Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Austin Allan, Co-Founder and CEO of Sugar Wood, located in New York, NY, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
On the surface, Sugar Wood makes "adult" or "naughty" desserts - waffles, cookies, chocolate bars - that are designed to be provocative and ready to be shared on social media. However, our mission is to normalize and destigmatize talk about sex, body parts, gender and sexuality, and other historically taboo topics. What better way to do this than with delicious desserts?
Our customers are people literally from all over the world who want to take a little break from the seriousness of life and have a few good laughs while enjoying their waffles.
Tell us about yourself
I had seen shops in Europe selling these waffles, and I knew that they would be a hit in the US. But I also knew that American consumers are demanding, and the concept would need to have a strong brand and be adapted for US customers.
I spend at least a few hours in the shop every day. And no matter how I'm feeling, hearing our customers' reactions to their experience, and most importantly, the constant laughter, makes my day. Every single day. There's no greater feeling than creating joy, laughter, memories, and levity for dozens of people every day.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My background is in branding and marketing in the natural foods/CPG industry, so I had never started a retail concept before. So, just getting the store open and running smoothly was a challenge unlike any other that I had previously faced.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
The loneliness of not having any peers within your organization to turn to for advice. Sure, I can call other entrepreneur friends, but they don't know the ins and outs of my business and can only offer general guidance. Also, knowing that I am ultimately responsible for everything that goes on in my company can be scary. I basically never have a day off because I'm always thinking about the business.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Know what you're getting yourself into.
- Only start a business if you're truly passionate about it.
- Always trust your gut.
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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