Posted: September 15, 2009
Mama’s got a brand new grocery bag
It's mesh, reusable and specifically made for fruits and veggiesBy Carli Auran
They think of themselves as moms, not businesswomen.
But Amy Wade, Staci Samuelson and Jeanie Waner have found success with their new bag: a grocey bag that's washable, resuable and made specifically for produce. Their company, Belief Beyond Bags -- also known as 3B Bags -- began in March 2008.
Staci Samuelson, Jeanie Waner and Amy Wade
"We are proud to say that we are profitable after just 18 months in the business," Samuelson says. The bags are mesh and come in several different sizes; 3B Bag's website describes them as "virtually weightless and see through."
The idea of a reusable produce bag was something the women were enthusiastic about, and they wanted to try something no one else had been successful with. King Soopers test marketed 3B Bags' first produce bag last fall and now stocks it in stores throughout Colorado.
The women are proud of their accomplishment, which meant overcoming a number of daunting obstacles. Small business loans were not easily obtainable, so the team used their own funding to start off.
"We also had trouble manufacturing," Wade says. "Timing is important."
Although they received a positive response in the market, manufacturing delays created rifts in the production line.
"Another obstacle was the fact that we are moms, not business people," Wade says.
Time management was a big issue. The women dealt with the stress of starting a business by strategically appointing the work to the best fit person for the job.
"Our comfort and risk levels are different so we balance each other out," Wade says. Because all agree that Wade has good business sense, she focuses on the selling portion of the job. Likewise, Samuelson has good people skills and is mostly in charge of customer service issues, while Waner focuses on the little details of the operation and testing new techniques.
"We do share a lot of the work," Wade says. "Our tasks are really interchangeable."
They use each other for feedback on new ideas and as a basic support system. Being friends first creates a comfortable work environment for everyone.
Since starting their business, the women have often been questioned on the environmental qualities of their produce bags. They stress that their products are sustainable and not "green." Sustainable products may be recycled, but they are not made from recycled material. "Green" products are made from recycled resources.
"The ultimate goal is to have green products," Wade says. For now, the company is focusing on getting their product on the market quickly and gaining popularity. Belief Beyond Bags hopes to eventually become completely "green."
"You have to take it one step at a time," Wade says.
The trick is finding a balance between beating the competition and being profitable, and working towards the aspiration of a "green" product.
Regardless of the difficulties involved with starting a company, Wade, Waner and Samuelson are satisfied with their decision to take the plunge.
"There comes a point where you have to take a chance," Wade says. "The three of us have a really good sense for what people are going to like, and we stuck to what we wanted to do."
Carli Auran is a senior at Mountain Vista High School in Highlands Ranch. She is an intern at ColoradoBiz.