Business 30 October 2017
Like many female businesswomen, Soo-Ah Landa left an important high paying job at a Top Fortune 100 company to raise a family. After two years of being a “stay at home mom extraordinaire," Soo-Ah received a wake-up call when her 9-year-old son was asked by a teacher in school, "What does your mom do?" and his response was "She cooks and cleans for us."
Having grown up in a Korean culture where having kids and raising kids is a traditional role for women, Soo-Ah knew it was time to make a change. She comments, “I realized I had a responsibility to teach my two sons that women do more than cook and clean, and can actually start companies too!" Fast forward two years and Soo-Ah's son wrote in his 6th-grade essay that when he grows up he "wants to start and build a successful company like my mom." (Priceless, right?) This journey to launch the only 100% organic bone broth plus juice company on the market, however, was not an easy one. Soo-Ah tells SWAAY about her biggest challenges and mistakes along the road.
Going back into the workforce after motherhood is not easy, and in exploring this, Soo-Ah sought out a community with similar challenges and launched Project 8, a group of eight women who mentored each other for eight months and created accountability to reach their goals in jumpstarting or creating new careers. While motherhood was amazing in its own way, it wasn't enough for this group of women. Project 8 was where Soo-Ah met her co-Founder and where BRU Broth launched.
The biggest challenge for Soo-Ah was learning how to create an entirely new beverage category: RTHD (Ready to Heat and Drink, or “Sip" in the case of BRU.) Despite a phenomenal education from MIT and a second degree black belt in tae kwon do."
“I knew nothing about how to start a beverage company and raise capital, nor how on earth I was going to find investors who would be willing to take a gamble on a product that didn't exist yet," she says. “Even grocery store buyers had no idea where to put us. We were a meat product that looked like a juice."
When we asked Soo-Ah what her biggest mistake was, she laughed, and talked about how there were so many, but primarily, underestimating the time, money and resources required to successfully get a brand on shelf and get the initial penetration needed to then go out and convince people that they should give you more time, money and resources. It was a journey of long hours, challenges, tears and travel, but the hard work eventually paid off.
Soo-Ah's milestone moment came when she was able to move production from her home kitchen and driving around with kids in tow after school delivering bottles throughout the Bay area, to a bottling facility alongside distribution management under a major national distributor.
While many women entrepreneurs have faced challenges along the way, Soo-Ah loves that her brand and product is making a difference in the lives of others. Together with her co-Founder, Mary Butler, Soo-Ah started BRU Broth because she felt there was a need for a sugar-free, nutrient dense warm beverage that went beyond coffee and tea. “I experienced firsthand the healing aspects of bone broth when my mom was making gallons of it for my dad to help him in his struggle with colon cancer," she says. “Bone broth is delicious, but it heals. My (Korean) Grandma was 100% right and it's why I grew up drinking bone broth. I want everyone on the planet to be drinking bone broth everyday because it is that good for you."
Bone Broth has now been trending for a couple of years (everyone from the Kardashians to P!nk to Tom Brady drink it), but here's why BRU stands out: It is the only 100% organic, pastured and grass-fed bone broth that adds cold-pressed vegetables, roots and spices.
While there are competitors that sell juice, plus broth formulations, BRU is truly bone broth (it's the first ingredient listed), with a touch of juice, so that you are truly getting the benefits of the bone broth. It's farm to bottle, and exceptional for on-the-go, for recovery, for health and even for cooking. BRU features delicious flavors and enticing names such as Turmeric Ginger, Hug in Mug (Bone Broth, veggies, coconut aminos), Hot Greens (Bone Broth with greens and a hint of jalapeno), and will be launching Broffee (Bone Broth plus coffee), later this fall. Imagine the benefits of bone broth with the energy and satisfaction of your cup of coffee. Yes, ladies, you are welcome. This is the innovation that Soo-Ah is after.
What advice does Soo-Ah have for other women looking to start their own companies and/or those who are struggling with the launch of a brand? First, Soo-Ah says, “You will never, ever, be fully prepared before you jump off that cliff, So don't wait for that to happen, that's just procrastination. Just go for it and know that yes, you might fail, but at least you have a chance of success by persevering through." As a mother of 2 boys, Soo-Ah likens this to the quote from Star Wars' Yoda: "Do or do not. There is no try." Second, “Do not fear saying, "I don't know" or "I need help." Many women entrepreneurs once had big corporate jobs and have other impressive credentials, educations and background, but then we find that becoming an entrepreneur makes us vulnerable all over again, which is an uncomfortable place to be, initially, when you might have once managed a large organization and a $500M+ P&L at a Fortune 500 company!" She assures us that it's ok to ask for help and advice. Lastly, “use the sisterhood because it's a strong network." Seek these women out at school, through alumni groups, through peers. This is why Soo-Ah founded her mom's group called Project 8: eight women, eight big ideas, eight months (basically during the school year) where they detailed out an eight-month plan with tangible goals, mentored each other and held each other accountable to their goals.
So raise a glass, toast and sip to Soo-Ah and BRU!
Katie has overcome physical and mental hurdles, including being born without an ear, dealing with over eight reconstructive surgeries, and being paralyzed at age 17. These, amongst others, have become the key catalysts of her professional career. In an interview with SWAAY, Sandler shared some of her tips for fostering a positive mindset that are not only simple, but effective.