MaryRuth Ghiyam on Getting Out of Debt and Making a Profitable Wellness Brand

Yasmin Nouri

Yasmin is the host of the "Behind Her Empire" podcast, focused on highlighting self-made women leaders and entrepreneurs and how they tackle their career, money, family and life.

Each episode covers their unique hero's journey and what it really takes to build an empire with key lessons learned along the way. The goal of the series is to empower you to see what's possible & inspire you to create financial freedom in your own life.

MaryRuth Ghiyam
Courtesy of MaryRuth Ghiyam

On this episode of Behind Her Empire, founder and CEO MaryRuth Ghiyam talks about her family-friendly wellness brand, getting out of $700,000 in debt and the advice she gives about life.

MaryRuth Ghiyam began her journey into the health and wellness industry after two traumatic events. She lost her father at 12 years old and her brother not long after when he was 17, both from similar heart conditions. That experience sent her on a course toward becoming a health coach.

“I was 20 years old at that time, where it was just my mom and I and I had lost my dad, but also losing a child or losing someone very young is a different experience. And so I'm definitely the person that cries during every movie. I really have a lot of empathy for things that people go through all the time,” said Ghiyam.

Ghiyam’s father had left them with a successful lumber business that her mother helped build into a 300-employee powerhouse, but the 2008 financial crisis—and the slowdown in housing construction that followed—deeply hurt the company. They had to close the business and were left with $700,000 in personal debt, Ghiyam said. It took her and her mother seven years to pay back that debt with interest that reached 8% or 9%.

“I was able to get out of debt from taking care of people in the business I have today… I care a lot about what I was saying about women's financial empowerment, and no better experience than those seven years of my life and starting this business and allowing this business to be profitable from day one,” said Ghiyam.

Ghiyam started her private nutrition business in 2015, working one-on-one with clients to improve their health. As she struggled to find supplements to recommend that wouldn't cause her clients nausea on an empty stomach, Ghiyam decided to try to concoct her own.

She made a small batch of a sugar free raspberry liquid morning multivitamin, which became the basis of her brand: MaryRuth Organics.

Her mom and husband were the company’s first employees, Ghiyam also made a point to not hire any employees for the first four years. Her struggle with the lumber business informed how she started her company.

“My mom and I never hired any employees, instead of spending, you know, $50,000 in an employee, we took that money and then launched another product and then launched another product. And that really allowed us to have that financial freedom and stability of not spending any money that we didn't have,” said Ghiyam.

Her experiences with debt and loss have given her a unique perspective on starting a business. Ghiyam said she often gives colleagues and friends going through challenges one key piece of advice:

“Everyone overestimates what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in 10 years,” she said.

Want to hear more of the Behind Her Empire podcast? Subscribe on Stitcher, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, iHeart Radio or wherever you get your podcasts.

dot.LA Engagement Fellow Joshua Letona contributed to this post.

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