Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Alana Lima, co-founder of Cajú Love, located in Waialua, Hawaii, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
At Cajú Love, our mission is to help create the future of sustainable eating by using upcycled cashew fruits to create high-quality, whole-food, meatless food options that are easy on the planet and support holistic wellbeing. We are the first company to make plant-based meat out of organic cashew fruits. The intention is to upcycle the millions of cashew fruits that are not being used in the cashew nut industry and offer a healthy, whole-food alternative in the plant-based meat space. Our customers are those people who care about their impact in their world and on their bodies with their food choices and are looking for clean food options.
Tell us about yourself
My partner and I have adopted a lifestyle of being plant-based for the last five years, which has inspired us to get creative in the kitchen with our meals. We loved all the meatless alternatives at the stores, but we hated how overly processed they were and how we felt after consuming them. One day, my family was visiting us, and we decided to try to make a traditional Brazilian dish for them. Still, we were trying to find something plant-based to substitute crab. After doing some research online, I ran into the idea of using cashew fruit. The next day, I drove by a cashew fruit tree I remember seeing on the island and took some fruits home. I went through the process of turning the fibers into meat-like chunks and was shocked at how amazing the texture and flavor profile was. I did some research to see if I could buy some cashew fruit meat anywhere and found nothing...I did some more research and found out millions of fruits were being thrown away from the nut industry. I shared with my partner what I had found, and we both made it our passion and mission to create this company and share cashew fruit meat with the world. The mission was so aligned without lifestyle and values that it literally felt like it was exactly what we were here to do. So we both quit our jobs/ what we were doing and dedicated 100% of our energy to Caju Love.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Creating a business that is aligned with my personal values. I think there's nothing more rewarding and motivating than creating a business that aligns with your truth and how you want to impact the world.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
I think personally, one of the most challenging things to get used to is the unexpected and unpredictable nature of business. This can bring up a lot of ups and downs. One day something is going great, next moment there's a big problem to solve. When you're a business owner, and your heart and soul are with your business, the ups and downs can easily feel draining. However, something that's really helped me has been to create a new way of approaching challenges. Instead of seeing problems as the end of the world, I try to see them as opportunities and ask myself, "How could this be an opportunity for our business?" and there is always a positive out of any negative.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- It's ok not to know all the steps. I think a big thing that stops a lot of people from starting is feeling overwhelmed. They don't know how to get to where they would like to be. But you have to start to reveal the next steps. It's just like how in a video game, when you're in level 1, you never know what level 8 will look like. Trust that you're capable of figuring things out as you go.
- Ask for help. Talk to people that are where you want to be, or maybe even a few steps ahead. Acquire passed down knowledge and wisdom; it will save you from a lot of trials and errors.
- Believe in yourself. If you are passionate about something, believe you are capable of doing it. It's easier said than done, but whenever life gives you opportunities to take a chance on yourself, take it. And little by little, you will build confidence in your capabilities of achieving anything you set your mind to.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
A really awesome book I recommend for any mission-driven entrepreneur is : Net Positive: How Courageous Companies Thrive by Giving More Than They Take , by Paul Polman & Andrew Winston.
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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