Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Emily Wilson, Co-Founder of Living Tree Foods, located in New Westminster, BC, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Living Tree Foods makes vegan versions of traditional products that your whole family will love, and we mean EVERYONE. We're based in Vancouver, Canada, and our core product lines are currently cashew-based cheese spreads and ravioli. Aside from vegans and people who are lactose intolerant, our customers are people who are open to working plant-based foods into their diet but are not willing to sacrifice on taste.
Tell us about yourself
As a longtime advocate for animals, I'm motivated to dispel the notion that plant-based food has to be boring or subpar. My partner and I met at law school. Once we'd cooked some meals together, he was shocked at how delicious vegan food could be. We figured there were tons of others like him, and it was clear there was a market for plant-based foods that appeal to everyone, not just vegans. Given the positive reception our products have gotten, we decided to put our legal careers on hold and go into this business full-time.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
We launched in Whole Foods BC this month, which we're really excited about! We're also proud of the fact that we've won or been finalists for various awards and competitions. On a more individual and everyday level, we've had countless people at farmers' markets and consumer shows try our products and be shocked at how delicious plant-based foods can be. They often have no particular reason to be seeking out vegan products but buy on the spot simply because it tastes good. I love that we are helping make these options more accessible to a wider range of individuals.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Almost nothing goes as simply or seamlessly as you hope it will, and you're the last line of defence, so you need to figure out how to overcome these obstacles. In the beginning, you'll often be doing something for the first time, so mistakes will inevitably happen. We try to see these as the cost of learning as well as the cost of doing business.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Learn bookkeeping and accounting right away, and stay on top of it from the beginning.
- Get comfortable with doing things before you feel 100% ready. Perfectionistic tendencies are paralyzing and the enemy of making progress!
- Networking is key. Immerse yourself in the community, take advantage of support services, and apply for grants, workshops, awards, etc.
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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