We had the good fortune of connecting with Melanie O’Shea and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Melanie, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Risk is an inevitable part of life. We all take risks frequently whether we realize it or not. The word “risk” often accompanies a negative connotation or emotion (usually fear based); but I strongly believe we need to shift that thought process. Risk could/should be seen as a positive thing, one of possibility and growth. We have the tendency to focus on the potential pitfalls of risk and not the endless possibilities that can accompany risk taking.
I take risks (often big ones) every single day. In my personal life, I am an avid equestrian. I own and ride horses – 1200lb animals that are constantly assessing risks of their own….while I’m riding or handling them. Horses are flight animals and will often flee from a situation they perceive as dangerous which has led to stories I could share for days! I couldn’t imagine my life without horses and am so thankful for all that they have taught me and the partnership I have with them. With that being said, I don’t go into the barn, the saddle or the show ring without being very aware of what is happening around me and how my horse is feeling about our surroundings.I often find myself having to adjust according to the horse’s perception of what is happening at the time. I see risks throughout my life and career the very same way. I am constantly doing a risk/benefit analysis and adjusting things accordingly.
When I started my businesses I knew I could fail (the negative side of risk)….but I certainly never focused on that. I chose instead to focus on what it would take to succeed, how I spent my time and made sure I was spending my time wisely. I purposefully shifted the thinking away from fear and focused on goals. I like to reassess my risks and be self aware about how I am handling them; ie: am I letting fear of risk affect my decisions and is the fear related to that perceived risk actually rational. Doing that occasionally really helps in both my personal life and career..
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I have used my medical background to create a line of hemp based CBD products for people and horses. I am very hands on throughout the entire formulation process of each product; each product has a specific purpose and therefore a reason it is in the product line. I spent a long time assessing the needs of both humans and horses, and the product lines reflect what I had seen over time and the problems that needed to be addressed in both humans and horses.
One of the things that sets my company apart from others is that I am accessible and LOVE to teach about the benefits of CBD, the history of it and the science behind it. I like to guide clients to products that make sense for the goal they are trying to achieve. Sometimes clients don’t even know what their goals are or why they want to try CBD…..so I really enjoy getting to know clients and teaching throughout that entire process.
I am really excited about new products we have coming out soon. There are two new horse products launching soon and new lotion formulations for humans. Our lotions take into consideration the humid nature of South Florida and will never leave anyone with that sticky or oily feeling of many lotions on the market. We also have three variations of CBD lotion with different scents. Usually everyone finds their “favorite”. Lotions are one of our top sellers. Gummys are also a big seller for us. I created those with as much organic ingredients as possible and with as little sugar as possible. CBD is a fantastic anti-inflammatory but we know sugars create inflammation. The sugar coating on the gummys is there to help keep them from sticking together in the bottle, not for flavor. The natural juices in them are absolutely delicious!
There have been LOTS of challenges along the way but the businesses are where they are because I haven’t given up and I generally don’t take “no” for an answer. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is to do things right from day one….it always pays off! Doing the right thing is often harder, more expensive, takes longer, and has it’s own set of challenges but there will come a time that you realize doing it properly saved you many more problems than you had to overcome during the process.
Equilife CBD and First Cut Organics were started out of love and care for people and animals. I wanted to give both humans and animals a healthy alternative to other commonly used therapies or drugs. I actually bring the products for 3rd party testing myself and each bottle comes with a QR code so consumers can see what testing was done, what is in the product and sometimes more importantly what isn’t in the products (like heavy metals and pesticides).
The horse products were studied under the guidance of a veterinarian and there was a white paper written about the findings of the studies. We spent many months doing those studies and actually were surprised by some of the findings. We will continue to do studies along the way and publish what we find.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Here in South Florida there are so many great places to visit and explore. There is something so raw and beautiful about the Everglades, it’s one of my favorite places to take people. We often take it for granted but most people will only ever see it on a nature show. A day on the airboat followed by fry bread and fresh fish is a great way to spend a day!
Taking a flight down to Key West is also something everyone seems to like. Visit Duval Street, some of the historic sites, and there is great food (and key lime pie) everywhere in Key West. The sunset show in Mallory Square is always a favorite. Diving or snorkeling in the finger reefs is also an amazing experience and one of my favorite things to do when I’m down that far south.
I love to show people around Coral Gables and to stay at the Biltmore. Catch a show at the Miracle Theater and dinner just about anywhere (we are never far from amazing food here in South Florida….we are a bit spoiled, and we like it that way!).
The winter months in South Florida are the best and include the polo and horse show season. An afternoon at polo or watching some of the best jumpers in the world is always exciting. A stay at the Breakers or The Chesterfield and dinner on the island of Palm Beach (and a walk on the beach) is a great way to end the day.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I am so thankful for one of my college professors; Dr Lois Marshall who always believed in me even when I was so broken and tired and certainly didn’t believe in myself. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it were not for her love and encouragement. She is still a cheerleader of mine to this very day!
One of the best books I’ve read and re-read occasionally is titled: On Becoming a Leader by Warren Bennis. That book had such a huge impact on me that I actually wrote to Warren Bennis and thanked him, and he wrote me back! Warren Bennis has sadly passed away but he left us with such great insight and information he definitely deserves a shoutout.
I am most thankful for and would like to give the biggest shoutout to my son Zachary. He has been the reason for so many of my successes and gave me strength I never knew I had. It was always important to me that he saw his Mom unafraid and relentless in the pursuit long term goals (even when that goal line was really far away and seemed nearly impossible to reach). He is now out of college and pursuing his own goals and finding his own way. I am so proud of him and all that he has accomplished and overcome. He is by far my greatest accomplishment!
Photographer: Stephanie Suarez