10 Questions for Local Food Entrepreneur: Blonde Beauchamp
This interview was originally published on Examiner.com.
Babson food entrepreneurs were out in force at Mass Innovation Nights Foodie Edition last month: Alex Kravetz of CogniTea; Annie Feldman of Enerchi Bites; Octavia Costea of Spreads & Beyond. Also there was Blonde Beauchamp of The Craic and Blonde. Blonde’s energy is infectious, and she’s managed to seal some of it up in her jars of relish.
Q: What was the seed for what is now The Craic & Blonde?
A: I was living in Ireland to do my MBA and it was my first time away from home. I got homesick for my foods, particularly my mother’s home cooking. I started to make Haitian food, and my friends loved it. The craic, which means “fun,” sums up my experience in Ireland— and of course Blonde is my name.
Q: What was the biggest hurdle you had to overcome?
A: Fear of rejection. I decided early on to have as much farmers’ market presence as possible to test the market. But then it became real and I thought, What if they don’t like it? What if they don’t like the Haitian [flavor] profile?
Q: How do you define success?
A: That’s a tough question! It’s each day that I stay positive. It’s a company that is financially self-sufficient where I can pay full-time staff with benefits. And it’s being able to contribute back to Haiti, which is the biggest piece of success for me. When someone comes up to my table and says they hear I have pikliz,I get so excited. Most people don’t know the word pikliz, which is Haitian Creole for the relish I make. I get so excited because it shows me that they are open to learning about Haitian culture.
Q: How do you manage failure?
A: Don’t dwell. I’ve had some doors closed on me already. For a moment I’ll evaluate: Did I pitch properly? Is it not priced correctly? Did I do something wrong? But I can’t go to sleep with that. It’s on to the next. Glass half full. That’s absolutely my attitude and core to my brand: be positive.
Q: How do you cope with pressure? (Any secret recipes for taking care of yourself?)
A: Music. And letting myself sleep. One more hour of sleep – I get 4 a night – would be great. But definitely the only consistent thing that helps me deal with pressure is music.
Q: What are you going to do next?
A: Develop other products. Do research on what’s the best product to come out with next, what’s best for the market and my capabilities.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received in the past year?
A: Know when to recognize bad advice and to throw it away.
Q: Give us your advice for aspiring food entrepreneurs in six words or less.
A: Test it in the farmers market.
Q: You win the Oscar equivalent for your industry.When you take the stage, who will you thank and for what?
A: God for giving me the vision and the right people around me, my friends, family and network, which is so big and is allowing me to take the risk. This work is easier and a lot sweeter because of the people I have around me. It was a longer road than I’d anticipated, so without God and my amazing supporters, I think I would have given up by now.
Q: What about Craic and Blonde most feeds your soul?
A: Being able to engage with people in the farmers market. I love meeting people and chatting with strangers and feeling like we can connect on some level. Even if it’s for only a brief moment, a minute, it’s a thrill for me! And if they come back and say, Hey, I remember you! I’ll miss the farmers market once the season is over.
You can find The Craic & Blonde at farmers markets around Greater Boston, and Blonde is working on her website (for now, stay tuned on Facebook).