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Story Behind Phia

Are you curious about the story behind things? Do you ask yourself about why people choose to become entrepreneurs? Together with your input, I interviewed Sophia Peterson about her entrepreneurial path and motivations behind founding her startup, Phia. A startup business based in Groningen, The Netherlands, offering sustainable solutions to conventional period products. Sophia and I got to know each other one year ago through my friend Nina, and have been creating visual content for Phia ever since. Come, sit down, treat yourself with a cup of coffee and enjoy some blossomy-ness while indulging in an insightful chat with us.


All photos were shot on Fujifilm XT30 and Fujinon FF 35mm F2.



Denise

Sophia, it is wonderful having you and learning about the story behind Phia. What is your story? Where are you from and why are you here, in Groningen?


Sophia

I am 27 years old, originally from the United States, and grew up in Minnetonka, Minnesota. I went to college in Chicago and came to The Netherlands last year to launch Phia in Europe.


Denise

Before coming to Europe to launch Phia, did you always know you wanted to become an entrepreneur? And, how did you experience the path of becoming an entrepreneur?


Sophia

It was pretty natural. In college I had dreams of becoming an entrepreneur and being my own boss. I started getting interested in eco-friendly products when I was studying abroad in Budapest and my friend introduced me to cups. I found them really intriguing but difficult to use so I sketched some ideas I had to improve upon the design. From there, I 3D printed some prototypes and made a silicone mold to test it. I went through multiple iterations with 100+ testers before landing on the final design.


Denise

How has your experience been in founding a start-up as a young, female entrepreneur from the U.S.?


Sophia

I have a background in software management so I went into it without any experience in starting a business. I learned a lot on the internet and wasn't afraid to reach out to people in my network for advice. Throughout my college years I met a lot of entrepreneurs so I guess I was exposed to it a lot and knew I wanted to do it as well.


Denise

What is your mission and what do you want to achieve with Phia?


Sophia

I am passionate about sustainability and product design. My mission is to create innovative products that make a difference in people’s lives. With Phia, my goal is to release innovative eco-friendly period products starting with Phia Cup. The products I work on are sustainable and things people need so my job is very fulfilling to me.


Denise

What do you think makes an entrepreneur sustainable? And how did you integrate sustainability principles within Phia?


Sophia

Sustainability is important to me and a big part of Phia. Single-use products, such as tampons, pads, and liners, not only come in an excessive amount of packaging, but immediately turn into trash once consumed. Phia has created a sustainable and safe alternative, with an application that mimics what people are already used to. Phia Cup is reusable for up to 10 years, packaged in recyclable paper packaging, and even the thank you card is made of lavender seed paper that you can plant. There are many ways businesses can decrease their eco footprint. Companies that don’t sell eco products could take the first step by making their packaging or manufacturing practices more sustainable.


Denise

What inspires you?


Sophia

I am inspired by unique product design and innovative ways of thinking about simple products in everyday life. Consumers are increasingly demanding sustainable products and it's really cool to see what is available now. In the personal care industry alone, there are so many cool eco-friendly products out there. I also get motivated when I hear positive feedback from Phia Cup users. Those reviews are very encouraging and inspire me to keep going.


Denise

Moving from the enormous vastness of the U.S. to a city of approximately 200.000 inhabitants, how have you experienced life and starting a business in Groningen?


Sophia

I decided to come to Groningen on a startup visa to work with my facilitator, Campus Groningen. They gave me a lot of guidance and used their network to help me start my business in The Netherlands. Being in a smaller city has had a lot of advantages and I feel like I've gotten a lot of support. Everyone has been really kind and willing to help.



Denise

What do you do when you are not working on Phia? How does your perfect day look like?


Sophia

Having a work life balance can be very difficult as a starting entrepreneur. My perfect day is when I find that balance and have breaks from work and self care. I like writing in my journal, making bubble tea or chai lattes, lighting some candles on a rainy day, having a “spa day” with a face mask, and walking in the park with friends.


Denise

What piece of advice would you give somebody that aspires becoming an entrepreneur?


Sophia

Just start somewhere. It can seem overwhelming at first so my advice is to start small. If you have an idea, start with market research and go from there. Have a vision and take it one step at a time.



​​Sophia, thank you so much for taking me on board your journey with Phia and having me create visual content for you. It’s been a blissful journey and I am very grateful you have shared your experiences in founding a sustainable enterprise. May Phia and your efforts reach many hearts and sustainable mindsets and create a garden of eden of blossoming value for our society and environment. The world needs brave change makers like you.


x Denise













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