Interview with Kelly Wels, Founder of Green Team Distribution

Interview with Kelly Wels, Founder of Green Team DistributionTell us a little bit about yourself and your entrepreneurial journey.

Like many entrepreneurs, my journey has had lots of twists and turns. I started in the eco-friendly children’s products industry about 15 years ago, where I founded an online cloth diapering superstore. In 2010, I sold that business, wrote a how-to cloth diaper book, and simply laid low.

Of course, after some time passed, I had the entrepreneurial urge again. I decided to put my skills and knowledge of the eco-friendly children’s product industry to good use by starting a manufacturer sales rep agency, Green Team Distribution. Knowing all the challenges retailers face, and the many pitfalls they have to overcome, I wanted to create an agency that would streamline the retailer ordering experience and help both budding and established retailers find success and profitability in selling children’s products.

My company, Green Team Distribution, distributes beloved eco-friendly children’s brands such as Hip Peas hair products, 5 Phases baby bottles, Tree Hopper Toys, pHresh deodorant, Diaper Dawgs, loohoo dryer balls, and Piggy Paint nail polish. Before we recommend an eco-friendly children’s brand to our retailer clients, we do a lot of due diligence and research because we want to set up our retailers for success. The beauty of working with Green Team Distribution is that we carry amazing brands in a one-stop online shop, eliminating the need for retailers to have to place orders with multiple brands and succumb to large order minimums, which ties up cash and can ultimately hurt a retailer. We carry more than two dozen eco-friendly children’s brands, some exclusively, and this number is growing every week as I discover more brands to add to our offerings.

Today I’m thrilled to be back in the entrepreneurial world so I can help other retailers learn from the mistakes I made and find a higher rate of success and profitability.

What did you do before launching your own business?

I owned a large online cloth-diapering store, which I sold in 2010. I authored Changing Diapers: The Hip Mom’s Guide to Modern Cloth Diapering, a comprehensive overview of cloth diapering for the new mom or dad.

How did you fund your business?

All my businesses have been self-funded. When I started my eco-friendly baby products store 15+ years ago, I struggled to make it work until I found my niche in cloth diapers. That’s when things started to take off – I was at the forefront of the modern reusable diaper trend. Those were exciting days!

After selling that business, I used some of the proceeds to help fund Green Team Distribution. I am very proud to have built my businesses from the ground up with my own money and know-how.

How many hours do you work a week and how much is spent is your home office?

I remember days when I worked every minute I could possibly squeeze in. I had 12- and sometimes 16-hour days. I had to sacrifice my family and personal time… and I was miserable.

Today I have found a better balance. I no longer try to do everything myself; rather I turn to consultants and employees to help me. I work only when my kids are in school – I’ve learned things at work that seem so urgent at the time can ultimately wait. Raising three responsible and socially conscious children is my top priority – then the remainder of my time is spent helping my retailer clients, uncovering new eco-friendly children’s brands to carry, and ultimately, making my business the gold-standard manufacturer sales rep agency for eco-friendly children’s products.

How would you rate your success?:

For me, professional success is measured by helping others. I believe Green Team Distribution does exactly that – it helps retailers grow their businesses without having to make the same costly mistakes I once made when I was a retailer myself. Every day I’m reminded that many other entrepreneurs depend on me to not only recommend the best eco-friendly baby products for them to carry in their stores, but also to ease the processes that come along with inventory management, complex manufacturer relationships, customer service, marketing, etc.

What has been your biggest business struggle as an entrepreneur?

My biggest struggle has been to not do everything myself. Sometimes it seems easier to do everything myself, but that puts me back in a position of working like a dog, which I don’t want. With Green Team Distribution, I have been smart about putting processes in place that I’m able to teach others to handle, thus eliminating the need for me to do everything and freeing me to be a good mom, my top priority!

What advice would you give to a new entrepreneur?

There are so many things I would tell new entrepreneurs – perhaps I should write a book on this too!  My best piece of advice is to be open to advice from qualified sources.  Find a few entrepreneurs you admire and know will steer you in the right direction. Read their blogs, follow their Tweets and generally take the time to understand what they did that is worth emulating.  The best of the best entrepreneurs take the time to blog about their experiences and share their advice – it’s there for the taking! Just be careful to only take advice from those who you know are experienced, knowledgeable and trustworthy.

How do you manage all of your personal and business activities?

Balance is not something that comes easily to me. I have had to work at balancing work with family priorities to avoid falling into the workaholic trap. My first priority is my family. When my kids come home from school, my workday is over.  My next priority is my clients and making sure I help them find and stock the best eco-friendly products in their stores.  If you stay centered on what’s most important to you at all times, you’ll never stray from your priorities.

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