Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Alysia Lok, Founder of Caramunchies, located in Edmonton, AB, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Caramunchies is our business, and we made hundreds of batches before perfecting our very own caramel recipe to create the salted caramel of your dreams!
Our creamy, melt-in-your-mouth caramel tumbled with crispy cornflakes is a match made in snacker’s heaven! Handcrafted in small batches using the best ingredients to guarantee freshness! They’re perfect as a pick-me-up, to butter someone up — or just because it’s Tuesday! Any reason is a great reason to be munching on these crunchy, chewy, sweet ‘n salty clusters that will satisfy any craving!
Our customers are all the snackers out there who appreciate unique and satisfying snacks and indulge in moments of joy throughout their day! They value excellent quality, local goods made with care, and treating themselves and others to beautiful and delicious things.
Tell us about yourself
I grew up in a big family that loves to cook and share meals together with a dad who’s been in our city's food industry as far back as I can remember! My happiest memories are from family dinners at my grandma’s house, where everyone would help cook together then we’d all sit at the round dining table to enjoy the homemade food together. They’d always be dinners full of laughs and everyone talking over each other. Because of this, food has become my love language.
Whenever there’s something to celebrate, I’ll invite people over for dinner or go out for a meal together. If someone’s not feeling well, I’ll bring them some goodies to cheer them up. I started Caramunchies to bring this love of food to all those around me. One of our goals since we started Caramunchies was to use funds generated from our business to give back to the community. Food is a source of comfort for me, so it’s heartbreaking to know that there are so many people in our city who don’t know where their next meal is coming from.
While I was a student, I volunteered with my parents at a local soup kitchen, and the experience really stuck with me. Instead of only donating money, we've started a Hot Lunch Program where we buy ingredients through our business proceeds, gather a team of volunteers through all the awesome people we've met running Caramunchies, and provide a hot and nutritious lunch for people in need in partnership with local soup kitchens and volunteer groups in our city. We use 5% of all our profits for this program, and we even successfully funded a crowdfunding campaign and raised $2,800 towards providing hot lunches to people in need!
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment as a business owner is creating something that sparks joy in others. At the core of Caramunchies is the delighted peter-pan spirit of a child who never grows up. It is the spark that leads to the sweeter moments of life, the moments shared with those we love. The spark that reminds us that inside everyone, there is a silly kid who wants nothing more from life than to laugh the way one only can with a belly full of sweets! It's so special to be a part of something that brings happiness to someone or their loved ones. I never get tired of seeing the way our client's eyes light up when they first taste our treats or excitedly call over their friends or family to share in their discovery!
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
One of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner is having to figure out and learn as you go a lot of times on your own, and you can feel very lonely at times. On social media, all we see are the successful bits, and it can make it feel like everyone has it figured out. I've come to realize through getting to know other business owner friends that a lot of us are in the same boat, and imposter syndrome is a real thing, no matter the size of the business. It helps to have an amazing support system of mentors, friends, and family who understand what you're going through and a dedicated and encouraging team that believes in what we're doing together!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Just do it: There is no perfect time or way to do anything. I'm a self-proclaimed perfectionist, and I've learned along the way that it's better to get things started instead of waiting for them to be perfect since there's always time and room for improvement! (except for our caramel, we definitely perfected that before we started, haha!)
- Find a mentor/mentors: It takes way longer to learn how to do things on your own. Make an effort to get to know people who have done what you're trying to do and find out how you can learn from them. Be open to learning, being coached, and show your gratitude. The community is so important in building a business, and a lot of times, people are very willing to help if you're willing to be vulnerable enough to ask.
- Be genuine: It will be a lot more difficult building a business or brand that you don't believe in or are not passionate about. Before I started my own business, I was a mortgage broker. This is an important role, but it wasn't the right fit for me. I realized I would hate when people asked what I did for a living and barely wanted to talk about it, which made it difficult to earn business when I wasn't excited to tell people I was a mortgage broker. I LOVE telling people I'm a snack maker now, and it's always such a fun and interesting piece of me to share.
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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