Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Annabel Lawee, founder, and CEO of Fly with Breeze, located in Los Angeles, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Breeze is an on-demand food service for airport travelers. To put it simply, a ghost kitchen for airports. By not having a physical storefront, Breeze is able to maniacally focus on the quality of offerings while executing an exceptional customer experience….because, let’s be honest, everything about the current airport food experience kinda sucks!
The Breeze experience allows travelers to order from their own mobile device by scanning a QR code located at the center of the terminal. Once the order is placed, it is brought out from the back kitchen within 5-7 minutes. Travelers can also pre-order online for a selected pick-up time. The menu — featuring crave-worthy meals, modern snacks, and beverage brands — accommodates a variety of dietary preferences and restrictions, including gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, and paleo. We even partnered with Peet’s coffee to allow travelers to get their lattes within 5-7 mins vs. waiting in a 45 min Starbucks line!
In an environment typically defined by stress, Breeze is a breath of fresh air — putting control back into the hands of the modern traveler. From delicious food options to environmentally friendly packaging and surprise/delight items in each bag, we focus holistically on the customer experience, ensuring the traveler’s journey from curb to gate is as seamless as possible.
Tell us about yourself
Originally from Montreal (and fitting every Canadian stereotype), I began my career in the start-up world in NYC. Leading BD, sales & partnerships, I was constantly in and out of airports and struggled to find healthy yet convenient food choices, especially with Celiac disease. What started as a personal struggle manifested into Breeze. The rest is history!
The best part of Breeze is that no day is ever the same, and in turn, I learn something new every day. Whether it’s a new skill, relationship, or uncovering something new about myself, my insatiable curiosity is very fulfilled :)
I’m also very passionate about all things health/wellness, and on the side, I’m a certified coach with the hopes of empowering people to take control of their lives and turn their dreams into realities through powerful mindset shifts.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
After 1.5 years in the making, I finally cracked the airport code and launched Breeze at LAX in December 2019. We were just ramping up when Covid 19 quite literally grounded our operations three months later. Many onlookers thought Breeze was done, given the environment, but I was determined to prove them wrong. In June of 2020, my husband and I moved from NYC to LA in order to be on the ground and navigate Breeze through the tumultuous waters of the pandemic. When everyone was scared to travel and be out in public spaces, I was hustling at LAX - triple mask, visor, gloves, and all. It was nerve-racking, but I had a clear goal to accomplish...to survive.
We had to evolve our menu, our tech, and many parts of our business, but we did it - not only survived but thrived. My resilience muscles got some great exercise, and I am more determined than ever.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
For me, the need to constantly be ‘on’ and ‘doing’ regardless of what’s going on in my life. I’m very grateful to have amazing team members and partners that make this much easier. However, this is definitely something I struggle with. Small mindset shifts, such as understanding that the only things we can truly control are our actions/reactions and our attitude, have made a big impact on me.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Be authentic / be vulnerable - it allows you to create deeper relationships that lead to stronger partnerships (investors, partners, employees).
- Get in touch with your intuition - when you find it, always follow your gut. Everyone will always have opinions, but it’s important to listen to your intuition; you know best.
- Don’t take life too seriously - No one knows what they’re doing; we’re all just figuring it out. Also, there is no such thing as failure; it’s called growth.
- There’s always a silver lining. Find it.
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.