Today we’d like to introduce you to Sari Kimbell.
Sari, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My name is Sari Kimbell and I am a Consumer Packaged Food (CPG) Industry Expert. My mission and passion is helping people start and grow successful, profitable, packaged food and beverage businesses. Think salsa, jam, kombucha, coffee, baked goods…any food or drink that is held together by a package.
My journey has definitely not been a linear one and I am so grateful for the many paths and experiences. In 2009 I took a position I had no qualifications for on an organic farm in Northern Colorado to create a small wholesale program to sell our produce, meat and eggs to restaurants and independent grocery stores. Over two years, I built the business to be a significant part of the farm’s revenue. Our brand was featured on menus and in stores throughout Colorado and Wyoming and my passion for local food was born.
After three years, managing this program and assuming the Community Supported Agriculture Director position for our 5,000 member CSA, I left the farm for Whole Foods Market. First, as a buyer at a store, then as a local vendor success manager at the regional level and then I became the Marketing Director for the third highest-grossing store in the Rocky Mountain Region. I won awards for growing sales, but my personal mission was to help local producers who worked so hard to get ON the shelves, get OFF the shelves into customers’ baskets. This is how a small food brand thrives.
In 2015, I left Whole Foods Market. I wasn’t exactly sure what my next step was. I took some time to experiment. I managed a commissary kitchen for a friend and met so many passionate entrepreneurs who just wanted to get their product made, but had no idea what they were getting into and how to actually be profitable. This is when I began Sari Kimbell Consulting to help early-stage packaged food entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses.
After working with hundreds of food entrepreneurs through the Small Business Development Center and one-on-one clients, I created Food Business Success to help bootstrapping entrepreneurs feel more confident and capable in their business. I give them the process and then how to save them time and money and get to the business of starting their dream.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Oh no… not at all. I was scared all the time at first. I was all over the place and was trying to help ANYBODY in the food industry. I had never been an entrepreneur and had to get over a fear of failure, rejection and risks to my lifestyle. I hired a business coach who helped me work through some of the mindset blocks and drama I was creating for myself. He also helped me focus my business and get specific with my niche.
So, I was going along pretty nicely. Consulting a lot with the Small Business Development Center and helping my target customers. I was working with a local non-profit focused on local food access and helping food entrepreneurs and I had a few one-on-one clients. Then overnight, it all imploded. The non-profit that was the bulk of my income decided to terminate all of its activities after a heated board meeting. I had one more month and that was it. That contract was what allowed me to help the “just have an idea” folks who I loved to work with, but had very little money. Then I received a cease and desist letter in a very official FedEx envelope for my business name (not what it is now), which was a great irony since I frequently advise my clients to search the trademark database.
I was paralyzed. I found myself having panic attacks frequently and decided that the fun might be over and it might be time to get a “real job.” I landed a job that was almost exactly what I did in my consulting business but the pay was terrible, so I had a decision to make.
I dug deep and decided to double down on my business and go all in for one last go. I changed my business name to Sari Kimbell Consulting (that was definitely not trademarked) and committed to figuring it out. I decided to start an online program, Food Business Success, to help food business entrepreneurs all over the country. I wanted to take all of the resources and knowledge I had acquired and built over the last five years and create a self-paced program with one-on-one guidance from me.
I hired my business coach again and got to work. It was harder than I ever imagined. I was building the website, selling the course and building the course, all at the same time. But it worked! It opened up new ways for people to find me, to get help and to succeed.
We’d love to hear more about Food Business Success.
Food Business Success is an online self-paced program that also combines one-on-one business coaching to help early-stage entrepreneurs launch or grow their packaged food brand. My specialty is helping folks with “just an idea” like the most amazing keto cookie or hot sauce and get the product launched legally with a go-to-market strategy to actually make money or helping a producer who has an existing product and selling it at a farmers market or local wholesale and wants to get to the next level in their business by getting onto regional or national shelves or ecommerce.
My clients are unique in that most of them have never worked in the food industry. They are teachers, engineers, stay at home moms or retirees. They have a delicious product that they make out of their home kitchen and everyone tells them they should turn it into a business. They can either go it alone or they can get help from an expert like me. I don’t know of another program in the entire country that serves this type of client at this stage in their business. We do it all in Food Business Success – the soup to nuts of launching or fine-tuning a product for a store or online shelves.
I am so proud of the many brands I have served and getting that physical product after months of work, or turning on a website and seeing orders come in, or getting that first account for wholesale is so rewarding and fun to be a part of!
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
Food Business Success has gone through multiple iterations over the past 18 months. I tried a lot of ways of packaging it and getting people into the program. I am so glad I did all of that, but it was time to refine my own business, just like I help others do in theirs, and simply the offer. Now there are just three ways to work with me: get my free resources like my YouTube channel and webinars, join Food Business Success or work with me one-on-one.
I am launching the Food Business Success podcast in the fall and will continue my work on the board of Colorado Food Works. I also own and operate the Fort Collins Farmers Market and we are working through the new challenges of running a market during a pandemic to open the market for its 14th season in November.
- Food Business Success is $2400
- Website: foodbizsuccess.com
- Phone: 970-682-4221
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/foodbizsuccess
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/foodbizsuccess
- Other: https://www.youtube.com/foodbusinesssuccess