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Launcher Stories

Caroline Vance

By March 2, 2021May 12th, 2021No Comments
Last year was pretty tumultuous for our little family as it’s been for many families. At the end of September, my department was restructured off and I was laid off. When I saw the email for Launch1000, our family was in the middle of our own shared COVID experience. In general, last year was a big push to think about things differently. So much changed in such a short period of time.
My idea is to create eco-friendly children’s birthday party supplies. It’s not something I would have thought about doing because of my job, but I’ve always been troubled by how much environmental waste was created by my kids’ birthday parties and the parties of their friends.
Phase 1 was a great place to start. It forced me to think about a lot of big life questions that I otherwise would put off. I still think about going back and making updates to my Phase 1 submissions because that’s the nature of what it is. It evolves as you grow. It was very necessary and hard for me. Normally these questions feel too big but the program provided some frameworks that made it doable for me. It really highlighted how important it is to me to live a more balanced more sustainable life.
Next, I moved into Phase 2. Since my product is a direct-to-consumer product that came about from my own experience as a consumer, it was pretty easy to understand the consumer perspective. I also know a lot of people who have children younger than 13 who I could have curiosity conversations with. The hard part was just having the conversation. It doesn’t come quite as naturally to me to get out and talk with people. Getting started my first conversation was with my best friend growing up which really made me a lot more confident reaching out to others. It’s not as daunting at this point. Having the first conversation made it a real thing instead of an idea in my head.
Also in Phase 2, I did some outreach to some advisors. Two, in particular, have been really useful so far. One of them is a woman who started a sustainable party goods business 7 years ago. She pointed out some pitfalls that kept them from scaling up and it was really valuable. I definitely wouldn’t have reached out if the program hadn’t pushed me to. The second person I reached out to was someone whose title was ‘Sustainability Maven’ at a company that provides sustainable tableware for the foodservice industry. They aren’t on the retail side but they do an incredible job detailing the carbon footprint of their product. The conversation led to an entirely different conversation which was doing my product as a private label for that manufacturer. It would save me from needing to undergo complicated certification processes for each of my products that this company already has.
In Phase 3, I used the Start Something Canvas to break down what I was doing into very granular pieces. I started to think about what parts of my business were the most achievable so that I could get those going first. I realized that some of my ideas were more capital intensive and might be better to pursue after I’ve gotten traction with the low-hanging fruit first or find a more lean way to do it.
This is amazing that Westchester county is offering this. I’m so grateful. I hope I’m able to put something together that’s worthy of this investment they’ve made in me. This has been such a difficult time. The program has been incredible and empowering in a number of ways. Just the impact this can have on people’s mental health and motivation, even if they don’t end up launching a business, is still a big deal. And Pam and all the coaches are so wonderful. I just want to thank you all for being patient and also not letting us off easy. I’ve felt supported and also pushed which is what I’ve needed.
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