Starting an eco-friendly online business and other tales from my adventurous friend!
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means if you purchase an item, I will get a small commission with no additional charge to you. And you'll be supporting both Erin and me! Yay!
I decided to interview my dear friend Erin Deasy for the “Women and Their Work” series because she constantly surprises me with her badassery.
We met at an AmeriCorps training 10 years ago. I noticed her right away because she had the job I wanted, so I figured we might have something in common.
Little did I know what a major influence she would be in my life.
Erin was the first person I ever heard talk candidly about therapy and self-care. By the end of our AmeriCorps year, I was thoroughly martyring myself, but Erin surprised me by moving on. She took a gig going door-to-door for the US Census. When that ended, she intentionally enjoyed her unemployment time.
Then, she told me to come over for dinner because next week she was moving to Italy (!) to become an au pair.
I was totally floored. This was a turning point for me. The contrast between her freedom and my self-imposed misery became too sharp to ignore, and I decided to quit my job. I can say for certain that Erin is the reason I began my self-love journey.
Since that time, Erin has started two small businesses, lived in Taiwan for five years teaching English, and made it back to America where she is now working happily in solar sales.
Everything she has done, she planned and financed herself.
And this woman is only 34.
Yeah, I know! What an adventurous spirit!
Recently, I have been curious about Erin’s eco-friendly online business selling scrubbers for cast iron.
When she came up with this idea, she had been researching ways to make passive income online. Her hypothesis was that having an online business would serve her life because it would allow her to travel or live anywhere in the world. She was also specifically interested in creating a business that would be good for the environment.
Sounds awesome, right??
Well, it turns out there’s more to making “passive” income than you might think. I’ll let Erin tell you the rest...
Q & A with Erin of EcoEarthwares
You created EcoEarthwares, an online business that sells on Amazon. What made you decide to do this?
I just wanted to do something to make money that can actually help the planet. Business in the US has a bad rap. But business can also be used for good! I think if you have something that you've tested that people really like, that could be difficult to replicate, and that you might be able to leverage online, it could be a great opportunity.
How did you choose your product, the ScrubBrilliant chainmail scrubber for cast iron?
Cast iron is good for the planet and so is the scrubber.
Cast iron doesn't have a lot of chemicals that other nonstick pans have. Plus, there is this beautiful history and heritage with cast iron that makes it kind of tell a story. The chainmail scrubber allows you to enjoy all those parts of cast iron cooking and not have to worry so much about using wasteful paper towels for cleaning. Also, it's made to last out of high grade stainless steel.
Plus it's cute! It comes in a packable carry pouch, and I used all recycled materials for its packaging. I like the ability to do that as an entrepreneur: you make all the decisions down to the package.
What has been the best thing about this business?
You control everything with your own business.
You can make sustainable choices and also do something that helps people. I like being creative and coming up with new things, so that was fun.
What has been the worst?
It's just hard to make it profitable.
With the chainmail scrubber it's easy to replicate, so I'd say that's my problem. But you also need to do a ton with promotion. You need to BE a promoter! That's your main job! Or hire a promoter. Someone's gotta do it.
I've seen it done in a variety of ways, YouTube channels and so on, but to do it online you need to develop a loyal following. Then you need to come out with similar products that are related that your customers would like. It's interesting for sure. If you keep promoting it, and you don't have copycats on the market, then you could do quite well!
What have you learned from this experience?
You gotta do some testing before you launch a product online for best results and also find something hard to replicate. Personally, it can be really rewarding, but it's hard to make it profitable.
I think testing a product locally and getting a following before going to online sales would work great.You could test it in person like at a farmer's market and get a lot of feedback from people and see what they think about your product before an online launch. Plus, you could collect photos and comments from customers that you could use for online marketing.
Honestly, this has made me appreciate my current job more.
I work in solar sales, so I get to do something that helps the environment now, but I don't have to worry about top-to-bottom business operations. Having your own business will be a lot of work. If you want to keep it going, you'll have to sacrifice a lot. But that experience made me better in what I do now.
I don't take for granted what I have now and I appreciate the money I make for the hours I work. Working in sales is a bit weird for me, but being in solar, you find a lot of like-minded individuals. I think most sales people are just "people" people, and the rest can be learned.
So, I did learn a lot from launching my own business.
It made me more humble and appreciative of what I have now. Plus, I did gain organizational skills and other business skills from running something on my own. All serve in personal growth which is what we need as humans anyway, so for that I'm very thankful.
- 316 Stainless Steel – Highest grade, FDA approved; Won't degrade or rust
- Hand Crafted 10mm Wire Rings– Strong, yet flexible with no sharp edges to cut into the pan's seasoning layer
- 8x8 Inch Round - best for the biggest jobs
- Antibacterial & dishwasher safe
- Plastic-free eco-friendly packaging
This guest post is part of our Women and Their Work series, where we will explore how our relationship to work affects our vitality.
Ideally, work would be an expression of our values. It would allow us to leverage our time, energy, and skills for the things we want and need. And ideally, we would have the time and energy left over to enjoy those things.
But in reality? Work often saps the vitality right out of us. And not being able to work can do the same.
Women and Their Work will showcase stories of real women who refuse to sacrifice their vitality and the creative ways they support themselves.
Are you experimenting with your work life? We would love to hear your story! Submit a guest post.