June 28, 2021
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Ana Eliza Saragossa is a woman from Sonora who took a personal interest in the wellness industry as a teenager and then took it to other levels. Graduated from Tec de Monterrey with a degree in Financial Management, In 2013 she founded Clean Brands , a company dedicated to making healthy and environmentally friendly products.
In an exclusive interview for Entrepreneurs in EspaÃ±ol , Ana Eliza tells us about her journey into entrepreneurship, her process of delegating functions and the plans for the future of Clean Brands.
For eight years, the CCO & founder of Clean Brands, the holding company to which the Green Doctor brand belongs, has had to overcome obstacles, learn a leader and run a company that initially not everyone believed in. A woman who has not been prevented by a global pandemic from moving forward and achieving her goals.
Entrepreneur en EspaÃ Â± ol (EN): Why your inclination to the wellness market?
Ana Eliza Saragossa (ANAE): I’ve always been quite a numerical person. But another one of my concerns is that I have been very close to nutrition and wellbeing in general since I was a teenager. I wanted more energy, so I started attending retreats and the things they recommended didn’t exist in Mexico eight years ago.
To get closer to the wellness world, you asked an uncle who lived on the border to give you coconut oil, liquid stevia or even. to get Smoothies . Since then I have thought that it is impossible that these products do not exist in Mexico, that they are so difficult to find, and that they have such high prices.
DE: How did your company Clean Brands come about?
ANAE: The first product we put on the market was a coconut oil at Walmart that they didn’t want to introduce, but we succeeded and by the following year there were seven more brands on the shelf. This has also happened to us with other products such as toothpaste.
The parent company Clean Brands separated and became more robust with the others, with the idea that it could become a mini Unilever with many wellness lines, but which can be used under a well-known brand. These include Holiblend (healthy snacks and sweeteners such as liquid stevia), Monke (monk fruit-based sweeteners), Clean Life (protein and nutritional supplement line) and Eza Botanicals (face care line). However, the one that gained great relevance due to the pandemic was Green Doctor.
EN: What was the process like when the Green Doctor disinfectants were introduced?
ANAE: At the time of the pandemic, we already had disinfectant development. Green Doctor was well received as the company already had a good base of loyal customers and the brand’s culture is linked to wellness as well as ethics.
When we started looking for alcohol for disinfectants, we had the idea that without methanol, among other things, it would be zero toxic. Then the topic of contaminated alcohol became popular and our products rose.
A large part of our philosophy is to do things well because we want to. Not because the customer asks for it or because of regulations, but because it is the standard that all Mexican companies should have in order to be really on the level in today’s global competition.
Image: Courtesy of Green Doctor
EN: What is your favorite product and what do you recommend?
ANAE: I think there are three. Our liquid organic stevia, I love it. For me it is a product that is a thousand times better than any imported product. The toothpaste, which is made from 100% organic mint, and the packaging made from bioplastic, a material obtained from renewable sources such as sugar cane, are also innovative. And the other is the surface disinfectant with essential organic oils from Green Doctor.
When she started getting involved in 2013, that wasn’t a “problem” for Ana. It is relatively easy for them to get their first loan, but then the funding becomes difficult to expand. But while it’s a frustrating subject, it wasn’t the biggest challenge Ana faced at the beginning, but convincing a buyer that people were interested in something else.
EN: How did you finance the company?
ANAE: I went to the banks to want more growth, I taught the flow of sales who my customers are and they wouldn’t lend me anything if I didn’t have land or a house. It’s like they said to you, ‘You know what, your business is doing really well, but I need your father, uncle, cousin, grandfather to invest his fortune.’ If you don’t have this network of contacts, you start to get into trouble.
DE: What do you think was your biggest challenge in carrying it out?
ANAE: My biggest challenge is getting people to believe that these products will be successful in Mexico. Eight years ago they told me that my business idea would not sell.
As an entrepreneur, you are betting on something new. And finding people who trust you is the greatest challenge.
EN: What is it like for you to be an entrepreneur?
ANAE: After an incident, I had to rethink various aspects of the business. Now we have an outside legal department and I brought in a CEO with more experience in leading people.
The fact that you are an entrepreneur, you don’t wake up one day and you are the best boss, the best person to run the people and you know how to motivate or you know when a person wants to see your face. You have to accept what is yours and what is not because some of these issues will distract you from your main value, which is business generating. It’s a step that you have to take at some point because if you don’t, you will wear yourself out.
I believe that no entrepreneur can afford to delegate at the beginning, but you have to find the right time to do so. Finding someone to lead the troops while I do my thing, innovation, gave me a lot of peace of mind.
Image: Courtesy of Green Doctor
DE: What is your experience as an entrepreneur?
ANAE: I have never seen a gender problem in my field. Maybe it would be different if my industry were petrochemicals or agriculture. Because I feel just as capable as I see women 200% capable. It’s not a brake on my head, therefore not on my career either.
What may often keep us from not being really honest with ourselves, that we do things 100% and give the extra, is already a matter of preparation, which in my opinion is very independent of gender. A woman or man who prepare, bring the dates and come up with a good suggestion, I don’t see why they shouldn’t listen.
A lot is social conditioning and you bring that doubt and the outside with you. If you sit down, do your job, check the facts, and see, you really shouldn’t be doing anything wrong.
Women are mentally trained, we have that extra, which is intuition. It is the moment to act with drive, honesty and sensitivity in order to move forward and be able to tell your story to the world and buy what it has to offer for people.
EN: How many people did you start with in 2013 and how many are there now?
ANAE: We started with three people, an administrator, my sister and me. As an entrepreneur, at first you don’t want to accept that you need help. I said I could do it. At the moment we are 26 in the team.
We have just opened our plant in Naucalpan. Before that, we assembled the products, but we started to do so from January 2021. We are in the process of quality certification, gluten free and organic.
DE: What does the future of clean brands look like?
ANAE: We want to be present in all supermarkets and expand the range. In four or five years we have to be one of the leading wellness brands in Mexico and present in each of the major categories with at least one line and competitive prices. In addition to export projects to promote Mexican products as a top.
Every place you go you need to find a healthy option for whatever you are looking for. When I speak of barrier-free, it’s not just because of the price, but also because of the availability.
Image: Courtesy: Green Doctor
For 8 years, Anae started with a personal dream that has since grown into a competitive brand in the wellness industry that also seeks to reduce CO2 emissions and safely recycle its product packaging.