This Food Entrepreneur's Advice to Dreamers: 'Don't Wait for Perfection, Launch Now!'
Kailey Donewald, founder of Sacred Serve, explains how she launched and funded her super successful (and delicious) plant-based line of gelato.
In this ongoing series, we are sharing advice, tips and insights from real entrepreneurs who are out there doing business battle on a daily basis. (Answers have been edited and condensed for clarity.)
Who are you and what’s your business?
I am Kailey Donewald and I am the founder of Sacred Serve, a plant-based line of gelato designed to bring function into frozen indulgence. By combining certified organic young Thai coconut meat with potent superfoods, adaptogenic herbs, medicinal mushrooms and just a hint of low-glycemic coconut sugar, we've achieved a rich, creamy gelato packed with plant-based nutrition.
All flavors are strictly free of gluten, dairy, corn, soy, GMOs, gums/stabilizers, refined sugars, sugar alcohols, preservatives, or anything artificial and are served in the world's first and only 100% plastic-free ice cream cartons that are fully recyclable, compostable and biodegradable right at home. What we serve is sacred, but what you'll taste is downright sinful.
What inspired you to create this product?
Growing up I suffered severe cases of both asthma and allergies and every doctor and specialist I saw told me this was just the way I was born and I would need to rely on medication for the rest of my life. Then, when I was 25 years old, I was living in Bali, Indonesia and embarked on a two-week raw food cleanse — essentially eating just fresh fruits and vegetables. Within those two weeks, my body completely healed itself of both conditions. It was an incredibly profound experience and in that moment I realized not only was I not born with these conditions, but that it was actually the food I had been eating my whole life (Standard American Diet) that was making me and keeping me so sick.
It then became my mission to share the powerful truth that our bodies have an innate ability to heal themselves, as long as we nourish them with the right things. I quit my job and went back to school for nutrition, first becoming a health coach but after years of tremendous results, ultimately felt called to create a larger impact by targeting the root cause of the issue in the first place: the food being offered to consumers. I decided to target the most dairy/sugar-laden category there is — ice cream — and prove that we can do it in a nutrient-dense, functional way.
Photo credit: Sacred Serve
What has been your biggest challenge during the pandemic and how did you pivot to overcome it?
As an emerging brand, we rely heavily on trial and discovery on-shelf. When the pandemic hit, people stopped going into stores and our new customer acquisition dropped. To compensate, we pivoted and started selling our product directly to consumers via apps like UberEats, GrubHub, GoPuff, and Doordash along with our own site. I even moved chest freezers into my apartment in order to reach a larger service area. We were running orders out to drivers every 10 minutes all throughout the day/night!
What advice would you give entrepreneurs looking for funding?
Always start with your own network and see if you can get a warm intro. If you've tapped your personal network, I found success targeting channels where we had a commonality, whether that is an interest in plant-based/wellness, or the university I attended. Any type of connection helps.
What does the word “entrepreneur” mean to you?
An innovator, visionary, and the ultimate shepherd of an idea, risking everything to bring it into form.
What is something many aspiring business owners think they need but they really don't?
The "perfect" anything. Perfectionism can stop a lot of people from even getting started or putting their ideas out there. It's important to remember progress over perfection. Get that idea out into the world and keep innovating and refining as you go. If you wait until everything is perfect, 1). that will never happen, and 2.) you'll miss your big chance!
What is a productivity tip that you swear by?
A morning routine. I think the mornings set the tone for your whole day and if you can be successful there you have a much better chance of continuing that path throughout the day's tasks. The first thing I do every day is to make my bed. I then allow myself at least a full hour before needing to hop online to do the things I love, whether that is read, go for a walk, sit outside with tea. Starting your day for you, doing things that spark joy, really sets the right tone moving into the day. Especially when you're facing long, hard hours.
What is a business book you always recommend and why?
The Alchemist. While not a traditional "business" book, it has a unique theology that applies greatly to entrepreneurship. It is about purpose and calling, two elements I believe make the strongest and most disciplined entrepreneurs. It is a story about finding and following one's purpose, giving up the distractions of material success/comforts along the way for the ultimate wealth that lies at the end: fulfillment and growth.
Is there a particular quote or saying that you use as personal motivation?
“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” ― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
“Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” ― Howard Thurman, The Living Wisdom of Howard Thurman: A Visionary for Our Time
Both of these are quotes I lean on frequently. The first from The Alchemist reminds me that when you are living in your purpose, and what you are working on is to the benefit of others, you are never alone. When you want that something badly enough, the world really does conspire in helping you achieve it. It reminds me to pay attention to the small blessings that come through every single day, and they really do! It's another form of gratitude practice.
The second quote by Howard Thurman is one of my absolute favorites. Too often entrepreneurs search and search to find a gap in the market. I think the most powerful place to start is within and finding what problem/solution makes YOU come alive. We do our best work when we are inspired and living out our purpose and leveraging our own gifts and talents. This quote reminds me to continually focus on what lights me up, because I know I have the greatest impact when I am working in that state.