Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Kirsten Sutaria, Founder of KS2 Food Consulting, located in Cleveland, OH, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
KS2 Food Consulting is a freelance product development consultancy. I work with clients of all sizes, from small start-up brands to large, well-established brands in the US and Europe, to bring new products from idea to shelf. I work with teams to build new product strategies, create & commercialize new products and support them in bringing products to life at scale.
Tell us about yourself
Growing up, my parents were in the food & wine business, and it's something I have been passionate about my whole life; I truly love everything about food - cooking, growing, politics, nutrition, and the business of food are endlessly fascinating to me. I studied Food Science at university and post-schooling, I went on to work in Product Development for large brands such as Ben & Jerry's and Innocent Drinks.
I am inspired by the shift in people's consciousness towards eating for the planet, recognizing that we can't keep moving forward with the status quo in large-scale animal agriculture or conventional crop production using fossil fuel-derived chemicals that destroy the soil and degrade whole ecosystems. Food is an incredibly deeply rooted personal and cultural aspect of our lives, and asking people to make a change is hard, but I love working to create products that are better for us and better for the planet.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I am proud to have been running KS2 solo for the last five years, and during 4 of those years, I was also focused on building Doozy Pots, a plant-based ice cream company I started with my husband. We launched in late 2019 and quickly landed in a world of unprecedented change. Together the 2 of us built Doozy Pots into a brand that was in 35 states and over 400 stores. I am so proud of what we did, especially given the circumstances. In previous roles at large companies, we had massive budgets for R&D and marketing and teams of 20+ people to do what we did as a team of two. While we decided to close Doozy Pots earlier this year, I am so proud of what we accomplished and brought into the world. In my role, I have always loved seeing products I have worked on come to market, and I am still filled with pride each time I see a project launch in the market.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
The lack of stability and predictability. No day is the same when you are running your own business, and you have to be okay with uncertainty. There is no guarantee of success, and you're truly in control of your own destiny, which can make it feel like a challenge to shift focus away from work. Finding a balance in your life to make sure you don't burn out is crucial.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Network: Going out on your own can be a lonely change from working with a team, so it's crucial to build a network of like-minded people, mentors, and fellow founders who are in a similar place to you. Making friends in your industry and having people outside your immediate circle of friends and family is crucial to running a business on your own.
- Start Small and Scale Gradually: Starting a food business can be overwhelming, so it's advisable to start small and gradually scale up. Begin with a limited product range to streamline operations and maintain quality. Spend time really understanding your product inside and out, from sourcing to production and on the shelf. Test your concept at local markets, pop-up events, or through online platforms. As you gain experience and customer feedback, refine your processes and expand your offerings. This mindset also applies to running a service-based business.
- Know when to say no. There is a lot of power in saying no. In the early days, it can be tempting to say yes to every opportunity that comes your way, but it's the opportunities that will truly progress your business that are the ones to say yes to.
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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