#HolidayNightMarket Q&A with Ground Up PDX
Julie (left) is the co-founder of Ground Up PDX, a delicious nut butter company which also aims to empower women by teaching them life and business skills.
What inspired you to start your business?
I lived in Uganda for 2 years and worked at 31 Bits, which empowers and employs women to help them overcome poverty. When I returned to Portland, I was drawn to bring something similar to my home town. Through interviews with various organizations, I learned that women trying to get back on their feet have the motivation to work but may lack the skills, experience, or confidence to be hired by an employer. I saw a gap in employment training and wanted to see if it’d work in Portland! Along with Carolyn who had experience creating delicious nut butter and my experience at 31 Bits, we created Ground Up PDX, where we aim to empower disadvantaged women by employing them for 6-9 months by giving them vital life and job skills which they can use to transition into a full-time job.
What is the hardest lesson you learned during your first year in business and how did you overcome it?
Although we’ve only been open since April, it’s definitely been hard to create something no one knows about. But, going to farmer’s markets and other shows to spread the word has definitely helped.
What was the most useful lesson or advice you learned at MCNW?
Being surrounded by like-minded business individuals was definitely a great experience because you’re in an environment that is set up to make you succeed. I took Business Foundations I, where I learned the necessary first steps required to create a business plan. I was also challenged to think of new questions that I hadn’t previously thought of.
What excites you about doing business in Portland?
Portland is really inspiring; I get to go to many different tastings in the community! It’s also really cool starting a company that is focused on making an impact and letting the Portland community be a part of it.
If your business had a spirit animal, what would it be and why?
A monkey! Because we’re super excited diving into the business. Similar to monkeys, we’re always jumping around and staying energized. Also, monkeys love bananas and bananas are a great combo with nut butter!
If you could travel back in time, what advice would you give your pre-business self?
I would definitely tell myself that everything is going to be ok and some things may take time. I’d also tell myself to celebrate the small victories and successes.
How have you personally grown since starting your business?
It’s definitely been a humbling experience. I’ve grown to take on different roles within the business that I previously wasn’t comfortable with. I’m also a lot more confident in my skills set.
Any exciting things ahead at Ground Up PDX?
Our goal is to bring on five more employees in the upcoming year and launch the employment training program. We also hope to continue to grow our sales and discover which sales channels to focus our energy in!