Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Maryann Houde, Owner of SouLstice Brewing Company, located in Wallingford, CT, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
SouLstice Brewing Co. makes raw kombucha tea crafted in small batches by traditional fermentation methods with only clean and fresh ingredients. Consumers are becoming more aware of what’s inside the products they purchase and are looking for clean, wholesome ingredients in the foods and beverages they consume. Kombucha is an enjoyable, clean, functional drink that supports health, boosts immunity, and is becoming a popular alternative to soda and alcoholic beverages.
Our customers are health-conscious individuals who are suspicious of any kind of unnecessary additives in their foods and who want products that are clean, made of simple natural ingredients, and functional in promoting health and wellness.
Tell us about yourself
My background is in winemaking production and farm management. I am thoroughly versed in the fermentation process and understand the inner workings of a beverage manufacturing brand. I have worked for several small businesses in many aspects, from managing administration, direct sales in telecommunications, marketing, and business development for the farm winery industry. I ran my own online store and cake decorating business until I decided to pursue a career in grape growing and winemaking for the past 11 years.
Kombucha came along when my daughter Sarah brought home kombucha and filled up the refrigerator. I was curious about the fermentation of tea, so I started brewing small batches at home. I found that I loved the process and creativity and enjoyed experimenting with flavors.
When my dear friend Lesley was suffering from long Covid, I brought her some kombucha to try. After a month of hesitating to drink the beverage, Lesley finally sipped on the kombucha in small shots. After a few days, she called me to say, "I don't know what's in this, but I feel better." It was then that I knew I had to pursue bringing kombucha to my local community. Hearing that I made a product that made someone else feel better was a great feeling and motivation.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
The biggest accomplishment is actually getting the product to the consumer and getting the feedback that people love it and are so excited to try fresh local kombucha because they know of the drink and turning people on to it that didn't know about it at all.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The hardest thing is that a small business owner has to know everything about the business and DO mostly everything. When you're new and small, you may not have the funds to employ someone for help, and things take a lot longer to get done because it's just you. But it is very rewarding to be your own boss.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Believe in yourself and go for it! Don't listen to anyone. Listen to your heart.
- Take a deep dive into why you want to start your business and write a business plan. It will help you determine your goals, understand your consumer and help you know if this is really feasible for you.
- Get help from counselors and business development advisors and get educated on the aspects of running a small business. You may know your product, but you also have to know about business.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.
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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