Faces of Entrepreneurship: David Foote .

Our "Face of Entrepreneurship" for the week of January 1st is David Foote, Co-founder of Marianella Soap.

Faces of Entrepreneurship: David Foote


“It Never Stops. Being an entrepreneur is like being a parent, you are always on call and everything is your responsibility at the end of the day.”  -- David Foote, Co-Founder, Marianella Soap.

What does “entrepreneurship” mean to you?

It Never Stops. Being an entrepreneur is like being a parent, you are always on call and everything is your responsibility at the end of the day. The second you put out one fire, another one pops up somewhere else. The key is finding your rhythm within this chaotic dance so you can navigate it daily without going crazy or sweating the small stuff. When it’s your own business, everything is in “fact do-or-die”— every decision you make matters and every choice affects you and your employees. Working fast and efficiently is your best friend as procrastinating is your worst enemy. It’s not for everyone, it’s a massive amount of pressure and stress that comes with wonderful self-fulfillment and gratification when you see your ideas immediately come to life.

How did your business come to be? (e.g. What sparked the idea? How did you decide to take the leap?)

In 2007 I moved my mother to the united states from Venezuela and she started sending me soaps as gifts. I started giving them away to my friends and their reaction to the product was so overwhelming and amazing, that I decided to start the company. I do all of the packaging and branding since that’s my background — and my mother does all of the fragrances and ingredient combinations. The end result is an incredibly luxurious line of home and skincare products that are so good, you have to feel them, and smell, them to believe them. It’s a product that everyone can use.

We always say if you can see it, it’s me — if you can feel it, it’s my mom. We started the company ten years ago and since then, we’ve been through such a huge roller coaster up to last year when we fully regained ownership of the business after a brief stint with an investor group. When we got our company back our main goal was to bring it back to the original mother and son team that started it all, keeping the company in the family, and transferring that feeling to our customers. Our main focus since then has been direct sale to consumers with the opening of ‘The Marianella Soap Bar’, recently in downtown Williamsburg, NY.

What is the biggest experience or lesson gained on your journey so far? 

You can never take your eye off the ball, not even for a minute, because the second you do, things slip and little by little that’s when a business goes down the wrong path.

What do you wish you knew when you started? Is there anything you would do differently? 

Ha, A lot. everything and at the same time I wouldn’t change a thing, because bizarrely as painful as this journey has been every single step led us exactly to where we are today, we finally have our first store, and the way it has all panned out has shown me that really all things happen for a reason no matter how painful or disappointing later in the path you go oh… I get it. So for that I’m very grateful.

What advice/credo do you live by as you grow the business? What is your professional and personal mission statement?

Make every single day count. I used to live always six months ahead planning for the next thing, overstressing everything, and suddenly I realized I was stressing over something three months down the line and not enjoying a victory that I made today, lately im starting to focus on making every day solid, granted I always keep an eye a year ahead, but this year things have changed for us so drastically on a daily basis that my main focus is on making sure today is great and taken care of. And always surround yourself by great people, because we wouldn’t of made it through the last few years if it wasn’t for our friends and business associates that supported us, believed in us, and helped us ride it through the storm.

What’s it like to work alone/with your partners? What advice do you have for fellow entrepreneurs about building and leading teams? 

Well I work with my mom so that dynamic is a little different, I would say regardless always respect your partner’s skills, expertise, and area of work. Motivate those who help you, inspire them and push them with your own sweat, hard work and perseverance. not with Instagram pics of your awesome vacation.

Where do you find inspiration when faced with challenges? 

I honestly always try to look at the positive no matter what but sometimes life beats you down crazy things happen and even finding a positive thought can be hard, so what I like to do when things are super dark is I find a glimmer of hope way down the line, for me it was visualizing a store, and customers walking out happy holding a million bags with my logo on them, and all those months when you don’t have money for food much less rent and bill collectors are calling you daily , you keep on hustling, working and picturing that store, the shelves, the uniforms, what it would smell like, and you treat that idea like a lighthouse, always thinking ok, this is just the crappy montage of the movie, it always happens, the main character always goes through this crap but at the end there is the end-goal, the lighthouse at the end of the storm. And trust me if you do that , you get there, a year ago we were pretty close to being bankrupt, rebranding an entire business with no money just me and my mom, today we have a store on North 6th between Bedford and Berry in Williamsburg we have sold through most of our inventory and have a pretty huge collaboration lined up for the first quarter so stay tuned.

What does “success” mean to you? 

To be able to pay my employees and myself by creating wonderful products the way we want to make them.

What’s the dream for your business? What has helped/will help you achieve it? 

To have our brand be a global brand that people love. Time

empty What is your proudest and darkest moment so far? Share a key high and a key low from your journey. 

Proudest Moment when I Opened the store this December in Williamsburg, to me it was a big symbol of not only what we have been through and overcome but what could possibly be down the line on a larger scale, that’s why I didn’t want it to be a little pop up or a shared space with ten people or anything of the sort, I wanted for the first time to have our very own full blown store, all ours wall to wall all Jaboneria Marianella.


empty My darkest moment was when a year ago I regained full ownership of the company, I also inherited all the debts which were massive, all that pressure, had zero money to operate and I had been without salary for two years trying to get the company back so needless to say there was no money for ANYTHING, not even to eat and I was being supported by my friends, no joke. My friends bought me food and helped me get by. And every day I just projected an image of social media of utter success just so we could keep going and get back on our feet. That is not an easy thing to do when you are really down to the last straw but we did it, pulled through, worked arduously and now thankfully we are here, because we have a great product and we have seriously worked for it.

What was your most important lesson from 2017?

I think everything happens for a reason — 2017 started off a bit rough. my mom was living and working with me at my house in NYC— we had no money, and were focused on trying to rebuild our business from the ground up and regain it from investors. So I had to move to Texas for the company for four months, and during this time, I often wondered why it was all happening — why my life had taken this turn and in Texas. But amazing people and circumstances came to the rescue. It’s crazy how the major lesson of this year has been that everything really does happen for a reason.

if I hadn't been forced to face such struggle, I would have never put so much work into my company, I would have never moved to Texas which made so many things possible. I've built the business back up, opened the store on one of the busiest foot trafficked corners in the NYC area, and opened it in time for Christmas. I can finally say honestly that I love my life. I would have never believed you if you had told me that at the end of this tumultuous and intensely stressful year, I would wake up every day, walk down Bedford avenue to work where I get to concoct incredible soaps and products all day. It’s all become pretty idyllic, and unexpected. Here’s to an amazing 2018.

Nasdaq's Education Foundation helped launch The Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center in the fall of 2015. Located in San Francisco, it has quickly become the go to destination for the next generation of risk takers and idea makers who take the plunge into entrepreneurship.

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