Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Samantha Binkley, Founder of Healthy On You, located in Rancho Santa Fe, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Established in 2015, Healthy On You® is a gourmet organic spice and salt blend company. The company was founded with the goal of making healthy, flavorful meals easily achievable for all home cooks. By introducing a line of USDA organic spice and salt blends to market, a gap in the spice and seasoning industry has been filled with flavor combinations previously not found at natural grocers or online. For the first time, customers can feel connected to a brand in the industry through our fun, musical-themed products.
The Healthy On You® customer is every individual unwilling to sacrifice flavor for health and ease. We provide our customers with the ability to easily create delicious, flavorful, gourmet-tasting meals, whether they’ve experienced a chef or someone who has never turned on the oven before. With only a few shakes of our products, every Healthy On You® customer is empowered in the kitchen.
Tell us about yourself
Healthy On You® began when I first became a certified health coach, teaching cooking classes in my home. I took traditional recipes and made healthier versions, using my own hand-blended spice and salt mixes to amplify the flavor. I would always play my favorite music in the background to ensure fun was being had while in the kitchen.
After a couple of years of hosting my in-home cooking classes and making my own spice and salt blends, my students began asking for blends to take home. After many of these requests, I expanded Healthy On You® to include organic gourmet spice and salt blends. Instead of reaching for five different bottles of generic spices, you can have one Healthy On You® bottle with five or more spices blended, especially for the meal you are preparing. We play upon multiple senses: from the complexities of flavors you can taste, to the smell of our blends, to the musicality we incorporate in the names of our products.
This is truly genuine when I say it, but my customers and followers keep me motivated. Seeing how my products have become staples in people’s homes and how my recipes inspire others to eat healthily is my fuel. I’ve watched many of my customers go from having never cooked to creating meals with gourmet flavors. It makes me smile every time because the products are doing what I intended. They’re empowering people to play with flavor and experience healthy food.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Getting into my first retail store! It’s no small feat getting yourself into your first retail location. You’re asking someone or a business to take a huge risk bringing you in with no other locations to prove your worth. But once you’re in, it’s your time to shine. I let my passion for my product guide my conversations with my first retailer, and I truly believe that is what gained their trust.
They believed in me because I believed in myself and my product. I was all in. I’m so grateful for that first store, Seaside Market, because from then to now, Healthy On You® blends has been sold in over 50 retail stores across California.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Owning your own business is hard, PERIOD. It is a 24/7 job, and you’re the one driving the ship. Everything, when you’re getting started, is a learning experience, and being able to analyze and learn from the mistakes you make along the way is critical.
But, it is one of the most rewarding experiences. I think back to the skills I’ve developed as a businesswoman over the past years and know if I hadn’t started my own business, I wouldn’t have grown in the same way.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
Persistence is your foundation: There will be a lot of highs and many more lows when first starting out. Pursuing a career as an entrepreneur and small business owner is no small feat. But if you’re persistent and let your passion drive you, it can be such an incredibly rewarding journey. Every “failure” I had in the past, I now realize, was an immense moment of growth for me, and because of them, I am stronger, and so is my business. Persistence is your key.
Be honest: Share your real stories and the problem you were trying to solve when you developed your product. At the end of the day, it is not actually about the product so much as it is trying to solve a consumer's problem. The problem I focused on was/is how to make healthy food taste better - an age-old problem with no easy fix… until now, of course!
Keep Learning: I am learning every single day of the job. I, as the Healthy On You CEO today, am a completely different CEO than two years ago or even two months ago. As my business has continued to grow and evolve, so have I. I’ve had to be a sponge and learn about new areas of business I never thought I’d be involved with. I think that’s what keeps it fun, though! It is an amazing learning experience!
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
A central part of our spice company is always giving our customers inspiration on what to cook. We have a vast library of healthy, easy, and delicious recipes on our website with our blends. To further that, we have Cooked for a Cause Classes throughout the year, which are donation-based online classes where the proceeds are donated to social justice causes like fighting hunger and mental health.
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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