This is by far the #1 question I get. Everyone is interested in hearing the story of how it all started. I have to admit, it wasn't overnight. Rather, it was a progression over time before I finally took the leap into the unknown and launched MamaP, a social good and sustainable business. That's the thing with sustainable living, once you start, little by little, it changes your life.
Photo credit: Phil O'Brien
"When I moved [to New York City], I was all about Marie Kondo. It helped me figure out that I wasted a lot of things I didn't need. It also helped me reconnect with who I've always been - I've always cared about the planet, the people, and living things. I wanted to live a greener lifestyle....but it was really hard.
I have to admit, I have a little bit of OCD. When I get passionate about something, I get so focused. I go into rat holes and want to learn EVERYTHING possible. So I went to Amazon to find products - you know, bamboo toothbrushes, "sponges" that are biodegradable, trash bags that are biodegradable. But at the end of the day, they were just green marketing terms, because when I got the products, they'd come wrapped in plastic, with bubble wrap, in huge boxes. Bubble wrap for trash bags? It was going against everything I was trying to achieve. I was like: we can do better, people!
This was around the time of the election. Everybody, at least in New York, felt lost and hopeless. I felt like I was sitting in the eye of a storm, with everybody wanting to get donations to help fight for women's rights, or LGBTQ equality, or the environment. I didn't know what to do. I felt stuck.
That's when I said: "I'm going to start a company." A company that gives back to the earth, to society, and will help people live their life more easily. I wanted to do something that could inspire people to make changes, and impact the world and other cultures and people in a positive way. I knew I could make better products that actually looked good, that felt good, that didn't hurt your body. And I wanted to give back from day one."
It's funny how things work. The more people I told, the more they encouraged me to think BIGGER. I remember having drinks with former colleagues and talking passionately about this company I was about to start. All of them women, could see the vision I had painted and told me to dream bigger. I have to admit, it was intimidating - being so vulnerable and open. The biggest thread across everyone was optimism. This was a time of activism and MamaP would build a solid foundation around purpose: taking care of our health, being kind to the environment, and giving back to important causes.
MamaP serves as inspiration for people who want to live better. What started with one has grown to multiply to many. MamaP has a small core leadership team with staffers and allies helping along the way. Completely self-funded, we believe in growing at the right pace to ensure our foundation based on integrity and values stays in tact. While we might seek investors to expand the business, one thing is for certain - we will not abandon our mission and values.
MamaP's purpose is to leave this world a better place than how we found it.
Suzan (or "Suz") is Founder + CEO at MamaP. Born in Nebraska as mixed-race, she grew up in LA and worked in fashion. Attending Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, she got her MBA with a double major in Global Retail Management and Marketing, she went on to work at Nike in Portland, OR in product and commercial strategy. After moving to NYC, the humble beginnings of MamaP were born.
Follow her on IG @hello_suzan