Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Andi Rose, owner of Rocky Mountain Olive Oil, located in Fort Collins, Colorado, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I own Rocky Mountain Olive Oil, a designer oil and vinegar shop located in Fort Collins, CO, that ships all over the United States. We help to create unique tasting experiences and elevate recipes to take food from good to extraordinary.
Our product is for everyone who makes food. It's nutritious, delicious, and helps people find their inner chef.
Tell us about yourself
I have a marketing, sales/account, and project management background. In my 14 year tenure at New Belgium Brewing, I learned a lot about running a business due to their open-book management style. I've always been self-driven and felt a compelling sense of entrepreneurial spirit, but working for New Belgium really helped.
Everything from forecasting to branding and sales strategy, to supply chain, to EBITDA was covered in monthly meetings we had at New Belgium, which helped me garner skills to be able to acquire, run and grow a business.
When I left New Belgium at the end of 2018, I knew I wanted to own and grow a business. I also knew that I wanted it to be a product that was healthy, that I regularly consumed, and that I was a personal brand ambassador for. Being Celiac, I could never enjoy New Belgium's beer. It was then hard to be completely culturally immersive there when I couldn't enjoy the same sensory and taste experiences as everyone else there. My husband and I identified Rocky Mountain Olive Oil as a business we should buy in late 2019 with the help of the previous owners and founders of Rocky Mountain Olive Oil, Nicole, and Lindsey Crisanti. We then purchased the business in March of 2020.
It was a hard transition to go from working with a fairly large team with a lot of resources at New Belgium to a small business where I wear many, many hats. We inherited a great General Manager for the retail and warehouse fulfillment side of the company when we bought it, which allows me to focus on growth. I'm very thankful for that. I then direct our GM and our digital agency, which is a good way to position my time to work on new opportunities and growth. I love waking up in the morning feeling good about spreading the joy and love of healthy cooking one bottle at a time. I love to experiment with our products in my own home kitchen, as I'm generally the resident chef in our blended family household.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I bought the business in March of 2020, about a week before Fort Collins completely shut down due to COVID. I had a lot of in-store growth plans that quickly had to pivot due to the closure of our shop right after I bought it. I then managed to take almost the entire business online during our physical shop closure by re-skinning our website, creating all-new digital assets, running effective promotions, creating social media profiles, and bringing more brand awareness to our online presence in general. In the end, the business grew by 25% in 2020, and we doubled our followers on Instagram and quadrupled them on Pinterest.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The responsibility of everything comes back to you. Nobody is coming to save you if you fail, and not many will care. You have to be scrappy, versatile, and nimble to run a small business, especially if you're growing.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- I know the "follow your dreams" culture is strong right now. Make sure you have a solid business plan, though, and solid experience. Some people were meant to run businesses; others can learn it. I'd like to think of myself as a combo of both, but in the end, I think it would have been immensely harder to buy a business and grow it had I not been prepared sufficiently in my previous experience with New Belgium.
- Try and control your brand yourself, or at least have strong opinions about the overall concept and brand look and feel of your business. People will look to you to take the steering wheel here, and you should have a strong sense of what you want when it comes to brand ethos.
- Be generous. Too often I business owners try to squeeze people too much. Definitely, by no means should you undervalue your product or service, but donating when you can go a long way. People often remember those who make them feel comfortable, valued, and loved - even if you think it's just a brand.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email firstname.lastname@example.org; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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