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Name: Samantha Abrams
Business: Emmy’s Organics, organic macaroons and granola
Industry: Food & Beverage
Location: Ithaca, New York, U.S.
Reason for starting: I started Emmy’s with my partner (in life & business), Ian, in his mother’s home kitchen. We were inspired by a macaroon recipe that Ian had developed while he lived in NYC. The recipe is both incredibly simple and clean. It was also a reflection of our healthy lifestyle, which we both chose for different reasons. Ian has been gluten and dairy free since he was 15. As a teenager, he was very ill and as a result, had to change his entire lifestyle around which included his diet. I, on the other hand, have always aired towards health. It was during high school and college that food became a way for me to take care of myself and I began experimenting with different diets to see what made me feel best. Our love for our health and wellbeing were one of the many things that drew us together when we met. After Ian taught me his macaroon recipe one night, I mentioned how cute they would look packaged. The next day, literally, he asked me if I wanted to go into business with him. The idea that I could start my own business that provided clean, healthy foods to people was very exciting. Plus, to do all of it with a guy I was falling in love with was pretty great too.
Related: Read about another foodie entrepreneur here.
How do you define success? I define success as 1. Living your life doing something you are called to do and doing it well 2. Being able to grow and change in stride and 3. Being regarded as an expert in your industry I may be on a small scale version of these things, but I know I am working towards all of these things!
Biggest Success: In 2012, Emmy’s was recognized by the White House for our crowd funding campaign. The founders of Indiegogo, a crowd funding platform, used Emmy’s as an example and we were invited to attend the signing of Obama’s JOB Act. I was the only one who went, and when I arrived I was invited to a round table discussion the next day and to not only meet President Obama, but also to stand with him on the podium as he signed the act. We were much smaller then we are now and to be recognized as a business at the White House was a huge honor for us. It will remain one of my greatest success stories of my entire life.
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it? I think for both Ian and I, it has been financial strategy. Neither of us came into this with any business experience. We are organized, driven and enthusiastic, but there have been times where having more experience would have been very helpful. There are days when we look at financial statements and come up with a number of ideas but we still are not sure what the right move is! We address this by asking a ton of questions. We are blessed to have a small group of people who we call mentors. This includes friends, family members, industry friends, etc. When we are stuck on a problem, we aren’t afraid to ask for help and I think this is how we’ve been able to grow without the financial skills or a financial officer. We aren’t afraid to look stupid.
Related: Plan It, Fund It, Launch It
Every day feels like an influential situation! The clearest example I can think of right now is from many years ago. We attended our first tradeshow and learned the lesson that packaging is everything. We would try products that looked beautiful but tasted mediocre. That was when we decided to launch our crowd funding campaign to re-design our packaging and we saw a lot of success in that. Another experience was this past October when I had the privilege of traveling to Sri Lanka to visit our coconut supplier and one of the coconut plantations. It was so incredible to learn about the culture around the ingredient that we order so much of. It has made me much more aware about sourcing and when we are looking into new ingredients, I always make sure that a distributor knows what they are talking about and can give me details about the entire seed to harvest process.
Who is your most important role model? Terces Englehart often comes to mind first. She is one of the co-founders of Cafe Gratitude and now Be Love Farm. I have watched her journey as an entrepreneur since before we started Emmy’s and what I love about Terces is how she has grown and changed her business and personal life throughout the years. She does a lot of work on her self which I believe keeps her life and business in check and successful. Not only this, but Terces and her husband Matthew have developed an empire of beautiful healthy food, served with a purpose. I have never seen their mission compromised, even through difficult times. I look up to other female entrepreneurs who you can tell absolutely love what they do and they aren’t afraid of being themselves and use the skills that they know they have.
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Read about another Food & Beverage entrepreneur here.
Edited by The Story Exchange