A Slice on Maria Cebrian, Co-Founder and CEO of Terraseed
Many products are born from a personal need. For Maria Cebrian, that need is to have a sustainable, nutrient-dense supplement tailored to vegans. Over the years, Cebrian’s mission to be vegan was hindered due to her active lifestyle. She was worried that by going vegan, her body would not have the nutrients necessary to stay active. Supplements became the solution to her problem. Unfortunately, after extensive research, Cebrian realized that no supplements fit into her criteria: ethically sourced, sustainable and vegan. From this discovery, Terraseed was born. Terraseed is a vegan supplement with ethically sourced nutrients, packaged in a compostable, zero waste pill bottle. What started as a vegan supplement has grown into something bigger. Now, Cebrian has a larger purpose for Terraseed: to be the leader of the sustainability movement in the supplement industry.
Cebrian shared that her journey as Terraseed’s leader has been exciting. Her excitement comes from bringing her passion to the business, which “makes every day more fun.” What Terraseed stands for is far more than a passion, it is a purpose.
As a part of the company’s ethical initiative, one of Terraseed’s core values is to be a “human-first” company, making its employee’s well-being a priority. While this may seem to be an excellent company value, many risks have been taken to uphold it. Often, she is forced to take the road less traveled, such as crowdfunding instead of the conventional fundraising method. Many of her industry peers have expressed the dangers of crowdfunding, but to Cebrian, this move made the most sense. Having institutional investors could jeopardize the company’s integrity. Though crowdfunding creates a different set of hurdles, it still provides Cebrian the freedom to lead the company her way. Despite having more obstacles, Cebrian does not regret her decision. “We’re taking more risks because we’re taking a stand, and that’s always a challenge. It’s not easy.”
Cebrian’s leadership style sets her apart from other founders. Her way of leading Terraseed has played a significant role in guiding the company to fulfill its purpose. However, being different has not always been easy. She noticed that the industry’s common leadership traits are more masculine than her style. She sees that most leaders tend to approach the work culture as “hire fast, fire fast” with financial growth as the main priority. Meanwhile, Cebrian chooses to lead her company differently. She places emphasis on vulnerability, kindness and transparency, traits that often are associated with femininity. She believes “kindness and love should be at the heart of everything that we do.”
Many deemed her approach to leadership as weak and others’ opinions made their way to Cebrian’s head. This created an internal struggle, making her unable to fully embrace her leadership style. Refusing to listen to those voices, she has seen the positive impact her approach has had on Terraseed. The comradery between team members has grown, trust has been built and her customer relationships are flourishing. “I have a different opinion and it’s totally fine. I’m going to go and do the things I want to do. I listen to you, and I get the learnings, but then what I do with that, is up to me.”
As an entrepreneur, Cebrian’s journey was not a walk in the park, there were struggles and challenges in her journey. But all the hardships and mistakes have taught her a valuable lesson: everything happens for a reason. Looking back, she believes that her past struggles were there to teach her unique lessons. “We are able to better identify what we want in our lives because we have gone through a lot.” Looking back on her journey, Cebrian would say the challenges “needed to happen” and “all these experiences have led her to be here now.”
In the next five years, Cebrian wants Terraseed to be the leader of the sustainable and ethical movement in the supplement industry. “It’s all about disrupting the supplement industry and making an impact: leading a movement or a revolution, a new way of doing things.” Cebrian hopes to see a change in the way things are done within the industry, with an increased focus on sustainability and ethics.
Maria Cebrian has 13 years of experience as an entrepreneur in the digital and wellness industries. Cebrian co-founded Terraseed, a vegan supplement, in 2020. Cebrian is passionate about sustainability, environmentalism and entrepreneurship. Connect with Cebrian on LinkedIn.