Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Sascha Archer, Owner of Sauvie Shrubs, located in Portland, OR, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Sauvie shrubs is a hyper-local Sauvie Island-based pantry and botanical company making health and wellness mixers and elixirs. These include shrubs (drinking vinegar concentrates), fire cider, and bitters. We are passionate about the environment and waste; therefore have a line of zero-waste food products that we make from our shrub and fire cider mash, such as fire cider seasoning salt and botanical shrub dusting sugar. We also have a bottle reuse program through a partnership with Bold Reuse. We grow, source from local farms, and forage nearly all our ingredients from the island. Our customers are many, and our products appeal to all audiences, from those who are looking for an alcohol replacement and delicious mocktail mixer to those that enjoy shrubs in cocktails and cooking. A lot of our customers have a daily dose of shrub ( that boasts a fermented raw apple cider vinegar base) to support digestion and other health issues ranging from regulating blood sugar levels to leg cramps, weight loss, and more! Our shrubs are delicious, nutritious, and good for you. Many of our customers include health-conscious families in which all ages enjoy a regular shrub. We make exclusive seasonal shrubs for a monthly CSA-style shrub club membership that is 76 members strong all over the US.
Tell us about yourself
After a lifetime of digestive issues, through making my own shrubs, I discovered I was easing my chronic health issues and feeling my best. When I moved to the fertile soil of Sauvie Island, it all clicked. I found myself growing, foraging, and sourcing seasonal and medicinal ingredients to make my own shrubs while connecting with the community, local farmers, and the land. And thus, Sauvie Shrubs was born. I am proud of the community I have built in and around Sauvie Shrubs. I started by founding the first-ever Sauvie Island Farmers Market as a means to support local island farmers and makers such as myself, and that feels really good. Many of my shrub club subscribers have been on this journey with us since day one and are so loyal to our brand. Their passion for Sauvie Shrubs inspires me to continue creating unique seasonal products, product collaborations, and zero-waste products with my shrub mash. Even as I grow, I continue to source from small farmers on the Island as well as island neighbors with an excess of fruit that would normally go to waste. Staying true to supporting the ecosystem of our small but mighty island is at the core of Sauvie Shrubs.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Sauvie Shrubs naturally brings people together, creating and strengthening community. We do this by building relationships and collaborations with Island farmers and makers. We are passionate about sharing our love of the island and supporting small businesses through the Sauvie Island Farmers Market. We are currently breathing new life into the Sauvie Island Grange commercial kitchen that hasn't been used in over a decade, welcoming other makers into the space.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
We are in the process of scaling up and starting co-packing. With this comes many challenges, including staying true to our values of remaining hyper-local. When you're mass producing, the pressure to sustain this can be really difficult. Also, wearing ALL the hats is very challenging. As we grow, we require more employees, management with production/operations, and additional support. All of this costs money, and we are a bootstrapping business at the point of needing more financing to grow this business. That's a really scary place to be, but equally exciting!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Find other similar businesses to yours with shared values that you admire. Don't be scared to reach out and ask ALL the questions. Most are happy to share their journey as well as tips and tricks. Ask how they got started, what advice they would give, if they can share resources, etc.
- Look into local programs and grant opportunities that can offer support, education, advising, and financing for starting your business (such as Mercy Corps). I was lucky to do the "Getting Your Recipe to Market" program through Portland Community College Small Business Development Center and was an IDA grant recipient and alum from MESO (Micro Enterprise Services of Oregon).
- Look for mentors and or a business coach or advisor. Both have been crucial in growing my business. I've also really loved mentoring young women-owned food and beverage start-up businesses and envision more of that in my future!
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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