SN 1 EP 9

The Pivot

Feat. Monica Grohne, Founder & CEO of Marea Wellness

Becoming an entrepreneur is the result of a series of strategic decisions, and that’s why it’s so important to master the art of the pivot.

As a founder, you have to be able to realize when something’s working—and when it’s not.

Monica Grohne started Marea Wellness, a menstrual wellness brand, to fill a gap in the women’s health market. 

Throughout her journey, there were times when Monica had to quickly adapt when things didn’t go according to plan—whether that was working with suppliers or deciding on her business model.

On this episode

Monica talks with Katie and Jenny about:

  • How she decided what the product would look like
  • Her challenges finding a manufacturer
  • Why she decided to change her business model

Top takeaways

Editor’s Note: Content has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.

How did you develop the products that you offer today with Marea Wellness?

Once we nailed down the nutrients that would make up the product, we needed to find a partner who could make it, so I realized that I needed a manufacturer. 

That was something that was really uncomfortable for me—I’m a marketer, and I’ve never worked with a manufacturer—I found it to be a very masculine industry. It’s run by old white men and is super intimidating. So, we spent a lot of time looking for the right partner. 

At that time, I thought that the product was going to be a sachet of pills. But the more I talked with people at facilities, the more I realized that it wasn’t going to be as convenient as I wanted it to be.

That’s  when I pivoted into thinking that I want to make a powder with all these nutrients that you can mix into water. And on top of that, I realized that I could make it even more convenient by individually packaging it so it’s really easy to take on-the-go. 

Making a powder also made the product more unique—and I realized that was a better way to deliver the nutrients than encapsulating them.

How did you find your manufacturer?

I talked with so many different facilities! And going through this process, I was also trying to figure out what it was going to cost. 

You have to know what your startup costs are—and this was the key cost. So, I talked with a lot of facilities, I got a lot of quotes—and at the end of the day, I was just not happy with any of them. It was proving to be really hard. 

That’s when I realized that I really needed to utilize other people in my network. I reached out to a founder who’s in the skin care space. She pointed me in the right direction of a facility who worked with smaller brands. 

That was when we really nailed down our first facility. I visited the location, had a great conversation with the chemist, and we worked through flavoring. It was perfect. 

Recently, we had to find a new facility because they were no longer able to produce stick packs, which is how we packaged our product.

That was another moment where I thought, “Here we go again. I have to find someone else to make our product.” 

Luckily, having been through that process once already, I felt much more equipped to go at it again.I felt more confident having conversations with people. I realized that I’d done this before—I knew the right questions to ask, I knew what I was looking for, and I knew to tap my network earlier.

Tell us about launching your business and some of the things that you ended up having to change.

When we launched the business, I wanted it to be subscription-only. The reason why we decided to go that route is because the product is most effective if used on a regular basis—we wanted to promote that this wasn’t a quick fix. My thinking was that you really needed to be committed—and to be committed, you should just subscribe. 

But in the first few months after we’d launched, we saw that people weren’t subscribing. They wanted to try the product first before committing to a subscription.That’s when I realized that maybe the subscription model isn’t the best one for our consumer. As a business, a subscription model gives us a lot of certainty, but at the end of the day—we want to do what’s best for our customers. 

I had to decide whether I was going to stick to my guns with the subscription model, or if I wanted to open up the door for more conversions—get more people to feel, touch, and see the product. That was a really hard decision, but I realized I could always change back if I was unhappy with the results. We ended up opening up a one-time purchase and a subscription model. And we made sure that the people who were buying the one-time product understood that it was most effective if they took it regularly. We increased our communication about that point, emphasizing that you’re not going to see the effects by just taking it for one day.