Gina Grillo started her pillow and specialty goods business as a single parent in 1996, as a way to support her two daughters. But an illness caused her to dramatically downsize her business in 2006. Fast forward to 2015: Grillo rebranded and relaunched with a focus on the illness she had contracted, Lyme disease.
“Dissatisfied with the current dermal insect repellents on the market,” and determined to be a part of Lyme disease prevention, “I created a list of criteria I deemed necessary for a good repellent,” Grillo explains. “After four years of research and development, I launched Grillo's Essential Insect Repellent. With the dramatic increase of insect borne illnesses, the increasing numbers of people struggling with them, and the ever growing fear of diseases becoming synonymous with the outdoors, there is a large demand for a better repellent. This product meets that demand.”
Grillo knew she would want guidance to navigate the process of expanding her business and its production capabilities. She first learned about SCORE through a continuing education business course at her local college.
“My local SCORE mentor Bill Edwards assisted me with growth management, next phase planning and setting the stage for growth,” Grillo explained. “Mentor Richard Sellers helped me with local connections for shared marketing opportunities, as well as social media strategies including reviews, advertising, increasing likes and engagement, along with sales. John Pietro honed in on improvements to my website, emphasizing my main product and solidifying a tag line. With his guidance, I redesigned my website, using a new and highly effective format.”
“Due to the help of my mentors and SCORE training, total sales increased 295% from April through July 2016, compared to the same time the previous year. I have opened 31 new accounts and increased business to consumer sales by 169%,” Grillo reports. She has also tested campaigns for her business Facebook page and added videos to increase customer engagement.
Grillo’s Essentials was selected as one of 102 state winners in the 2017 American Small Business Championship.