For all the great dads out there, and in honor of Father’s Day, we thought we would share our conversation with a very special Dad who's close to Sprout's heart. Matt Price, husband of our founder Suzanne Price, told us the story of when he first heard about Sprout and what the journey has been like seven years, five stores, and two daughters later.
When was the first time you heard about the idea of Sprout? What were your thoughts and reactions?
It was the summer of 2008. Suzanne had been at an investment bank covering healthy consumer companies. She was always talking about Whole Foods and Lulu Lemon, two companies that excelled at creating a brand and service around providing the best products in a clearly defined market. We were also talking about having kids and she had been doing an enormous amount of research about the impact of chemicals on babies' developmental process.
My first reaction was very selfish. I said, “I can't believe you are going to start a company before me”.
My next reaction was, “go for it”. I believe if someone is passionate about something then they should do something about it.
When did you realize Suzanne's idea was becoming a reality and how involved did you think you would be?
I knew Suzanne’s idea was going to become a reality when she first told me about the idea that summer in 2008. Suzanne is not the type of person who thinks out loud. If she tells you she has been thinking about something, then you know she has been thinking about it for a long time and analyzed it from a number of angles. She is also incredibly intelligent and one of the most rational people I know. So if she thinks something is a good idea, she is usually right.
For these same reasons I did not think I would be all that involved in the company. Sure, I would unpack boxes, change light bulbs, and dress up as Santa, but Suzanne is a very independent person and always has been. It is one of her defining characteristics which caused me to fall in love with her in the first place.
What was it like unpacking boxes until 2am when the first Sprout store was about to open in San Francisco?
April 4th 2009. It was magical. Seeing her vision become a reality was nothing short of spectacular. We had a lot of help from friends and family that night, and it was incredible to be a part of a group of individuals who have come together to work tirelessly for a common cause. Also, starting Sprout pushed Suzanne harder than any other endeavor she had ever pursued. There was a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to build not just the first store, but a business that always had visions of a national presence. When we closed the gates that night to get a few hours of sleep, all I could think about was how proud I was of her.
How do you balance family life with career life, since both you and Suzanne have full time jobs?
It is a juggling act that requires a lot of communication, respect, and patience (mostly on Suzanne's part). We have been through a lot together, but I believe we are being stretched harder than ever before. We are both passionate about our jobs, enamored with our girls and our dog, Cody, in love with each other, and have great support from friends and family. It is a good recipe for handling life's opportunities and challenges.
You and Suzanne have been together since college. Is there anything new you have learned from her since watching Sprout evolve and watching her run a company?
The biggest lesson for me has been don't do something if you don't have a clear vision as to what you are doing and why. Suzanne had a clear vision as to what she wanted to accomplish with Sprout, but in the beginning was unsure about her ability to execute on that vision. She hit a few road bumps early on that came close to derailing the concept, but her vision remained clear and steadfast and she and her team have always been able to persevere. Starting a business like Sprout requires significant sacrifice, dedication, and hard work. It also requires assembling a team of talented people with a diversity of skill sets. If there is not a common and clear vision as to what people are working towards then the outcome is likely to be less than desirable and the personal sacrifice too great to endure.
Seven years, five stores, and two daughters later – what can you say has been the most challenging yet most rewarding aspect of this journey?
Sprout is a service business, open 7 days a week 362 days per year, across three different time zones. There is always something to respond to. So the biggest challenge is figuring out what fires to put out when so that we can spend time playing with Cody, Hannah, and Amber.
The most rewarding part is seeing how strong of a community Suzanne has created through Sprout. There are many baby stores, but Suzanne really wanted to create a community, which is why she places so much focus on the playroom, classes, and social events. Not only has it made the store standout, but it has also brought many great friends into our lives, between the customers we have become close with, and all of the employees.
What is your favorite Sprout product?
The Robbie Adrian lovie blanket. Anything that has helped my girls sleep and feel comforted is my favorite.
What would be your ideal Father's Day?
Hiking around the bay with my three ladies and Cody.