- Meika Hollender founded Sustain Natural, a feminine-care and sexual-products business, in 2013.
- Her father, Jeffrey, who started household-products maker Seventh Generation, was Sustain's co-founder.
- Home-products seller Grove Collaborative acquired Sustain in 2019 for an undisclosed amount.
When did you first think about an exit?
It had been an idea for three years. I didn't think a lot about what I wanted. Instead, I thought about what I considered possible, which at that time was selling to a consumer packaged-goods company like Unilever or Procter & Gamble. Had I done that, I'd be sitting in a cubicle somewhere with limited access to the CEO.
When did Grove Collaborative come into the picture?
Grove's CEO, Stuart Landesberg, is a part of a group of entrepreneurs and informal mentors I'd been going to. I reached out to him about raising money, and, on the first call, he told me he was interested in buying my company.
Take us through the selling process. How did it go?
The sale took about 90 days. In addition to negotiations, I spent a ton of time in San Francisco, getting to know the Grove team and building a relationship with Stuart. I'm not sure I felt prepared for any of it. So I met with some of my mentors in all different types of spaces, as well as other entrepreneurs who had been through similar experiences.
You stayed on, and now you're president of Sustain and head of communications for Grove. Has that transition been difficult for you?
What people don't talk about is how it feels emotionally and to your identity when your responsibilities change. Most challenging for me is no longer being the ultimate decision maker. It's a mix of weird and awesome, and a lot of stress. Being a co-founder is a very intense experience. I was running on adrenaline, and now I have to slow down, build new relationships, and earn my keep here.
What else surprised you about selling your company?
I spent the first few weeks in this "life is so good" space, and then I came down from that. I was like, why aren't people answering my emails right away? I had to remember that I'm a piece of a much bigger puzzle now.