Meet Teresa Fudenberg, CEO of Storm Creek, which provides high-quality, eco-made apparel to corporations and retailers across North America and specializes in giving back to the community and the planet.
Storm Creek has been certified as a Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) through the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), the nation’s largest third-party certifier of businesses owned and operated by women in the US.
TERESA FUDENBERG, CEO, STORM CREEK
"Doug founded a great brand, but its story was primarily in the hands of the wholesaler customers. We knew the potential and wanted to be the ones to drive it to the next level. This required a whole new business model,” said Fudenberg. “Doug’s original product vision needed a day-to-day driver. The first three years were all about building infrastructure, the brand position, and a team. Looking back, it was passion-filled but a bit messy, and took a ton of blood, sweat, and tears.”
Then, Teresa and Doug read the book Traction.
Teresa credits much of the company’s success to the adoption of the Entrepreneurial Operating System, which propelled a clear focus, team alignment, and breakthrough results.
One of Teresa’s proudest accomplishments in the last several years is Storm Creek’s holistic adoption of the Entrepreneurial Operating System or EOS, based on the book Traction. EOS essentially gives smaller, growing businesses a simple yet powerful framework to define and achieve business goals and results. The company has grown from 8 employees to over 30, and each one is involved in EOS. Since first using the EOS tools, the company has solidified its core values, structure, target markets, and 1-, 3-, and 10-year goals.
“EOS was the crowning moment of change for me. Prior to that, we didn’t have a leadership team, defined roles, or measures of accountability,” Fudenberg said. “It’s such a simple set of tools aimed at second-stage businesses like ours who have tremendous opportunity. But opportunity needs focus. It’s a fact that companies struggle to exceed the $10 million mark without a systematic way to manage that process. EOS also helped us clearly articulate our mission and ‘three uniques’. It’s paramount that every employee and customer understand what we do and how we’re different.”
Setting a 10-year target is scary and exhilarating at the same time. Teresa is proud to share the company plans to give its 5 millionth dollar to charity in 2030.
“It’s unbelievable how lucky I am to be in a place where my passions and talents collide,” Fudenberg added.
Those passions of building up others and giving back to communities were ignited several years prior when she and a female colleague launched Mom Camp, a series of retreats and resources to help busy moms live their best lives. It combined her talents of filling a market need, drawing on key relationships, and creating community.
“This was an awesome opportunity for hundreds of women to take much-needed time for themselves, to help them realize their God-given talents and find balance in their lives,” Fudenberg said. “We had year-round events, diverse programming from camp counselors, major sponsors, and we provided scholarships for those who could not pay. It was my first major opportunity to do wonderful things for women – something I will always cherish.”
That passion of giving back is woven into the fabric of the Storm Creek brand today. With a clear mission of Better Product for the Greater Good, Fudenberg’s goal is to harness the power of apparel to impact communities and the planet alike. The company aptly calls this core initiative “Wear For Better.”
“Since day one I’ve worked on building partnerships to do great things with and for like-minded organizations. Our Annual Warehouse Sale is where this really started to take shape. Each year, we make major cash donations to causes like American Cancer Society, Ronald McDonald House, Save the Boundary Waters, and Special Olympics. Plus, we provide jackets and warm clothing to people when they need it most, through the likes of Sharing and Caring Hands, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, veterans’ organizations, and more. In 2020, we made our largest donation yet – topping $110,000 – despite the pandemic!”
The company is also committed to having a positive impact on the environment through its sustainable sourcing practices, and recently celebrated transitioning all of its products to eco-made. To date, it has kept 7.5 million bottles from ending up in landfills and oceans and transformed them into fashion-forward styles. The next quest is to make sure the rest of the supply chain is eco-friendly right down to the packaging, shipping, and office operations.
Fudenberg is proud of the Women-Owned Certification and what it represents. Inside Storm Creek, having a woman at the top presents a key perspective to what she calls “building an organization with your head and your heart.” Outside Storm Creek, the WBENC certification certainly opens many opportunities with organizations embracing a commitment to supply chain diversity.
Wisdom from the New WBE, Teresa!
What advice would you give to Women starting in their career?
“Recognize your unique gifts and talents early on and how you can bring those to bear. I like to say ‘Be your own bird’ (coincidentally that’s my maiden name). Be in pursuit of where own God-given talents intersect with a need in the world, because there is magic when you live daily in the place you are meant to be.”
What would you do differently?
“To find a way to build confidence sooner and have more belief in myself at an earlier age. My first mentor really brought that out, I only wish I’d had that relationship sooner. Outside perspective also helps you see your uniques strengths, abilities, wiring, and talents. I wish I would’ve understood that even before college.”
What’s next for you?
“What’s important for me and this company is that I’m able to be freed up to use that my energy to impact our company and mission at a higher level, so that every day we are getting closer to that ten-year target!”