Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Rosa Willems, Co-Founder and Co-Owner of Journey Spice Co., located in Denver, CO, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Journey Spice Co. manufactures and sells gourmet USDA Organic Certified spice and seasoning products in eco-friendly paper-based packaging to consumers.
Tell us about yourself
My name is Rosa B. Willems, and I am the co-founder/co-owner of Journey Spice Co. My husband, C. Andon Guenther, and I had been interested in starting a consumer-packaged goods brand for a while. However, we knew that any brand we started had to be more about making money. We wanted to do something truly disruptive in a way that would positively contribute to the world. After working in advertising and design for well over a decade and helping many clients with their branding and packaging design, we often saw insufficient consideration for the environment. Many consumer packaged goods brands decide to stick to the status quo, which usually means using the same old types of packaging that are bad for the environment. Single-use plastic is the worst offender when it comes to the harm it causes the environment since only about nine percent of it gets recycled. We knew that with any brand we created, the packaging had to be as eco-friendly as possible. Since we love cooking and exploring culture through food, we finally decided to launch a spice and seasoning brand. After months of research and trial and error, we created our packaging in small, mostly paper-based "milk" cartons. We also made a Reusable Planet-Cap™ that is all paper-based. We decided on a paper-based solution because paper is the most recyclable and biodegradable material. After spending months perfecting our initial seasoning recipes and packaging, we finally launched our products in mid-2022. Beyond our unique eco-friendly packaging concept, we have partnered with Carbonfund.org to achieve carbon neutrality and rePurpose Global to eliminate one lb. of single-use plastic waste from the environment with every product sold. What continues to motivate us? With our brand, we feel like we are doing something bigger than ourselves, and we hope to set an example of the concern for our planet that all companies should have.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
There were many pieces of the puzzle regarding getting Journey Spice Co. off the ground. We definitely took the road less traveled when making just about every decision because we wanted to create something truly unique and disruptive concerning the sustainability of our brand. Everything from creating our packaging concept to obtaining our organic certification, sourcing, and everything in between brought us out of our comfort zones, and it took a lot of perseverance. All-in-all, our biggest accomplishment with this brand so far was sticking with it and getting it to market.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
With our brand being so new, the most challenging thing so far, and likely for the next few years, is scaling our brand as it grows.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Do not give up on your goal if you hit a roadblock. Make adjustments along the way if necessary, but keep pursuing your end goal.
- Listen to your customers/consumers. Criticism can be difficult, but sometimes it can help you improve your products or services.
- Do not dwell on mistakes. You will likely make many mistakes when you are just starting your business. Unfortunately, you cannot go back and change what has already happened. The only thing you can do is learn from your mistakes and keep improving.
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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