Entrepreneurship Spotlight: Narwhal and the Manatee
It all started with a baby’s rash.
Megan Elizabeth Sutton was worried when her infant daughter broke out in red patches, soon realizing it was a bad case of eczema. When she began researching natural ways to make her own lotion to treat this skin condition, she didn’t realize that in a couple of years it would become a business.
Celebrating a year of business this past spring, the Narwhal and the Manatee has lined their shelves with handmade bath fizzies, soothing lotions and natural skincare products. Taking inspiration from her favorite hobby, baking, Sutton’s cupcake bath fizzies have become famous for looking so good, some have mistakenly tried to eat them!
Her team hasn’t gotten this far on their own. From the lard she sources out of Chesterton, to the beeswax and honey from New Haven, Sutton depends on regionally-sourced ingredients. Her goal this year is to focus and expand the number of small businesses that can produce the ingredients she needs.
Looking to grow her business, Sutton has also branched off into the world of private labeling. Working with many regional businesses, Sutton’s team works with a range of companies to create unique and custom skincare products that fit their customers’ needs.
Interested in visiting the Narwhal and the Manatee? Check out their shop located in the City Exchange.
Sutton spoke a little bit about entrepreneurship in Fort Wayne, here’s what she had to say.
What made you decide to open a business in Fort Wayne/Northeast Indiana?
I have lived in Northeast Indiana for 13 years and I’ve watched this community truly believe in its potential. After going to school and participating in several volunteer organizations, I realized this is my opportunity to add to the culture of this area.
What is the biggest challenge you have worked to overcome in starting your business?
My biggest challenge is in recognizing my own value. It’s easy to put a price tag on a product, but I have a hard time remembering that my time, talents and efforts are also valuable.
I got my start with the NIIC (Northeast Indiana Innovation Center). Greater Fort Wayne and the Fort Wayne Enterprise Association have both been very supportive and helpful. And the City Exchange made what I do a possibility by providing space for new businesses downtown.
What is some advice you would have for new entrepreneurs?
Go for it. I found starting a business similar to having a baby: you’re never ready. But once you get going, you figure it out. You have to. You need to. You want to. It’s wonderful.
Which person has helped you the most in your journey?
My husband, Christopher Sutton. He’s been a compass for me, providing gentle feedback all along the way.
Also, Micki and Michael Cooney, dear friends who believe in what I’m doing so much.
What would be the best thing Fort Wayne could do for entrepreneurs in your opinion?
Offer a “safety net.” Every business has a down season. Sometimes it’s hard to get through that down time, so having a purse, so to say, of “emergency funds” to help small businesses get through a rough patch would really elevate what small businesses can do and continue to enhance the culture of downtown Fort Wayne.
Find out more information about Narwhal and the Manatee by visiting their website.