This month we are chatting to entrepreneur Jackie Lowe, who is one of the 2012 Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year® entrants. Jackie and fellow female entrepreneurs have created a niche and innovative product that both children and parents can equally enjoy.
Briefly describe your business and the industry you participate in?
Founded in 2010 by parent-team Annelize Geldenhuys, Jackie Lowe and Shannon Lowe, Green.Kid Stainless was created with the desire of bringing a 100% safe solution to the concerning problems posed by the use of plastic baby bottles to feed our children.
Armed with the knowledge around the hidden dangers found in most baby bottles, we set out to find a revolutionary, eco-friendly and modern approach to baby and child feeding gear.
Made from 100% 18/8 stainless steel, Green.Kid Stainless is the non-leaching, BPA, Pthalate, Lead and toxin free alternative to plastic feeding bottles. Add to that the lightweight, unbreakable nature of stainless steel, ergonomic design and retro styling, and you have the ultimate feeding solution for modern parents everywhere!
We are proudly endorsed by the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA), and a portion of all proceeds are donated to the invaluable work done by this foundation.
Have you always aspired to start your own business?
Absolutely. All three of the partners have previously been business owners and collectively felt that it was the only way to truly maximise our potential, from both a creative as well as a financial aspect. Aside from the obvious financial benefit, owning your own business lends itself to a personal freedom which very much appealed to our personalities.
What inspired your unique business venture?
As informed parents ourselves, we were very concerned with using plastic baby bottles on our young children. More worrying was that we felt there was no safe alternative. We could not even trust large bottle manufacturers as they had previously supplied consumers with now illegal and very toxic baby bottles. We realised that not only could we contribute to our future generations’ health and safety, but that we could create a successful business venture out of it as well.
Have you experienced any challenges as an entrepreneur? If so please describe how you overcame these challenges.
Challenges as an entrepreneur seem to be a matter of due course! It sometimes seems that obstacles are presented at every turn, especially in our industry, where manufacturing makes up a large part of the business. We have found that the trick is to accept that challenges are part of the process, and deal with them calmly and with a sense of humour. This allows you to handle problems more effectively.
Persistence has also paid off, as it took almost a year for our product to be available for retail. It sometimes felt that we could not get the product just right, which was incredibly frustrating. However, we persisted and a year later, we have a unique and inventive product that is being embraced by the South African market.
Why did you enter the 2012 Sanlam/Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year competition?
As entrepreneurs, it sometimes feels like we work incredibly hard with no real recognition. Although the hard work pays off in the long run, it is a huge morale boost to have your success recognised and celebrated along the way. It gives you a chance to stop, pull back and say – ‘Wow, look how far we have come!’
Would you recommend that other entrepreneurs enter the competition? If so, why?
Definitely. Aside from the positive recognition I mentioned above, any chance to have your business in the public eye is incredibly beneficial from a marketing point of view. Winning this award would lend huge credibility to any venture. It is also important to show other young potential entrepreneurs that with hard work and persistence, it can be done.
What is the best advice you could provide fellow aspiring female entrepreneurs?
The best advice I could give is to embrace the fear and do it anyway! Being a female entrepreneur is challenging – especially when you have young children or a family to look after. However, the benefits, such as having my own time and creative freedom, are incredibly rewarding. And never be afraid to ask for help or advice – it is one of the best ways to learn.