This month we asked entrepreneurs from the Blackstone LaunchPad at the University of Montana to share with us why they wanted to START SOMETHING of their own.
Interview with Connie Muller, founder of Polliwog Essentials
Tell us what motivated you to want to start your own business.
I had struggled since my thirties, trying to find body care products that didn’t irritate my very sensitive skin. Multiple trips to dermatologist offices always resulted in the same answer: contact dermatitis, which is likely aggravated by preservatives, fragrances etc. in skin care products.
Unfortunately, the only solution was to try product after product to find those that would work and not irritate. After spending hundreds of dollars on commercial and natural products and not being truly satisfied with any, I decided to start experimenting and created products for myself. It wasn’t long after, that friends started using and loving my products too.
Who are your biggest influencers? Were your parents entrepreneurial?
There is definitely an entrepreneurial spirit alive in my family. My mother was an esteemed professional pianist who was always in high demand, and my great aunt owned a savings and loan company. Going back further, my great-great grandfather moved from Germany and founded the company, Hamm’s Beer, in the late 1800s.
I believe that life experiences also influence and can steer a person into entrepreneurship. So many businesses have started simply by someone filling a void that exists.
Share with us the biggest lesson you've learned so far.
It is so very important to take your time with a new venture, especially if you are a sole proprietor. There is only so much one person can do at the beginning, and it is easy for things to quickly get out of hand if you aren’t patient and focused. This is especially true if you don’t have a lot of resources. The best advice that I still follow is to start small and simple, and be willing to stay with it for the long haul.
What has been your most rewarding accomplishment (brag away!)
Really, the biggest accomplishment continues to be the original one: helping to soothe irritated, angry skin with handcrafted, healthy products. Nothing does more to make my day than to get a text or email from someone telling me how much they love one of my products, and how it has helped them where nothing else has. This is really huge for me!
Some say that starting a business is like having a baby. What does that mean to you?
Absolutely! There is so much of the creative process that goes into starting a business. You essentially start with just this tiny seed or concept, and then with lots of attention and care eventually you are rewarded with this lovely, fully-formed entity that didn’t exist before.
And just like a baby, no matter how old it gets, it’s still your baby!