Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with April Kelly, CEO of Sure!, located in Greenville, NC, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I'm the Chief Mommy Officer of Sure, where we specialize in the plant-based formula for infants and toddlers. We support moms by providing safe products that they can trust to deliver the highest quality of nutrition to their most precious gifts.
Tell us about yourself
Like most modern-day moms juggling diapers and dreams, my role as a mom often competes with every other area of my life, including work. As a working mom of four children between the ages of 1 and 12, most of my decision-making is centered around my role as a mom. My journey into entrepreneurship is no different. Four years ago, my husband and I were experiencing one of the best moments of our lives, bringing home our third baby girl. We experienced all of the warm and fuzzy emotions that come along with moments like this. Prior to giving birth, I had planned to breastfeed just as I had my two older daughters. It hadn't been long since I had wrapped up an 18-month streak with my second daughter, and my confidence was through the roof. A few weeks into postpartum, I found myself overwhelmed and hugely discouraged due to the unexpected nursing complications I was facing. As much as I wanted to nourish my baby naturally, I began to dread feeding time. My breast had grown raw with open wounds from her unusual latch style due to her tongue tie, and I was reaching my limit fast. I had come to realize that my emotions and mental health were out of control and we needed to do something quickly. For a second, I was optimistic about the future and grateful to be done with the excruciating feeding sessions, but that relief was short-lived as my daughter began to show symptoms of an allergic reaction. Her poop changed color and smelled terrible. She became constipated, gassy, fussy, and impossible to soothe. For the second time, I was thrown into an uncertain frenzy. Ultimately we set out on a quest to create our own plant-based formula safe to feed our baby, turning our kitchen into a science lab testing variations of our recipe. After a couple of weeks, we struck gold, and with the nod of approval from our pediatrician, we sailed off into peaceful days and restful nights. Thus Sure was born.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
As cliche as it may sound, launching this venture has been my biggest accomplishment to date, tied with my successful home birth (with no meds, ouch!) back in 2021. What both of those experiences have in common is that it all came down to me and my ability to pull it off. It wasn't something that could be faked or handed off to someone else to finish. It was strictly me vs. me. It's taken grit, tenacity, perseverance, and a good ounce of crazy to pull them both off, and each time I got weary, I questioned my ability to make it happen and even paused all together to regroup but what I didn't do was quit. I never do! It's just not part of my DNA. What also makes these two moments special to me is that they both involve me giving birth. The only difference is that one is a human baby, and the other is a business baby. This in itself is a huge nod to what I feel is part of my purpose as a woman, mom, and CEO, which is to be a testament of what is possible to the people called to my influence through my lived experiences. I am a firm believer that moms aren't required to live a life centered solely on their responsibilities as a mom unless, of course, that's her choice, but that's just it! We get to choose the life we want to live, and with kids in tow, we can have as much as we are willing to go out and get! I've learned to live life on my terms and aim to inspire my daughters and all women to do the same.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
My biggest challenge has been having the courage to show up as my authentic self no matter what space I'm in. I entered the workforce at a young age and because of my past experiences, I was always eager for mentorship specifically from women who looked like me, women of color. Coincidentally I'd often be the only black female on a team of white men or men in general, so mentors that looked like me were hard to find. As I continued down my career path, I eventually joined a woman-led organization and celebrated that; however, I still found myself struggling to find role models, and as a result, I would conform to the status quo. Only over the past couple of years have I really embraced my uniqueness and showed it off with pride. It's taken some time, but I've grown to recognize my own voice and the value that I bring to the table. I'm fully aware of the fact that this is the only way that I'll continue to grow and evolve. The difference now is that I've established my core values, and they've become my center and foundational standards that I filter all my decisions through, whether personal or professional.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
Lead with authenticity, pace yourself, and always fall forward!
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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