How Pam Corbett turned her hobby into a business with heart
Pam Corbett had always been an entrepreneur. She had two failed businesses to show for her efforts. But it wasn’t until her husband asked, “Do you want to keep this a hobby? Or make this into something?” that she began to let her dream unfold. She sold seagrass bags out of her garage while teaching part-time and taking care of a six-month-old. She had her hands full.
But she had persistence.
She kept going. Fast forward a few months later, and Sea and Grass was born. Pam partnered with a Thai village to craft unique hand weaved seagrass bags. Her vision included designing sustainable bags that represent a piece of Thai culture. However, her plans didn’t end there. She wanted to be more than just a bag.
As a mother of two young girls, Pam wanted to help impoverished children receive an education. She made a decision that would change the course of her business — a portion of her profits would fund the Areeya Scholarship Fund. Areeya, her daughter’s middle name, means generosity and giving. The fund created under the Sea and Grass umbrella would give educational opportunities for local Thai girls.
“People want to invest in a company that gives back to the community. Our bags provide a living wage for the weavers and opportunities for their children. Buyers responded. We were thankful.”
Despite some early success, being a small business owner was tough. Pam had to navigate international trade and cultural differences. There were days she was answering emails in front of her kids’ daycare. Her days never ended.
“Prices for bamboo and shipping kept rising. I thought it might be time to call it quits. I thought I had given it my best try.”
Still, she had patience.
“The turning point came when I said if I don’t get a certain number of orders by the end of the month, I have to make it a hobby again.”
Her friends and family urged Pam to keep going. Months of strategic planning started to pay off. Big orders from major retailers came in, and she booked a celebrity wedding.
She looks toward the future.
One thing is for sure, Pam is driving forward with Sea and Grass. Each day she’s thankful she’s doing what she loves while giving back to her community. For women entrepreneurs starting out she would tell them to start off small and keep going. Let your passion, creativity, and business savvy guide your decisions.
“You never know where your business might take you. Most importantly, don’t compare yourself to others.”
Take it one step or in Pam’s case, one bag at a time.
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