Sustainability and simplicity go hand in hand at Brooklyn-based S.W. Basics. From Etsy proprietor to Target sensation, owner Adina Grigore shares how she grew her brand from the ground up.

By Courtney Fishman

What was your entrepreneur moment -- when you knew either you wanted to have your own business, and you knew it was going to be a success/good decision.

Seeing an S.W. Basics product on the shelf in Target was a real "entrepreneur moment." I have small ones all the time, but never anything huge, because I'm constantly readjusting my goals. To this day, I'm not totally sure my business is a success or a good decision. I just can't imagine doing anything else!

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started?

Three things. One, that failure usually precedes success. Even if it doesn't, it's an awesome learning experience. Two, things will constantly change. Just when I think I have a handle on the business or my job, something shifts and I need to adapt and accept that. Three, it's OK to define your own version of balance. I spend a lot of time focused on the business and used to feel guilty for being "unbalanced." I have come to peace with the fact that running a business like this will take up a ton of my time and to not be too hard on myself. 

Do you have a great piece of equipment (a smartphone camera app, tech tool like a credit card scanner, a great home printer) that you couldn't live without?

I have the most giant iPhone (the 6 plus) of all time, and I am completely unfazed by how much people make fun of it. It's amazing. I could run my entire business from my phone; it gives me so much freedom!

Complete this sentence: I can't work without …

Snacks and music.

Image via: S.W. Basics

What was your biggest surprise when you started your business (good or bad)?

That you need to become fairly knowledgeable of things you have no interest in handling -- from accounting to coding.

Do you have a mentor? If so, who?  

I force every human in my life to act as a mentor to me. The S.W. Basics team, my husband, my closest friends, and our investors.

What's the hardest part about being an entrepreneur/starting your own business?  

Keeping your energy level high and staying really positive. It can be exhausting! 

Do you have one single tip for success? What's the one characteristic someone needs?

Stay tenacious but also be flexible. You have to be willing to be almost tireless in your pursuits, but not so single-minded that you can't adjust course.

How did you fund your business when you first started? Did you have business plan?

A maxed-out credit card (still unpaid), and through family and friends. Eventually we made a business plan and raised money, but not when I was creating products in my kitchen!

Do you attend any conferences or retreats geared toward entrepreneurs?

Not exactly, although I've had plenty of conversations with entrepreneurs and business owners throughout the years that have been invaluable. I e-mail strangers I admire constantly, and I'll nag people (in a loving way, of course) until they're willing to talk to me. I have found that asking people questions and for advice is more valuable than a big conference or retreat. Plus, paying for someone's lunch or dinner is way cheaper.



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