Right now, off the coast of Maine, seaweed is being harvested. This is the beginning of its journey into The Seaweed Bath Co.‘s array of products that heal and nourish the skin.
For founders Adam and Allison Grossman, this is a way of life — creating unique and innovative skincare products inspired by the sea.
ForceBrands sat down with the couple for an exclusive interview to learn more about their story, how they maintain The Seaweed Bath Co.’s collaborative culture amid rapid growth, and what they’re most excited about right now. Read on to get to know the Grossmans.
ForceBrands: Tell us how Seaweed Bath Co. got started. What inspired you to create the company?
Allison Grossman: About 6-7 years ago, Adam started looking into alternatives for treatment to help his irritated skin. Through research, he discovered bladderwrack seaweed. There was a lady in Ireland who was hand harvesting it off the beach in her backyard. She would throw it into bags and ship it to us in Miami. Adam was putting it into his bath and began seeing improvements in the look and feel of his skin. We realized we were onto something and we did some more research. Based off the benefits Adam experienced from the product — and after having friends and family experience similar results from using it — we launched the company. We started with our whole seaweed which is sustainably hand-harvested off the coast of Maine. It’s hand cut in a way that it allows the seaweed to regrow to the same size or larger than we found it within 36 months. It has all these properties that make it detoxifying, hydrating, and nourishing for your skin. And it contains more than 65 vitamins and nutrients to really nourish the skin.
FB: How did you first begin selling the product?
Adam Grossman: Allison and I started the company out of our house here in Austin. We started by just shipping the products from our daughter’s bedroom. We took a step-by-step approach to our business. For the first five years, we worked out of the house and were fortunate to meet people along the way who really guided us in the right direction. It was a culmination of having a team around us — a team that ForceBrands helped to recruit for us over time.
FB: What were your initial roles?
Adam: Allison does everything you see from a graphical perspective — she has owned the marketing side of things. I was more on the sales and product development side of things in the beginning.
FB: What was your first strategic hire?
Adam: Our very first hire was a Head of Sales. We were probably not strategic, but we had somebody here in Austin who approached us and she worked out really well. But once she moved on to another company that was a little bit bigger and better suited for what she was looking to do, we really needed support because we were not only raising a business but we were raising a family. I was on the road half the time so we hired Lindsay Shack who is our do-everything — she answers phone calls, processes orders — she’s phenomenal. And she’s continued to grow with us.
FB: What qualities do you look for in someone when you’re first starting to build a team?
Allison: First and foremost, you’re looking for someone who has the right skill set, but beyond that, they’ve got to be a good cultural fit. I look for someone who is willing to roll up their sleeves and do whatever needs to be done. I look for someone who has flexibility and an entrepreneurial spirit — someone who enjoys working with a small company. And it goes without saying, I look for someone with a lot of passion for what we do.
Adam: What we found in our hiring — and Allison has a lot more experience hiring people in her previous roles that I do — is that people who resonated with my story (turning a negative into a positive) tended to be the best matches. We found that with Lindsay and took that approach with the rest of the team. We found people who were most passionate about the brand.
FB: Now that you’re growing and you have a culture, how do you maintain it?
Allison: For us, we’re kind of a family so we need to hire people who fit in and feel comfortable working collaboratively in a small company.
Adam: It’s hard to build that culture — Allison and I are the heart of the business but now we’ve brought on some really significant hires who are now putting their stamp on the business and it’s evolving — it’s always evolving. Six months from now we’ll be a different business than we are today.
FB: How would you describe the culture?
Adam: The greatest place on Earth. Kidding aside, I’d say we’re relaxed but intense. We’re pretty calm on the outside but we’re always thinking about work.
Allison: I would say passionate, relaxed, but hard working. That being said, we have a strong work-life balance.
Adam: We bring our kids into the office after school sometimes so everybody here knows them and they have a relationship with them. I think that helps mellow things out and keep things grounded. It makes us more human.
FB: If you asked one of your best employees why they like working here, what do you think they would say?
Adam: Lindsey has been with us for more than three years and she’s been challenged. She’s had to learn as we go — pretty much every role I’ve done, she’s done. I think from that standpoint, she’s been able to see a lot.
Allison: There’s the opportunity to grow in a friendly, collaborative environment.
FB: What are some valuable lessons you’ve learned being in the industry?
Allison: It’s all about the people and who you surround yourself with. At every step of the way for our company, we’ve been lucky enough to encounter people who have the skill sets that we don’t have. These are the people who can really add to what we do and that’s been crucial to our success.
Adam: And we’ve made mistakes in hiring. Timing is everything. You have to be big enough that you can recruit good people and you have to be big enough that capital will come in and back you so that you can recruit those people. And it’s become increasingly more competitive today to do so. If you don’t have capital, then no top-level executive is going to come work for you. So that’s where you have to allow people to come in and put their stamp on your business — it’s probably the most difficult thing founders have to go through: giving up control. But if I was a top-level executive, I would want to feel ownership of the business, and if I’m being told what to do from somebody who doesn’t have as much experience from me, then it’s going to be difficult to grow and succeed.
FB: Looking ahead, what are you most excited about?
Allison: We launched a line of detox body care that has been available nationwide in Whole Foods since June. It’s nice to see that line come to market.
Adam: We went on a harvesting trip — Allison came up to Maine for the first time. It was actually the first time I brought anybody but me up there so I was excited for her to see it. We have a groundbreaking innovation that we’ve been working on for a year that’ll hopefully come to fruition over the next year or so. We’re excited to continue to bring new products to the market. We’re also excited to have our new CEO in place and see what she’s been able to do as she brings strategic focus to the business. There’s a lot to look forward to and be excited about.