In Conversation with Sarah Belzer of Coconu

Sarah Belzer_Blog Header

Describe your business in a few words?

Coconu sells all natural, safe and effective personal lubricants, but our business is really about helping people increase their confidence and capacity for connection, intimacy and pleasure. 

What made you take the leap to start your own business? 

Health, wellness and human connection have always been really important to me as a woman, wife and mother. I’ve always been on a constant quest for self-improvement. I’ve focused on clean, healthy eating, going organic, and swapping out cleaning supplies and beauty care products for healthier versions. My brother and sister-in-law developed the first USDA certified organic coconut oil lube and with my background in sales and marketing, I came on board as a partner. An organic lube fits perfectly in my approach to clean personal care products and I love helping to bring more natural and safe products to market to help women and couples be their best selves. 

What was your background prior to starting your own business? 

I spent a few years in the Bay Area in medical sales, but when my sons were born, I realized I needed to focus on my family for a while. Now that my sons are older and with a desire to create and contribute something outside my family, I am able to build a business that combines all my passions for health and happiness, uplifting women, and doing good. 

Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?  

No, I wanted to be a professional dancer when I was young!  During the time, I was focused on my family and raising my sons. I watched the world around me and knew that I wanted to be part of building something. I think you can do that in a lot of ways, including working for a larger company. However, the idea of being my own boss and helping grow something from the ground up was really appealing. I was so fortunate to end up at Coconu where I could believe in the product so completely. It’s made all the difference in this journey.  

Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned? 

We were a small business in every sense of the word! We didn’t have a marketing budget or even the capital to aggressively attract attention. We ran a grassroots marketing program, researching who to contact and sending out personal emails to editors, bloggers and influencers. Social media became a critical element of our marketing plan. As you think about your customer journey you need to understand where you can intersect with your customers in a way that feels genuine and organic and allows them to best understand the value you’re trying to bring to the market. Coconu isn’t here to fool anyone. We believe in better sex naturally and we believe that being respectful and honest about our message through multiple social media platforms has allowed us to reach our customers in a way that feels genuine to them. However, our marketing efforts did not always go as planned. It turns out that not everyone is comfortable talking about lube and sex so getting user generated content can be challenging. This continues to improve as people are getting more comfortable with personal topics. 

We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it? 

When I started in my role at Coconu I’m not afraid to admit that I applied “old school” business thinking to a market that’s clearly no longer old school. My inclination that for a small business to have success it must rely on traditional distribution methods was antiquated. I learned that we needed to pivot to embrace social media and a distribution model that was accessible and easily navigable for the public. It was a critical element to our growth.

What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?  

I’m extremely proud of our partnership with OCRA. Yes, Coconu provides a product that we hope people will embrace. But in addition to our primary mission, giving back to a cause that means so much to me personally like ovarian cancer research is deeply gratifying. We make a donation for every tube of Coconu we sell. 

When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? 

Tell me about the books currently on your nightstand! I love to hear what people are reading and I think you can learn a great deal from the discussion.

Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience? 

Hiring is one of the most important activities of any business. The right hire can mean an acceleration of success and a profound personal satisfaction. The wrong hire, well, you know the outcome. My advice is to distill down the 2 or 3 most important qualities you need and keep those at your core. Integrity, honesty and intelligence have been the 3 guiding traits in our most successful new hires.

How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic? 

The early days of the pandemic were scary for us and for small business owners everywhere. As things settled down we realized that the opportunities for personal connection were increasing and that Coconu could help in that process.

What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years? 

Our first goal is to make sure we continue to spread the word about healthy, organic personal lubricant. Beyond that our plans include expanding our product portfolio into other areas. We want to stay true to who we are and we think there are opportunities to bring other organic products to the market. 

What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?  

Slow down and breathe. It’s an important lesson that we can all learn. This pandemic has reminded me that panic and reaction is almost always the wrong response. We needed to slow down and understand what we could do to help and what our role was in the market.  

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business? 

 I learn every day and hope to continue to do so. I think understanding how to effectively assure that our supply chain can support our growth was a key learning moment for me.

How have you managed to stay grounded this year? 

There are so many priorities in my life between being a mom to three boys and a wife and partner to my husband, between maintaining my friendships and my close relationship with my family, staying grounded has never been a challenge for me.

Do you believe in work/life balance? 

What are some of your best tips? It is so easy to work 24/7 when you are running your own business. I try to carve time each day for exercise, hobbies, and human connection.

What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you? 

I’m six feet tall!

What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?

 Spend time each morning making a plan for the day and know your top priorities.

 Take a break in the middle of the day and get outside even if it is for a 20 minute walk. 

Use your timer on your phone and stick to a block schedule.

What does being an Entreprenista mean to you? 

Being an Entreprenista is everything that I have mentioned above, ensuring I am a good role model to my three sons, a good partner to my husband, taking time for self care, and ensuring that I am leading my team to success and always supporting them.

Share it!

