I love what I do. I love the challenge, reward, heartbreak, long hours and overwhelming existence that is being a small, eco-friendly business owner... The Grapeseed Company is my baby.
The roots that grew into The Grapeseed Company sprouted long ago. Building this brand has been a long time in the making. It is the result of many facets of my life and passions that go way beyond wanting to start a green company or leaving a good paying, secure job to launch a dream. I've learned to combine my knowledge and passions of entrepreneurship, living green and creativity; The Grapeseed Company is the result.
Entrepreneurship is a quality that I have come to realize has been with the majority of my life. In grade school, I used to ride my bike to the neighborhood drug store and buy little boxes of candies for $.10 a piece. Off to school the next morning with my purchases tucked away in my backpack, I'd sell the candies to my sugar feign classmates for $.25 (and somehow never managed to get in trouble with the playground officials!)
When it came time for my confirmation service project in high school, I used my skills as a competitive swimmer and newly certified swim instructor to teach a little girl with down syndrome how to swim. Word got out in the local community. Others began calling our home and asking if I would teach their child to swim, which developed into my first "real job" the following summer. I started a swim school in my backyard. With the help of my father (an attorney) and mother (who got re-certified to help out) we developed an incredible word-of-mouth business teaching children to swim. In a few years, my younger sister joined us, and friends and other siblings made "guest instructor" appearances over the 10 year existence of Fraser Aquatics. We had summers with over 250 families circling through our gravel driveway in the suburbs of Boston.
Looking back, it was a perfect business model- we used our talents and backgrounds to create a service business where we were already established as the experts! You see, mom and dad met at aquatic school. Dad was a competitive swimmer and lifeguard, mom was a teacher. They went on to produce 4 nationally ranked athletes in, you guessed it, the sport of swimming. We were already known in the county as top swimmers, and we were offering to teach your kid our secrets!
I learned many valuable lessons at a very young age, how to teach effectively, manage time, deal with challenging personalities, and run an operation with family members. It was not easy, but I am who I am today because of it. I made enough money in those years that I was able to save, a lot. After graduating from Syracuse and hanging up my swim goggles, I moved back to Boston for graduate school. Around graduation, I met my future husband, Peter. Peter likes to dream too. I was fresh out of grad school with a Masters of Science degree in hand, an exciting new career, and for the first time, working for someone other than myself. One night on a dinner date in the South End, Peter mentioned he wanted to fix up his boat and sail to the Caribbean. I was in. Plans change, sometimes our friends and family don't understand, but I had developed a new dream. Sailing a tiny 30 ft sailboat in the wide open ocean became our dream. Our "dates" had an abrupt change from nights out at delectable South End eateries to trips to the marine store, learning to wire our electric systems to run off of solar, installing a head (read: toilet!) and plumbing (yes- boat plumbing)... but we loved it, we were building our dream. Less than 1 year from that infamous dinner date, we quit our jobs and set off from Salem Harbor to sail the open ocean.
stay tuned for part 2: how the boat taught us to LIVE GREEN in the story of how we dreamed up The Grapeseed Company
LINKS to the full story of how The Grapeseed Company came to be:
part 1 A LIFE LONG ENTREPRENEUR
part 2 LIVING GREEN
part 3 CREATIVITY