Meet Catherine Bander, President at Hälsa Botanicals, a woman-owned and managed whole health company that harnesses the power of plants to promote natural wellness.
Catherine Bander was a drug addict at 20, an insurance sales associate at 30, and now is the founder of a skincare line at 50. She had an unusual childhood where at one point, she was a very poor daughter of a single mom, and on the other went to a boarding school in England. Her father was from India, and her mother from the UK. They moved to the States before Catherine was born in quest of the American dream. Things didn’t work out, and she was raised by her mother alone initially before moving to England. She came back from school with no plan and tools to survive in the world and soon fell victim to drug and alcohol abuse. Fortunately, she got out early from this vicious circle and decided to get things right.
She started working in an insurance company where she started from the bottom. After a few years, she got into the sales sector, selling insurance to businesses and organizations. Today, she is the Vice President at James G Parker Insurance Associates, a top 100 insurance broker in the United States for privately held brokers. During her career, she realized the disparity in the society where people work for minimum wages and are often exploited. The condition was way worse in other countries.
As a result, she became a voice for manual labourers, the needy, and the vulnerable in society. She attempted to uplift them by providing insurance, protection, and risk management and assisting businesses in changing their culture and continues to do so. She advocates for their health and wellness through health insurance. It’s been 19 years since she started doing this and has built a team for this cause. Catherine absolutely loves what she does. About 27 years ago, she started going to the County Jail system to talk to women about addiction. She believes that there is a way for everyone to get out of their situation and build a life for themselves as she did. We can all do it.
Being an insurance associate, Bander was fascinated by entrepreneurs and business owners. According to her, there are two types of people in the business. One, those who have funding to create products and services and grow exponentially. Two, the ones who do the right thing and care for people whilst running their business. She wanted to do the same.
Therefore, with the legalization of hemp in 2018 and knowing its enormous benefits, she asked her clients to use it as a business idea. But someone suggested that she should do it instead. Catherine leapt faith and launched a skincare line, Hälsa Botanicals to empower women to feel good about themselves. She is proud to note that hundreds of thousands have used the product that she custom formulated and felt better about themselves. Although it is a high-end skincare line, they make it a point to donate and give back to the community. They follow a sustainable model of production where even the packaging is made out of recyclable material. “You can succeed in business and make decisions about it with integrity. Stick to your vision and goals without sacrificing the quality of the products for profit”, she says
Catherine accepts that there is always a disparity between male and female employees. As there are no men in her team, she has difficulty receiving funding. To date, her company is self-funded. She has had men talk down to her as a female entrepreneur. She knows that dwelling on such things can only upset you and take you away from the purpose. She rather creates her own opportunities. It makes her a stronger and better person to work towards her goal.
Bander’s journey has been a huge rollercoaster, but she has managed to rise above all odds. When asked about her motivation mantra, she says, “There are two things that are important to me. Always take the path of integrity and if we take one different action, all of a sudden we can be on a completely different path. Focus on one thing in a day and it can help you grow exponentially”.