Posted in
Tags

Leave a Comment





Founder Geisha Garcia on the Evolution of GG Communications

Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business: Geisha Garcia is the Founder of GG Communications, LLC—a digital marketing agency dedicated to elevating the digital presence of ambitious female-led brands through proven digital marketing strategies, as well as advancing the profession of social media through mentorship and education of social media professionals. What…

Cecile Rothschild on the Importance of Family and Close Relationships while Launching Your Own Business

Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business: Create and Associates is a branding, communications, and design firm. With boundless creativity, imagination, and a dedication to strategic thinking, we build brands that cut through the clutter—and unlock success for my clients. We bring together emotion, art, and rigor to design brand experiences that…

Melissa Wallace, CEO and Co-Founder, on Balance, Trust, and Celebration

Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business: I am the CEO and Co-founder of fivefoottwo marketing, an agency dedicated to early-stage, VC-backed startups. When launching fivefoottwo, we were meeting so many female founders who needed our services but struggled to receive funding. So we started giving them our services for free, which…

Contemporary Artist and Small Business Owner, Leah Devora, on Following Your Instinct

Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business: I created original, custom art with a contemporary edge for businesses and private clients. My site showcases my art. What excites you about being an Entreprenista League member? Meeting dynamic, interesting, and creative women and building a support network. What made you take the leap…

LEO + LAINE’s Lynzee Krohne’s Tips for Teamwork and Embracing all Aspects of your Business

Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business: Lynzee is the CEO and Founder of LEO + LAINE, and also serves as the Lead Creative Director. In her role, Lynzee manages the day-to-day business operations, and also works closely with the team to strategize, ideate and develop content for local and national clients.…

Kim Bennett of AtlasGuru on Building a Business based on Her Passion and Past Skillset

Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business: AtlasGuru is a publishing platform for travelers to share their itineraries and travel stories. Before starting AtlasGuru, I spent 15+ years in marketing in New York City and Seattle for lifestyle and consumer companies including Conde Nast, Martha Stewart, Amazon, and Nordstrom. What excites you…

Devika Chand Dandona on Sucess having a Strong Voice while Starting The Devi Collection

Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business: I’m a wife, mom of 3 humans and 2 fur babies, and am an all-around creative. I have an investment company that focuses on brands and startups. My current portfolio has brands in the clean beauty, sustainable fashion, tech, and wellness spaces. I have been…

How Coach and Consultant Sarai Tave’s Personal Healing Journey Sparked Moonlight Devi

Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business: My name is Sarai Tave. I am 35 years old, a single mom, and the owner of Moonlight Devi and The Singles Network by Moonlight Devi. I am a singles and couples coach, image consultant, and Thetahealing therapist. I help single people break thru their…

Decorating Dream’s Midge Fuller’s Desire to “Go All In” on Her Business

Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business: I am an interior designer, and I launched Decorating Dreams, which will help my clients see the potential in their homes by guiding them through the process. What excites you about being an Entreprenista League member? I am excited to work with Entreprenista because I…

Work-Life Balance and Scaling Your Business with Marketing-Led Business Coach Katrina Aronson

Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business: Katrina Aronson is THE Marketing-Led Business Coach, blending her background in small business marketing and psychology to help creative business owners to get out of their way and see massive shifts. With simple and scalable marketing strategies as her super power, she has grown two…

Fintech Queen, Heather Doyle of CoinQueens, on How to Manage Expectations and Crypto Empowerment

What excites you about being an Entreprenista League member? I am excited to connect with women who have had success in web2. I hope to onboard and empower them in web3 through education, investing, and networking. Women are typically not the leading demographic in nascent fintech markets, and CoinQueens is determined to change that in…

CoFounder of ExExperts, T.H. Irwin, on the Importance of Focus and Goal-Setting

Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business: My best friend and I divorced at the same time (drama and cheating ex-husbands), and we had one another leading up to it, during the process, and for everything after. We started the “exEXPERTS and Divorce etc…” podcast to help people in the same way…

Ex-Corporate Ad Pro Kaitlin Villatoro Highlights her Decisions and Insights around Diving into a New Entrepreneurial Path

Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business: I’m an ex-corporate ad pro, with 11 years of working with top Fortune 500 brands like Apple, Disney, and Corona. Motivated by the desire to be more present for my family and a demanding IVF journey, I left my corporate career to start my own…

Former Fortune 200 Executive, Chris Holter, on the Importance of Welcoming Personal Transformation when Launching your Own Business

Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business: Hello – I am Chris – A former global fortune 200 Executive turned lifestyle entrepreneur, trusted advisor, international speaker, and executive coach. I founded Chris Holter Consulting in 2020. I know firsthand what it is like to be building a business, the challenges you face,…

Beauty and Fragrance Consultant Emilie Mascarell on leveraging past experiences to launch your dream line

Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business: I’m a fragrance and beauty product development consultant. I launched Emilie Consulting to help companies develop fragrances, candles, and skin care products including product strategy, sourcing, formula and packaging development, testing, vendors relationship, negotiations, production support, and everything until release on the market. What excites…