Q&A 4Her – Melissa Gunning, Founder of Wean Green
Women business owner, entrepreneur and industry innovator Melissa Gunning started her company, Wean Green, in her Calgary home when she grew increasingly concerned with how the heating and cooling in plastic ware would affect the homemade baby food she was preparing for her young daughters. Since the introduction of 4 new product sizes in September 2011, Wean Green has seen significant company growth including the recent US launch at Pottery Barn Kids.
Wean Green is now sold in 13 countries, has had a 200% increase in North American retailers, and received countless accolades including coveted awards such as iParenting’s Hot Product Award and Gourmet Product Award. Gunning’s innovative product was even featured by Martha Stewart as an innovative ‘must have’ product chosen for the baby shower episode on Stewart’s Hallmark network show.
Melissa took a moment to talk to MyCity4Her about the beginning of her business and more. Read on for the full interview:
Did you ever imagine yourself achieving what you have?
I think imagining myself as a successful entrepreneur has landed me where I am today. Before I dreamed up the idea of Wean Green I had imagined myself as an amazing teacher, friend and mother, those are all equally as rewarding as being a business owner!
What in hindsight would you say you underestimated about your industry or business and why?
I think I underestimated the power of word of mouth! When I started I was so focused on cool advertising and the latest and greatest marketing tactics and I learned quickly that all it took was a cool product made with the health of our children in mind to be successful. People talk, and now with the ease of online communication people are heard in the masses! Thanks to everyone who passed on the good word after they tried our products, you rock!
What is the best business related advice you have ever been given?
The best business advice….Create a brand, not just a product. You can give a brand personality where you can not give a product personality (although, I don’t know if the raspberry Wean Cube would agree)
What do you love most about what you do and why?
I love the people! I am constantly surrounded with the most lively energy and intelligence I have ever seen. I feel like the people I work with (every day and even just once) provide me with a fuel that I could not get from anywhere else.
What if you knew then what you know now – would you do differently and why?
Ha! Yes…and no. I was trained as an elementary school teacher, I do not have an MBA or any ‘business’ background. The only way for me to learn the ropes at this time is by giving it a shot. Sometimes things have failed so horribly and I wish I didn’t have to go through any of it BUT in the end I learned so much from everything I have failed (and succeeded) at.
When you’re not working how do you like to spend your time?
Not working? Time? Just kidding! I have wicked friends and family and I enjoy hanging with everyone! I love being outside and dream of the day when I can sit beside the ocean and work in the sunshine daily!
How do you define success?
Success to me simply means that goals are being achieved and for us success means that our consumers are becoming educated on why we push glass and the health awareness that comes with it.
If you had to share one final thought with our audience of thousands of women in business – what would it be?
Networking and collaboration are key! Working together has gotten us so much farther than if we were to be secretive and competitive. We have a very open business plan and receive amazing advice every time we get on the subject. We take the time to sneak off to the mountains and sit at the round table with a bunch of amazingly creative women and all of the knowledge and energy is what keeps us moving forward…