In my business, I run across so many interesting entrepreneurs, and I try to learn something from each one of them. Whether they’re breaking through the barriers of consumer attitudes or working to promote locally sourced products, each of the stories below inspired me to grow and innovate in my business. I hope they’ll inspire you, too.
Jessy & Jack: Breaking Barriers
The era of pink for girls and blue for boys is quickly becoming “so yesterday.” I, for one, am glad to see color stereotypes go away because my favorite color has always been blue. According to The Atlantic, the idea that girls love pink while boys prefer blue didn’t emerge until the 1940s.
When Courtney Hartman went shopping for gender-neutral clothing for her one-year-old daughter and three-year-old son, she couldn’t find any, so she started Free to Be Kids and Jessy & Jack (@jessyandjackllc) clothing lines. Her reasoning: girls also love dinosaurs and rocket ships – why can’t their clothes reflect that?
Both companies use 100 percent cotton garments and print with non-toxic, eco-friendly, water-based inks. The businesses also donate a portion of every sale to a women and children's shelter serving moms, babies, and kids in need.
Catoctin Creek Distillery: Boosting Local Awesomeness
The Catoctin Creek Distillery (@catoctincreek) is the first legal distillery in Loudoun County, Virginia, since the Prohibition. Founders Scott and Rebecca Harris used an SBA 7(a) loan to launch their business in 2009. The certified organic and kosher microdistillery buys inventory and services from local businesses whenever possible. Their solar plant offsets about 85 percent of the electrical usage in the distillery and returns energy to the public grid for others to use.
But the company’s support for the local community doesn’t stop there. Instead of sending their leftover rye mash to a landfill, Catoctin donates the residue to local farmers to use as an organic and nutrient-rich livestock feed. The company also supports local charity organizations, including the Loudoun Abused Women's Shelter and the Loudoun Habitat for Humanity. Catoctin Creek products will soon be available at the Army and Air Force Exchange Service.
Ariana Pierce: Millennial Mastermind
I love reading and writing about millennials. Born between 1983 and 2000, millennials are one of the most-watched consumer groups today. More exciting to me is how many millennials are starting companies, managing bigger staffs, and targeting higher profits than the generation before them.
Ariana Pierce (@AriTheHeiress) is one of those “millennipreneurs.” Starting her first business while still in college, Pierce hasn’t stopped creating new products and businesses. The CEO of the luxury nail polish company Superstar Nail Lacquer and the online accessories store Style Shoppe, Pierce says she became an entrepreneur because of the job shortage facing many in her generation.
In addition to running both companies, Pierce inspires other millennial entrepreneurs through her blog and YouTube channel, sharing advice on balancing the rigors of business ownership with relationships and personal lives.
About Rieva Lesonsky
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at [email protected], follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website SmallBizDaily.com to get the scoop on business trends and to sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.