October celebrates Women in Small Business, and according to Forbes Magazine, San Diego is the fifth-leading US County with the most female entrepreneurs. Today, just over 30% of startups in the county are female-owned. Additionally, the gross sales of female-owned businesses in San Diego is $1-to-$5 billion a year.
Many women-owned businesses dot the landscape of the 78 Corridor, and the two highlighted this month are proving to be both innovative and impactful.
Helping Entrepreneurs Reach their Full Potential
Misti Cain wears many hats, including business owner, teacher, mentor and television host. Her Carlsbad-based company Whyzze is a business strategy company that helps early-stage entrepreneurs and small business owners improve their profits, people and productivity.
As a business strategist, Cain says success is not about gender. “I would say that a lot of what I do is in the PROOFF,” Cain said. “And what it stands for is Positive, Real Outcomes, Obtained From Figuring it out.”
She believes this comes from starting with a real goal, setting metrics and showing a clear line from start to finish while adjusting to challenges, meeting milestones and obtaining measurable goals.
Mentoring is also important to Cain. She is a Star Mentor with Techstars, a Carlsbad-based virtual accelerator that connects entrepreneurs, investors and corporations. Cain also teaches her PROOFF strategy at Cal State San Marcos, where she is an Executive in Residence. “I mentor college students as part of their Business Professional Development program.”
Recently, Cain became connected with Innovate78 to help broaden her network. She said, “People don’t hire desks and chairs; they don’t learn from buildings and sheets. So networking and getting to know people and establish genuine relationships is what we should be trying to do.”
Cain said what she loves about Carlsbad is its eclectic atmosphere, its vibrant downtown and the fact that there are a lot of prominent companies headquartered in the area. She attributes that to Carlsbad’s leaders. “They are mindful and intentional about the way they build the city. In everything from mitigation, to traffic, to billboards and zone permits.” She believes this is why the city continues to grow in terms of opportunity.
Overall, Cain sees North County as an ideal place to grow her business. “I find the North County business community to be extremely inviting and helpful as it pertains to growing businesses and helping businesses succeed, especially with everything going on this year.”
An Environmentally Conscious Solution to Packaging
Kerri Leslie is the owner and creator of Verity, a San Marcos-based sustainable packaging company that creates reusable and recyclable stainless steel and aluminum containers. It all started when Leslie embarked on a 10-year journey to find an effective natural deodorant. When she failed to find anything that she felt worked well enough, she created her own product.
Noniko is an all-natural deodorant packaged in Verity containers. “It’s reusable,” Leslie explained. “It’s two pieces – there’s a casement and insert.”
Users buy the case with an insert and buy new inserts as needed. The entire piece is 100% recyclable, something important to Leslie. Initially the deodorant was cased in a single material plastic; which Leslie thought was sustainable. However, when she realized only 9% of plastics get recycled, she searched for a better material.
After finding stainless steel and aluminum to be effective for reuse and fully recyclable, she worked with local design engineers to create the casing for her deodorant. Verity was conceived when Leslie brought her deodorant to a trade show and the packaging was just as inquired about as the deodorant.
“People kept asking about our packaging. After the tenth conversation, I thought we could make a big impact by helping these brands with a plastic-free alternative,” Leslie said.
The natural beauty industry is already taking note of Verity. Leslie is in product development with several brands to create their packaging. While she cannot say the names of the companies she did say they are retailers and brands of all sizes and products. Most are expected to be on the market by mid-2021.
Leslie said the natural beauty industry is a very welcoming community who help and support each other. She has found the same support in San Marcos. “I’ve been really lucky to find this business park. We are at the corner of Melrose and Rancho Santa Fe,” she said. “It’s been really cool to meet all these other entrepreneurs and share best practices and support each other. It’s a cool kind of buzzing energy over here.”
The same is true for Innovate78. Leslie recently became acquainted with Innovate78 at the recommendation of the Economic Development Director for the city of San Marcos, Tess Sangster. Her first impression of Innovate78 was that it is an initiative devoted to helping businesses grow. She said, “It’s an initiative that adds value to business owners and helps us be more successful. At every meeting, I’ve met someone who’s been able to save me money or time.”
Leslie hopes she, too, can help businesses. “We can make a big impact by helping all brands get into a plastic-free alternative.”