“To create great team work, you need to leave your ego at home! Listen to your customers and your employees, they are critical to each other. When you listen to customers, and their needs, you can better prepare your employees to help them, as well as educate employees as to what your purpose is, reward them for listening and responding to the customers needs, for learning to think like a customer. Once these values are ingrained, you have to exemplify the right way to handle things going wrong, and they will go wrong. Show strength, understanding, and the ability to see past the moment. Coupled with putting yourself last and the team and organism first, you will inspire loyalty, hardwork and dedication from the most important part of any business, the employees and customers.”
I had the pleasure to interview Jayme Bella. Personal need drove Jayme to create the organic bug repellant that launched Greenerways Organic and its expanding product line of organic household and personal care products. That and the belief that our families deserve affordable, safe, organic products. Today, after three successful years on QVC and this past year on Amazon.com, Greenerways Organic has products on sale at stores nationwide including Costco US, CVS Pharmacy, TJ Maxx, Marshalls, HomeGoods, 7 Eleven, Ahold, National Coop Grocers, Lowes Foods, True Value, and Giant Eagle. An accomplished CEO, Jayme was recently named 2018 Woman Business Owner of the Year by NAWBO-LA’s Chapter and is the finalist for National Woman Business Owner of the Year (NAWBO).
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
Greenerways Organic’s genesis stems from what Mama Bella always told me, “Read the labels; if there are chemicals or ingredients you can’t pronounce, don’t buy the product.” This was never more important to me than during my first pregnancy in 2008. That summer our home was damaged by a severe storm and became infested with insects. Reading the labels of traditional insect repellants and realizing they were ridden with harmful chemicals and other ingredients unknown to me, I was fearful of what effect they could have on our unborn child. I began to research various essential oils and the properties they contain. My husband, Jim, who operated an all-natural cleaning service at the time, helped me formulate an organic insect repellant. Shortly thereafter, I invested in a simple machine that allowed me to mix small quantities of essential oils. After much research, I wound up with a variety of oils, all of which had repellent properties to varying degrees. By dint of hard work and extensive mixing and matching, I derived a formula that actually repelled insects, was kind to skin and was safe. Sharing with friends and other family members led to positive confirmation of my findings and Greenerways Organic Bug Repellant was born. This was the birth of Greenerways Organic, a company devoted to bringing safe, chemical-free products to every home.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
My favorite story about the early days of Greenerways Organic is about how we were introduced to QVC. In 2013, I took a spin class at Soul Cycle in Yardley, PA. After the class, the instructor and I were lamenting about how yucky the bikes were. I pulled out a spray bottle of our 2 oz hand sanitizer and cleaned off the bikes. She loved the product, thought it was a perfect fit for QVC and introduced me. She’d been a spokesperson there for 10 years! What a way to get on television!
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Having always lived an organic lifestyle, I believe all families deserve to make healthy choices. My goal is to provide affordable organic products so that everyone can enjoy the benefits of a chemical-free, organic lifestyle like the one I live in Venice, CA with my husband, Jim, our son, Jameson, 9, and daughter, Annie, 7.
We found a niche market that was ripe for disruption. Consumers were facing a problem and we were able to solve it with transparency, affordability, consistency, sincerity, originality and understanding.
Our timing has been on target, too. A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention cited the “growing public health problem” from diseases transmitted from bites of blood-feeding ticks, mosquitos, and fleas. Reported cases have more than tripled nationwide. Called vector-borne diseases, they increased from 27,388 cases in 2004 to 96,075 in 2016. Two of the reasons attributing to the increase in deaths from vector-borne diseases according to the CDC, are environmental changes and a lack of prevention efforts.
Consumers appear to concur with my mission. While 45% of US consumers buy some organic products, according to a Packaged Facts survey, 75% of consumers think green cleaning products are more expensive but 60% indicated they would buy them if they cost the same or less.
Are you working on any new or exciting projects now?
