What’s the inspiration behind Spinster Sisters?
Way back in 1993—when I was a single, crunchy hippy girl living in Boulder, CO, where I grew up—I read an article about Triclosan and other toxic chemicals that are in commercially produced personal care products. I made the decision then to stop putting those ingredients on my skin, and made it my personal mission to get my friends and family to stop as well. I hopped on my bike, rode down to the local bookstore, and bought some books on how to make natural soap.
This was the start of my quest to create clean, pure personal care products out of plant-based ingredients. Since founding Spinster Sisters in 2012, we’ve made products that are not only extremely effective, but also clean, natural, and good for your body.
How do you handle risk and competition?
Competition isn’t as much of a factor when you know what you want to accomplish, and how you want to accomplish it. We’re determined to do the right thing with all of the products we offer. For us, that means: ethically sourcing ingredients, using plant-based ingredients (instead of the petrolatum-based ingredients other companies use in their products), using renewable energy, and using biodegradable and recyclable packaging to reduce our environmental footprint.
I am not aware of any other personal care brands on the market that are going to the same lengths to ensure a minimal footprint and pure, ethically sourced plant-based ingredients, while creating clean and effective products.
What’s been the #1 (or two) top challenge(s) you’ve faced while launching your company?
To expand on that point, look at the 2021 Fortune 500 companies. 41 out of 500 are women-owned companies—less than 10%. Additionally, more women-owned businesses were adversely affected by the pandemic, and more women left the workforce.
This all adds up to a big challenge. We try to support other women-owned businesses, and build a network of women-owned businesses and founders around us.
Have you learned anything new or surprising about yourself through this process?
I have learned more about myself than I could ever outline on this page.
I've learned that I do, in fact, have a creative bone in my body.
I've learned that I am much stronger than I ever thought I was.
I've learned that I believe in myself, and my knowledge, and my motivation, and my drive—enough to feel certain that this company is going to thrive and grow for many, many years to come.
Why did you decide to raise from the crowd via Republic?
Raising through Republic gave us the ability to include our community—our tribe—and give them the opportunity to own a piece of Spinster Sisters. They are why we have made it this far, and this raise creates an opportunity for us to grow together.
What’s your team culture like?
I love going to work every day. My team is hilarious. We have a diverse group in terms of ages and cultures, and it’s so fun to see how we all work together and motivate each other. With Covid slowing down a bit, we have had a few bar-b-q’s and field trips, giving us a chance to make deeper connections.
Don’t get me wrong, it can get chaotic—but when those days happen, Ellen, our General Manager, can usually be found singing at top volume with her hair standing in all directions, keeping us all in stitches.
It is the best job I have ever had, and I would not trade this experience for anything in the world.
What is your superpower?
I think adapting is my superpower. Sometimes things are just out of your (my) control, and recognizing that, and adapting to it, is what we must do as entrepreneurs.
I think there’s a tendency for founders to say: I built my business this way, and this is the only way it will ever work. That is not always true, and in fact it can stand in the way of becoming a better company. I am good at recognizing that, and I’m willing to be nimble and to adapt as needed to do what’s best for the company.
What’s your kryptonite?
Puppies! I am sure you are looking for a business related answer here...but, puppies are my kryptonite. Nothing else matters, if there is a puppy anywhere near me. A house is burning down next to me? I will be playing with the puppy, if anyone needs me.
Do you have any unusual routines or habits?
I used to work for the US Antarctic Program, and I spent a season at the South Pole. To avoid waste, the rule was: 2 minute showers. I still try to adhere to that rule, to this day. Turn water on, get wet, turn water off, scrub, shave, whatever you need to do, turn water back on, rinse, turn water off, moisturize.
I don’t time myself anymore, but I would say in most cases, I come pretty close.
Do you have any other hobbies/things you like to do in your spare time?
My husband, Mr. Sisters (AKA Sweetcheeks, or Sugar Buns, or Bumfluff) and I are both licensed sailors. We love sailing locally right now, but look forward to travel opening back up so we can go sailing in the Caribbean, Greek islands, Azores, and more.
Of course we also love playing with our dogs. Recently, after an anniversary spent day-drinking, we purchased a little Airstream Basecamp trailer—and we are already having so many fun adventures in it.
I am an avid reader, and also love hiking, gardening, and sitting on the back deck with a glass of wine, enjoying our beautiful Colorado sunsets.
Are there any apps or gadgets that you can’t live without?
I am old, and old-school. I have a paper notebook with me at all times: to make lists, update lists, mark things off lists, take notes, write reminders, etc. I prefer pen and paper to apps.
If you could give yourself one piece of advice 5 years ago, what would it be?
Find some balance in your life. Take the time out to enjoy life, instead of putting every ounce of energy you have into the business.
Thankfully my husband is very understanding, but there was a time where we didn’t see much of each other. I have found my way back to having that balance now, but it was a very real problem for me 5 years ago.
Do you have a(ny) mentor(s)? If so, what have they taught you?
I learn from my family, my friends, and my employees every day. I also have an incredible business mentor in Elliot Begoun, with The Intertwine Group. He has 30+ years of experience in the natural consumer goods industry, and has created his company to help new founders to grow our businesses.
Elliot has taught me so much about managing my business well: creating and maintaining sales projections, budgeting, growth hacks, etc. I am so thankful for his help, and can’t imagine not having him on my side.