Every time a grocery bagger said paper or plastic, Margaret Moss would cringe, envisioning the stashes of used bags in her car or kitchen.
Her yearning to go green eventually led to a business idea: a set of reusable bags that fit into a handy pouch. In 2009, after investigating consumer camping gear and experimenting with an old sewing kit, the mother of triplets launched Repax Bags LLC with partners Sammie Bohn and Valerie Fischer.
The Metairie, La.-based company is still tiny, bringing in annual revenue of about $30,000 in 2010. But it has succeeded in winning shelf space in Whole Foods Markets, Louisiana supermarket-chain Rouses and other U.S. grocery stories. Sets retail for about $20 and include four machine-washable bags, which can each hold up to 20 pounds.
As with many new entrepreneurs, every day is an adventure and brings new learning experiences, Moss says. Here are three lessons from her journey she shares with other new business owners.
1. Don't look too far ahead.
It's important to let your inspiration for the idea keep you motivated toward successfully creating the final product. For Repax, each new step brought big challenges but also brought creative solutions. If you look too far ahead, it can be overwhelming, so stick to the task at hand and find the best solutions for now.
2. Be prepared to make sacrifices.
Aspiring business owners should know that getting a business off the ground is often a demanding endeavor. Moss says: Whether you want it to or not, your life will soon revolve around your budding business so make sure you are tied to something that you strongly believe in.
3. Believe in your mission.
The Repax team's passion and perseverance is driven by a vision: to help reduce the number of plastic shopping bags used in the U.S., which annually reaches into the billions and decrease carbon-dioxide emissions. The goal is to help make the planet healthier and happier. Every small step helps, and every person with Repax on their shoulder is not bringing home plastic and paper bags. That counts for something, says Moss.
Photo: Repax founders Sammie Bohn, Valerie Fischer and Margaret Moss (left to right)
Credit: Courtesy of the company
-- The Idea Village is a nonprofit organization supporting entrepreneurial talent in New Orleans.