Entrepreneur Spotlight: Stacy Martin
“If you are willing to ask, [LAUNCH] is willing to help.”
Stacy Martin, a self-proclaimed “seahorse” is the creator and Chief Amazement Officer of Seahorse Snacks, a delicious and nutritious line of roasted nuts. Her affiliation with seahorses began a few years ago when she was diagnosed with CDH1, an extremely rare genetic mutation. In short, the doctors informed her that stomach cancer was almost definite, and the only sure way to avoid it would be to remove her stomach entirely. Though the news was daunting, Stacy joined seahorses as one of the few beings without a stomach.
As you can imagine, life without a stomach has brought its fair share of challenges. At the top of the list, eating healthily within strict limits. Every favorite dish became a question mark of how Stacy’s body would respond. Each serving size needs to be just right. She needs to prioritize protein and reduce sugar. With every exhaustingly tedious trip to the grocery store, Stacy’s nutritional knowledge became broader than ever, but her options were slimmer. Not finding what she needed on the shelves, she took to her personal kitchen to create delicious, worry-free snacks. So satisfied by this experiment, she was eager to share her delicacy with the world!
Though Seahorse Snacks was born of a need for interesting flavor and specific dietary restrictions, these snacks are perfect for seahorses and non-seahorses alike! Her unique flavors will satisfy your cravings. From her classic - “Chili Turmrific” flavor to her new collaboration with Cheiman Tea - “Maple Chaitastic,” Stacy has the perfect snack and the ideal stocking stuffer for every foodie on your list!
For Stacy, sharing her product is a way of sharing her story. Her openness and vulnerability have built a community around her. Seahorse Snacks has become an emerging staple of the Chattanooga market scene, through this exposure, Stacy has found a common ground with so many fellow seahorses in Chattanooga. These connections never would have existed without her business.
In addition to her budding seahorse community, Stacy found the entrepreneurial community in Chattanooga to be “unlike any other.” When you are an entrepreneur, “you are all the departments,” which makes the desire for support so much stronger. Stacy found this community provides resources and “shortens the degree of separation between you and your solution.” As she dove in deeper with LAUNCH, she realized that “if you are willing to ask, they are willing to help.” This kind of attitude is found in all corners of Chattanooga, not just at LAUNCH - that is what makes this city such a wonderful place to start a business.
It was through the LAUNCH CHA program that she was connected to the Kitchen Incubator of Chattanooga where she has set up her commercial production space. Seahorse Snacks’ production rate has increased 600% by moving into the KIC, but when she first heard about the KIC, she did not need commercial space. It is for this reason that Stacy “highly suggest[s] reaching out and going through the LAUNCH [CHA] program because the things that you learn and the people that you meet are invaluable. And even if you aren’t ready to use them today, to have those tools in your toolbox is so important because they will be there for you when you are ready.”
Stacy Martin is intentional in everything she has built. A beautiful example is the periwinkle blue color she chose for her brand - this is the exact color of the stomach cancer awareness ribbon. Her heart and determination have led her to conquer every obstacle and build upon her victories. With her newly achieved Department of Agriculture Certification and new ideas on the horizon, her story is nowhere near complete. As she so stunningly put it, “Now that I’ve worked so hard for my voice, I fully intend to use it.”
Where to find Seahorse Snacks:
Markets: Seahorse Snacks are also available most weekends at the Chattanooga Market, and in the spring she will be at the Black Creek Farmer’s Market the first Saturday of every month.
Without genetic testing, this story of resilience wouldn’t exist. Stacy has turned an isolating and scary prognosis into a community, a business, and an inspiring story for everyone under the sea. To learn more about CDH1, stomach cancer, and genetic testing, please visit: www.nostomachforcancer.org