The Story Exchange, Sharon Rowe, Eco-Bags Products
Your Name: Sharon Rowe

Business Name: Eco-Bags Products, Inc., a maker of reusable bags

Type of Business: E-Commerce

Business Location: Ossining, New York, United States

Twitter   @ecobags

Reason for starting
I started Eco-Bags for two reasons – 1. I was tired of all the single-use plastic bags in my neighborhood. I identified that as a personal “pain” point and when I realized there were other people thinking like I was, I decided to start a business. 2. I started a business because I wanted to be in charge of my own time. I was a new mom and the idea of commuting to work didn’t appeal to me. This doesn’t mean I stayed home with my child all the time. I did have childcare set up. But having my own business gave me flexibility to generate income and manage my own schedule.

How do you define success?
Today, my definition may be somewhat different than when I started. Today my definition would include, and is not limited to, success is bringing a product into the marketplace that I am proud of and understanding that my business has been and, continues to be a pioneering force… on the front lines of establishing the reusable bag movement and social and sustainable business. When I started it was before these “calls to action” and even before the internet. I would add to the definition of success the fact that our ECOBAGS Brand has not just survived, it is thriving.

Biggest Success
We’ve been featured on Oprah, in Time Magazine and so many others and I am so thankful for all this. My biggest success is that I do not have any regrets and my children are healthy, happy young adults. My husband and I have been married 26 years and are now re-engaging in our creative careers. We both started out in the arts in NYC. Blake is a songwriter and composer working on his “song a week” project: ( and I am continuing to perform in local theatre productions.

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
My top challenge has been to get out of the “weeds” and work on the business versus working in it on the day to day stuff. It’s been a multi-level, multi-year process to disentangle me from “it” but I’m getting closer. It’s not just the letting go of the details, it’s learning the skills for leadership vs. management and understanding that running a business can be a lot like riding a roller coaster. Strap in and go.

Who is your most important role model?
Ok, this is totally honest but I don’t have a single role model. I get this question a lot but, honestly, it’s not one person and I don’t see how it could be. It’s more like a composite of many images and interviews and books that I’ve read, people I’ve talked to, who have influenced my path. There’s no perfect path. It’s series of choices. It’s about getting comfortable making lots of choices with big impact.