Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Keith Eshelman, CEO and Co-Founder of Parks Project, located in Los Angeles, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We make outdoor-inspired apparel, accessories, and home goods through innovative designs and tell stories about exploring and protecting the parks. We're here to support and encourage everyone who wants to enjoy local and national parks, in whatever way that looks, to do just that in a way that gives back to the places they explore.
Tell us about yourself
In 2014, my wife and I had a daughter, which made me think about how the parks would be handed down to her. From the conservation of the parklands themselves to the wildlife that lives there that we get to visit, these are all critical components of what makes going to these places so special.
I decided to help make a difference which led me to volunteer in the parks. That year, Parks Project was born. It started as a group of volunteers who also wanted to make a difference and help protect the environment. The group developed on its own, and after two years, it naturally became a brand. We had discovered a niche market that we could disrupt with apparel.
After that, we became a partner of the National Park Foundation, the nonprofit arm of the National Park Service; our sales would then start to help support backlogged projects within the parks.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Our most significant accomplishment has been staying true to our goal; we have given over 2.5 million dollars back to fund projects in the parks so future generations can keep enjoying them. Also, getting recognized by Fast Company in 2022 as a "Most Innovative Company in Retail" was a moment I'll never forget.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Being able to separate your value as an individual from the undulations of the business.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Really stress-test the idea with as many people as possible to discuss it.
- If it doesn't work, don't give up - be open to pivoting as needed.
- Find the right people to help you build a culture of hardworking, problem-solving, and optimistic builders.
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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