Sharon Rowe: Founder of ECOBAGS – Ep. 41

In 1989, Sharon built a business with no outside funding called ECOBAGS. She helped pioneer the greater shift away from single-use plastic and towards more sustainable business packaging and practices. She’s also the author of The Magic of Tiny Business, and she’s built an amazing life for herself, her employees, and her family. Oh and she also has a background in theater, so we’ve got that in common too! What an inspiring story we have today…

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3:09 – “All these plastic bags were everywhere. They just were gross. And plus they didn’t even have a double use. You couldn’t even line your garbage can with them, because they’d break by the time you got home. And they were cluttering gutters, et cetera, et cetera. So I thought, oh, I want to do something about this.”

5:25 – “I decided to start a business—not a nonprofit—because I did have a profit motive. I needed to make a living. I didn’t do this because I had a trust fund and I could live off of all the extra money, I had basically a very short amount of time that I had to start generating some income…”

13:36 – “There were a bunch of times when I was like, ‘wait, this is not working. This is frustrating. It’s taking a longer time than I thought. I’m never going to be able to do this.’”

17:02 – “I said, look, I’ll just do everything above 14th Street and you do everything below 14th Street. We basically split it up. Because again, no Internet, no Google search. This is this is knocking on doors and going to trade shows. This is all handshake by handshake by handshake.”

20:20 – “Part of that magic of tiny business, you don’t have to go big to make a great living and a big impact, is understanding from an impact point of view how many people you can touch if you can leverage a business.”

23:36 – “Yes, business is about your passion and it’s about your purpose, and all that stuff are your underlying values, but it’s problem solving and it’s math.”

30:19 – “You think you’re making an impact and you feel good about [it]… that’s really important. That’s a really important piece of what I call not being ‘pinged’. Because, you know, when you don’t do [good things], you get an ‘ouch’.”

39:20 – “I believe that if you find someone else in your space who—they could even be a direct competitor—but usually there’s something different, just like there’s different kinds of sneakers, work with them. Expand the space. It’s way more fun and you gain access to whole other audiences.”

50:04 – “It’s your business to take care of yourself so that you can take care of your business.”

55:02 – “My big moment came in 2007, because after that I got featured in Time magazine… but a lot of smaller things led up to that. So it’s kind of like building with blocks.”

1:00:00 – “You can do it, with focus and practice.”

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