- Alumnae Spotlight
Julia Taylor-Brown '02: teebsie
"Marlborough taught me that success takes time, focus and lots of hard work."
Julia Taylor-Brown’s entrepreneurial “pivot moment” came through a challenge you wouldn’t think Southern California would face: weather. Her popsicle company, teebsie launched in the springtime and enjoyed a busy summer season. Once October hit, however, sales plummeted. “I was having a bit of an ‘oh my god what have I done’ moment,” said Taylor-Brown ’02, the founder of teebsie, named after her own nickname. “A friend and fellow food entrepreneur helped me work through it. She told me, ‘the best thing you can do is to fail quickly and know when to pivot,’ and that helped me figure out which direction to turn.”
Candy felt like a natural extension of what Taylor-Brown was already doing, while also addressing some of the biggest issues she was having with popsicles (seasonality, distribution, cold storage, shipping, display, etc.). So that February, Taylor-Brown officially added candy to her repertoire. “I went from zero to sending a 1400-piece candy order to Marin for an Easter Egg hunt in April!”
While the expansion to candy happened quickly, Taylor-Brown spent about nine months initially preparing to launch her business. After doing extensive research, she decided her most viable path was starting small in order to get direct feedback from her customers before scaling up. “This ended up being a great strategy for me,” said Taylor-Brown. “Then I wrote my business plan and it took about four months to secure loans, purchase all of my equipment, including importing a popsicle machine from Brazil, secure some initial funding from friends and family, and find and move into a kitchen space.”
teebsie’s motto of “100% whimsy, zero nonsense” speaks to the natural ingredients that Taylor-Brown uses in her products, but a no-nonsense approach to business is also something she learned from her time at Marlborough. “Marlborough taught me that success takes time, focus and lots of hard work. It helped develop my skills in critical thinking and taught me how to question things in a constructive capacity.” Taylor-Brown will continue to rely on those skills -- she’s now at the next growth phase of her business and is ready to start scaling up and seeking investors.
Her time at Marlborough wasn’t all work though, as Taylor-Brown also credits Marlborough for the lifelong friendships she made there. “We will lift each other up for the rest of our lives. My Marlborough girls have been and will continue to be a major part of my life – both personally and professionally.”
This network of support has proven especially helpful during those inevitable moments that strike every entrepreneur. “Most days are amazing, but some days you’ll question everything about what you’re doing and you’ll need people who believe in you and can remind you of the why. I have that and I hope that every entrepreneur does.”