Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Carrina LaCorata, Founder of Graasi, located in Fort Mill, SC, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My business is Graasi. In a sea of unhealthy beverages, it is our mission to offer a healthy alternative. Graasi is an organic barley grass water infused with vitamins c, d, and zinc for immunity-boosting power. While we believe anyone could enjoy and benefit from Graasi, our main customer base is 25-54-year-olds who have a daily health regimen, are focused on wellness, but also desire a little fun!
Tell us about yourself
Before starting Graasi, I was putting my French degree to use, working as a language assistant in France and as a program manager at the French Embassy. While these were wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime experiences, I knew I eventually wanted to work toward building something of my own and having the independence that comes along with that. My dad, Chris LaCorata, was working on starting a barley processing company in Western New York before the pandemic ground that project to a halt. In true Millennial fashion, I decided I wanted to change things up, and with my dad needing to pivot his business as well, we decided to go in on Graasi together. Building something from scratch and the many unknown factors that come with starting a business can be stressful, but focusing on the end goal of building a business that offers a healthy product that hopefully can enhance other peoples’ lives, along with the opportunity to build a business with my family, helps keep me motivated!
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
All the new skills and knowledge I am acquiring! Since we are a family business, we currently have a small number of people carrying out multiple tasks in multiple areas of the business – especially with e-commerce, which has vast and ever-growing technological complexities. In the early phases, there is only so much you can pay for from third parties, so you have to jump in and learn yourself. Amazon and Shopify are their own unique ecosystems with separate processes and languages. This was a massive skills and learning gap for us.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Learning what to prioritize. There are always things to be done and things that can be improved upon or organized in addition to things that come up last minute. Knowing what needs to get done on a daily basis to keep things running smoothly and what can take a backseat can help minimize stress and also help me be more present to notice the small and big wins that come up along the way.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Don’t expect instant – or linear – success. We are used to hearing amazing entrepreneurial success stories, but it’s easy to underestimate how long the road to success can feel until you start your own business. Some days and weeks will feel like you’re making huge strides, and then the next week, it can feel like you’re back to square one.
- Use failures or setbacks as learning experiences. Failures or setbacks can feel really discouraging at the moment, but I’ve learned that I can use them as a way to analyze and change an overall process or strategy that may not be working and probably wouldn’t deliver success in the long run. As they say, fall forwards, and at least you are progressing.
- Don’t let rejection discourage you. As cliché as it sounds, rejection is a part of business. There are many reasons why someone may reject your product. When someone initially rejects your product, keep things professional and thank them for the opportunity. Don’t be afraid to reach back out in a few months to see if they’ve changed their mind. They may also reach out to you at a later point! Learn what you can and move on. In the end, things work out the way they are supposed to, and the more people who are aware of your product being out there, the better.
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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