Shelby Taylor, Founder of Chickapea
Chickapea is a B-Corp in Canada producing organic pasta from chickpeas and lentils.

Words of wisdom: Starting a business is the best way to do good in the world.

Country: Canada

Website: https://chickapea.com/

Industry: Consumer Goods

Organization size: 8

 

Interview with Shelby Taylor, CEO and Founder, Chickapea; Canada

Learn more or buy the book Make Your Contribution Count for youme • weLearn moreInterview highlights:

  • What is a crucial step to make a social enterprise’s vision a reality? 
  • How can you build conscious-contributions into your business when you launch and before being profitable? And why would you want to? 
  • How does contributing collectively with your employees increase morale and retention?
  • How can distribution channels elevate your social impact?
  • Who are the best collaborators?

PROMOTIONAL VIDEO

Interview with Shelby Taylor, CEO and Founder, Chickapea; Canada

Shelby Taylor is an entrepreneur on a mission to create good for the world through nutritious, organic meal options. As a young mother and health food store owner, Shelby recognized the challenge of putting a healthy meal on the table that everyone would enjoy, so she turned a family favorite (pasta) into a superfood. In 2016, the company officially launched the organic pasta made from only chickpeas and lentils in the Canadian marketplace and then expanded into the US less than a year later. In 2017, Shelby and her husband welcomed their second child into the world — just two days before signing her first venture capital deal with District Ventures Capital, Arlene Dickinson’s fund for innovative food and health brands. Shelby remains committed to using her business as a force for good. In 2019, Chickapea ranked in the top 10% of all Certified B Corporations on the planet—a reflection of the company’s commitment to meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.

United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal(s) addressed:
#2. Zero Hunger, #3. Good Health and Well-being, #4. Quality Education, #13. Climate Action

Social impact:
At its core, Chickapea is a force for good, making it easier for people to lead healthier lives and support sustainable, organic farming practices. But they don’t stop there, ensuring the business is not just benefiting those that consume their products, but those in the greatest need around the world, as well as their farmers, suppliers, and employees. As a certified B Corporation, Chickapea meets the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. Even in the early days when they couldn’t afford a cash initiative, Chickapea donated stock options to Upside Foundation. Now, the company gives a percentage of sales to WE Charity, which provides healthy school lunches to children in need, and continues to donate to local food banks regularly.

Website: https://chickapea.com/

Photo credit: Ellie Kistemaker

Interview with Shelby Taylor, CEO and Founder, Chickapea; Canada

Note: This interview is transcribed using AI software, which means, the transcription is not perfect. Watch the video or listen to the podcast to hear our guest’s wisdom in her own words. If you want to see more interviews like this, please comment below!

Suzanne F. Stevens 

Welcome, Shelby. It’s great to have you on Wisdom Exchange Tv.

Shelby Taylor 

Thank you, Suzanne. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Suzanne F. Stevens 

It’s also really wonderful to speak to a fellow neighbor. We’re in a small town in Ontario. And yet you are a North American brand.  It’s great to talk to somebody in a small community making a North American impact with your product.   congratulations on the success with Chickapea.

Shelby Taylor 

Thank you very much, actually grew up here. And I’m very proud to be able to run a business from here.

Suzanne F. Stevens 

It’s wonderful in our small community to have a B Corp. But your success as I just said in the intro is way beyond a B Corp in a small community. It is it’s recognized as one of the top 10% and we’re going to dive into that actually a little bit later on. How did the idea to turn chickpeas and lentils into a superfood?

Shelby Taylor 

It was back in 2015 when it really started and at the time I had just had my first son and I owned a little health food store just outside of the town that we’re in now. And came from my customers really wanting food that was nutritious and not just better for you.   I had a lot of people looking for nutritionally dense food that was both familiar and tasty, something that their whole family could eat. The transition from a standard American diet our typical sort of hamburgers meat and potatoes kind of diet to say kale smoothies every day is a really big challenge for people.  I start digging into what foods do people like. What is something that everyone will sit around the table and eat? It was pasta that came up again and again Kids love it. We all eat it, but we know it’s not really healthy. Kids are hungry an hour later. They only eat it with butter.   They’re getting absolutely no nutrition from it. And that’s where I really started and thinking, why can’t these foods that we love be not only better for us, be gluten-free pasta, and actually contributes to our health, and that’s when the question started. And once I get stuck on something, I just go and go. It grew from there to being an entrepreneur.

Suzanne F. Stevens 

What process did you take to make Chickapea a realistic opportunity to bring to market?

Shelby Taylor 

Sure.  What I did first was I went to the local college, which happened to be holding this little pitch event for advice. They had a panel of experts on this panel. And that was just for advice, not for any cash reward or anything like that. At this point, it was just an idea. And my husband kicked himself because he said don’t go, you have nothing on paper. This is just an idea. The night before I put together this pitch deck. And I went and did my pitch. And amazingly, I won the best pitch on this. And I was very passionate about the idea. It just happened that there was the founder of the local Angel network sitting on that panel. And he ultimately played a big role in helping me to understand setting up a corporation and investment.

