By Shelby Kroach, Founder of The Honest Leaf
I’ve never really had a “real” job. By “real” I mean the 9-5 grind. When I was in University I worked at overnight camp during the summers, which to me was more of an awesome vacation than work. I dabbled as a secretary at my Dad’s office every now and then and even had a stint as an ABA therapist at a local centre for kids with Autism. But that only lasted about three months. When I finished school, I was so confused as to what I wanted to do. It made me anxious thinking about my lack of experience as I entered the real world. What skills did I have? I finished with a degree in Kinesiology…so now what? I decided to further my education and get my Holistic Nutrition degree. This is where my story began.
My parents are both entrepreneurs. My mom started her career as a graphic designer but after having kids she focused on interior design. She’s had her own business for the last 30 years and has built it solely on word of mouth (there was no Instagram or Facebook when she started). My dad didn’t even go to University. He got his real estate license and has owned and operated his own brokerage for over 30 years. So, I guess it’s fair to say my entrepreneurial spirit comes from them.
The idea to start The Honest Leaf grew out of my love for tea and the thought that I could use my nutrition background to give people a product that could help them with their health goals. After several months of research and product development I decided to set up a booth at a local tradeshow and see what people thought. I really didn’t know what to expect. Would they even like the teas? Was I actually going to sell anything? My biggest fear was being so vulnerable with something I had worked so hard on. I learned a lot from that experience and my business has changed dramatically over the last 3 years.
There are so many ups and downs to having your own business. Not knowing when the next paycheck will come, pleasing people, rejection from customers, rejection from retailers, problems with suppliers… the list can honestly go on for paragraphs. But the best lesson I’ve learned is that my business is only going to be as good as I believe it will be. Things will never be perfect. I’m not going to become a millionaire overnight (although that would be pretty cool!). There will be tears. There will be celebrations. There will be lots of success if I’m motivated to make success happen and there will be failures along the way. But those failures are actually the most positive learning experiences even though they feel like daggers to the heart at the time. The best advice that I’ve received is this: If you don’t ask, you’ll never get. And if you’re ever told “no,” it does not mean you’re worse off. It simply means you’re in the same spot. To me, flawless doesn’t mean perfection. It simply means being vulnerable, confident and real.
The support I’ve received from my husband, family, close friends and community has been very humbling. It is what keeps me going and allows me to be the best version of myself. I am very grateful for each day I get to share my passion with the world.