Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Kacia Kelly, Founder of Sips & Samples, located in Graham, WA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Sips & Samples is a subscription box that was started as a way to make discovering new products fun, easy, and affordable. When I curate our boxes, I’m on the hunt for great items, and I pair them with a variety of fun beverages for the ultimate sampling experience! I search for products that may be new to the market, handmade, health-conscious, socially conscious, inspirational, eco-friendly, fashion-forward, or made by small or minority-owned businesses. Women are my target audience because some of our items are geared towards women, like jewelry and high-quality skincare products.
Tell us about yourself
Years ago, life threw me a curve ball when I suffered a major stroke which resulted in some physical limitations. I was only 35 at the time, with no obvious risk factors. It wasn’t until much research and consultation with specialists that I discovered I suffered from silent migraines, and I was experiencing one at the time I had my stroke. The constricting blood vessels cut off the blood supply to a region of my brain.
This event made me realize that my 40-hour-a-week corporate job was no longer a career path I could maintain. This was worrisome because a stable income with benefits was all I knew. I quickly realized that, in some ways, my health scare was a blessing in disguise. After all, I was only a number in the corporate world. I worked hard to make other people wealthy, and that career path was no longer fulfilling for me. If there was ever a silver lining to a stroke, having to leave an unfulfilling job was it.
After a long couple of years of physical therapy and recovery, I was ready to find my new purpose and passion. I required a different pace that could accommodate my ‘bad stroke days,’ so I started down the path to entrepreneurship. I started my first business, Tea For Eve, in 2016. I knew the value of tea and how organic herbs can improve a person’s well-being. After years of learning and growing in the beverage industry, I decided it was time to take another leap of faith in 2022 to launch Sips & Samples. Life is better with a good beverage in your hand, and the beverage industry was something I had some knowledge about.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
There are actually two things about my business model that I am proud of. I try to provide a couple of items in each box that come from a small or minority-owned business. I realize how much that means to small businesses like mine to gain some brand awareness. I want to shine a spotlight on these brands whenever I can. I’m also proud that I’ve found a great way to give back to our environment. I spent a lot of time sitting in nature during my healing process. My love and appreciation for our environment are why every box I ship, one tree gets planted. I’m trying to help offset our carbon footprint. It’s my way of giving back to our environment, which also needs a chance to heal.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Marketing always seems like a necessary evil. Trying to give your brand the exposure it needs to be successful can feel overwhelming. Marketing must be where the saying, “it takes money to make money,” comes from. Not every marketing venture yields a return on investment, and that’s the unsettling truth.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Build your network of support. Friends, family, influencers, etc. They can all add something to help you be successful. It truly takes a village!
- Don’t get discouraged. There are days when you’ll lose a customer and days when you’ll gain three. You’ll encounter customers that aren’t easily satisfied and others that leave you to rave reviews. Owning a business has its ebbs and flows, so focus on the positives.
- Do what makes you happy.
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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