If I back up a little bit in terms of product development. After that pitch event and creating some excitement around the idea. We obviously had to see if we could actually make this product. And my mom and I rented this commercial kitchen in Barrie, Ontario, that just happened to have a restaurant size pasta extruder. And we went and bought a bunch of chickpea flour from a local health food store and we rented this kitchen and we started to put it through the extruder. I wouldn’t say it was terrible, but what we learned was that it was possible. And, and it was very challenging from there on because creating a pasta that’s high protein and gluten-free was not something you can do with a normal pasta making process. We tried to get a local company to help us make it but we couldn’t scale. We couldn’t find a single manufacturer in Canada. And we ended up finding a manufacturer in the US. But this is probably 18 months in. And at that point, we had run a Kickstarter program. I had some angel investors on board all before we had a product. I think the important message in all of this is that I just kept going and I really believed in it and one door closed, I find another one to squeak my way from through and see if it would open wider. It was a long process about 18 months from the idea to having an actual product.

Suzanne F. Stevens 

That’s the interesting part, people invested in an idea. They weren’t even able to try the product. Is that the case?

Shelby Taylor 

Yes.

Suzanne F. Stevens 

In that pitch, you have to be fairly persuasive in order to do that. Do you have any tips on what you provided or how you pitched it that people bought into your vision?

Shelby Taylor  

I know, I think the most important thing for me was being just being absolutely authentic. I was just 30 and I do not come from a business background. I do not come from a family of entrepreneurs. I have no experience in food manufacturing. I have nothing that would really compel someone to believe that I was the right person to run this business.  I think what it really came down to was I was very driven. I was very authentic when I didn’t know the answer. I said I didn’t know and, and I would get back to that. I found it amazing. I remember in the beginning, I actually felt like a fraud. How are these people investing in my idea, this is crazy.  It was very, very new and exciting for me. And I truly believe that the reason why they invested in me is my authenticity and a genuine drive and passion that really came through.

Suzanne F. Stevens 

Not to mention you do have a health background?

Shelby Taylor 

Yeah, that did help that I owned the health food store. But I don’t have a degree in education and nutrition. I started to study it on my own. My background is actually in journalism. And that’s what I went to school for and then I started to study nutrition. And that evolved into me buying the health food store, which I’d only owned for less than a year at the time that I was getting into Chickapea, but certainly, that type of market research that I had put into it helped. I shouldn’t discount the fact that the idea came from an actual need, not from me just coming up with an idea.

Suzanne F. Stevens 

You seem to have several beneficiaries of your product, one being the consumer. You also do a lot of charitable contributions as well.  Who else do you see as your beneficiaries

Shelby Taylor 

One of our pillars of belief, our guiding principles, is that we absolutely believe that everybody should have access to nutritional or to nutritious food. And we understand that our product, being organic, being more of a premium product, compared to sort of traditional wheat pasta because of what goes into it is not accessible to absolutely everyone.  We try to combat that by donating hundreds if not thousands of pounds of pasta per year to food banks in low-income communities. People who use the food bank are often the people who need nutritious food more than anyone, and they also need allergen-free foods, and that’s something that’s very often overlooked. At food banks, people with severe sensitivities that are not able to access the foods that they need. Other beneficiaries are people who are making use of food banks who really need access to nutritional food and people with allergens that are looking for access to products at a lower cost as well.

Our partnership with WE Charity is something that’s really important to us when we became a certified B Corp in 2018. We immediately wanted to partner with a charity and to give not a portion of profits, but an actual amount from every sale. Also, a portion of our revenue. And I think that’s a huge difference. Chickapea is not yet a profitable company, we’re still investing heavily in our growth. Yet, through donating just three cents per package sold, we have been able to donate over $44,000 in two years to WE Charities Food Pillar. This is a huge amount of money in terms of the impact that it can actually have.  What we did with the charity was we identified a village in need. And this is where their expertise comes in. They have many villages around the world, and they identify specific needs in those villages where they can have a real impact. And we chose Los Rios in Ecuador as our first village to support it. It’s a village that’s mostly indigenous and, and migrants, it’s actually a very young village. It started in 1972 with just two families, and it’s very isolated. And there’s a lot of poverty and most of the issues stem out of the poverty in that village.  What we were able to do was to invest in a nutrition program.   we try to keep our focus on food and invest in the nutrition program, which has actually fed every child in the school in that village nutritious lunches every day, for a year continuously.   Every child is fed a nutritious lunch at that school, which has actually made it that some kids go to school. And to me, that’s a huge thing because otherwise, parents may keep them home, to do work on the farm, but because they’re fed and nutritious lunch, they’re actually getting sent to school. And at that point where we had started this investment in Los Rios, the school kitchen was being used as a classroom. And there was no dining hall their only means of cooking was actually in a fire pit outside which was a major hazard to the younger students.  We have been able to fund their creation and maintenance of a school garden, and like a massive school garden and all of the education that comes around that the agricultural training for both the students and actually the whole community and build construct a kitchen and a dining hall where they do tons of nutritional programming. And then, of course, feed them these healthy lunches and support this agricultural training for their whole community which helps bring them up as a community and can they support themselves through to selling food, growing food and with a goal Ultimately of reducing or breaking this cycle of poverty in this village. And now we’re actually at the point where we’ve been able to support this whole village in the Food Pillar and we’re working with WE Charity to identify a second village.   We can continually add on through this program and support more and more villages. But we will only move on once we can fully support the program in each village.

