With Soo-Ah Landa, Founder of BRU Broth
Something akin to the slow food movement. Maybe I’ll call it the “Slow Down” Movement! We are all moving way too fast, not spending enough time with the people we want to spend time with, doing the things we want to do, and being in the present. There is so much noise to cut through each and every day, especially with all of this technology and quick availability of information. Everything needs to be NOW. Or it’s TOO LATE. It’s funny, one of the biggest complaints I hear from our buyers is that it’s too much effort for consumers to be expected to heat up my broth in a cup. They just want something they can drink right away. There are so many things out there to eat and drink right away. Some good, some bad. I want people to take time to heat up a mug of broth, enjoy slowly sipping all of that nutrient rich goodness, and maybe, just maybe, take a few minutes to just BE.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Soo-Ah Landa, Founder & CEO of BRU Broth, a bone broth beverage company that has been recognized as being the first and freshest 100% organic bone broth beverage! Soo-Ah is an MIT grad, has been an investment banker, management consultant, a retail executive, a chef, and is now enjoying the trials and tribulations of being an entrepreneur in the food and beverage space!
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I spent the majority of my professional career in the corporate world, but my parents were serial entrepreneurs, so I learned firsthand the joys and perils of being self-employed! When my father was diagnosed with colon cancer, my mom and I would make gallons of bone broth to take to him in the hospital and I saw firsthand the nourishing power of bone broth. I met so many people within the cancer and Crohn’s/colitis community who were being prescribed bone broth but did not have access to quality, good tasting bone broth. I started as a local delivery service in the Bay area, then delivered through CrossFit gyms once the Paleo community started to embrace bone broth. I started distributing through a few local grocery stores, and thus began our path to expand via the grocery channel.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your company?
One of my favorite stories is what in part prompted me to start my company. I had a brief stint as a stay-at-home mom after my last job. A school teacher asked my son, who was 9 years old at the time, what his mom did. He said, “My mom cooks and cleans.” I thought, wow, I have an obligation to teach my boys that women certainly do more than cook and clean! Now, flash forward 3+ years, and he says he wants to start a company like his mom. That was a proud moment for me!
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
There are so many I am not sure even where to begin! I still make mistakes every single day! I remember we got a meeting with Whole Foods early on, and thought we should go in and pitch them since it would be many months and likely many more meetings before anything would even happen. Well, the buyer at the time really liked the product, loved that it was innovative and a completely new concept, and was willing to try it out in a region. He asked if we could be on shelf in 30 days across 50 stores! I didn’t even have a manufacturing facility, we were basically renting a commercial kitchen, and there was no way we would pass a Whole Foods audit! We were in a few local grocery stores at the time. Sadly, we had to turn Whole Foods down on our first try, but we did eventually get in. It just took another 12 months!
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I grew up drinking bone broth my entire life. It is part of my heritage, culture, and daily diet. My company was founded out of this rich history and culture, not a trends report, and from a need that I realized from my father’s journey with cancer and meeting so many people who had serious illnesses and were looking for quality bone broth.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Don’t be an entrepreneur! Joking aside, I recommend talking with lots of other entrepreneurs who are in the same boat, or have been at one point. The perspectives are incredible, the journeys are inspiring, but most importantly, all successful entrepreneurs have been where you are, in feeling often “in the trenches” and just knowing there is solidarity, that it’s okay to feel self-doubt and fear, and that the only way out is through, helps me turn “burn out” into “burn through!” I’ve also been practicing tae kwon do for over 20 years (I’m a second degree black belt) and martial arts has so many components that help me clarify and stabilize my intentions and actions in a day. I also love that I constantly have goals to work on. Right now, I’m working on getting that third degree!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Again, this is a long list and I could name a lot of names. I would be nowhere without my parents, especially my dad. They have supported me unconditionally since Day 1, and are 100% available to help me with whatever I need: taking care of the kids, checking out grocery stores for me, etc. I am super lucky and with certainty without them I could not be an entrepreneur without feeling terribly guilty about neglecting my family. My dad still takes a day out of each week to check BRU on shelves in local grocery stores! He is almost 80 years old and texts me photos of when I am out of stock on shelves, or if there is another problem in a store.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
That is the foundation of why I started my company. To bring soul-warming, gut healing nourishment to the world, one warm mug of BRU bone broth at a time. Bone broth is liquid goodness!
Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that was relevant to you in your life?
Abraham Lincoln’s quote, “Give me 6 hours to chop down a tree and I’ll spend four hours sharpening my axe” is practically my mantra. I say it to myself when I wake up every single day to remind myself to take care of myself, whether it is exercising, having a fabulous meal or just taking time to be present with my family. It’s hard and it seems counterintuitive, but it really helps me focus, stay grounded, and most importantly, stay sane on this wild ride that is entrepreneurialism.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1. This will be the hardest thing you have ever done. I’ve done a lot of hard things. This wins, hands down.
2. You will make less money than you’ve ever made. As the founder of a company, you pay yourself last, if at all, and often take many years of zero pay.
3. You will wake up in cold sweats many nights wondering if you will make your sales goals this month. This is true, and I do often wake up in the middle of the night worried about sales and my next fundraise. I read a lot of books at 2AM to help me go back to sleep!
4. You will be the skinniest (during stress) and the fattest (during stress) that you’ve ever been! I go through periods of eating very little because I have no time to eat for days on end (the skinny) to eating way too much ice cream when I’m feeling the need for stress relief!
5. You will experience regret and rejoice, often in the same day. (Sometimes within the same hour!) I alternate between periods of “why on earth did I do this” to “I’m actually doing something many only dream of doing.” At the end of this, I know this will be an accumulation of the greatest hits and the greatest misses, and I’m okay with that because one thing I will never regret is going after something I really wanted to do, and showing my kids firsthand how to turn an idea into reality.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
Something akin to the slow food movement. Maybe I’ll call it the “Slow Down” Movement! We are all moving way too fast, not spending enough time with the people we want to spend time with, doing the things we want to do, and being in the present. There is so much noise to cut through each and every day, especially with all of this technology and quick availability of information. Everything needs to be NOW. Or it’s TOO LATE. It’s funny, one of the biggest complaints I hear about BRU from our buyers is that it’s too much effort for consumers to be expected to heat up my bone broth in a cup. They just want something they can drink right away. There are so many things out there to eat and drink right away. Some good, some bad. I want people to take time to heat up a mug of broth, enjoy slowly sipping all of that nutrient rich goodness, and maybe, just maybe, take a few minutes to just BE.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!