Pasta, one of life’s greatest treasures, has been reinvented. In general, as delicious as it is, it’s not considered to be the healthiest of foods. In one sense it provides carbohydrates and fills a stomach well enough to provide energy. On the other hand, it does not provide much nutrition, especially when reaching for the regular fast-boil spaghetti or penne. Shelby Taylor, founder of Earth to Kids Inc., saw a huge gap in the healthy food market and decided to do something about it. Thus came, Chickapea Pasta, the pasta that is made from two ingredients—organic chickpeas and lentils.
Chickapea Pasta responds to the main challenges of eating healthy. The pasta is not only made from organic ingredients, it is delicious and also high in fiber, protein, iron and many more nutrients. It is also relatively easy to prepare, while being customizable in how you choose to eat it.
Shelby, a thirty-two year old mother, is incredibly passionate about health. Being a mother of a toddler, with another one on the way, has given Shelby the insight on the everyday difficulties of children and their picky food habits. Before starting Earth to Kids Inc., Shelby owned a small health food shop. While working there, she realized there was a substantial issue in the health-foods market. “I recognized a major gap between convenient and nutritious foods, with most options simply being ‘better for you’, not just ‘good for you,’” she says. Everyone, at least at some point, has felt the struggle of eating healthy while on the go. Shelby’s pasta not only fills people’s stomachs with nutritious food, but it fills that gap in the market.
When asked about why she chose to pursue entrepreneurship, Shelby provided some insight on her personal story. “I think it was always inevitable,” she says. “With every job I’ve ever had, I felt that I had to move on as soon as I had learned everything I possibly could.” To have an idea is one thing, but to have the confidence to dive your head in is the real challenge. In Shelby’s case it was the opposite. “I knew I had a good mind for business and strong leadership skills, but I also realized that I needed an idea/product that the market actually wanted before I could start,” she says.
Shelby found the voice of Chickapea Pasta through the one-on-one interviews with her customers and through her personal experiences with food and nutrition. Her biggest milestones, so far with her company, lies in securing an investment (through business pitching), producing a product that she was incredibly proud of and seeing the number of sales (and retailers holding the product) reach levels of profit to continue expanding. “People are not just trying Chickapea, they’re loving it and coming back for more,” she says.
This does not mean that Shelby has not seen challenges. With all businesses, there are many challenges that need to be overcome in order to build a strong foundation. “In the beginning, every bump felt like I was doing something wrong, but I’ve come to accept that regular hurdles are just part of the entrepreneurial package. I have become a much calmer and capable problem solver,” she says. Entrepreneurship can be risky, but adaptable individuals, like Shelby, show that challenges make you stronger.
One of the most repeated answers entrepreneurs have stated when asked about challenges is balancing a home and work life. “The needs of a young family and a young business are so great that it can be extremely challenging to feel success in either domain,” she says. One tip that she has found throughout this challenge is to “never use someone else’s definition of balance, or anyone else’s idea of what constitutes as a good entrepreneur or a good mom.” Comparing ourselves to others can be detrimental in personal growth.
Through all the ups and the downs of starting your own business, it is hard to do it completely alone. “Funding would have been impossible to obtain from a bank, given I was in the early stages,” she says. Shelby turned to Futurpreneur, a non-profit organization that aims to help young entrepreneurs start their business. “The funding from Futurpreneur and the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) was an incredible help in starting up, especially on the product development side,” she says. Through their mentoring program and funding opportunity, other young entrepreneurs, such as Shelby, have found success with their innovative ideas.
We asked Shelby what advice she would give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out and she said:
“Surround yourself with mentors and an entrepreneurial community that you can really utilize– whether it’s just to bounce ideas off of, or use to be connected to people/organizations that are essential to your business. Pick your mentors wisely and actually make use of them – feeling supported through the start-up stages of entrepreneurship will contribute a great deal to your success”. She also says, “DO what you do best, farm out the rest. Remember, your time has value and you don’t know how to do everything. Focus on your strengths and bring in people to cover your weaknesses.”
If you would like more information on Chickapea Pasta from Earth to Kids Inc., you can visit their website here.
Written By: Sara Pivato, Social Media and Content Intern at Futurpreneur Canada