Here at The Grommet our mission is to put an end to nameless, faceless business and highlight the people and the stories behind the products we launch each day. And it's in that spirit that we're continuing this series to further share the stories of our Makers with you. Get to know them better, learn more about their journeys as Makers and entrepreneurs and learn how you, The Grommet Community, have changed their businesses for the better.
In this installment we're catching up with Maker Oliver Shuttlesworth, a Texas-based Maker who has set out to make a difference. After witnessing the extreme poverty and lack of education for children in Central America, Oliver was inspired to do something about it. He founded Esperos on the simple, yet powerful idea of bringing hope for a brighter future to children in need. We recently caught up with Oliver to learn more about his view on being a Maker and starting a business.
Photo By Ashley Landis/Contributor Chron
What three personality traits do think have helped you become a successful entrepreneur?
Hmm. That's a tough question. I would have to say determination, flexibility, and, as strange as it it to say, sheer ignorance. I think that the determination to see ESPEROS grow and succeed has pushed me through a number of difficult obstacles and barriers.
To me, being flexible means knowing when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em, so to speak. One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was to never marry yourself to an idea. I think it is really easy as an entrepreneur to get buried in your work and to sometimes lose sight of the bigger picture to the detriment of the product or service you provide. I've tried to make a point of readily accepting feedback and ideas to ensure we're moving forward as a brand and never settling for the status quo.
Lastly, I think that being a bit ignorant is a strong trait of mine. To be honest, when I started ESPEROS, I had no idea how the retail industry worked (and that is an ongoing education). I set out with lofty goals in mind and I've pursued large retailers, international markets, and some pretty crazy ideas in the short time ESPEROS has been around, but I think that the company is all the better for it, especially since we're now experiencing an emerging national presence with Whole Foods having launched products in Asia in July!
What has been the most rewarding part of business for you?
Without a doubt, I would say the ability to make an impact on the lives of others. I started ESPEROS to make a meaningful difference in communities where hope can sometimes feel lost. It has been incredible to see that mission resonate with others and I'm extremely proud that, together with our customers, we're playing a part in making the world around us a better, brighter place.
What Maker tool can you not live without?
I'd have to say my sketch pad and pencils.
Are you a risk taker?
Ha. Perhaps sometimes to my detriment. I've always believed in "going for it," but I think that is a necessary trait for every successful entrepreneur. You can't be afraid to push the boundaries or take risks.
Our Community wants to know that their support of you and your product has made a difference. Please tell us if you were able to grow and in what way due to the sales, shares, and visibility you received from The Grommet and our community.
The Grommet has been an amazing support. We have received a few wholesale opportunities from our presence on the site and we have received some great feedback and enthusiastic support from users on the site. The Grommet and its users are awesome!
Words of wisdom for other Makers who are just starting out?
I know it is cliché, but I'd say to not be afraid to fail. Failing is not always a negative, especially if you learn from mistakes along the way. Some of the best lessons I've learned have resulted from complete and total failures on my part.
To learn more, watch our video of Esperos here.