Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Rosalind McCallard, co-founder and CEO of Snackrilege Vegan Foods, located in Portland, OR, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We are primarily a wholesale sandwich company our main customers are stores, including some national chains and a lot of local stores. We do some festivals and some direct-to-consumer sales. We once got a review that said, "WOW, this food really tastes homemade!." I had to respond with, that's because most of it is. We make our seitan from scratch, We make our barbecue and marinara sauces from scratch using all non-GMO ingredients, we buy our bread locally, and we use reputable, reliable companies for our other ingredients. We try to treat our employees well-We pay higher than minimum wage, and we offer lots of perks and bonuses. We want people to feel appreciated. We have only said no to a community donation once, and that is out of hundreds of requests for all kinds of community organizations ranging from animal rights to education to helping the environment. We are passionate about what we do. We are a small family-owned company (50% woman-owned), and we are sincerely dedicated to making the world a better place with delicious food.
Tell us about yourself
I have been a vegetarian since 1987 and vegan on and off since 1993. I am absolutely passionate about animal rights and passionate about saving the environment. My husband and I met and bonded over our love of veganism, heavy metal, and puns, and 15 years later, here we are! I realized after graduating from college that I needed to put the skills I worked so hard to learn into something that really mattered to me. Veganism is the most important cause that I care about. Knowing nothing about business, we just dove right in, and, with the support of our family and a great community, a lot of luck, and, not to brag too much, but some really great food, we have been in business for almost nine years now.
Knowing that we are helping people make choices that can help animals and the environment, and their health gets me out of bed every day. It's not always easy, especially these past couple of years, but getting to connect with people and knowing that our food makes their day a little better is the most gratifying feeling on Earth.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Honestly, staying in business for this long! I have been sponsored by the Goldman Sachs 10K SB program, we've won awards and certificates, we've had articles featured about our products, but just being here and knowing that we're able to provide decent jobs and good food to the community feels really good. The fact that we've managed to do it for going on a decade, especially with the lack of experience we had when we started, well, that feels like quite an accomplishment.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
It's challenging when people assume that because you own a business, you are wealthy. It's hard when we've had people get resentful that we aren't able to pay them as much as we would like to. There have been months that we have not paid ourselves, but it's hard to explain that to people, and It just kills me when I think people don't feel appreciated. It also can be slightly frustrating to not ever really feel like I get a day off; that is definitely not something I expected when I started this business, but that comes with the territory. I've learned not to mind it so much. Anything worth doing is worth working hard for.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
First of all, know that everything is going to be harder and more expensive than you expect it to be. That's not always a bad thing, but be prepared. Two, reach out to your networks. There are a lot of opportunities for people who are interested in mentoring and helping other small businesses. There are also lots of opportunities for grants and loans. Three, don't get discouraged. On my first day in the kitchen, I honestly almost broke down in tears at the end of the day, but all the work got done, and it was definitely worth it. I'm going to add a fourth tip that people who are not in their mid-forties probably already know, but once you lock down your website, make sure that your social media handles all match up. I didn't think about that, and now our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter all have slightly different names. Again, most people who are younger probably would have already thought of this, but I didn't, and I regret it!
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
If anyone wants to reach out to chat, I'm always happy to provide advice (Even if it's on what not to do, lol!). Running Snackrilege has had so many challenges but so many more rewards. I wouldn't change it for anything, so if you truly have a passion you want to pursue, I know it sounds cliché, but go for it!
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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