We had the good fortune of connecting with Suzan Hernandez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Suzan, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Over one billion plastic toothbrushes will end up in the landfill each year in the US. I started researching plastic toothbrush alternatives and discovered bamboo toothbrushes. But when I ordered them online, they’d come packaged in plastic in plastic envelope. The few stores that carried bamboo toothbrushes were packaged in plastic. It was disappointing. I was trying to move away from this plastic giant. It seemed no matter hard I tried, it was always there. I wanted something better for my health, that felt good using, that looked beautiful, and had sustainability built in from start to finish. So I decided to launch MamaP.
What should our readers know about your business?
MamaP was built on serving a purpose: Taking care of our health, being kind to the environment, and giving back to the community. Our mission is to inspire people to make small changes every single day. When I started the company, I wanted the products to go beyond their function. I believe that companies can do more good with profits while keeping the planet clean and caring for their customers. That’s why MamaP gives back 5% of sales to different non-profits. We use a color coding system so people can choose the cause they want to support. We support: Ocean Conservation, Saving The Bees, Mental Health, Womxn’s Rights, LGBTQ+ Equality, and Criminal Justice Reform. Our motto is, “Do Good. Live Better, Everyday.” Not everyone could see the vision of MamaP on day 1. I heard a lot of people concerned about the concept. “Toothbrushes? Nobody will care about toothbrushes.” Or, “You’re donating 5% of sales, that’s really high. Are you sure you want to do that?” I always appreciated feedback and I learned that sometimes you have to listen to your gut. Entrepreneurship has always been in my blood. Coming from a lower socio-economic background, I learned early on that working hard is important. It’s what keeps a roof over your head and food on the table. So it doesn’t come as a surprise that I’m ok with taking risks. When you don’t have much to lose, you can swing for the fences. I have leveraged my creativity by thinking outside-the-box throughout my career. Being a first generation college graduate and then going on to getting an MBA were a few of the hardest things I encountered in life. I had to learn how to learn, took on part-time jobs, and found mentors who helped along the way. I am so grateful for experiencing adversity throughout life. My very first memory in business was at age 7. I was a Girl Scout and loved cookie selling season. Every year, my friend and I would go door-to-door selling cookies in the neighborhood. I’d sell cookies at my church and to our friends and family (and their workplaces). I built up demand throughout the year and people looked forward to ordering. Cookies boxes were stacked higher than I could reach and my mom and I would package cookie orders in bags and label them. This early experience taught me business fundamentals at a young age. Cold-calling, elevator pitches, building networks, developing product launches, and executing logistics, operations, and order fulfillment. I lived for cookie selling time. These early experiences made me the person, partner, and leader I am today. I’m so proud of how far MamaP has come. We are a womxn- and minority- founded and run business. We give back 5% of sales to support non-profits. And we truly put Mama Earth first in all we do. Thus we participate in a carbon offset program to be carbon neutral. We are on a mission is to transform the personal and home-care industry into environmentally and socially responsible experiences.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
My favorite places to visit are for shopping for eco-friendly products. Earthwell Refill in San Diego, Nada Shop in Encinitas, Reap and Sow in Oceanside are great places for grabbing eco personal care and home care staples. I love supporting small businesses and a few favorite grocery stores are OB People’s Co-op in San Diego and Cardiff Seaside Market in Cardiff-by-the-Sea.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d like to dedicate this shoutout to the entire MamaP team and advisors. Without you all, we wouldn’t have grown to where we are now. Thank you MamaP team for all your passion, creativity, and grit this past year. 2021 is shaping up to be a very exciting year.