Interview With The Founders
All About entrepreneurship
This week we sat down with co-founders Benita and Jess to talk about entrepreneur ship and their journey to create and run zestt organics.
What does it mean to you to be an entrepreneur?
Benita: For me, entrepreneurship is a gift. It's an opportunity to explore life from a different angle. It has allowed me to cast aside limitations and look at every challenge, every failure and every problem as a new opportunity. It means never giving up, learning to trust your gut and giving gratitude daily to the people around you who are helping make your dream a reality.
Jess: For me entrepreneurship is creating something out of nothing. I love that anyone can be an entrepreneur, even if they work for a larger company. How do you take ideas and turn them into action? That’s what entrepreneurship is all about!
How do you balance having a family while running your own business?
Benita: Schedules, routines and the ability to throw them all aside when duty calls. From the very beginning, Jess and I have always maintained the mantra of Family First, but as we've grown, our families have naturally become ingrained into our business. We love that our children want to know what this whole “zestt thing” is about. We take pride in knowing that we can lead by example, showing them that anything is possible when you set your mind to a goal and support a mission that you deeply believe in.
Jess: I’ve learned to embrace that being an entrepreneur means both more and less flexibility. You have to appreciate the opportunity it gives you to put your family first when necessary, while realizing that it also requires a lot more of your time and energy than a traditional job. We’ve also embraced that sometimes kids and spouses will be along for the ride. Benita and I have packed boxes and completed photo shoots with our kids in carriers on our backs and brought significant others along for factory visits in India. Some of our best family memories have been created while we were doing something for zestt!
Before zestt was born, did you dream of starting your own business?
Benita: Yes. I grew up in my grandmother’s restaurant watching my family serve our community. I remember being amazed that her and grandfather built that business on their own and knew from the start that I wanted to do the same one day.
Jess: I used to set up stores in my bedroom that would open on the day my three younger sisters would get allowance. So yeah, I think it’s safe to say I was destined for self employment :)
What was the catalyst that made you want to leave your previous job to start zestt?
Benita: Before zestt, I owned an Interior Design firm. While it was something I loved, I quickly learned how isolating it was to be alone in major decision making. When the chance came for Jess and I to start zestt together it was the ultimate opportunity to be able to create something new but have the support system I had been missing.
Jess: Benita and I both had other businesses before we started zestt and the catalyst was finding a way that we could work together!
Where do you find your support as an entrepreneur?
Benita: Working with my best friend is the ultimate support system anyone could ask for. The fact that we both bring such unique talents to the table, yet maintain the same work ethic, integrity and dedication makes it pretty easy to tackle anything that comes our way. Second to Jess, I’ve found an amazing community in HeyMama, a networking group of professional women who have offered so much support, feedback and connections that have helped us open new doors in our business.
Jess: Honestly, I don’t know how people do it who don’t have a business partner. Benita and I are able to work off of each other to celebrate successes, navigate trials and keep the ship moving forward.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned from being an entrepreneur?
Benita: Trust your gut. Be open to suggestions but your first instinct is usually right.
Jess: Success is the result of being open to learning and growth. Never stop educating yourself.
What has been the biggest challenge?
Benita: Cash flow, cash flow, cash flow.
Jess: Cash flow. In an inventory dependent business, it’s always a barrier to growth and I feel like so much of my brainpower and energy just goes to coordinating this part of the equation.
What is your favorite thing about being an entrepreneur?
Benita: The ability to continuously dream, put plans into action, hit goals, break barriers and personally touch so many lives in ways I never imagined. I love knowing that our small business is making an impact on the world, and of course, getting to do it with my best friend is pretty much the best gift ever!
Jess: Just the fact that the business we created was completely non-existent and this entire brand, its products and the community behind it are a result of our team’s hard work. It feels amazing to see something that was just an idea, turn into something bigger than any one person. And being able to do that with your best friend - best thing in the world!
Top tip for someone who is looking to start their own business!
Benita: If your passion is there, just do it. Perfection is the ultimate enemy and if you wait until you are “ready” you’ll never jump. Jess and I joke that if we truly had it all figured out first, we might have never started. Thankfully ignorance is bliss and we took the leap, bending and flexing along the way!
Jess: Find something you are committed to, but go into it with the plan that you will need to adapt and pivot. Our business looks drastically different today than it did when we started 8+ years ago.