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It's taken almost five years for Kathie Seacord to grow a profit with her organic seed product. Hers is a story of perseverance, as it's not easy to start a business as a single mom on disability. Her Michigan-based company, SeedMates, produces sheets of seeds, appropriately spaced so growers can just lay the sheet over dirt and watch organic plants bloom. Her product takes the guesswork, and a lot of time, out of gardening.
Her clientele, as she puts it, is “anyone of any age that want to eat healthier. Consumers who want to grow in small spaces. Farmers or greenhouse growers who want to save time space, seed and labor costs."
While the business remains small, in 2017 her firm earned its first patent. According to Seacord, she's already sent two orders to a well-known celebrity with a lifestyle empire.
1. How has your business grown since you started?
We do accomplish goals, but struggle to fulfill our leads because of the funding we need for materials, packaging, and displays in stores where we have acquired shelf space. We worked hard on door-to-door sales and farm markets. Having gained a foothold, we are now finally seeing profits, although we still have a way to go,
Going forward, we will do our best to invest in more social media sales, in marketing and to find investors and shareholders to to help us scale our business.
—Kathie Seacord, founder and president, SeedMates
2. What sets your business apart from your competitors?
We help the busy consumer, from beginners to professionals, grow real food, flowers, grass, microgreens, wheatgrass, herbs and more, faster and easier than anyone before us.
Proper seed spacing makes a huge difference in planting. We can space any variety seed from big to little seed. Now anyone can plant hundreds to thousands of perfectly, equally-spaced seeds in a healthy, easy-to-place, water-and-grow sheets, in seconds.
For the consumer, there's less space, time and labor involved.
3. What hurdles have you overcome in running your business?
We rushed our products and wanted it in a clear bag to show consumers how cool the sheets look. But without holes, the plastic bag germinated the seeds before the consumer was able to plant them. We fixed the issue with a recycled paper and biodegradable plastic that has breathing holes.
Our lesson? When you rush, mistakes happen.
4. What would you want other business owners to know about running a business?
It's not easy. You have to give it your all, at all times. Find support, and take on leads when they are presented. Never pass up an opportunity to talk about your business. Study and learn your field of expertise, about faster processes, and always have extra suppliers on hand. Advertise on social media and if you can't afford that, get out there and go door-to-door.
5. How do you approach challenging clients?
Whenever you are in sales, the client relationship is the most important factor to a successful business. If even the most difficult client enters your arena, a good salesman or business owner will have them leaving happier than once they came. It's true the customer is always right. Even if they are not in the right, it's our job to make them think they are.