Pictured: Goverre founders Regan Kelaher and Shannon Zappala launched their successful portable wine glass company in San Marcos where they’re part of a thriving group of female entrepreneurs.
Being an entrepreneur is not easy. Dedication and determination are a must, and a supportive network of investors, customers, peers and family certainly helps, too. In San Marcos, the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well, and in a certain corner of the City – La Costa Meadows to be exact – there is a cluster of women business owners who are trailblazing their way to success.
In honor of Economic Development Week, May 4-9, we’re highlighting five of these dynamic female founders.
“The San Marcos area is a really well-kept secret. It’s a great place to manage your overhead, and we are close to everything we need to manage our business,” said Kerri Leslie of Verity, a sustainable packing company, and Noniko, a clean beauty company. “Our location in particular is a buzzing entrepreneur community. It’s a different energy, and it’s fun to be a part of that.”
Verity and Noniko are not alone. Women-owned businesses, including Boobie Brands, Goverre, and Wander & Perch, also chose to open up shop in San Marcos. They are founded by women, and each advances a unique facet of wellness and responsible, healthy living. Inspired by their own experiences and expertise, these business owners are addressing market needs while advancing their personal passions.
Leslie’s background in the medical device industry was the perfect primer for creating Verity because she was familiar with how to bring products made from metal from concept to market. She also has a lot of experience working with durable materials that can be sterilized and reused like stainless steel, and highly recyclable materials like aluminum. Being in San Diego, and centrally located in San Marcos particularly, helps her tap into a pool of likeminded talent who share her commitment to reducing single-use plastics.
“Our location makes it easy to recruit talent,” said Leslie. “We live in a community and focus our business in Southern California because people here care about ridding our oceans of plastic.” She continued, “We find it starts on a personal level for our community. Our employees, customers, and wholesale partners really care about the issue.”
Wendy Colson, founder of Boobie Brands and the Boobie Bar that started it all, wanted to help her lactation patients get the nutrition they needed without the hassle of teas and multidose supplements.
“Boobie Brands focuses on making women, specifically mothers, healthier. The fact that we are a woman-owned business is important in the marketplace,” said Colson. “I started helping my lactation patients by baking nutrition bars packed with the herbs and vitamins moms need. Using my experience as a nurse and lactation consultant, I’ve been able to grow the business by identifying new ways to assist moms in finding nourishing and convenient products.”
Colson has three distribution warehouses in San Marcos to meet the demand of retailers like Target, Buy Buy Baby and Walmart. When asked about the value of these locations, Colson replied, “I think the vibe in San Diego County, including San Marcos, is so rich in embracing the entrepreneur. It’s perfect because there are so many of us, especially in our complex. You get inspired by the community around you. We have one of the best business vibes.”
Like Boobie Brands, Goverre was founded by Shannon Zappala and Regan Kelaher when they noticed a market gap they wanted filled – along with a nice glass of wine on the go. They were the first to create a portable wine glass made of actual glass. Based on their research, drinking wine from a glass container is preferred by most wine enthusiasts (including Zappala and Kelaher!), and is far better for the environment than plastic. But unprotected glass is not particularly ideal for an outdoor lifestyle, so they invented a new type of glassware – thicker with a silicon sleeve and lid.
“After having success on Shark Tank, we realized we had to change our mindset from ‘what if we fail’ to ‘what if we succeed,’ and that has really shifted how we approach our business,” said Zappala. Kelaher says their dual roles as working moms help their business perspective, too. “As business owners, we have to balance everything and handle the unexpected. As moms, we’re already good at that.”
Eileen Zimmerman of Wander & Perch was inspired to create her line of eco-friendly waterproof travel tote bags after living in San Francisco and Encinitas. After experiencing the start-up culture in the Bay Area and the healthy living ethos of coastal San Diego, Zimmerman could not find a stylish waterproof bag for transporting her wet post-beach and workout gear, so she created one herself.
“I take a lot of pride in how much I do locally,” Zimmerman said when asked about how her location in San Marcos benefits her business. “We manufacture our products in San Diego County, and I try to employee San Diego county people. It can be hard to make sustainable choices, in the materials you source and keeping your product ‘local,’ but I think customers reward companies who make the right decisions.”
Zimmerman noted that the community this group of female entrepreneurs has created in San Marcos feels special and unique. “There is a level of support for one another,” Zimmerman said. “We are all local, and we are all connected to our community. It’s a rarity.”
If you would like to join this community of businesses in San Marcos, contact Tess Sangster, economic development director for the City of San Marcos at firstname.lastname@example.org or (760) 744-1050, ext. 3120.