The below is a copy of the article posted in the Greenville News written by Angela Davis. Click the image for a direct link.
Sister Veterans and MWV are among the organizations she was referred to as she began to make her way out of the military.
“They helped me transition and were pivotal in me starting my business,” said Sumner.
A native of Boston, Massachusetts, Sumner joined the National Guard while a junior in high school. After high school, she participated in the traditional National Guard before going on active duty in 2007.
She moved to Greenville in 2010 and was transferred to Rock Hill and then Columbia. She served for 20 years before retiring this past March.
She and her husband decided to settle the family in the Greenville area.
Sumner mainly worked in human resources while serving in the National Guard. She was also a mechanic and drove trucks.
When it came to learning how to make skin-care products, Sumner said she did a lot of research and networking with people in the industry.
It all started 10 years ago.
“I started mixing stuff in my kitchen. I did research on what wasn’t greasy and what was fast absorbing,” Sumner said. “I started to make better quality ingredients.”
Sumner said she also specifically looked for ingredients that either weren’t used often, talked about a lot, and were largely unheard of.
Butter Angels products are natural and cruelty-free with ingredients such as Mafura, Kokum, Illipe, Cranberry Seed, Meadowfoam Seed, Mongongo, Evening Primrose, according to the company’s web site.
As a member of the Indie Business Network for makers who are CEOs of their own companies, Sumner said she learned a lot.
“They teach you Johnny-on-the-spot,” she said. “They help you keep up-to-date with FDA regulations and we talk about formulations.
“I’ve learned about the good manufacturing practices that the FDA set up, so I follow those,” she said.
Sumner does everything for Butter Angels herself, including the packaging, labels, shrink wrap and the handling of orders.
In addition to selling the products online, she also sells them in Foodies Farm Shop in downtown Greer and at the Greer Farmers Market.
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She is one of many women in her family that were entrepreneurs. But it wasn’t something the family talked about or that she grew up feeling like it was attainable.
Being an entrepreneur then meant you were a millionaire, Sumner said. Being a business owner meant you had your own little shop and you were making rent, she said.
“Of course, every little girl wants to be a boss. But I never pictured myself owning my own business,” she said. “It never clicked until I was almost retired.”
Sumner said she didn’t feel ready to return to work in the civilian sector on a regular 9-to-5 job. She didn’t know how to relate.
Her sister initially planted the idea of her starting her own skin-care company. Retirement helped strip away the excuses not to.
“I launched really soon but I didn’t realize how hard it would be,” she said. “But I’m having a lot of fun.”
Part of the fun is being able to help nonprofits, she said.
“With anything I do, I have to feel like I’m helping,” Sumner said. “If I’m in a job or a position and I don’t feel like I’m doing any good to anybody else, I lose motivation real quick.”
A lot of the mentorship with her business plan and just how to run her business appropriately came from the Sisters Veterans organization, Sumner said.
Butter Angels got much of its exposure to the veteran market through MWV.
Sumner is a member of the Kappa Epsilon Psi Military Sorority and chaired their youth program.
“I’m not on the committee anymore, but I wanted to stay close to the project,” she said. “Any new project needs funding so I’m like, ‘Let me find ways to help you get some residual income.’”
The Leaping Bunny program advocates animal cruelty-free cosmetics. As the owner of two dogs, so does Sumner.