Interview with Sarah
Paiji Yoo, Founder of Blueland
Mini-series on Mom Entrepreneurs
Hi! I’m Jess. I’m CEO and cofounder of Amara and those who know me best probably know my parents too. Those who really know me well may even know what my college thesis was about. Ok, so how do these two relate? Entrepreneurs. My parents are both entrepreneurs and my college thesis was about entrepreneurship in emerging markets. Nerdy right? That’s why here at Amara, we decided to dig a little closer and bring you a mini series of interviews with moms that are running fantastic companies, while raising little ones. Because let’s be serious, #momboss is akin to superhero in our book.
I’m here today to talk about when “entrepreneur” meets the word “parent”. Growing Amara has allowed me to meet the most amazing moms and dads that every day, bend over backwards to make the impossible possible for their kids. Through social media, I’ve had the unique opportunity to get to know a few of you, and to admire even more of you from a far. I started interviewing you because sometimes starting something seems like a big goal, sometimes starting something feels like something “other people” do. At Amara, we interview founders of these companies so you can see that Mia from Snuggle me, Kristy from Oat Mama and all of these mamas that started their amazing companies are just people. Just like you and me.
You didn’t get a manual when you became a parent, and you don’t get a manual when you’re running a company – so, we’re here to show you - whatever you are dreaming of doing, whether it’s the next million-dollar business or starting the blog you’ve always dreamed of - it’s possible.
I remember once hearing that a friend would move recycling from the trash can to the recycling if he saw it. “You actually reach into a trash can and move it?”, I asked him. At that time, I thought he was pretty crazy, one of those California hippies. But, once you start realizing how much single use plastics we use, you can’t.stop.thinking. about it. You start looking at the packaging in the grocery store; the plastic in your home, the plastic in baby pouches; you start seeing plastic everywhere. Just like I believe every meal choice you make affects our body and our planet; every buying choice you make is a vote.
One of the companies making big efforts to change the way we use plastic is Blueland, which is focused at reimagining everyday household cleaning products. Did you know that plastic waste makes up over half of the global plastic production? Your household cleaning products are generally made up of mostly water so Blueland aims to find a more ecological way to get you your cleaning supplies. We interviewed their founder, Sarah Paiji Yoo, to hear a bit more about how she balances parenthood and starting a company.
First, what was your inspiration for the company?
When my little was 11 months old I had to go on a work trip and had to transition her to formula. I was mixing the formula with purified water and that was when I started noticing at how much plastic we were using.
Okay, so you have this idea that you want to bring a different format of household products to market. That’s amazing and all but how did you even start?
I had no background in the space so in the beginning I spent a lot of time researching on google; pinging people on linked in – just reaching out to experts in the space. Starting a company is not a straight line or a straight path, so it’s a lot of learning and figuring it out in the beginning.
And while you were starting this company you also had a young toddler running around, how did you find balance?
It isn’t easy but being a mom forces you to find that balance because starting something new takes up a lot of your time. I had to carve out time for my son, for my family. You learn how to prioritize what’s most important.
What does your typical day look like between balancing a startup and your family?
When you have a company you work really hard but you also have more control over your schedule and flexibility. I start my day with my son around 7am. From 7am-9am I am with him. It jump starts my day and gives me time with him early. Then I go to the office and I’m there until 7:30-8pm. I think the important part is to recognize what’s important for you and what works for you and shift towards that.
Talk to me more about that balance of parent life and startup life.
I couldn’t do it without my husband, he’s really supportive of my career. We talk a lot about how we both show up 100% in our relationship. There are days or weeks where it’s going to be more or less. Where one is doing more at home or doing more at work, it’s not always 50:50. There is an ebb and flow of it but the important part is finding what works for you and your family.
What’s the hardest part for you in that balance between being a mom, a CEO, a wife and a startup founder?
It’s hard to find time for myself. Between being a great mom, a great wife, a great CEO your day is already over. I’m an introvert so it’s really hard to find time to recharge, to get away for myself. Even going to get a haircut! It’s hard to find that “me” time.
Thanks so much for sharing your story – last question: what’s your recommendation for moms that are looking to start something?
My recommendation would be to go for it. Jump in and get started. You’ll try to prepare a lot or wait for the right timing in life to make the jump but the hardest part is committing to get started. Sometimes I find it easier to committing to mini goals that are achievable and realistic. Write down short term goals and tasks to tackle and make progress on. These mini but realistic goals get you started in the direction you want to go. But jump in, get started.
A lot of times starting a business can seem like a far out dream, but Sarah is just one example of the supermoms we admire. The best part is that her business is changing how we use single use plastic in something we use every day – our household cleaning supplies. We believe the you make – what food you put in your body or what detergent you buy at home – all of these choices affect your body and your planet. We love seeing companies bringing truly better for you products for our future generations.
For all you parents out there trying to make the impossible, possible – we know that homemade baby food is often times more of a dream than a reality, right? For those times, Amara is here to bring you the next best thing to fresh homemade baby food. Because you CAN get all the benefits of fresh homemade, anytime, anywhere.