Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Lauren Cain, Founder of Elm Dirt, located in Kansas City, MO, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We manufacture all-natural and organic fertilizers, soil mixes, and other plant care products to help grow stronger, more drought-tolerant plants without synthetic chemicals for home gardeners, lawns, commercial growers, farms, golf courses, and more.
Tell us about yourself
I first started Elm Dirt in January 2020 because my 6-month-old daughter would scoop up and eat handfuls of dirt every day, and I was worried about what kind of chemicals she was eating, from fertilizer to weed killers. I knew there had to be a better way, and I had heard about worm composting from a family member and wanted to share worm composting with more people. I had planned on selling our worms and worm castings (worm poop) in person at farmer's markets, but then the pandemic hit, and I transitioned to online sales because my husband and I have a background in online sales. From there, we found out that composting worms and their worm castings sell out every year in the US. To maximize our worm castings to reach more people (even the people who don't want to deal with worm composting on their own), I used my background as a chemical engineer to research and develop formulas for our fertilizers using Korean Natural Farming, permaculture and emerging science related to soil microbes. With our products, we have seen incredible results with all different kinds of plants, including decreased water usage and drought tolerance. What motivates me is seeing the impact our products have on real issues like drought and climate change and helping each customer make a difference by making the switch away from synthetic fertilizers.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment is seeing the impact I am making in our customers' lives and how each customer is making an impact on the world.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
One of the hardest things is that there isn't always a right answer or direction. You have to make tough decisions between options that are not black and white, and what you choose today may be the right answer now but the wrong answer 6 months or a year from now. So you have to balance decisions based on the information you have and then commit and move forward.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
Find a mentor or multiple mentors to help guide you through the process. Use your network and keep sharing because you never know who can help you at each step or who has connections you didn't know about. Keep going and moving forward. Owning your own business is hard and has its ups and downs. Sometimes, the downs will make you want to quit, and that's when you have to find your inner strength and remember why you started your business in the first place.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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