This week in our ongoing Meet the Maker series, we’re going behind the scenes with an especially inspiring, mission-driven couple: Allison and Adam Grossman, founders of The Seaweed Bath Co. in Austin, Texas. Welcome, Allison and Adam!
LBC: What inspired you to take your leap as entrepreneurs?
Allison & Adam: Adam suffers from severe psoriasis. We had reached the end of the road with prescribed medications, so we started looking into alternatives. That’s when we discovered the powers of bladderwrack seaweed. We were blown away by the results Adam saw on his skin, we decided to create a line of personal care products to help others. We soon realized that using bladderwrack seaweed benefits all skin and hair types, and have built the line out to appeal to everyone.
LBC: When you first got started, how did you envision your business would be defined?
Allison & Adam: We envisioned the business being defined by the quality of the products and the authenticity of our reason for being. Our team is now made up of inspiring people that, in their own lives, can relate to our story of turning a negative into a positive. That is how we know our vision is coming to life.
LBC: How would you describe what you create?
Allison & Adam: Nutrient-rich, seaweed-based bath, body and hair care products that naturally nourish and soothe all skin and hair types.
LBC: Where can we find your products?
Allison & Adam: Natural products stores across the country, including Whole Foods Market, Sprouts and Natural Grocers. Online on our website (www.seaweedbathco.com), Amazon, iHerb.com and several other online retailers.
LBC: Walk us through your typical work day.
Allison & Adam: As a husband and wife team with two small kids, it was imperative that we set boundaries and roles. Adam is the CEO and face of the business. He is responsible for all facets of the business. Allison manages our social media marketing efforts as well as our graphic design.
So, our day usually starts early with goals for the day over coffee in the morning. Adam heads to the office while Allison takes the kids to school. Focusing on Adam’s day from there, a check-in with the team in the morning followed by analysis of sales, inventory and other items. Then the fires start and we try to put them out as soon as possible. As a small business it is hard to move from reaction to pro-active planning.
Our team has doubled in size over the past 120 days (4 to 8 people), so Adam’s days of being in the stores constantly are now replaced with days supporting the team in their roles.
LBC: What are 3 things makers should think through when they initially decide to start a business?
Allison & Adam: 1. Are strangers willing to provide you with capital? Friends and family will be caught up in your excitement. A stranger won’t and it is a good barometer for how well you have thought through the business.
2. What is your personal financial situation? It will take longer to reach your goals than you think. Adding personal financial stress on top of that makes it even more difficult and likely may make you quit earlier than you should.
3. What is your distribution and revenue strategy? Sounds simple, but a lot of businesses don’t fully think through how / where they will make money.
LBC: When you’re overwhelmed, what brings you back to focus?
Allison & Adam: How lucky we are to be doing something we are so passionate about. Also, thinking about everything we have overcome in six years. That gives us strength, knowing that we just need to get back to doing things one step at a time.
LBC: Tell us about a few of the best business decisions you’ve made to date.
Allison & Adam: There are two decisions we made in 2014 that changed the trajectory of the business. First, we entered into a CPG incubator here in Austin, TX called SKU (formerly Incubation Station). Through that program, we took a fresh look at our business and ended up meeting a group of investors that backed our business in a big way.
The second was our re-design. The products immediately started flying off the shelves when our new vintage beach look launched.
LBC: Please share one mistake or obstacle from your business experience. How did you bounce back/overcome it?
Allison & Adam: Your own pre-conceived perceptions and beliefs can sometimes be a detriment to your business. We hired somebody who we both liked personally, but we overlooked the person’s professional shortcomings because of the personal connection we felt. It did not work out and we had to part ways.
On the opposite side, we initially resisted a qualified candidate due to a personality we weren’t sure we would want representing us. We ended up bringing on this person, and they have propelled the business forward and we learned that we actually had a lot in common. It was a learning lesson in that you gain respect for people who are great and passionate about what they do.
LBC: Is there a cause or organization that you contribute to that you’re particularly passionate about?
Allison & Adam: We work with the Surfrider Foundation in certain areas of the country. Our team members started this on their own, and it just made sense since we are so passionate about the ocean and its amazing benefits. Keeping our beaches and our oceans clean is crucial. The Surfrider Foundation is working to stem the negative tide of trashed coastlines.
LBC: What are 3 essential resources in your business toolbox that you can’t do without?
Adam: 1. My wife (she is the brains and the level-headed one).
2. A docket – every morning, I break my day into a list bifurcated by Urgent, Important and To Do.
3). TI-83 Calculator – Yes, the one from Algebra in high school. I still have it!
Allison: 1. My husband: he is extremely creative and passionate and always inspires me.
2. Other CPG entrepreneurs: regularly hearing their advice and about their own experiences is invaluable.
3. Google: It sounds so basic, but whenever I need to learn about a new graphic design tool or technique, I can Google it and find the right information I need almost instantly.
LBC: Suppose we had a time machine. If you blasted ourselves forward a few years, where would we see your company?
Allison & Adam: The Seaweed Bath Co. would be at a place where we are positively impacting thousands of lives on a daily basis. Our team continues to grow personally and professionally through our business. And that we are available wherever high-quality, natural personal care products are sold.
LBC: What’s one thing you would eat, if you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life?
Allison & Adam: Ice cream.
LBC: Your musical playlist is full of…
Allison & Adam: Our girls’ favorite songs for our jam sessions to and from school.
LBC: Share one of your guiltiest pleasures.
Allison & Adam: These cookie dough bites from Better Bites Bakery (a local allergen-friendly baker here in Austin).
LBC: If you could hire someone to do just one thing that you sort of loath doing, what would it be?
Allison & Adam: Laundry. With two young kids, it never ends.
LBC: What’s your favorite quote and who said it?
Allison & Adam: “Happiness does not come from doing easy work but from the afterglow of satisfaction that comes after the achievement of a difficult task that demanded our best.” –Theodore Isaac Rubin
LBC: If you were given a million dollars, but were not allowed to keep a single penny for yourself, friends or family, how would you spend it or give it away?
Allison & Adam: We would donate it to National Eczema Association with an ask that they focus on continuing to find a cure for infant eczema. Our youngest daughter, Leah (2), was born with eczema from head to toe. We used our products to help get her symptoms under control, but it was (is) very difficult for us. When your child doesn’t sleep because she is itchy and scratches herself constantly, it can feel helpless. Adam has spoken to hundreds of parents who used our products for their kids’ issues, but it is different when it is your kid. We truly understood their plight and feel fortunate that we are part of the solution. But, we envision a world in 10-20 years where parents will have better, safer options to treat, and hopefully one day, cure it.
Thank you, Allison and Adam, for sharing your talent with us! We absolutely love what you’re doing with The Seaweed Bath Co., and we look forward to all the wonderful things ahead for you. We’re cheering you on!
Want to see your brand featured in our continuing “Meet the Maker” series? Drop us a line: hello AT luckybreakconsulting.com. Please use “MEET THE MAKER” as the subject line and be certain to include your web address. We look forward to hearing from you!