Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Miriam Westin, Owner of LifeDirt Foods, Inc., located in Saint John, NB, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My business provides fresh produce boxes and raw juices for people in and around the Saint John area who are looking for an easy way to consume more fresh fruits & vegetables, and especially those looking to support local farmers.
Tell us about yourself
Since I was small, I have had numerous dreams and visions for my life. One of those involved starting my own business. I've worked in non-profits since I joined the workforce and have always been drawn to the capacity that for-profits have for social impact. Upon being temporarily laid off when COVID hit, I started brainstorming about businesses that could have a positive impact on Saint John. That summer (2020), my friend and I came up with the idea of a greengrocer with a juice bar tied in. Since then, I've launched LifeDirt with a more mobile model. I love connecting with our local farmers for our produce boxes, and making juices full of nutrients straight from Mother Nature brings me a lot of life. Our product offering is very simple, and I like it that way. Connecting with the earth through the goodness of food has helped me a lot in my own mental health journey, and I believe that we are offering the same possibility to our community.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I'd say my biggest accomplishment as a business owner so far has been to provide employment for some wonderful people.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
I think that juggling all the roles involved in being a business owner is difficult; however, it's also fun for people like me who enjoy a lot of different things. For me, honestly, valuing and asking for money for my product is the hardest thing. I believe in what I do and love the people I work with (vendors and customers alike), but I have been in non-profits almost solely since I started working, and so it requires a pretty big shift in mindset to now ask for money in exchange for a product/service instead of getting donations or grants and then offering my product/services for free. Seems silly, but I'm still getting used to it after a year! Increasing prices is even worse! But that's part of it too.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Get support from people already in your life and people you have never met before. No one is reinventing the wheel at this point, so there will be someone who can offer you advice as you get started!
- Take care of yourself. If you work yourself to the bone in your first year of business, as far as I can tell, that doesn't set the tone for a sustainable future. I personally partially started my business to get out of the rat race and do not want grind culture to be part of what I do. I constantly have to remind myself of that. Your own health and peace matter not only as they have a direct impact on your business, but because you as a person matter. As your own boss, you get to decide how you want self/staff care to look in your company, starting with you.
- Go with the flow. Everything is constantly changing, and we never know what doors are going to open or close from one week to the next. Keeping true to the heart of your business but being open to changing how it operates is a wonderful thing to learn, but not always something you think of when you have your set ideas of what you want to do when you start out. This involves a lot of humility.
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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