As part of our regular Business Banter series we speak to entrepreneurs who founded start ups in the wellness industry. This week we speak to Sarah Kiely who founded Sadie’s Kitchen.
What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned since launching Sadie’s Kitchen?
I’m entirely impatient as a business owner and I have this endless optimism when it comes to deadlines. I think that when you go into that extra gear, magic can really happen. It think that’s an important motivation to have and also to pass onto our team. We all inspire each other daily, as it always seems impossible until it’s done.
That said, the biggest learning curve for me personally was just how long it takes to scale and scale the business properly. We never compromised on our ingredients and processes from the very beginning and never will.
If you could go back and do something differently would you?
I think I would have taken on staff quicker. Something so many self-employed people might relate to. I feel if I’m not going 100 miles an hour and stretching myself, my abilities and workload I feel like I’m failing. It was only late last year that I found an amazing business partner and hired a small team. I think the few months prior to that I was operating on a really unsustainable level, both physically and mentally.
Having our team inspires and motivates me even more to really continue to grow this company and share our brand and ethos of convenience without compromise to as many people we can.
What was the biggest thing that surprised you while setting up the business?
The wealth of support and good wishes from people in the industry, and just in general! We have had so much of it and it really is so helpful when you can share experiences, contacts and learnings with one another. There’s plenty of room at the table and personally, I’m all for helping each other along and sharing my own mistakes candidly.
I do think Ireland is a fantastic country for start-up support. We were so grateful getting onto The New Frontiers 2nd phase programme and being awarded the Competitive Start Fund with Enterprise Ireland for our business. Our Local Enterprise Office is also a wonderful support and champions our successes all the time, it’s a great network and industry in general to be in.
Did you learn anything about yourself?
My unwaivering resilience. I never at any point, despite how tough it has been, would or could walk away from this brand. I believe in Sadie’s and know that our mission is just getting started.
I’ve also learned that I am braver than I really ever thought. It takes serious guts to start a business and the milestones we’ve hit with national listings, awards, export and employment at this early stage are so encouraging. We don’t have big budgets like other brands, yet we are disrupting and challenging the very idea of what a broth is and should be. We are also helping people feel better along the way, it makes me incredibly happy.
How do you manage to maintain any level of work life balance? Is it hard to switch off?
For me, right now, it’s impossible if I am truly honest to find real balance between the two.
I do know that won’t always be the case and I am more than happy to trade in my old life for running a company that fulfils and challenges me daily. I’m very lucky my fiance is a huge supporter of the business. My family and friends are incredible too so I just cocoon myself with lovely people and energy. I have no problem removing myself from toxic situations or draining company.
I’m a really empathetic person, so I can take on a lot of other people’s emotions naturally, so do a lot of energy cleansing and meditation and try just be still on my own. I truly adore my own company and while I’m super extroverted, I love climbing into my shell and recharging for a bit. It’s helps balance out the pace of life at the minute and gives me immense clarity to lead a team.
What was the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
As a first to market brand, you will be copied and that’s OK. A rise in tide lifts all boats and we have the best customers in the world supporting us. Don’t compromise to sit among your competitors, nobody knows your business better than you. Have serious integrity and conviction in all you put out in the world. It’s very rewarding to know we created a category that never existed before in stores, so we are always innovating and leading.
What piece of advice would you pass on now to something else who’s noticed a gap in the market?
Do your research and engage with a good mentor. I remember being told once ‘you should never learn from yourself’, while I wasn’t quite sure what it meant fully at the time, I do believe that now.
It’s important to have people around you that you can learn from and help you get to where you need to be. I ignored this advice for way too long and couldn’t recommend using the wealth of help that a Local Enterprise Office or Bord Bia have more.
Have you always believed in Sadie’s Kitchen?
I really have always believed in us. I lost my job, had no money in the bank and decided to start Sadie’s. It was a ride or die moment for me and she really is mine. Absolutely, I had times of panic and worry, all pickled with what ifs and berating myself when things didn’t go to plan right away.
Sadie’s Kitchen is everything I could want from a food brand as a customer in terms of its transparency, nutrition and convenience. It’s ethical, innovative and so functional, that I feel very grateful I get to share it with our customers and make people’s quality of life in some tiny way, a little bit better.
Lots of new products coming from this month onwards. Two new broths and a brand new range that’s another first to market.
Where would you like to be in five years?
Still creating amazing food with Sadie’s Kitchen and reaching more people. I want to keep growing our deadly team and finding like-minded people to join us on our journey.
Creative autonomy is a huge deal for me so I want to continue inventing and developing real recipes that genuinely benefit our customers and give them full control over their dietary needs.
For more information, visit sadieskitchen.ie