Sarah Michelle Gellar Talks Transitioning From Hollywood to Startup Founder

photo credit:  Kelley Raye .

photo credit: Kelley Raye.

Successful women from different careers who now run a startup. 

That’s the story behind Sarah Michelle Gellar and Galit Laiblow co-founders of Foodstirs who took the Create & Cultivate stage this past Saturday in Atlanta to an audience of over 500 attendees. They talked a lot about taking the concept from idea to reality, overcoming doubt, as well as shifting out of their previous roles. 

‘Part of being an entrepreneur,” admits Laibow, who ran a successful PR firm or 12 years, “is not being afraid.”

They made the jump after shopping for ingredients for a baking play date with their kids. “Ingredients,” says Gellar, “that had more consonants than vowels.” Thus, Foodstirs was born and switch into roles that hadn’t previously imagined for themselves. 

“As an actor I’ve watched my industry change,” Gellar explains. “When I started you were either a movie actress or a television actress or you were serious and you did theater; the three didn’t meet anywhere. Then it changed and people realized you could jump from medium to medium.” She was looking for something else when the opportunity arose. ‘Ways,” she says, “[I] could still innovate and still be creative. Also, I’m a mom now, I have two young kids at young and I don’t want to be working 19 hour days and not see my children.”

“Even when you’re a producer you still have other people to answer to. It’s not necessarily the product you intended to make. What I’ve loved,” she says about her new role as founder, “is that now when we have an idea, what you’re seeing is everything we wanted it to be, because it's up to us and only us. It’s our battle to win. It’s so satisfying in a way I’d never experienced and it’s using my reach and creativity in a new way.” 

"What you’re seeing is everything we wanted it to be, because it's up to us and only us."

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As for the partnership Laibow says she was hesitant to partner with a “celebrity.” Having come from the PR world she knew that celebrity doesn’t give a brand a fast-track to success; sometimes it's the opposite. “There are so many celebrities putting their names on things and the consumer is much more savvy. I did have a lot of reservations. I knew that if we did have a celebrity it had to be someone who was really passionate. Sarah and I had many late nights talking about it and she really believed it in. She’s a real co-founder. We both invested our own money and time and we don’t get paid right now.” 

“It’s been fascinating,” says Gellar, “you think we would have each just done what we’re good at; it doesn’t work like that. In the beginning there were days when it was just us. Neither of us knew how to HTML code so I went and learned how to HTML code our emails. They were maybe not the best or the most professional, but that’s how you start and that’s how you learning.” 

“Fail is the first attempt in learning. I don’t see failure as a bad thing. I see it as exercise. When you exercise,” adds Gellar, “you want to work out until your muscle fails so that it grows bigger and stronger. To me those are the steps in learning. That thought in your head is invaluable.”

"Fail is the first attempt in learning."

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“I always wanted the brand to stand on its own,” Gellar says, “I’m not the face of the brand, but I am the co-founder. At the end of the day you want the brand to be bigger than the person. I don’t want to first thing you think of to be me, I want the first thing you think is ‘Wow! That tastes really good.’”