade, Mitchell turned her efforts toward earning an online doctor of natural health degree from Alabama’s Clayton College of Natural Health. This was her opportunity to fold her interest in the mind-body-spirit connection into a new career and she spent a brief time as a holistic healthcare provider.
But venturing into a new business wasn’t easy. Mitchell was told she needed more money to start her business, and naysayers tossed out the word “crazy” alongside her dreams. “It was extremely difficult, more than I ever anticipated,” Mitchell says of Red Note’s preproduction days.
Undeterred, Mitchell thought, “What do I have to lose?”
For others teetering on the brink of change, Mitchell offers this advice: “Keep your eyes open for opportunity. Find someone you trust who will inspire you or a kindred spirit who will share in your successes, big and small.”