Mompreneur Reisha Delug wanted to create a business that supported local and organic agriculture. So in 2009, she and business partner Chako Fairbanks launched FarmBox, a delivery service that offers baskets of fresh produce from local farmers.
"My inspiration to create is fueled by seeing needs in society that deserve to be met," says Delug, who is also mom to young son Elijah. "A great number of experiences led to [FarmBox's] fruition. I worked as a chef, experimenting in the kitchen, and at the same time became a nutritionist in order to understand how ingredients nourish our bodies. I worked on a farm and at farmers' markets. I noticed farmers and artisans, the producers and providers of nutrition to our communities, needed more support."
Delug's endeavor was so successful that she sold the business to GrubMarket in 2016, and she's now onto her second subscription startup, the Santa Barbara Tea Club.
"From Farmbox and onto the SBTC, creating conscious companies is a focus for me," Delug tells Mom.me via email. "I find joy in providing a service and/or product to make people's lives more fulfilling."
Delug also tells us how she built her businesses and what she's sacrificed as a mother to keep everything in balance.
What sets the Santa Barbara Tea Club apart from other subscription services?
The Santa Barbara Tea Club is passionate about the celebration of tea—supporting the centuries-old sustainable cultivation of the vast varieties of the venerated tea plant and bringing its uplifting and healing properties and cultural traditions to our customers. Our commitment to quality before profit and providing a fascinating education on tea for the value it brings to the customer makes us proud of the product and experience we provide. James Allen, the founder, has spent 15 years searching for the best tea in the world. Together, we want to share these discoveries with others in a nourishing monthly subscription. The teas are exceptional, seasonal, small batch, rare—chosen for the unique flavor profiles infused within the variety itself, its given terroir (or climate and soil), the expert cultivators whose expert skills and knowledge ensure the integrity of the tea's properties—and without added flavorings or fussy blends.
Describe the moment you first felt successful.
I did not get into Boston University on my first try. I spent my first year of college at Pace University, where I committed my life to studying and volunteering to help others less fortunate. When I reapplied for the following year to Boston University, I was accepted to the Undergraduate School of Management. I learned firsthand that success may not always be given to you the first time around, but not to give up. My very close second was delivering my son naturally!
How did it feel when you successfully sold FarmBox to GrubMarket?
When FarmBox was sold, it was bittersweet and opportunistic. Growing FarmBox from its genesis was like growing the produce the business provided—plants need time beginning in a healthy soil to form roots, be hydrated, patience from its supporters and balanced calculations—to enjoy the victories and reap the rewards of first shoots bursting through to sunshine to full maturation. This education of the process of what comes from the Earth deepened my respect that everything has its divine time and place.
Selling FarmBox to a buyer of integrity who kept the same core team and model felt right. To compete in the industry, FarmBox needed to continue to raise capital, and the buyer is successfully doing this. My business partner at FarmBox also continued on with the business and is staying committed to supporting the community of farmers and artisans we had built relationships with.
I encourage all young girls to pay attention to their unique gifts and talents in life, and from this place grow confident in what contribution they can share with the world.
As a successful female entrepreneur, what are some ways that you want to teach your son about "girl power"?
Growing up in a family where girls were mostly taught to be "seen but not heard," I want my voice and actions to model intelligence and love. I encourage all young girls to pay attention to their unique gifts and talents in life, and from this place grow confident in what contribution they can share with the world. I share with my son in various ways the stories of successful women and do my best to surround myself with strong, wise and active women who can also be role models and support for him in his life. "Girl power" starts within and at home. For example, it is important my son sees my husband and I engaged in conversations that come from a place of love and respect for one another.
Has there been anything about building your businesses that has surprised you or inspired you in a way you didn't expect?
I have learned the true pleasure of a business is in the journey of building the company, not the destination. I apply this philosophy to my new business, the SBTC. It is so much more rewarding each day to stay committed to the success of the day rather than focusing on what may or may not come in five years.
What's your advice for moms who are looking to start their own business?
I would encourage each mom to do it, and on that same thread of thought, make sure she is ready (and has enough time) to take on giving "birth" again. While a business is not a baby, in many ways the stages of growth reminds me of the phases of raising a child. If you want your business to thrive quickly, it is important to approach the creation of your business with equal amounts of time and dedication to seeing the developmental stages unfold in their right time and place. Patience is key.
What sacrifices have you made as a mom and an entrepreneur to keep everything in balance?
My nightlife! Luckily, I live in Malibu and the nightlife is pretty quiet. I decided early on when my son was born I wanted to be the one who ate dinner with him and put him to sleep. Bedtime, story time and watching him fall asleep is divine. I want to treasure this while it's here.
What would you say are the most important skills and experiences you've brought from previous positions to founding both FarmBox and the Santa Barbara Tea Club?
Valuing teamwork is integral. The whole team, communicating and appreciating one another, is productive. When I started FarmBox, I was the delivery woman, the packer, the correspondent, the newsletter writer. No job was too small.
If you could have lunch with any entrepreneur living or dead, who would it be and why?
I have great respect for people's journeys building successful businesses from scratch and the passions that fueled them to create them. It takes grit and fortitude to see a business come together. Having done it myself, and reinventing myself as I go along, I appreciate it all the more because I can relate to the fact that a business has a history and story to tell. More than any one particular person I could go to lunch with, I appreciate every person who has and continues to share their personal stories with me in a way that reminds me of the great ingenuity, diversity and possibility that exists in our world. I am never too old or too wise not to learn every day from those around me.