Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Travis Smith, Co-Founder of The Sunrise Shack, located in Haleiwa, HI, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We have an organic cafe business located on the island of Oahu. Our most popular item is our amazing Acai Bowl. We are known for our epic smoothie bowls, organic magical coffee, and avocado toast. We also have a lot of merchandise. We have 5 locations now all over the island, and we plan on growing more across the world! We are going to start franchising soon! Really excited about that.
Tell us about yourself
I grew up on the island of Kauai. I have two other brothers that are professional surfers. I grew up as a bodyboarder which is a smaller sport than surfing, but it's amazing to ride huge waves of consequence; it puts you in the flow state and is one of the best feelings in the world. I homeschooled my entire life and had an entrepreneurial state of mind from a young age. My first job was when I was 12 years old. I would pick fruits from our backyard and put them out on a self-serving fruit stand. It was a trust system. You, as a customer, would pay for the fruit by donation, and I would make about $20 per day. From that moment, I was inspired to become an entrepreneur.
A bit later on, when I graduated high school, I got discovered for modeling and started to travel the world. For about 7 years, I lived all over the world, working with the top fashion brands. I did the mend campaign for Versace with Kate Moss in London when I was 21 years old. Eventually, I got tired of living in a city and really missed Hawaii. So I came back home and started a fruit and coffee stand. We called it The Sunrise Shack. It's a beautiful fruit stand right next to the world-famous surf break called Sunset Beach on the North Shore of Oahu.
From that moment, we painted the shack bright, happy colors and were running off of a generator. After that, we had people from all over the world reaching out to us to ask us to grow and expand into their part of the world. We now have 5 locations and are excited to continue the journey to grow and expand. We are here to serve health and happiness!
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Not only to make it as a business through the pandemic but to open up three stores without giving away any equity.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
One of the hardest things is that you can never clock out. You have to be ready at any moment of everyday. I have planned trips before that I had to cancel last minute because of a company emergency. You have to build resilience and not let anything stress you out. The more I have been through, the stronger I get. And the longer to work on something, the stronger it gets and the more freedom you create for yourself down the road.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
I would say to start small. Start with an idea and see it through. Test it in a farmers market to see if the demand is there. What we started with compared to what we are today is a bit different. We believed in an idea, and we shifted the idea to make sure our customers were happy with it.
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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