Amilya Antonetti never intended to be the entrepreneur and businesswoman she is today when she founded Soapworks, a line of cleaning products without synthetic-based ingredients, in 1995.
“For me, the journey I have taken from starting Soapworks to running my company (AMA Productions) today, what makes it so special and so different for me is that I didn’t intend things to turn out this way,” said Antonetti. “My intention when I got pregnant (back in 1993) was that I was going to be a stay-at-home mom—I had already been a career woman. I never thought it would have taken me on this road of being the voice for small businesses, being an entrepreneur—none of these things were ever in my brain.”
When Antonetti discovered that her household cleaning products were negatively impacting her infant son’s health, she took charge and started developing her own soap products. She then also then found out through other mothers that there was a need for natural household products that did not contain potentially harmful substances. Antonetti said, “Once I got on that course, I didn’t really have any choice but to be very open and authentic and say, ‘I don’t know where I’m going, but I’m going to take this as far as I can.’”
And she did. Through her perseverance, Soapworks helped introduce consumers to the “human and earth friendly” movement in cleaning products, eventually selling in major grocery chains across the USA and Canada. Antonetti credits her successful launch of the company to her parenting skills. She explained, “I took my parenting skills and I applied it to business, not the other way around. I always say to women, ‘If you can run your household, you can run a business, because running a household is much harder.’”
Having sold Soapworks in 2002, Antonetti now focuses on many different roles, which include acting as CEO of her speaking and consulting company, serving as a business expert on television and radio, speaking at various events, writing, and parenting her now nineteen-year-old son and six-year-old daughter. Antonetti’s son credits his mother’s determination and independent spirit as the defining traits that shaped him into the person he is today, especially considering the sacrifices Antonetti made early-on when starting Soapworks to learn the ropes of the trade on her own.
“What my son normally says when asked what he’s gotten from me as a mother is that failure is not an option,” said Antonetti. “He’s seen me fallen down and gotten back up, and he’s fallen down and I’ve helped him back up, so I think he has learned, and knows, that his history has proven that falling is not a problem. We all fall, but it’s how you get up that really matters and builds character.”
“The other thing is that he really has had the freedom as a child – and even now as an adult – to kind of do it his own way. I definitely raised David with the philosophy of The Soul’s Code – its philosophy is that you come here with your purpose, and then your parents try to turn your purpose into what they want it to be. So we try to turn them into doctors or lawyers or something like that, but they really came with a purpose. So, I’ve always raised David with the philosophy of, ‘Does it make you happy? What do you think?’ He never was the kid in high school who wore what everybody else was wearing or did what everybody else was doing because he was raised from a toddler based on, ‘What’s your opinion? How would you solve the problem?’ So he has that really independent, come from within, character that I think attributed to being my child, because I think that for me, that’s what I learned. I was an odd duck, I never really looked outside of myself for inspiration or for direction or for rules or anything like that. I just marched to the beat of my own tune, and that became a part of my parenting.”
As a single mother today, Antonetti explains that regardless of the set of challenges that other single mothers may be encountering, the intensity of those struggles is the same for all. She explained, “Women are in this quandary each and every day of their lives going, ‘How do I do it all with what resources I have?’ We have such an inner core driven to try to do things sometimes beyond what’s humanly possible because we want to be the best at everything.” However, the advice that Antonetti gives to other mothers (and fathers) is that whatever difficult challenges you may be facing as a parent, the most important thing to do is to find the message in the experience.
“They always say that God doesn’t give you more than you can handle, and they tell you that you’re here for a reason and that you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be,” said Antonetti. “If all of this is true, then what you need to do is you need to look at it and say, ‘What is the message here?’ Because the sooner you get the message, the sooner the experience will evolve. You will stay in the experience until you receive your message – and if you don’t receive it, then the universe will give it to you in a different form, however the message will still be the same.”
“My biggest lessons – my deepest character tests and builders – have been in the times that I was going, ‘I just can’t take it,’ or, ‘I can’t believe this is happening.’ Those times were when they came. So anytime I feel any sense of discomfort at all, I stop, I take a really deep breath and I say, ‘Okay, what is the message in this moment?’ From there, I write it down, and as I go through my journal for the day or the week, I can piece together the message pretty clearly. Usually, you won’t get the message in order or the whole thing at once, but when you look at your messages altogether at the end of the week, everything comes together and it becomes pretty clear what the message is. People think they make a prayer to God and all of a sudden it comes in a written memo form from beginning to end – no! It’s little tiny things that come in out of order, you’ve just got to be constantly looking at the information and going, ‘What is it? What is it? What is it?’”
Aside from advice Antonetti shares with other parents, she also continues to lend her creative and innovative ideas to businesses through her company AMA Productions, where she provides insightful advice to other business leaders, as well as instilling her own ideals within her own enterprises. “I say this to CEOs all the time, ‘We take for granted as CEOs the things that we naturally do – we naturally negotiate, that’s what we do,’” said Antonetti. “However, that’s not necessarily what the people in our company naturally do – so I take the skills that I have and I share them with my team.”
Antonetti explains that it’s the very passion of wanting to change and improve the mindset of leaders in the business landscape today that continually fuels her desire to create new products and services. “Every day I see something done where I know there’s a better way to do it, so I’m constantly creating new ideas,” she said, “it’s just the way my brain works.”
Antonetti will be one of the guest speakers at this year’s FestiGals, a weekend-long festival dedicated to celebrating women, taking place this year in New Orleans at the Hotel Monteleone on June 20-23, 2013. To find out more about the event and/or to register, go to the Festigals website.