From December through April, over 10,000 humpback whales migrate to Hawaiian waters to breed. Which means it’s almost high season for whale-watching company Body Glove Adventures. Ahead of their big six months, we caught up with owner Maggie Brown on what it’s like to run an outdoor business, her advice for fellow entrepreneurs, and the craziest thing she’s seen out on the water.
How did Body Glove get started?
Back in 1988, our cofounder Scott Bell decided he wanted to do this. He was living in Sacramento at the time. On a shoestring budget, he salvaged sunken engines and parts from a junkyard and built a boat. The finished product was the Kanoa, a 55-foot catamaran certified for 90 passengers. Then he and a few friends set sail for Hawaii.
Whoah. And then you were up and running?
No, when they got to the island they were completely out of money. So they contacted a friend, who invested $50,000 to get the business going. They hired me as the director of marketing. Then we decided to team up with Body Glove International since it’s a universally recognized brand for its affiliation with water sports.
So you’ve been at this for a while. What advice do you have for other small-business owners?
Change is good. Without change and adapting to new technology, we wouldn’t be where we are today. I highly recommend hiring someone who is skilled in technology.
How does Square help you run your business?
Using Square has solved many challenges that are unique to us. We can now do check-ins at the boat and our office simultaneously, keeping customers out of the hot sun. My bartenders are elated to run tabs with Square. It’s increased our bar sales considerably (as well as saving a few trees!), and Square’s option to add a gratuity to credit card sales has increased our crew’s salary by a substantial percentage.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen out on the water?
Once, the crew found a swimming pig in the middle of the ocean. I thought they were playing a prank on me when they called me from the boat.
Is living in Hawaii as awesome as we’d all expect?
Hawaii is a way of life — it’s called aloha! I visited the Big Island 40 years ago on a scuba vacation and I have yet to go home. I am blessed to live my dream and share it with others: “Do what you love, and love what you do.”