Name: Dina Feldman
Business: Feel Good Salsa LLC
Location: Torrance, California, U.S.
Industry: Food & Beverage
Reason for starting? I’ve always loved being in the kitchen. When I was 11, I dreamed of owning a restaurant. I had a successful career as a board certified behavior analyst working with individuals with severe emotional needs. I reached the pinnacle of my career and realized something was missing. It was hard to describe because I genuinely loved my job, but something was missing. I left an offer of a directorship and began to pursue my dream. At the beginning it was blurry. I knew I wanted to be in business, but I was scared and hesitant. At one point, I even thought I should go pursue my PhD and just let this “food business” go to moratorium, but honestly when I thought about giving up being in business, my heart ached. So after a lot of soul-searching and self-convincing (I mean a lot of self-convincing), I decided to start Feel Good Salsa, the name came to me in an aha moment, I realized the reason I loved cooking and serving was because I loved making people feel good. My vision and dream became perfectly clear.
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How do you define success? In my life, I have learned that money alone cannot make you happy. Reaching success on a true level really boils down to doing something meaningful, that fulfills your soul, while helping others along the way. I believe that doing good for others, for our planet and our community brings me a level of joy and personal satisfaction that far outweighs material things. And while money is important to afford us the basic necessities of life, those deeper, more meaningful human needs are only fulfilled when you are out there doing good.
Biggest success: Starting!! It has been a year since I first had this vision of Feel Good Salsa — a locally sourced line of fresh salsas with the mission of doing good at its core. People shot me down at first, citing to me how many salsa companies there already were out there. Or citing the fact that I was not solving a problem or that I had no niche etc. I had to overcome the fear of starting. I had to drown the negative voices out and let the positive ones prevail. That was a huge challenge. I second guessed myself almost daily. Truth be told I still second guess myself sometimes, but I forge on knowing that my business exists for the greater good. I want to succeed to be able to help others, to donate to causes I am passionate about, to inspire others to pursue their dreams and live fully.
What is your top challenge and how you have addressed it? My top challenge has been balancing the value of sustainability with the costs associated with it. As a small business, my production costs are high because I do not have the volume to help offset some of my costs. I am also not a business-savvy person so I am having to learn things along the way. I am, however, resourceful, stubborn and relentless so I reach out to others for help, which has been a huge blessing. It has been hard to get the message of my product out there. To educate customers about why it is important to be locally sourced and sustainable.
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Who is your most important role model? On a business level, I look up to the owner of Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard. His book, Let My People Surf, awoke in me a desire to do good that has been my guiding light and principle source of strength and inspiration. On a personal level, my mom. My mom is a fighter. We came to the U.S. illegally and without papers initially, my mom managed to always put a roof over our heads, to encourage me to push forward, she put me through college and she and I bought a house when I was only 25 years old. She has somehow always found a way to make things happen. She is super scrappy, and that woman has the strongest work ethic I have ever seen. I think she is pretty darn amazing.
Edited by The Story Exchange