Around 60% of the human body is made up of water, give or take. So you can imagine that water health is pretty important! Chanson Water USA is a company that helps people reach their full wellness potential by selling electric water ionizers and filtration systems across the country.
Chanson Water USA’s CEO, Nedalee Thomas, never imagined that she’d one day own her own business – and especially didn’t imagine it would be worth several million dollars! Nedalee found her way into business through her faith in a product that was untested in American markets – it took a lot of hard work and determination to make it as far as she has!
Read her amazing story below.
Tell us about your business in as much detail as you can. What is it that you do and who are your customers?
Chanson Water USA is a water health company that, along with our dealers, distributes electric water ionizers and water filtration systems nationwide. Our customers include health-conscious individuals, families, and business owners. Our products can be found in restaurants, hotels, gyms, office buildings, and residences across America.
Water ionizers transform ordinary tap water into fresh, filtered, ionized water with an alkaline pH for drinking. This water supports the body and hydrates on a cellular level. Because dehydration is a cause of many health ailments, drinking half your body weight in ounces of this water daily can improve overall health.
The machines also produce a low pH acid water which is beneficial for non-toxic cleaning and skincare purposes. It is great for the environment and for reducing ongoing expenses.
I was a stay-at-home mom for 22 years and never imagined that one day I would be the sole owner of a multi-million dollar business. But God had a plan and I made my first million when I took a chance on a product I believed in, despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
Back in 2006, my then-husband Ronnie and I made the leap from a lucrative construction business to the water ionizer industry. He had bought a machine to try to help an ailing family member’s health after researching the benefits of ionized alkaline water. I wasn’t a believer, but he made the whole house start drinking the water and after 30 days I noticed that the knee pain I had stemming from a 20+ year injury was gone.
When Ronnie came to me and said, “We’re switching businesses!” I was shocked but excited. There was such a huge market for water ionizers in America where they were still relatively unheard of, and I have always had a passion for helping people. And so we started working out of our home selling multiple brands of water ionizers with a little homemade website under the name Healing Water Machines.
In comparing and contrasting the different brands, we soon learned that there was one that stood out above the rest. When the opportunity arose to become the exclusive US importer for said brand, we jumped on it.
By 2008, we had moved into a beautiful 5,300-square-foot office and warehouse and were able to double our revenue each year until we hit $2.2 million in year two. We were able to hire two of my children and one of my grandchildren, in addition to many full-time employees and virtual assistants.
They say that to be successful you have to be passionate, so share what drives you every day. Why do you love what you do?
Helping people has always been a passion of mine and I believe that our products can benefit everyone. Knowing that I have the power to change lives by educating the public on the importance of water health and being able to provide a product that is like health insurance from your tap is amazing. The testimonials that we receive from people who have experienced health benefits and are now living fuller, happier lives above the wellness line continues to drive me to do what I do.
Has it been smooth sailing or have you overcome adversity to get where you are?
When the opportunity arose to become the exclusive US importer for Chanson, we didn’t have the capital investment. We didn’t have the required distribution channels to sell the monthly minimum. We didn’t have the freedom to market our product as a health device the way they can in other countries. We didn’t even speak the language of the manufacturer. And we knew nothing about importing!
But we didn’t let that stop us.
I ended up borrowing the money on my grandma’s credit cards—talk about a humbling experience—and paying her back with interest within a year. Through prayer and hard work and dedication, our passion for this product opened up the necessary distribution channels and we found dealers all over the US and distributors in 7 other countries to sell our product. Through creative marketing, we were able to compliantly get around the FDA limitations on health claims with regards to our machines. And my then-husband actually went around to Chinese restaurants to recruit interpreters to help break the language barrier.
In 2013, my then-husband and I divorced and I bought him out, becoming the sole owner of Chanson Water USA. On my own, I faced many new challenges – such as distributors pulling out because my husband had been the face of the business and I had been working the details behind the scenes, so the manufacturer questioned my abilities as a woman to run the business on my own. Pulling through this and proving the doubters wrong has been one of my proudest accomplishments in business. It hasn’t ever been easy, but God has always had my back.
Not only did my business not go under, but I have been able to maintain my contract, staff, and facilities. I was also able to start a non-profit organization, The Sparrow Waterhouse Foundation, which provides food, water, clothing, housing, and education to orphans in India, as well as water ionizers to cancer patients here in the United States.
We all know that crazy happens. What’s the wildest thing that’s happened on the job?
I have been blessed to have some amazing employees, but I’ve also hired some real losers like the guy who was having an affair on the clock, two that fell asleep on the job within their first day or week, and one that was clocked in to do web work for me but was stealing by working for an outside client. Then there was one who began stealing day one on the job, but God exposed her by week five. They each leave a mark of lessons learned.
What do you do with your time off? Are you familiar with that concept?
I make time for church, vacations, and dancing. I also enjoy watching my jockey boyfriend race. Spending quiet time near the ocean and lake also helps me to recharge.
This is the age of the social network. How important is social media to your business and how do you make it work?
We have a part-time social media manager and various virtual assistants who each focus on different platforms, mainly Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube. They make graphics, edit videos, do Facebook LIVE broadcasts, share articles, write blogs, etc. It is important to have a social media presence in this day and age and Pinterest has been found to be the most successful platform for us.
How are you involved in your community?
I tithe regularly. I occasionally invite a homeless person to come live with me – 14 in the last 4 years. And I set up a program at my church to increase donations to our warehouse. We sell donated items at the church for profit to turn around and use the money to buy food to give away to about 900 families a week. My pastor needed more donated items but didn’t take the suggestion that I had given him seriously. So after a year of him lagging on it, I went down there, asked for a box truck and a driver and went out every Saturday for a few months bringing in more donations than they could handle.
What does the future look like for you and your business?
We were recently awarded a GSA (government) contract and WOSB (woman-owned small business) and are hoping to get water ionizers to the US military so that our soldiers can benefit from this amazing water.
Do you have any advice for aspiring business owners just starting out?
I’m actually developing a program called How to start a Multi-Million Dollar Business From Home by Someone Who’s Done It. That will be out in 2017. But my biggest piece of advice is to tithe, which means giving back no less than 10%. My second piece of advice is: Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome!