In our Meet the Maker series, you hear from our Makers on their journeys as entrepreneurs and how you, The Grommet Community, have changed their businesses for the better.
Today, we're catching up with Kat Nouri of Stasher. Frustrated with single-use plastic baggies, Kat decided to create an eco-friendly alternative—and now those one-use bags are a thing of the past.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a nurse, an artist, a farmer, an attorney–some for a minute, some for months. I changed my mind several times as I was growing up. But what I remember the most, was that my Mom was super passionate about her pursuit. She could never stop working because her work was her passion. As a result, her work was very much a part of who she was, and she did it whole hardheartedly. My Mom is a PHD in nutrition, with a spiritual upbringing. That became a part of our DNA. When I was a bit older I realized how lucky my Mom was that she was passionate about her work. If you are going to spend a good portion of your life at work, well you better love it or it's just not sustainable. I tried to follow that path and always encourage my kids to be true to themselves, and they will automatically be successful by knowing and feeling that their time is well spent on where they want to be.
How do you get around creative blocks?
I step away. I am a huge advocate of work/life balance. That is hard as I actually obsessively love what I do. I have to make myself not look at emails, Instagram, snapchat, to the point that I exhaust myself. But I am successful at shutting down, as I have three kids and a husband who always keeps me in check for our family balance. I love to play hard, as much as I like to work hard. When I do get away I have a lot of fun enjoying local food and culture. We live in Oakland, one of the most inspirational places in the country. The food, and the diversity in culture is amazing. I guess you could say, I can kick my creative block by just walking around the lake, and stopping at exceptional local eats with friends. There is abundant art from super cool Independent artists, music, and the weather is amazing most of the year.
What inspires you? Why do you love to design, create and make?
I am inspired by local designers. Their hunger, fresh eye on new shapes and colors. But I don't think of myself as a designer. I think of myself as someone who loves giving life to things, creating, building things. I think that is why I had three kids. To this day, my best creation. I love creating and coming up with new product concepts. I love beautifully designed products, with a fond respect for details. When you combine those elements with functionality, and an amazing team of people that inspire you, then I think you have composed a beautiful symphony.
Best advice that you ever received?
Best advice I ever received is a tough question. I have always been a huge fan of listening to other people's advice. Especially those that I respect and that I have synergy with. As a child I was always befriending people much older than myself. As a social entrepreneur I feel that everything in society is a part of all of us. We are healthy only when we are healthy as a whole society. I want to exist for a reason, and I don't want to just take from our planet, nor my community. If we can bring the smallest amount of awareness to what plastics are really doing to us through education and by providing actually healthy functional alternatives, I think I would feel like I made a difference. The advice that sits with me the most, is pave your own path, with your own recipe. Be transparent, as who has time for living any other way, and treat others with the utmost respect, especially your team. I love that saying, "Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean." -Ryunosuke Satoro
What has surprised you most about starting a business?
The amount of funding you need would be the first thing that comes to mind. The endurance, tenacity and persistence you need to push on. I am also a big believer in the harder you work the luckier you get. What you don't realize when you start your business, is that business, at the end of the day, like life, is all about integrity and substance. I think the way you treat your employees, your customers, partners is what your business becomes. It is a reflection of your values, and no different.
What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?
Stay home… I am kidding. Kind of. I would have to say, it would be to bring on a CFO, even as a consultant earlier on. My background was not in finance. But most people that I know who do have a finance background are very meticulous and have a hard time letting go and letting someone else manage the finances as the company grows. Inventory-based businesses can be quite complex. I needed someone to provide a better eye on the inventory, to assess cash flow etc. as I was running after a million other things. You can go out of business if you don't have your eyes on your finances. You may think it is too expensive to hire a consultant, but it is much cheaper than all the consequences you could face if you don't have a trusted financial adviser.
What has been the most rewarding part of business for you?
Dancing to my own tune, hiring people I love spending time with that inspire me, and coming to a beautiful office that has great energy filled with people that are proud of what they are building and its impact.
To learn more about Stasher watch our video, here.