Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Mel Shipman,  of Life & Ladle, based in Phoenix, AZ, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Life & Ladle is a social impact organization that exists to eradicate hunger and food wastage. Purchasing our candles, gift sets, and other products puts dinner on the table for hungry families and individuals right here in our community through our partnership with St. Vincent de Paul of Phoenix.

Tell us about yourself

I love cooking and bringing people together through food. It has always hurt me to see people go hungry, especially innocent children. I believe we live in a world of abundance, so it never made sense to me why hunger exists at the level that it does. There are many challenges in our society that don't create equitable access to healthy food that everyone needs to nourish their bodies. Furthermore, we have a food wastage issue that exists at a great level, yet, 34 million Americans don't have enough to eat. From a simple perspective, these two issues are opposites of each other, and I wanted to do what I could to eliminate them. In my eyes, hunger is not a systemic issue. It's a biological cue we all experience on a daily basis. At Life & Ladle, our core belief is, "All humans hunger; therefore, all humans should eat." I started the business in late 2020 after seeing more families experience food insecurity due to the effects of the pandemic. What keeps me going in this work is knowing that there are so many people who go hungry every night and need help getting a healthy and delicious meal.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Our main product offering is our candle line, and through our sales, we sold enough candles last year to provide over 1.1k meals to hungry families in Phoenix. It was far more than I expected to do, and I'm just so grateful for every customer we have!

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

Where do I begin? LOL! I would have to say as a mompreneur and solopreneur; it has been difficult having to run the business by myself. Having to play every role in a business can get exhausting and lonely sometimes. I enjoy working and collaborating with others, and as my business grows, I have a need to expand my team and partnerships.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Be clear on WHY you want to start a business. For what purpose will your business services, and what problem will it solve?
  2. Don't wait until you think you have everything you need to start. You don't need to have all of the money or resources to begin. Sometimes, your greatest asset is your dedication and willingness to do something for your business consistently. Success is created step by step, so start walking!
  3. Your time and your money are your first two employees. Learn how to manage/lead those two assets first.

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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