Success means… a happy, full, and balanced life.
Three adjectives that deserve me are... resilient, determined, powerful
You can’t run a business without… support
In the next 10 years I will be… taking more time off
After working 13 years in the food industry I recognized that the foodie/chef community needed help staying on track and being healthy where they can. I designed Pilot Kombucha's flavors to pique the interest of someone who might not normally pick up a bottle of kombucha. We brew with quality ingredients with the approach of a chef, layering in flavors at every step of the process.
What motivated you to become an entrepreneur?
Once I decided to stick with the food industry I knew I wanted to have something of my own. The motivation really was that I was a terrible employee. I didn't ever take very much pride in working for someone else and had a hard time holding down a job. I don't think I really grasped what was at stake until I had my own company. I definitely feel like I'd be a better employee now, having gotten to peek behind the curtains.
How did you come up with your business idea? What inspired you?
It was actually a chef and pastry chef I had worked under. We had all left the place where we had worked together and so didn't see much of each other anymore and one week within a couple days of each other each of them texted asking if they could buy some kombucha and hinted that maybe that should be where I focused my energy. One of them famously hated kombucha until she tried mine and that was really what swayed me.
What were you doing before this? How did it prepare you for the entrepreneurial life?
Before this I was jumping all over to different positions in f & b. Short order cook, prep cook, catering chef, cooking demo specialist, kitchen manager, market manager, operations management. Once I had decided I wanted to start my own company and what it would look like I was filling in gaps in my background - kitchen managing, working farmer's markets, working wholesale in dirty warehouses, running deliveries. I've really worked nearly every position you could in food.
Do you have a fixed work routine? Is it important to have one? Any tips for our readers?
Yes-ish and yes-ish! I start most mornings the same. 2 glasses of water, coffee, crossword, meditation, yoga class. Sometimes I'll do a little computer work in between the routine. But flexibility is important too. Some days are more demanding than others and the crossword doesn't get done until the evening, or meditation ends up being a walking or commuting meditation.
How do you generate new ideas to stay relevant?
Read, read, read. Research your competition. Get out of your office and walk around. Meditate! It's important to innovate in any space. If you can bring something new to the table DO IT.
What are your short/long term goals?
Short term is to be in all the Northeast region Whole Foods Markets this year. I'd like to see my sales double this year. Long term I'd like to develop a second product line, still in the wellness/functional beverage category.
What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?
I don't go out and party as much as I used to but at this point I don't see that as a sacrifice. I'm healthier and saner for it. You shouldn't be making too many sacrifices because otherwise what is the point?
What is your greatest fear. How do you manage it?
Getting edged out by competition & losing hard-won accounts. Meditation helps to get out of the circular thinking and push negative thoughts out of your headspace so you can focus on the positive and moving forward.
How far are you willing to go to succeed?
Right now I'm about $60k in debt not counting student loans, so apparently pretty far.
Was it difficult get capital/investors?
Currently my only investors have been family, majority investors are all female. Outside of my support bubble, yes plenty of people underestimated me and I'm sure are shocked I'm going into my 3rd year of business.
If you were a book, what would your title be and why?
Fermenting Happiness - because fermentation has brought me so much joy and allowed me to start this journey!
Did you have to fire someone before? What’s the best way to go about it?
Yes. Do it quickly, honestly, unemotionally. My script is "I'm really sorry but I don't think this is working out because... Thank you so much for the help you've provided."
Who is the one super successful person you look up to?
Michael from Brooklyn Roasting Company. Independently owned, operated, & distributed across many channels with store fronts - the dude is building an empire from the ground up and very boot strapped much like my own company.
What is one thing you find to be true that most people would disagree with?
You don't need to work that hard and "hustle" till you drop. Make rest part of your routine and learn early to step away from things, delegate, and take real time off.
What are some pros and cons of having (OR not having) entrepreneurial parents?
My parents aren't entrepreneurs but seem to get how difficult it is. They're extremely patient and they help me to sometimes see the bigger picture and the long view.
What are you looking forward the most in the next 12 months?
We'll be opening a tap room. That will be huge and I'm very much looking forward to opening it.