Samantha Romanick - Founder

            As a Reno native I love to watch the growth and potential of this Biggest Little City. I earned my BS/MS degrees in Biotechnology from UNR in 2014. After graduating and in search of a new career I found myself in search of something else as well. At the time, I wasn’t sure what exactly I was in search for. During my undergraduate career I was involved in any and every opportunity presented to me. I volunteered my free time in science research labs, I taught biology and genetics for years, and even tutored my peers in subjects in which I excelled. So it made sense that I was looking for ways to get involved in my community.

            I heard of this movement of no waste and started reading Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson. In this book I read about many ways to reduce waste in my household. It was then that I learned there was an option to refill shampoo and soap bottles. Immediately, I searched online for the nearest refill shop where I can utilize this practice and learned that the nearest location was in the bay area. I was sadden at the fact that there wasn’t a refill shop location in Reno, NV, but was not surprised. Reno seems to be lacking in the growth of many sustainable initiatives. It was then that I thought to myself that this would be a great business to startup in Reno. Unfortunately, lacking any business education and experience I did not know where to start this venture. Sadly, my career and lifestyle picked up and this thought was too out of reach for me.

            In 2015, I started working towards a Doctorate degree in Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology. Recently, I received an email informing me of the Sontag Entrepreneurship Competition and I thought to myself “Hey! I actually have a business idea!” So I finally decided to jump into the realm of entrepreneurship! Since my submission to compete in this competition I have been working hard and striving to make Black Rock Refill a reality in Reno. Winning this competition will have me at a great advantage, however, winning or not I know I will succeed in starting up Black Rock Refill. 

Marla Richardson - Product Expert

            As Black Rock Refill’s product expert, my education in all aspects of business, environmental impact, marketing, and Ayurveda Medicine over qualify my abilities for this position. I have successfully completed a BA in International Affairs emphasizing in environmental policy from UNR graduating with honors in 2010 with a 3.7 GPA. When studying abroad one semester during my undergraduate career in China, I was studying business at the university in Shanghai and witnessed first hand how a large population which over manufactures cheap plastic throw-aways negatively impacts the environment and was so appalled that I switched my major to focus on environmental studies. 

            I also spent a semester in New Zealand taking classes at the university such as Marketing and Environmental Impact Assessment where I lived a green lifestyle commuting to work and school on bike only, shopping at local farmers markets, using reusable bags and water bottles, and recycling. After finishing my college career, I studied Ayurvedic Medicine for an additional year in Citrus Heights CA. Ayurveda is a natural and holistic form of health care using organic plant based products, oils, food, and herbs. These experiences enable me to meet the requirements for this Product Expert position at Black Rock Refill.

            In addition to my education I also have extensive experience with natural, organic, and local products. I have a decade of experience running my own business as an independent performer, certified yoga instructor, and health coach, which within the last few years has involved purchasing product, recommending product lines to clients, and having wholesale accounts with distributors. I am my own marketer with experience promoting my business using social media, flyer design software, and releasing events, workshops, classes, and promotional material for these every month for the last 6 months. 

            Beside my experience with products, I also have experience educating the public on such products and healthy lifestyles. I volunteer for local organic farms and non-profit organizations that educate the public on the importance of organic food and products. I am also a huge advocate for the importance of eating organic in conjunction with using natural products, and recommend this lifestyle to my clients as well as teach courses on the benefits of cooking local organic foods and how to prepare them. 

            I have always worked for local companies, and vote with my dollar on local organic foods, products, and services that are better for the environment and my health.