Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Kimberly Behzadi, Founder and Owner of Bookmarks & Breadsticks LLC., located in Buffalo, NY, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Ready for a Culinary Adventure? See the world through your taste buds. Discover new cuisines and new cultures through stories, snacks, and community. Our Read It & Eat Boxes are available quarterly and as gifts. Each box comes themed around a new culinary adventure and always includes: a story about food, artisanal goods from small businesses (never from Amazon), and a donation to fight hunger in Buffalo, NY. Our customers love everything foodie and bookish. You can find them pursuing #booktok and looking for the next food trend. Our customers are based in the US, and we target the millennial female demographic.
Tell us about yourself
I love everything food. I've spent the past six years working in consumer product goods, which means I have helped launch some of the food you eat. I've worked on plant-based milk, Planters snack nuts, and currently, Halo Top ice cream. I balance creative marketing, trends and insights, and actual product development within my career.
While advancing my career, I really started to recognize how disconnected I was from my own food. Where did my food come from? Who was making my food? What was in my food?
I decided to expand my knowledge outside of my workday. This involved a lot of reading, writing, and research. It started with visiting grocery stores and purveyors specializing in local food. I started to take culinary boot camps, butchery classes, and techniques. I also had an unpaid internship with Food Tank to learn and write about food sustainability and food scarcity.
So what am I doing with all this new knowledge? In 2020, I launched Bookmarks & Breadsticks, LLC, and launched my Read It & Eat boxes. These boxes reconnect people to food in three ways: introduce people to new foods, support small food purveyors and small businesses, and give back by fighting food scarcity and hunger. These books play in the realm of non-fiction food writing books like chef memoirs, food history, and social politics.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I am excited to announce partnerships with Simon & Schuster and Harper Collins for two limited-edition boxes in 2023. The first box will launch June 1st for Pride Month, curated around the queer food romance Chef's Choice by TJ Alexander. The second box will launch in November, perfect for the holidays, focusing on With or Without You by Eric Smith, highlighting Philly Cheese Steaks (Yum!)
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
The biggest challenge of being a small business owner is access to capital. According to IFundWomen, "Women are starting businesses 4.8 times faster than the national average, yet we struggle to access capital without going into debt. Only 1% of all businesses, regardless of the gender of the founder, will ever raise venture capital."
I am a boot-strapped small business and hope to one day have investors who want to grow Read It & Eat Boxes to a larger platform. I imagine a world where we can partner with schools to create Read It & Eat educational boxes!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Find your network and support system - this might be locally, through online forums, and more.
- Understand your costs before you start - don't go into debt.
- Vet your product - is this viable in the market? Is there interest?
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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