We had the good fortune of connecting with LaTangela Newsome and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi LaTangela, maybe we can start at the very start – the idea – how did you come up with the idea for your business?
I have always been known for my love of cooking from a very young age. Once I had my son I found myself cooking all the time. Grease disposal has always been a nuisance in my kitchen and I’m sure many people can relate to that. At one point we were living in a three-story apartment and I was paying extra for valet trash. Although I thought that I was containing my grease properly, by placing it in a used coffee can and tying several plastic bags around it, I still received complaints from management that grease was leaking and causing a rodent problem. This was a very nice apartment complex and I was very embarrassed to say the least. As a result I had to dispose of my grease separately and it was very inconvenient. This made me revisit a conversation that I had had with my brother years prior. We were experiencing a similar situation with not knowing how to dispose of our Grease and started thinking about solutions to the problem. We wondered why no one had thought about this problem before. We came up with many different solutions but nothing really stuck. After a while we forgot about the issue but years later once I had the problem in my apartment complex, I started thinking about it again. I dug deep this time and did tons of research about the problem and possible solutions. I wanted something simple yet eco-friendly. Upon my research I found that not only was grease a nuisance in homes, it was also a huge environmental issue. Improper disposal of household grease is causing huge environmental pollution problems. At that point I knew that Grease Bags was bigger then our kitchens. They had a purpose. I wanted to create a product that would not add waste to our landfills as well, so we do not use any plastics and the bags are plant based. I thought about every aspect of the product. Extensive testing was done to assure an all natural product that is non harmful to the environment. As a result grease bags is a product that is not only convenient for the average consumer to use but it also good for the planet!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
One of the biggest things I’d like people to know about me is that I’ve never stopped working. I am known for a co-starring role on the Nickelodeon show called taina so when most people haven’t seen me on television in a while they assume that I just stopped working. The truth is I found myself unexpectedly being a single mom and I had to pivet ways that I went after my career and earned money. Although I’ve never stopped auditioning or creating, sometimes my aspirations had to take a backseat to me being a mom. I have had to work several odd jobs to make ends meet. When I couldn’t be on set or in the studio recording music, I found other ways to be creative and to stay relevant. Writing my book called Military Bratz was one. It’s an anti-cyberbullying children’s book. I was able to get published and tour over 50 schools talking to children about issues relating to bullying and sharing my book with them. I received a ton of positive feedback and great press. I continue to do events and visit schools speaking with with faculty and children regarding this issue. Next I created Grease Bags and the the journey to Shark Tank began. I stood in line in the cold for hours and I was number 453 when I auditioned to be on Shark Tank. The odds were definitely against me. The audition process ended up being 8 months long. However, long story short I ended up making it on the air. 40,000 people apply and 100 make to air…I was one. My biggest obstacles were people saying that I couldn’t do it. I had to learn how to block that out. I’ve always believed in myself and I’ve always had the support of my parents. I know that some people don’t even have that, so I’ve always found strength in that. Sometimes my days consisted of no sleep between football practice, homework, school projects, work, cleaning the house, cooking the food, and then finding time to pursue your dreams… sometimes you just can’t sleep you have to take naps. I want people to know that when they are exhausted they’re not the only ones and they just have to keep going because sometimes the difference between you and the next person is your stamina. No one cared about my excuses, I just had to get it done and I never expected sympathy from anyone. I also believe that you shouldn’t set out to be just an Entrepreneur…you should be disruptive, go harder than the next person, go bigger with your ideas…be a “Monstapreneur” instead.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I am just now coming up on my second year in Atlanta, so am definitely still learning my way around. I do love Edgewood and the while vibe down there. Harold’s has great chicken and I love the Karaoke nights. I am hearing about a late night museum and that is so me! I am a nerd at heart so good music, a Tapas bar, drinks and dope exhibits sounds like the perfect night to me! It is definitely on my list of places to experience here in Atlanta.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I definitely have to shoutout my parents: Robert and Gwen Newsome. Without them nothing that I have pursued in life would be possible. They are the kind of parents that let me dream big and support my dreams both emotionally and financially. They have paid my bills while I habe pursued my passions and they have never blamed me for the failures or the years things have taken to manifest, so I owe them everything! Next would be my brother Michael Newsome who started the original conversation with me in regards to proper disposal. He set me off running!