Kay Saarinen is the Founder of Eco sustainable skin care, Saarinen Organics.
We grow our certified organic Herbs on our Permaculture farm in Wyndham NSW. From the herbs we manufacture in our purpose-built lab on our farm with 100% stand alone solar energy. We have crafted 32 products perfected over 13 years of manufacturing and just won 4 awards in 2020, 1st in Hand made excellence, 2nd Peoples product choice, 3rd in Sustainable business and 3rd in Regional through the Ausmumpreneur awards.
Here’s our chat with Kay.
What ignited the spark in you to start your business?
It was our passion to live an eco sustainable lifestyle, though it became our purpose to create an income that was eco and sustainable. We have been living our Permaculture life 100% off the grid for 20 years now, we tried many certified organic ventures with vegies, fruit etc selling at markets with very little income from many laborious hours.
I started studying topical naturopathy and when my daughter was born she had eczema, with very little options in our area on the market. I started making my first cream and it worked for her. Fast forward to day and I have studied herb culture, horticulture and have grown our business to now be our sole income, 32 products and contract manufacturing for other local brands.
Was there a significant turning point when you decided to become an entrepreneur?
I think at every stage of my business I would always say “if the business can prove itself at this level I will reinvest to the next”. I would always say to my hubby “I think this is probably going to be as good as it is going to get” then I would hit that projected turnover and off I would go again.
I think the turning point was when my business I created myself and grew myself was turning over more than both of us had ever made in our professions jointly (I as a chef and Gregg as a carpenter) that was when we made the decision that we have something here with potential, so we got serious and Gregg joined the business 100% and in 2019 we won the pitch final through the university of Wollongong iaccelerate program for our projected business plan.
Looking back is there a piece of advice you wish to pass onto someone starting out their entrepreneurial journey?
Play the long game, start small, customer validate, change, adapt, find a gap in the market, nail your problems before you scale.
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Willing to learn, adapt, and change.
Who do you look up to in business? Who inspires you?
Local small businesses with amazing reputations of kindness, integrity and success.
What was the best advice that you have been given?
Get all your standard operating procedures in place.
What do you think your key to success has been?
Listening to customers, changing and adapting.
How have you personally measured your success?
Actually creating an eco sustainable business and comfortable income from our land and keeping true to our values.
Outsource the skill or learn the skill?
Both, I try to learn to have an understanding of what is actually needed so I can communicate with my outsourced experts and know that I am getting what I am paying for, learnt that the hard way.
How do you generate new ideas?
Listening to my customers needs, asking questions, educating myself.
What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Showing my daughter she too can become more than a worker, being in control of my life and having the options to change when needed
Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
compostable nappy business.
Where you see yourself and your business in 10 years?
In an eco sustainable factory manufacturing our skin care in closed vat machines, a board and contract manufacturing eco skin care into our own recycled packaging.
Who are the women around you that allow you to thrive?
My business network is extensive with Mia Maze and fellow entrepreneurs that we met through the iaccelerate program. Also, my right hand gal Annette who works with me in my lab.