Meet Melissa Martin, an entrepreneur who has run the gamut when it comes to building and operating a business. She’s known the ups and downs of entrepreneurship—and has had the wisdom to regard everything as a learning experience. Her passion and energy are examples that both new and seasoned business owners can learn from, and she happily spent time sharing her story with Gerber Finance CEO, Jennifer Palmer, in our most recent podcast: “Melissa Martin’s Journey with Founding Wean Green: Making a Business Out of a Passion.” Below is her inspiring story and what we learned from her.
How Melissa Turned Passion Into Business
Melissa Martin is the founder of Wean Green, a nearly 12-year old company that manufactures eco-friendly tempered glass containers, and whose experience as an entrepreneur has been described as everything from “interesting” to “chaotic”!
Melissa’s motivation to begin Wean Green stemmed from her personal observations. In 2009, as a young mother, she had concerns over the amount of chemicals in both food storage containers and baby food. This prompted her to begin preparing food from scratch. This resulted in added concerns, however, over the wasted materials that resulted from food preparation. So, Melissa was inspired further to develop eco-friendlier and healthier solutions to feed babies, which resulted in the beginning of Wean Green. And so her story begins!
Taking the Good with the Bad
One lesson Melissa has learned from experience is how to navigate the highs and lows of business ownership. Just because a business may be in a highly envied position of success does not mean it might not plummet once a new next step is taken. Wean Green has known the thrill of quickly selling an entire stock of products to satisfied customers, but also the dread of glitches in product development—forcing a temporary shutdown until the issues were resolved.[Melissa’s tip: Always remember that your role as an entrepreneur will be the longest education you’ll have. You’ll continue to learn something every day.]
Losing and regaining control of her business
The year 2015 proved to be a tough one for Melissa. She was going through a divorce while dealing with some health issues. Not being a seasoned business person, Melissa arranged to partner with another company that licensed the Wean Green brand. After having previously earned millions of dollars in sales, Wean Green wound up losing revenue due to changes implemented by this partnering company. After losing important clients, Melissa eventually regained control of Wean Green. Although realizing she would need to start over from the beginning, her passion and dedication to promote and sell eco-friendly containers—tempered by a sense of humility—motivated her journey to continue onward and upward, regardless of the challenges and difficulties ahead.[The advice Melissa offers to everyone: “There will always be highs and lows with running a business. Always remember to breathe through it all!”]
Building a dream team
The team members with whom Melissa has worked with over the years are the primary reasons for her inspiring outlook on business as well as life. The passion and positivity that the employees of Wean Green exude dispel the one-time conception that “there’s no room for nice people in business.”
Her main resource for finding many of her team members? The local school bus stop. Seriously. After meeting and speaking with a number of other moms as they waited with their kids at the school bus stop, Melissa realized they would make ideal colleagues. Melissa has recruited many smart and nimble stay-at-home moms who have found a safe and supportive work environment at Wean Green.[Lesson learned: The busiest moms are also the hardest-working and most productive employees in the room. Also, hire people who are smarter than you so you can learn just as much from them as they do from you.]
The type of financing a business chooses is perhaps the biggest decision an entrepreneur will make. Melissa pointed out that when Wean Green first began, its success grew very fast—to the point where the cash flow could not keep up. This meant that stores might submit payment 90 days after shipment, and goods had to be paid for before they arrived at the warehouse—which meant a possible six-month process where money would be tied up. (This situation actually guided Melissa to partner with the company that led to the temporary reversal of fortune for Wean Green.)
Since then, she has learned about the many different financing options, like advanced credit lines from asset-based lending, that are available to businesses seeking growth.[The lesson here: Ask for financial help before it’s needed. When it comes to financing a business, it should not be a hurried process. Being prepared is best.]
Mixing business life with personal life can result in the best of both worlds
Melissa has discovered that the key to harmony is finding the happy medium where some of the business life can meld with one’s at-home existence. Parents tend to forget that their children will grow up faster than they expect and that quality time spent with them cannot be measured.[Lesson learned: A work event can in fact also be a family event (or vice versa).]
Fitting and matching with changing trends
Once upon a time—and not that long ago—health and sustainability were not major concerns for many people. Tempered glass containers—which were originally the only products Wean Green created and sold—were sometimes scoffed at. Now, as people have become more educated about the environment and the value of reusable products, Wean Green has expanded to include natural products in many other sectors.[The overall lesson: Knowledge is power. And with the knowledge that Melissa Martin has gained in the last 12 years, she is indeed a very powerful—and admirable—entrepreneur.]
Listen to this inspiring story in more depth in our podcast: “Melissa Martin’s Journey with Founding Wean Green: Making a Business Out of a Passion.” Once you’ve heard this podcast, you’ll no doubt feel inspired and want to be Melissa’s friend!https://www.gerberfinance.com/
Ready to discuss how alternate financing options, such as asset-based lending, can help your business grow? Contact us today!