This story is over 13 Ways To Start The Grocery Business Of Your Dreamswhere women entrepreneurs share their experiences and the best advice to turn a passion for food into a career.
When Stacy Madison started a sandwich cart with her business partner in 1997, she thought she would one day turn it into a restaurant. But it was the free fries that made her pass out (cut and baked from the flatbread from the previous day) that kept her customers in line. Within a few months the food truck was in the garage and Stacy’s pita chips was a budding wholesale company that eventually hit the shelves of Trader Joe’s and other national grocery chains. Since selling Stacy’s to PepsiCo in 2006, Madison has launched two more food companies, including the most recent one a range of energy bars, BeBold, and is the spokesperson for Stacy’s Ascension Project, an organization that supports aspiring women entrepreneurs – like Sophia Maroon from Dress It Up Dressings.
Amanda Shapiro: How did you fund Stacy’s pita chips in the beginning? How has that changed as the company grew?
Stacy Madison: We financed ourselves all the way. We didn’t want to give equity to investors and luckily we never had to. We shuffled the credit cards, took advantage of the introductory rates, and kept track of our debts. We also had $ 100,000 in student loans to manage. As we grew, we took out bank loans and lines of credit to buy a building and a bread production line, for example. You are chasing money first, but once you start generating, the banks will come to you.
What have you done differently from your competitors who have paid off?
We knew we couldn’t compete with a $ 3 bag of family-sized tortilla chips, so we placed Stacy’s pita chips in the deli section instead of the chip aisle. We wanted to be seen and tried, so we worked with deli managers to create demos. We have drawn more customers to the delis and put more emphasis on our product.
Tell me about the decision to sell Stacy’s Pita Chips. Was it a tough call?
We had no intention of selling. We made money doing what we loved to do every day. But as it grew, the company started running us instead of us running the company. I had kids. My business partner Mark wanted to travel. In the meantime, these global companies were knocking on our door. I really went through a grieving process: excitement, fear, anger, loneliness, frustration, sadness, loss, and finally gratitude and starting over.
Now that we’ve founded two more companies, which has become easier and which has become more difficult?
I know how to put together a trustworthy team, and I understand the ups and downs of being a business owner. I have become a professional in crisis intervention. The harder part is the unrealistic expectations. After Stacy’s, I feel like I have to start another successful company overnight. I feel this pressure from retailers, wholesalers, distributors and even myself.
What’s one thing young entrepreneurs don’t think enough about?
Cashbox. Everything takes twice as long and is twice as expensive as expected. Know what you have in the bank and make sure it is enough.
What rule do you live by
No meetings after 4pm! But we break this rule sometimes.