Every entrepreneur takes a different path to realize their dream, but each has an origin story uniquely their own. Whether driven by passion or a solution to a problem, the learnings are steeped in the journey itself. This insightful conversation features Karen Blackwell, founder and CEO of Kanda Chocolates, and Abigail Wald, founder of YES bar, as they discuss their entrepreneurial beginnings, their unforeseen challenges, and how social impact fuels their accomplishments and future aspirations.
Moderated by Packed with Purpose Founder & CEO Leeatt Rothschild, this conversation was recorded as part of the 2022 “Empowered & Inspired: Conversations in Celebration of Women’s History Month” discussion series.
- Don’t let the perception of oversaturation limit your ideas—there is always room. For Karen, stepping into the chocolate bar industry and standing out seemed like a herculean task. But because of her conviction and research, she found that her product and her company’s mission addressed a missing segment of the United States chocolate market. (4:30)
- Sometimes it takes a strong emotion—like grief or rage—to spur ingenuity. Abigail speaks on the motivation to create something joyful out of the frustration of having to say “no” to her son, who suffers from a variety of food sensitivities. Instead of focusing on the “lack” of food options, she flipped her perspective to one of celebration and gratitude. (6:45)
- Having a support system that encompasses all your needs — physically, emotionally, or intellectually— is what gets many small business owners over the 3-year mark in terms of success. This helps to set up an orbit of people who are invested in your growth and support you as a person first, which translates into better outcomes in those first few years of building a brand. (12:22)
- As business owners, especially in the world of CPG (and the pandemic), it’s vital to pay attention to the larger events transpiring around the globe. You’ll never be able to anticipate every supply chain challenge, but you’ll be able to pivot faster. And, by establishing good communications and partnerships, you can ensure that even when things do go wrong, you won’t be handling it alone. (16:17)
- Have the courage to say “yes, I’ll do it!” and jump at the small tasks. But, follow your instincts and make sure it aligns to your true purpose. Allow yourself the time to grow into the person your business needs you to be to become the version of success you envision. (29:40)
Our Panelist’s Advice for Other Women-Owned Businesses:
“Do it. Do it, do it. And, get support. Because you likely will encounter who aren’t used to you having such a big voice. That’s possible. And, you’ll encounter people who are there to support you. Find your “why.” What is it you’re fighting for. Find your rage…don’t just create a product. The world doesn’t need more products. But if you have a mission, if you have something that you want to be different, something that pisses you off every day —that is it. That’s what you’re here to say “oh, I have a voice about something, does anybody else agree with me?” And say it loud and clear. Loud and Clear. And people will be there.” – Abigail Wald (26:12)
“Start your business with the idea in your head that you’re a Big Corporation. If I hadn’t have certified [as a Women-Owned business] if I didn’t follow the FDA labeling, all those little things… a year later I wouldn’t have known the opportunity that were going to come were going to come. And so, a lot of these opportunities have come because I was prepared, because I did have that insurance. I’m sharing that because it’s so important to start with the basics and from a budget standpoint (yes I’m all about bootstrapping) but I was like ‘I’m going to create a corporation,‘ let me pretend in my mind that I own a $20 billion business and what does that look like so that the foundation starts from that point.” -Karen M. Blackwell (27:58)