We were so sorry that a previous commitment kept us from joining the anniversary/birthday party for Seattle Sutton being held at Quartino’s in Chicago. Not only is this a special year for the meal powerhouse, Seattle Sutton’s Healthy Eating (SSHE), but it’s also the founder’s 83rd birthday year! Since we weren’t able to sit down for a quick chat at the party, we were able to catch up with Seattle later to have her share her success secrets and no nonsense approach to creating a business that’s been around for thirty years.
BB: Happy Birthday, Seattle! I think we’ve all seen your commercials on TV. Tell us how you started this business that’s been going strong for 30 years!
When I was working as a registered nurse in my husband’s medical practice, I knew what people wanted and needed. I had a good idea after consulting with a patient with type II diabetes. He said after I went over an entire week’s menu with him, that he would follow it if I made the meals for him. That was my ‘light bulb’ moment. I knew I was onto something… and the rest is history.
BB: You were a trailblazer, starting your company in 1985, by providing low fat, calorie controlled, sodium restricted nutritional meal plans. What were some of the biggest business obstacles that you came across, how did you overcome them and how did you handle your competition?
Not being a registered dietitian was something that was an obstacle in the early days, but I knew I had to have the healthiest meals possible. So I needed experts in the area of nutrition to help me and to consult with about meal planning.
Regarding handling competition, there were no other companies doing what I was doing so there was nobody to follow or plan to help. It was an entirely new business venture. My meal program was not just about weight loss, rather about teaching people how to eat for better health and about healthy eating.
BB: You know we’re going to ask…..do you follow the SSHE plan every day?
You bet I do, I have my meals delivered to my home and I love it! At age 83 when people compliment me about how I look and my energy level, I always say thank you, I eat right!
BB: What advice can you give our entrepreneurial readers as far as starting their own business and how to stick with it and not give up?
If you like a challenge, planning and organizing and don’t mind working hard, it’s America, start your business! Just remember you need to be passionate about it and truly believe in what you are doing otherwise it may not be successful if you are not truly committed. Remember, nobody ever died of lack of sleep! That is my motto that really became my mantra when I started the company 30 years ago. I was working full-time in my husband’s medical practice while launching the business. I had so much to do, I figured I could rest later. That mentality I think rings true for aspiring entrepreneurs, meaning essentially you will have to roll up your sleeves and work hard if you want to succeed.
BB: As one of our honored senior balanced babes, how do you maintain a balanced lifestyle?
Family is very important in my life, no matter what stage of life you are in family is important. You must put a priority on work-life balance, be it work, family, fun, religion, giving back, or whatever, but you must find a balance for a truly fulfilling life.
BB: Now that you’re 83 years young, any special future plans you want to share with us?
I have new ideas every day and enjoy what I do so much, it’s a passion or a calling if you will. I believe in keeping active, physically and mentally, in order to keep myself young. In fact, I have big plans on the horizon for my town of Marseilles, Ill., I just made a purchase that I’m looking forward to sharing with everyone in the near future.