I’m keeping my straw. It was the first time to see a product from Utopia Plastix in real life. Sharina Perry pulled it from her purse for me right before she was introduced as one of the featured female entrepreneur speakers at an event called She Started It in Oklahoma City Tuesday night.
Have you been following Sharina and Utopia Plastix? You should. She’s everywhere, on social media, in the news, and in the board rooms. What is it? The Oklahoma-based company creates and manufactures the most durable, natural and affordable plastic alternative currently on the market. It’s an eco-solution, created in Sharina’s kitchen just three years ago. Now the company is big time with a corporate headquarters, manufacturing, distribution system and a growing client base of customers who want her product to make straws, bags, toys and bottles. Basically, anything that is plastic.
Scherrie Pidcock joined me for the evening. At 5:00 p.m., she closed up Luther Town Hall where she serves as the Town Manager, and drove to the big city for the event near historic Film Row in a place called The Treasury, a co-working and event space for women. Even for a weeknight, the area was busy with the after-work crowd hitting nearby breweries and restaurants, others carrying their mats and water headed to a nearby fitness studio, plus residents walking dogs and riding bikes. Parking should have been more of an issue, but waiting for the traffic lights to turn green was the biggest obstacle. That NEVER happens in Luther. Anyway, both of us have watched Sharina and wanted to hear her in this space and cheer her on. We wanted to find out more about the opportunities Utopia provides for farmers and rural communities. Sharina spoke in Luther at the Chicken Shack in 2018 about the possibilities of growing hemp.
In October 2018, we held an event at The Chicken Shack in Luther, Oklahoma. As we promoted the event by visiting with local business owners on Main Street, we had 100% of those business owners agree to share and display our flyers. Why? Because they were eager to support efforts to expose their local farmers and landowners to other opportunities. This event was the first time we shared all the possibilities of using crops to create alternatives to wood based paper and fossil fuel based polymers. The event was a HUGE success. It affirmed we were on the right track.Sharina Perry, CEO, Utopia Plastix
That was only the beginning.
Back to the evening, Sharina told her story along with Lauren Warkentine, who is the Lauren of the custom clothing retail company, William and Lauren and Robin Roberson of Claim Central and several other technology based startups.
The experinece provided a jolt of inspiration and energy. All three speakers shared candidly with laughs and applause. They shared the journey of building their businesses, hiring (and firing) employees, juggling kids and parents and pets, taking chances, getting knocked down, getting up again, and the importance of hiring a house cleaner if you can. Here are some of nuggets that might inspire you.
- “My ‘failures’ are also my wins.” — Sharina
- “Support young people in their passions.” — Lauren
- “Don’t skimp on legal advice!” — Robin
- “You don’t have to be an industry expert to be an industry leader.” —Robin
- “It is possible to solve our issues!” — Sharina
- “Being told ‘No’ is not No. It might just be, ‘not right now.'” —Robin
- “Learn to multiply, not duplicate yourself.” — Robin
- “Refuse to do tasks that take energy away from your priorities.” — Sharina
- On customer service: “Deliver a good product, on time, the way they want it!” — Lauren
- “This is my race to run. It’s not about who is first, it’s about me finishing.” — Sharina
As the evening closed, and I sipped the last of my Sonic Seltzer through my sturdy Utopia straw, someone in the audience asked the speakers about “imposter syndrome,” a trendy way to recognize when you doubt your own abilities.
Without pause, Sharina rebuffed.
“I never felt like I could not do it,” she said. Sure enough.