Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Krissy Ostermiller, Founder and Owner of YAYE Organics, located in Denver, CO, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
YAYE (pronounced "yă-yay," which stands for "You Are What You Eat") is a health and wellness company rooted in the belief that Food is Medicine. We're on a mission to transform lives by providing access to clean, convenient food for people on the go. We make our ready-to-eat meals from scratch using all organic, plant-based ingredients free from gluten, dairy/egg, refined sugars, and seed-based oils. Customers can order meal plans online for home delivery or pick up our products at a retail partner location. We're here to debunk the myths surrounding a plant-based diet because we believe you can nourish yourself and indulge at the same time. It's simple: Eat Better, Feel Better.
Tell us about yourself
I created YAYE Organics because eating a clean, plant-based diet changed my life, and I wanted to make it easy for myself, my family, and my community to live a plant-based lifestyle.
I've been eating plant-based since 2005 – but it wasn't until a 2018 tragedy occurred in my family that I started understanding the idea of "food as medicine." I didn't have the best mental health at the time, and I wanted to improve my anxiety and depression homeopathically rather than pharmaceutically, so I began researching various ways to improve my mood through food. I began juicing every morning to detox and alkalize my body and started limiting my intake of inflammatory foods like refined sugars and processed seed-based oils. Instead of focusing on nutrition labels, I started reading ingredient labels to ensure I could pronounce every ingredient I was putting in my body (and therefore sending it to my brain). Eating an abundance of nourishing fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and herbs completely transformed my physical and mental health – no more panic attacks, more happy days than sad ones, and all of my random ailments such as sporadic rashes on my arms never returned. It was amazing!
However, in solving one problem for myself, I created another: I had nowhere to eat or purchase prepared foods because even the "healthy" establishments in Colorado use preserved ingredients, refined sugars, seed-based oils, and potentially harmful additives. So, I started YAYE Organics as an organic health food café in February of 2020 but quickly pivoted to an online meal delivery business as a result of the pandemic. We offer incredibly delicious and indulgent-feeling ready-to-eat breakfasts, lunches, dinners, snacks, and desserts to customers throughout Colorado and have a rotating menu of over 150 items. We frequently receive messages from customers – from busy working parents to cancer patients – saying we've completely changed their lives, and knowing that we're helping people live better lives and heal from the inside out is what keeps us going.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Navigating the challenges of the pandemic and the current economic environment, and becoming stronger as a result, is my biggest accomplishment as a business owner. Prior to starting my business, I never imagined the entrepreneurial journey I'd embark on (shutdowns, ever-changing regulations, constant pivots, inventory and staffing shortages, historically high food, labor, and fuel prices, etc.), but I feel that if I can get through the past 2.5 years as a new business owner, I can get through anything. I'm also proud and incredibly grateful to have some of my Day 1 employees helping me run the business today – they are the heart and soul of YAYE, and we are on this beautiful, wild ride together.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
I managed people and projects in my previous careers, but the responsibility I held as an employee never compared to the responsibility I feel as a business owner. With responsibility comes anxiety – it's difficult to turn your brain off as an entrepreneur because the job is never done, and several people who have become your work family rely on you for their livelihood. So, managing the stress and balancing my personal and professional life is definitely one of the hardest aspects of being a business owner, but being a business owner is still an honor and a privilege nonetheless.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Just do it! You have to start somewhere/sometime – so why not today? Purchase the URL, go to bizfilings.com and form your LLC, open a business bank account, start sketching your logo, etc. There are thousands of steps you'll have to navigate as you start your business, so don't hesitate, or you might never start your business.
- Always be scrappy. Starting a business is expensive, so save anywhere you can. Do you need to send a basic agreement to a new vendor? Consider finding/revising one on the internet rather than paying a lawyer hundreds of dollars to do it for you. You may have been very specialized in your former career, but being an entrepreneur means you'll have to become a generalist – you'll need to be fairly good at a lot of different things rather than an expert in one thing.
- Don't be afraid to ask for help, and learn to delegate once you're able. Chances are, you know at least one person who has started or run a business before, and they'd likely be willing to let you pick their brain over coffee. Take advantage of any and all resources (especially human experience) available to you! Additionally, once you grow your business enough, start delegating so that you can spend more and more time working "on" your business rather than "in" your business.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Always remember – the most successful people in the world have failed the most. You just need to keep your head up and never give up.
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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