Susan Griffin-Black of San Rafael’s EO Products wins Women in Business award

Susan Griffin-Black, co-founder and co-CEO, EO Products, San Rafael

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Susan Griffin-Black says it is easy to identify a significant accomplishment as a co-founder and co-CEO of the body care company EO Products.

“I think what we are most proud of is not going out of business!” she said. “I’ve always said that’s our superpower. We have never taken venture capital, choosing instead to work with angel investors and our own capital.

TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR COMPANY

PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND: Clothing design, small business ownership and aromatherapy.

EDUCATION: B.S. in liberal arts; master’s degree from the School of Hard Knocks.

We are an essential oil based body care company in Marin County. For over 20 years we have been making bath and body care with botanical extracts and essential oils in our certified organic facility. Our two brands, EO and Everyone, provide healthful and accessible products that are good for people and the planet.

MAJOR ACCOMPLISHMENT IN THE PAST YEAR OR SO

Last year we reached our 20th year in business, which was a big milestone. This year we’ve reached nearly 100 employees, another big one for us which led to the purchase of a second building to allow us to expand our manufacturing and shipping capacity.

WHAT IS THE ACHIEVEMENT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?

I think what we are most proud of is not going out of business! I’ve always said that’s our superpower. We have never taken venture capital, choosing instead to work with angel investors and our own capital.

I am also proud of our new Aromatherapy for Everyone line of products. We’re working with Target and other retailers to take the guesswork out of aromatherapy. It’s been a lifelong dream to bring the mood-changing effects of essential oils to the world.

WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE TODAY?

Our biggest challenge is scaling a business in a way that feels authentic to us. We’re growing quickly, and are focusing on maintaining our core culture and values as we grow.

WORDS THAT BEST DESCRIBE YOU: Curious, creative, determined and mindful.

AS A SUCCESSFUL FEMALE PROFESSIONAL, WHAT WERE THE BIGGEST OBSTACLES YOU FACED AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM?

Most of the biggest obstacles I faced as a woman in business have really been overcome with the sexual harassment and equality laws that have been passed in the last decades. I owe a lot to all the people who have worked tirelessly — and still do — to make sure that women can be recognized for their work, be paid equally, and be treated like equals.

HOW DO YOU THINK YOUR PROFESSION WILL CHANGE IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS?

I see a movement towards healthier products and conscious leadership. As this continues to happen, we hope to be able to mentor new businesses on how to grow a business without venture capital.

WHO WAS YOUR MOST IMPORTANT MENTOR?

Susie Buell, previously Susie Thompkins, is an entrepreneur who inspired me and has been a great role model. Susie is genuine: She is a mother, creator, successful businessperson and does it all with great poise. She had a large impact on the leader I am today.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A YOUNG WOMAN ENTERING YOUR PROFESSION OR THE WORK WORLD TODAY?

Despite the tech world’s idea of success, you do not need to have a business valued at $5 million in a year to be successful. Grow your business at the rate that it demands, slow growth that is sustainable is more valuable than overnight success that fails quickly.

MOST ADMIRED BUSINESSPERSON OUTSIDE YOUR ORGANIZATION: Margaret O’Leary

TYPICAL DAY AT THE OFFICE: Meet with Finance in the morning then Sales. Light lunch while checking emails. Afternoon meet up with Marketing and Creative then hot yoga in the afternoon.

BEST PLACE TO WORK OUTSIDE OF YOUR OFFICE: My kitchen table.

CURRENT READING: “Originals: How Non Conformists Move The World Forward” by Adam Grant.

MOST WANT TO MEET: Suzuki Roshi, my teacher’s teacher.

SOCIAL MEDIA YOU MOST USE: Instagram.

STRESS-RELIEVERS: Hot yoga, pinot noir, walking the Lovell Loop, meditation and great meals.