2013 Enterprising Women: Inga Tritt
Founder,The Original Sprout
Inga Tritt was born in Germany, but grew up in Montecito, California where her love of nature, art and architecture eventually led to a successful career as a master stylist, then salon and spa owner. When her daughter Maya was born, Tritt sold her salons and spas to become a full-time mom. And, while she pledged to use natural bath products and baby shampoos, she quickly discovered that most wreaked havoc with her daughter’s hair and skin. Tapping a need, Tritt combined her professional experience as a master stylist with her real-life mom experience to create The Original Sprout, a globally trusted, natural family brand of professional products.
From where does your entrepreneurial drive originate?
I had the fortune to grow up with my Grandfather Tritt’s loving and innovative influence. He created new technology surrounding the use of fiberglass in boating and sports cars back in the day. He always nurtured my own insight, instinct and creativity. To have such an accomplished man “see” me and my talents from such an early age was a blessing beyond measure.
As you grew your company/brand, what “ah-ha” moments of clarity helped you shape its future course?
When my daughter Maya was born and I realized the exceptional lack of professional-quality salon products for the family that were natural and non-toxic—not private-label products or grocery store brands, but original, professional formulas that worked. For me, professional products were a necessity, like toothpaste, but I couldn’t expose that toxic burden on Maya’s little delicate body let alone all my stylist friends and family!
As you shaped your company, what have been some of the biggest stumbling blocks?
I know from experience that the best opportunities often come disguised as stumbling blocks. The secret is not judging what occurs. We’ve had the awesome experience to be extremely selective in whom we choose to go into business with—a hard-won lesson that is bearing more rewards and even greater opportunities!
How would you describe your management style? What do you think makes you a good leader, and in what areas would you to improve?
By attracting the right employees, I completely trust them. There is no need to micro-manage at our scale. I listen and take all of their ideas into consideration. Perhaps I could stand to improve by being a little more realistic about some people. I tend to believe everyone has the same level of integrity as I do, and that isn’t always true.
How do you set goals for yourself? For example, do you prefer more small accomplishable goals or fewer large goals? How do you hold yourself accountable?
Because my support staff works together as a team, we are able to identify immediate goals. This helps me with priorities. Being able to identify what needs immediate attention first, then structuring all other tasks to complement each other is how we work and grow. Especially with social media we need to weave in all aspects of business accountability, growth and growth management, staff happiness—yes, I believe people come first—that is my feeling of success. If we have a happy staff and customers, I’m happy. Money is not my master, humanity is.
Throughout your professional history, what’s the best lesson you’ve learned after making a mistake?
I make mistakes like everyone. Real life is learning and growing. My hardest won lessons as a businesswoman lately have been to be extremely careful in choosing my business partners. There has to be a shared vision, and that vision isn’t about making buckets of money; it’s about being of service by providing a product that is as gentle on the body and planet as it is effective.
From whom or what do you draw your strength, courage, vision?
My Grandfather Bill Tritt instilled within me a great fortitude of courage, which still fuels my strength to break new ground for the sake of what I know is right. Creating a legacy of high-performing, yet non-toxic products is all for Maya, my friends and family. When it’s not about taking, when it’s not about just being rich, when our purpose is greater—it’s never work. It’s passion, it’s love and all the right answers come. Everything lines up and we take off in a new way—it’s like the path is already there. We just have to find it.
As you grew your company, what, if anything, has held you back?
If something has held me back, I’d like to know about it! We’ve experienced non-stop growth thus far. We constantly count our blessings!
What is the number-one quality you look for when hiring employees, and how do you evaluate if they possess that trait?
It’s more of a gut instinct. Our employees become family, so if they’re qualified for the job and click with us, we hire them. It’s a joy to see them develop as professionals in their own right.
What’s the best thing an employee/colleague ever said about you?
We recently had an employee tell us that he has never worked for a company where he felt so cared about. That meant the entire world to me. We really are the Sprout Family.
If you were training another woman to takeover your job, what’s the most important advice you would offer her?
I would encourage my daughter Maya to carefully consider anyone with whom she would consider entering into a business relationship. And, like any other relationship, develop a strategy for clear and healthy communication for all things. Current communication is key. Also stay true to her heart and do whatever necessary to maintain the health and integrity of the company.
If you were to look at scrapbook of your professional career, what would be your favorite page? Which page would you like to remove?
My favorite page (but I have too many) would be when I realized our professional performance and natural/organic ingredients conquered psoriasis, cradle cap, itching, eczema, dry scalp and skin, and other skin/scalp and hair conditions commonly picked up from grocery and drugstore products. I’d like to remove the time I practiced a hair straightener on my husband and all his hair came out—it was a “natural” product. Whoops.
If someone were to write a book about your life, what would be an appropriate title?
I’ll Make You Look 10 Years Younger: Give Me Two Hours
If you weren’t in the beauty industry, what would you be doing?
I am an artist first, so I’m sure I would be creating something! I could see myself doing architecture, sculpture or organic gardens. I would also continue my volunteer work in empowering women. I am passionate about working with and elevating women and families.
What are you working on now? What’s your next professional step?
I am constantly developing new products. I’m VERY excited about the skin care line I’m creating right now! I love using it.
How would you like to spend your retirement?
When you truly love what you do, it’s not work, so I don’t see myself retiring in the classic sense. I know I will always continue my work in empowering women and supporting environmentally sustainable businesses well into my golden years—where I will look like I’m 20.