Yes, many. Sunscreens that are safe for us and the environment, that actually work. The Mosquito Free Zone, Lice, and more.
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
To create great team work, you need to leave your ego at home! Listen to your customers and your employees, they are critical to each other. When you listen to customers, and their needs, you can better prepare your employees to help them, as well as educate employees as to what your purpose is, reward them for listening and responding to the customers needs, for learning to think like a customer. Once these values are ingrained, you have to exemplify the right way to handle things going wrong, and they will go wrong. Show strength, understanding, and the ability to see past the moment. Coupled with putting yourself last and the team and organism first, you will inspire loyalty, hardwork and dedication from the most important part of any business, the employees and customers.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My husband. He is a natural born entrepreneur and when I was pregnant with our first child he gave me the push I needed to dive in and start my own business. It was scary, but I am glad to have left corporate America behind. Together we balance our kids, business, friendship, and love.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
We have essential oil suppliers around the world. Most are in third world countries who work on farms with poor irrigation and little education. We give back a portion of our profit to these farmers to help living conditions on their farms. We try to minimize waste in production, we source only organic ingredients, ingredients that don’t harm customers, nor does their production harm our oceans, atmosphere, etc.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Meditate: I start my day with a 20-minute meditation to clear my mind and focus for the day.
- Find mentors: Organizations like the National Association of Women Business Owners have been amazing. The members are such open, sharing peers.
- Take your time when hiring: I’ve learned to require background checks, references, and not rely on my gut.
- Engage with the customer: This means both the buyer and the end user, the mom shopper. They know what they want. We must deliver it.
- Meetings really do matter: They help to keep people on the same page.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I would look to inspire people to do what works for me.
- Spiritual awareness, whatever that means for each individual.
- A very healthy family life which takes a ton of work.
- Eat healthy. By maintaining a healthy diet, low in sugars, I am better able to deal with the stresses of running a business, two kids, extended familial and friend relationships, and still find time for myself.
- Exercise, the more intense the better. The increased energy I get from working out allows me to have a longer and more productive day while reinforcing my physiological system for health and longevity.
- And learning, reading daily, incorporating the knowledge, whether emotional knowledge, business knowledge, parenting knowledge, etc. Never stop seeking it. If I was smart enough to bring this all into a cohesive philosophy, I would definitely proselytize to all.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Do your thing. DO IT UNAPOLOGETICALLY. Don’t be discouraged by criticism. You probably already know what they’re going to say. Pay no mind to the fear of failure. It’s far more valuable than success. TAKE OWNERSHIP, TAKE CHANCES, AND HAVE FUN. And no matter what, don’t ever stop doing your thing.” Asher Roth
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this 🙂
Campbell Soup CEO Denise Morrison. This year, Campbell clinched the №1 spot on the institute’s ranking of America’s most reputable companies, and Morrison played a key role in making that happen. “A lot of companies talk about purpose, but lose themselves in the clouds,” says Hahn-Griffiths. “She is delivering.” Since beginning her CEO tenure in 2011, Morrison has worked to transform the nearly 150-year-old Campbell into a socially-responsible brand, pursuing projects that fight hunger, joining the Plant Based Foods Association and leaving the Grocery Manufacturers Association over the group’s lack of support for mandatory GMO labeling. She has also made strong statements to demonstrate Campbell’s values, such as resigning from Trump’s manufacturing jobs council following the president’s response to the August 2017 attack in Charlottesville. Within Campbell, Morrison has made empowering her female workforce a priority, establishing women-focused initiatives like the Women of Campbell network and the Be Real Circles mentoring program. The only woman to appear in the ranks of the CEO RepTrak, Morrison is a reminder of just how much society still needs to evolve. “Half of the population is female, and one-tenth of the top 10 is female,” says Hahn-Griffiths. “Perhaps this is an indication of a new and emerging type of leader.”
Originally published at medium.com