Blonde Beauchamp has spent the last few years building thisHaiti, a food company that aims to give you an opportunity to experience the Haitian culture through the senses. With three initial products, her jars open up a world of sour, salty, and spice, that you might not otherwise get without a plane ticket. Learn more about Blonde's entrepreneurial journey below and hear some of her advice for aspiring food companies.
"If you love it, don't give up. If you don't love it, I hope you have a lot of cash."
Tell us what prompted you to start thisHaiti
Even though I was born and raised in Boston, I've always had an immensely passionate love for my Haitian culture. I think the "luxury" of growing up in a super strict Haitian-immigrant household definitely provoked my pleasure-seeking adventures of Haiti through foods, the Kreyol language, stories/folklore, family secrets (to which both my parents seem to conveniently plead their naturalized-citizen 5th amendment right), political dramas…almost everything about Haiti fascinates me.
While there are many things that I would love to upgrade in my culture, I know without a doubt that everyone should have as close an experience as possible with the Haitian cuisine like I did especially if a visit to the beautiful nation is not a near possibility. So thisHAITI is in essence an inexpensive first-class round-trip to Haiti, where each customer gets to taste some of the quintessential flavors through a variety of products made with natural and organic ingredients.
Our flagship product is traditionally called pikliz - a habanero and cabbage slaw that's pickled in vinegar. We use pikliz (available in hot and mild) on everything! But it's most vibrant on fatty dishes like fried pork shoulder and twice-fried sweet plantain with avocado slices on the side and a small mound of rice and beans (Haiti's national dish). Our other products are: salted plantain chips (we call them papitas), which is great with dips or on its own; and an organic dry spice blend that gives any savory meal a nice touch of haitian flavor without the hours of labor. Our dry spice blend is as versatile as our pikliz, for example, it can be used to season all forms of protein and vegetables, as well as sprinkled on fresh salads.
What would you tell an aspiring entrepreneur who is looking to start a food business?
Do it only if you love it! The food and beverage industry isn't very forthcoming with information, so the nonstop research activities can get frustrating; also there are many challenges that make growth impossible without grit and cash. That being said, even if you're in it because you love it, there are days you will absolutely question why you decided to launch a food startup. If you love it, don't give up. If you don't love it, I hope you have a lot of cash.
What has been your greatest success so far in launching and running thisHaiti?
Before rebranding to thisHAITI, it was "The Craic & Blonde" - a brand name inspired by my time living in Ireland (craic is an Irish word meaning fun). I was definitely having a lot of fun in the beginning stages of planning to launch and during my first experiences with farmers markets. One day, I received an email titled, "URGENT" - it was from the Wall Street Journal, they wanted to feature my pikliz in one of their summer must-have guides. This is why grit is important, especially if you don't have a PR budget. I think all the fun I was having (and still do have) in the farmers markets, plus a great tasting product made with love, triggered passion in a mysterious someone who would later drop a note on a desk somewhere in WSJ…and it led to an awesome opportunity.
Who is your hero and why?
I've actually never had a "hero". Was never able to name one since my younger days when that question would come up in ice breaker exercises. I love hearing people's life stories and learning to some degree what contributes to their quirks. My favorite type of person is a considerate one - so I guess my hero is anyone who would be described as thoughtful, sensitive, while at the same time confident.
Who is the most inspiring food entrepreneur whom you have met to date?
Jim Koch, co founder of Boston Beer Co (Sam Adams beer)! I love his success story - from Boston Consulting Group to launching his own craft beer company when that kind of thing wasn't really available. Being a pioneer, in a tough industry, who has sustained success and remains passionate about other food and beverage startups, especially other craft beer startups, says a lot about his character and sincerity. You know who I would LOVE to meet?! Hamdi Ulukaya - another pioneer who launched one of my favorite yogurt brands. I can eat Chobani all day, every day!
Tell us one quote that you think is relevant to your company or entrepreneurial journey
"I didn't wake up like this" -author unknown
The entrepreneurial journey is not pretty, nor easy, but it's so worth it because each day has a win, if perspectives are healthy.