Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Claire Smith, founder and CEO of Teffola, located in Plymouth, MI, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Teffola is a vegan and gluten-free granola made with the ancient grain teff! Our 7th generation family farm grows teff among other grains like buckwheat and millet as part of our pivot from corn and soybeans. Teffola celebrates these old grains by creating delicious and nutrient-dense granola.
We're for snackers and yogurt bowl lovers who love grains and look for low sugar options. We also happen to be certified gluten-free and woman-owned!
Tell us about yourself
My dad started growing teff as part of his pivot from corn and soybeans to alternative grains and seeds. We tried selling teff flour on Amazon but just didn't see the traction we knew teff could have. I took the whole grain teff and added it to the granola I was making and absolutely loved the flavor! After a few months of keeping Teffola on the side, I took the leap to go full-time. Being my own boss, being able to pursue my own ideas, creatively solve problems and build something from nothing, all of that motivates me every day. Plus, I know that our team creates a spectacular product that customers love.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
In March of 2021, I pitched a well-known bakery and deli called Zingerman's on this idea to codevelop a flavor of granola using our teff. They are a much bigger company than mine, so I was pretty nervous but knew it was a good idea because our brand values aligned, and partnerships are a key strength of mine. They loved the idea, too, and in December of 2021, we finally launched the delicious Cherry Cacao Granola.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
What got you to $10K isn't going to get you to $100K. Your business is constantly evolving, and that means you personally have to as well. Do not ignore personal development.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Ask questions.
- Ask for help.
- If you've been chasing a lead and following up constantly and feeling like they hate you, use the line "it's my job to be persistent, so if this is going overboard or I'm reaching out too many times, please let me know, and I'll back off."
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Business ownership is incredibly isolating and lonely. Network and find a friend you can be 100% yourself with (no posturing!), so you have someone who truly understands what you're going through.
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.
Feel inspired to start, run or grow your own subscription business? Check out subkit.com and learn how you can turn "one day" into day one.