Since the store opened in 1999, Brooklynites
- and an ever-growing number of celebrities - have flocked to
the Carol’s Daughter boutique in Fort Greene for its all-natural,
hand crafted body-care products.
Now, with the release of her courageous, tell-all memoir, "Success Never Smelled So Sweet: How I Followed My Nose and Found My Passion," Price is offering her fans something even more fulfilling - a recipe for some peace of mind.
In the book, Price tells of the heartbreaking obstacles - some she put up and others she encountered - which she has had to surmount in order to turn an in-home hobby into a multi-million dollar business.
She recalls growing up in Bedford-Stuyvesant in the 1960s inside the warm, loving cocoon of her extended Trinidadian family; her joining a cult where she was married in a group ceremony with many other couples; her subsequent divorce; and leaving a life of austerity to become a vocalist in the music group Fedora, where she ran in the same nightclub circles as Prince and Eddie Murphy before being betrayed by the band’s manager.
But still, she persevered.
"I’ve long-stopped feeling angry," she told GO Brooklyn of the incident with the manager of the all-girl band. "I let go of the negativity and I wouldn’t have met my husband [Gordon Price] if I didn’t go through that experience."
For someone so successful, Price’s book, surprisingly, often focuses on the slumps in her life - obesity, abortion, bankruptcy, miscarriage and the death of her mother (her company’s namesake, Carol Frances Hutson) on Valentine’s Day 2003 - rather than her triumphs.
"I feel like I made myself less vulnerable because I didn’t hide anything. I told it, and I told it the way I wanted to tell it. So many different events contribute to the person that I am now," she said. "I’m hoping other people that go through traumatic experiences or can’t seem to get over an event will say, ’If she can get over that, then I can get over this thing that happened to me.’"
Price, 42, modeled "Success," in part, on the combination of the magical and the practical she enjoyed in Laura Esquivel’s recipe-structured novel "Like Water for Chocolate." For each heart-wrenching revelation, she includes a recipe for the soul; she reveals how to make her nurturing lotions at home and even suggests mystical healing rituals.
In many ways her story is like a chat with a close girlfriend, who literally tells you everything, and you’re grateful to read it because it seems that no one ever talks about these important social issues.
Price, who co-wrote the book with author Hilary Beard, said she elaborated on the passages she wrote about her abortion at the urging of her editor.
"So many people have been in that situation with a friend or they go through it themselves," said Price. "The editor wanted me to be honest and describe it - and the miscarriage - in more detail and it was difficult."
"I didn’t ever want to say [abortion] should be illegal, but there were so many people in that clinic that shouldn’t have been there. One was having her fourth abortion!" recalled Price. "I knew I would never be there again. There’s a part of anti-abortion activism that you understand - this is a little out of control. You don’t want to say take choice away, but at the same time, OK, come on, wake up. Don’t do this to your body. I was much more careful after that, and I never wanted to be in that situation again."
In 2002, Carol’s Daughter products, all created by Price in her kitchen, generated $2.25 million in sales, Price said, thanks in part to endorsements by some high-profile clients.
Oprah Winfrey has touted her foot cream on air; actress Kim Fields, the cover girl on a recent Carol’s Daughter catalogue, enjoys the rose and pear scented products; and Jada Pinkett Smith buys the Mango Body Butter and Lisa’s Hair Elixir, said Price.
But while her famous clientele don’t hurt sales, Price, now the mother of two sons - Ennis, 6, and Forrest, 8 - revealed that her financial boon was in part due to overcoming her own fears and insecurities.
"I’ve met people that never get past ’it.’ But you have to forgive yourself," she said. "I met someone a couple of weeks ago who left her job and looked at it as a failure because she quit. I told her, ’You hated that job and it made you feel sick, so why would quitting be bad?’ Even if there was weakness involved, and you could have stuck it out, you have to let it go and forgive yourself. You were weak once. Forgive yourself and you’ll succeed again and be stronger."
Lisa Price will give a talk and book-signing
of "Success Never Smelled So Sweet" (One World/Ballantine
Books, $24.95) at Carol’s Daughter [1 South Elliot Place at DeKalb
Avenue in Fort Greene, (718) 596-1862] on May 18 from 2 pm to
4 pm. The store will offer 20 percent off Price’s favorite products
on May 18. For more information, log onto www.carols