Hesitations & Hurdles: Embarking on a New Endeavor

Mary Shulman is the founder and executive vice president of marketing for Snikiddy, the line of all-natural snacks made from simple, wholesome, real-food ingredients.  Mary started Snikiddy in 2007 with her mother, Janet Owings, and has created a line of leading snacks that pair nutrition with great taste the whole family can enjoy!  Snikiddy’s family of snacks includes All-Natural Cheese Puffs, All-Natural Baked Fries, and Eat Your Vegetables.

Before I started Snikiddy in 2007, I had worked in equity trading and financial research sales for over 10 years.  During that time, I became a mother and along with that I also became increasingly concerned about my children’s health, especially as childhood obesity and diabetes continued to rise in America.  I noticed the grocery stores were filled with snacks containing many unhealthy ingredients, like high fructose corn syrup, and I decided I wanted to be part of the solution and help make a change.  It wasn’t easy and the task was daunting – how was I going to make a difference for families all across the country?  So, I teamed up with my mom, Janet Owings, and together we worked hard to create great-tasting snacks that both children and parents love.

My initial hesitation was something that was difficult to come to terms with; how could I leave my stable job and start a new business I essentially knew nothing about?  I feel very lucky to have been given some great advice by a wonderful mentor, and he suggested that I educate myself and experience for myself the ins and outs of the industry.  His biggest tip was that I go to the largest tradeshow in the health foods and natural snacks industry, which allowed me to speak with suppliers, producers, manufacturers, and even competitors.  My research from this tradeshow really helped kick off and guide my business decisions for creating Snikiddy.  I will always be thankful for this amazing piece of advice, and I always pass it along to anyone who is thinking of starting a venture of their own.  It doesn’t matter what industry you’re looking at.  If it’s something you know little to nothing about, find the biggest and best tradeshow for the industry you’re evaluating and invest some time into it.  After you’ve immersed yourself in the business and you still feel passionate about it, go for it!

It’s important to remember, that when embarking upon a new endeavor, it will not come without major hurdles.  For me, the biggest heartache and challenge (they often become one as an entrepreneur) I faced was coming to the realization that one of the first products we created needed to be re-done.  It was something I already knew going in and it was an expensive process, but the fact is, the first product you offer to consumers needs to be as close to perfect as possible.  Once we realized that our snack needed to be re-formulated, we went back to the drawing board and created a different flavor that is still, to this day, one of our top sellers!

– Mary

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