Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Kathryn Kozody, co-founder and Director of Marketing of Dwarf Stars, located in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Dwarf Stars believes in creating a world where everyone can share chocolate regardless of food allergy, intolerance, or ethical choice. That's why we offer scrumptiously stellar vegan chocolate that is free from dairy, gluten, peanuts, palm oil, and artificial preservatives. We never, ever compromise on ingredients or taste. Our conscious sweets are healthy for you and the planet.
Tell us about yourself
"Dwarf Stars Originals" was our first product line which consisted of chocolate and pumpkin seed butter coated roasted chickpeas that accidentally happened to turn out like little space rocks (think a chocolate-covered nut but without nuts).
Instead of letting Gerrit (Dwarf Stars' other Co-Founder) make them look "perfect" as his Red Seal nature desired, we began to brainstorm astrological terms and stumbled across Dwarf Stars (wine helped 🍷). These are stars that don't look exactly like the other stars or shine as bright, but still in their own right are classified as stars. The really cool thing is that Dwarf Stars can actually be incredibly powerful when pairs of them coalesce (or come together) - they can even create a supernova or large stellar explosion! We loved this metaphor that reached beyond our quirky friendship, beautifully capturing the brand messaging, heart, and soul behind our new endeavour. This message is more important today than ever in our crazy world - that no matter what the outside looks like, what truly matters is on the inside.
We are motivated by being able to offer incredibly delicious, chef-created chocolate recipes to our customers, so they don't have to compromise when it comes to treating themselves.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment as a business owner is bringing a completely unique, better-for-you product to market that people love. The best part of my day is receiving messages from customers like "this is the first advent calendar my son has been able to have because of his food allergies," or that parents use our treats as bribes for their kiddos. Being able to offer a product that makes everyone feel included is what it's all about for us.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
One of the hardest things that come with being a business owner is the sheer amount of responsibility on one's shoulders. You are the only one responsible for your success or failure, and every decision you make contributes to it. It is also the most rewarding part.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- You don't have to start a business based on your passion; in fact, sometimes it's better not to. I would argue that you have to have a "Why" (Simon Sinek) far more foundational, as there will be a lot of days that you feel like giving up. This "Why" or purpose for starting will be what gets you through passion burnout. This leads me to my second tip...
- Unshakeable perseverance and grit. One of the only things that truly separates a successful business from a failure is consistency and never giving up. Malcolm Gladwell enthusiasts will remember the 10,000-hour rule from his book Outliers. Research suggests that it takes on average 10,000 hours of practice for one to master a skill. Regardless of the number of hours, the more energy you focus on your business on a consistent basis - the more likely and faster it is to grow. However...
- You must take care of yourself. In our current hustler culture, productivity is championed as king. I would argue that select focus and hard work with built-in boundaries and time for self-care will lead to far more progressive and fruitful outcomes. Burnout, illness, and mental health disorders are real and can take a long time to recover from; that can put you way further behind than if you give yourself a day or two off a week.
- Stop thinking about it and start doing it. Planning is good; strategy is a must - but in the beginning stages, it's normal to feel like you have no idea what you're doing (most of us didn't either). But what turns a daydream into a business is taking action and starting somewhere
you don't have to have everything "perfect" or figured out before you start because you never will. Things will inevitably change, grow and morph, and you have to get comfortable with letting go of the control. In fact, it never really existed in the first place.
- Adopt the mindset of a blank slate and sponge. Those that succeed as entrepreneurs keep an open mind and are always willing to learn and absorb new things. To be an entrepreneur is not to become a master craftsman at the skill or service you want to sell. It's learning how all facets of business work, learning how to run them efficiently (and profitably!), and then being wise enough to know when it's time to outsource them to experts and grow.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Dwarf Stars is a Canadian company based in Calgary, Alberta.
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.
Feel inspired to start, run or grow your own subscription business? Check out subkit.com and learn how you can turn "one day" into day one.