Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Kristi Vartanian, Co-Founder of TiDBiTS Candy, located in Ventura, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
TiDBiTS is a better-for-you gummy candy made with prebiotics and bursting with flavor from real fruit juice. With only 4g of sugar and 125 calories per bag, TiDBiTS was made so you can confidently crush your bag of candy without the crash. Our gummies are free from artificial sweeteners, artificial colors, and sugar alcohols. We're Non-GMO, gluten-free, and made without corn syrup.
All the good stuff, none of the bad. If you have a sweet tooth that needs satisfying, look no further!
Tell us about yourself
I've been a stay-at-home mom for the past five years since my first son was born. I've always been a mindful eater and began looking at ingredients and reading labels about ten years ago. Once I became pregnant with my second son, I turned my house upside down, switched out all my cleaning products and food products, and began living a low-toxin lifestyle as best I could.
However, my biggest struggle was always gummy candy. Every night after putting my 2-year-old and 5-year-old to bed, I'd crave something sweet. After a long day, I didn't just want a treat.
I felt like I deserved it! My husband would go to the store and pick up a box of Mike and Ike's (those were my jam!), and I'd mindlessly eat the entire box. Spoiler alert: movie-theater-size Mike and Ike's are meant to be shared. But let's be honest, who shares their candy?
I would go to bed with a headache and stomach ache and, on top of it all, have a restless night's sleep because of all the sugar I consumed. I continued this cycle several times a week and realized something needed to change. But it wasn't going to be me giving up my beloved candy.
One day we were at a natural grocery store, and I saw what appeared to be a better-for-you gummy candy. I was so excited and thought, this is going to be a game changer for me. I ripped the bag open right in the parking lot, and after one bite, I had to spit it back out. The flavor, texture, and after-taste were a complete letdown. I went on a journey to find the best tasting, better-for-you gummy candy, and I was left disappointed time and time again. And that's when TiDBiTS was born.
TiDBiTS was born out of my personal need to satisfy my sweet tooth, but it's so much more than that. We're in the middle of a major health epidemic with unhealthy mass-produced foods contributing to diabetes, obesity, and other health issues. However, most of us are unwilling or unable to make extreme lifestyle changes (like me giving up my candy) and are struggling to find healthier alternatives, so the cycle continues.
I want my kids to have a healthy relationship with food, especially sweets and candy. I don't want to be the mom hiding in the bathroom to eat her traditional candy. Yes, I don't want to share, but also because I know the ingredients and the effect those ingredients have on my children. TiDBiTS was made to create sweet memories with your entire family and feel good about indulging with your kids, not guilty.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I'd say going from an idea to holding the finished product in my hand. It was a surreal moment. I'm also incredibly proud of how I've been able to bring a better-for-you gummy candy to the market that truly has clean ingredients. There are a lot of brands that fall into healthy perception vs. healthy reality, and unless the consumer is educated in reading labels, many of us can be duped into thinking it's a cleaner option because of the marketing and packaging when in reality, it still contains unhealthy or questionable ingredients.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Definitely finding balance and not walking through each day as a constant juggling act. I'm a wife, mom, and business owner wrapped up in one person. My boys are still young and require a lot from me, so I feel the tug-of-war between when they need me and when I need to get work done. I have to make sure my own mental health is being taken care of while being pulled in several different directions.
One way I do this is by working out and reading my Bible every morning (with an iced latte, of course). Finding balance includes balancing my own needs with everything else, too. If I don't, I'll end up on the path to burnout real fast.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Don't stop at the idea stage. Keep going. Too many of us let fear of failure hold us back. Getting started is much like the process of pregnancy and delivering a baby. Something starts stirring inside of you. There are restless nights. You feel uncomfortable. You push through the pain and continue to put in the hard work required of you. At the end of it all, something you only once dreamt of is now in your hands. It's the most rewarding feeling.
- Have at least one other person who believes in you and what you're doing besides yourself. You will question yourself over and over if what you're doing is the right thing, sometimes multiple times a day. I can't tell you how many times I looked at my husband and asked, "Is it crazy to start a candy company?" The more people you have around you supporting you, the better. I feel fortunate to have constant support and encouragement from friends, family, and mentors. It also helps to connect with other entrepreneurs and build community with others who have gone before you or are in the trenches with you.
- Don't ever lose sight of why you started. This is your driving force and what continues to fuel your passion for what you're doing. If you don't know why you're doing what you're doing, then it's a recipe for failure.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I mentioned this before, but we are in a major health epidemic. It's so important to educate yourself on what is in your food. Watch documentaries, become a label reader, and follow experts on social media to learn more. Once you're aware, it becomes easier to make better choices and find alternatives to the things you love, like candy!
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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