Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Anica Wu, founder and owner of Bonjerk, located in San Francisco, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Bonjerk (@bonjerksnacks) is an Asian-American, butcher-run, and woman-owned Asian-spiced jerky company. With flavors like Málà Sichuan, Char Siu, and Black Garlic (each inspired by my favorite childhood dishes), Bonjerk is working to deepen the American understanding of East-Asian cuisines through spices often lost in the American snack food market. Our meats are sourced from local farms raising animals humanely, on pastures, and within regenerative farming systems.
Tell us about yourself
Before launching Bonjerk, I became a whole-animal butcher to learn how to make seriously delicious jerky. I was tired of the Pan-Asian flavors commonly found on store shelves, such as Teriyaki and Spicy Sesame, which represents only a small sliver of Asia. I wanted to see more of my Chinese heritage represented in the sustainable meat industry, with products of high quality and value (contradictory to stereotypes against Chinese food in America being cheap and of low quality) and flavors that reminded me of dishes that I enjoyed eating growing up. The taste and flavor have an incredibly powerful way of bringing back memories. This idea has pushed me to take boundless and unexpected approaches when creating new recipes for Bonjerk. Some of my favorite East-Asian dishes inspire the ingredients behind our products.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I still remember the worried expressions on my parents’ faces when I told them I wanted to become a whole-animal butcher and start a jerky company. I left a high-paying job working in the film industry to cut meat in butcher shops for minimum wage. I understood where their apprehension was coming from. Starting Bonjerk is one of the biggest risks I’ve taken so far. But I’ve never looked back. I’m incredibly proud and lucky to be able to do what I love, every day.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The entrepreneurial journey is like a constant tidal wave. Just when you think you’re in the clear, something almost always goes south, and when you least expect it. You have to learn very quickly how to work on your toes and not trip too hard.
I’m looking forward to the day when we can idle a bit, but what’s the fun in that? :)
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Listen to your gut (it'll never fail you).
- Be persistent.
- Don't be afraid to ask lots of questions.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email firstname.lastname@example.org; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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