Suzanne F. Stevens 

Such a fabulous initiative and there are many pieces that I just want to dig in a little bit. Well, first of all, what’s interesting I interviewed Roxanne Joyal, from ME to WE last week which also supports WE Charity as you probably know. Do you just provide money or are you actually provide your food and if you do provide your food, you provide other food as well?  

Shelby Taylor 

For the WE program, we only provide monetary support because the goal is for them to be able to support themselves and to teach the community about agricultural and growing food. A lot of their meals come out of their school garden. And the government subsidizes certain snacks, which are not nutritionally dense snacks, and WE’s goal was to go into the community in terms of food and add the fruits and vegetables and the nutritious food into their diets to complete their school lunches.   That’s what we’ve been able to do with the school garden. We really want to help uplift the community so they can uplift themselves and give them the tools and resources they need to continue to grow. By simply sending pasta over would not be of major benefit to them.  We focus our food donations domestically in both Canada in the US on low-income communities, we can help domestically that way. For WE Charity we focus on monetary donations.

Suzanne F. Stevens 

I absolutely love what you’re saying. And because I’m a huge advocate of empowerment,  where you’re actually contributing to the development and not just sending products from the West to ‘help’ in developing countries.   The other thing you said that I think is really important, and you also emphasize the importance of it. And I just want to ask you why you think it’s important, contributing three cents per package. We do that with our book. I launched a book earlier this year, Shelby you read it and endorsed it, and we give 5% of every sale of the book to invest in women’s scholarships. And regardless if the book is making money or not, that’s what we committed to do and you’re giving three cents. And you do that when you’re not profitable. Talk about why you did that and why you think more organizations should build a contribution right into their business?

Shelby Taylor 

Absolutely. Number one, I think it’s simple, but the impact is massive. To build in three cents into the cost of your product is not that big of a deal. Whereas the impact of that three cents, if you invest it properly can be huge.   To me, it doesn’t make sense not to do it. And when you go back to why I did it, I was never going to start a business that wasn’t about more than a single bottom line.   That’s my personality and I think that is the personality of many, many people, but they think they can’t do it or there’s a lot of people around them telling them that they can’t or you just need to focus on becoming profitable first or, focus on the business. I started this business when I had a baby and I’ve had another baby since and it’s only this July 1, this year will be our four year anniversary in sales.   This is a very young business and I’ve had two babies in the time that I’ve been in business and for me in the beginning, the idea of spending this much time away from my young kids, it’s for nothing but the chance to make money was just not going to work for me.   I can say that making this little donation a month not only makes a difference to the communities, but it makes a difference to us as a team, it makes a difference to the business, it makes a difference to the consumers who consume our product. And, like we have our team meetings every month that we talk about how much money we were able to donate, and through our WE partnership, that’s the most exciting moment in the meeting. Now for everyone, it’s about much more than money. We don’t feel connected through money, we feel connected through humanitarian efforts, and we feel connected as people through making a difference. It’s simple, but it’s huge in many ways. And I absolutely think that people should do this.

Suzanne F. Stevens 

You’re, you’re answering the question a number of different ways. One of those is the impact contributing has on your employees, and that they feel that they’re contributing not only to a healthy consumer but to something much bigger than themselves. That really provides them with meaning, which is just as valuable.

Do you think some of your employees have actually joined your organization because of your social contribution?

Shelby Taylor 

Good question. We’re still a pretty small team. But I know for a fact that we have partners that have partnered with us and we work with a number of agencies or sales reps that specifically work with B Corp companies because our values are aligned. And even we have an investment of venture capital partner who is a certified B Corp. That was important to us and to them. But in terms of employees, we do have a very small team I think it would be more accurate to say that they’ve stayed with the company because of that meaning that we bring.  Not just the contribution that we make in terms of charity, but in the meaning of our work, when you can sit down and celebrate, you’ve had your best sales month then translating that into the impact that you as an employee can make.

Suzanne F. Stevens 

Retention is key and actually a huge saver on an organization too, because then there are no replacement costs. Often when talking about how to contribute we think it’s just about feeling good but it actually can save a lot of money by keeping your employees engaged in the process.  As an employer, you don’t have to hire new people because they feel part of it. And your success is their success.

Shelby Taylor 

Yeah, that’s a really good, really good point.

Suzanne F. Stevens 

Being a B-corp puts you into a position where a profit and purpose aligns along with transparency and accountability are required. How do you feel achieving this certification has impacted your business?

Shelby Taylor 

I think that’s impacted in many ways. I set out from day one to become a certified B Corp.   That was part of my original business plan. And it takes some time, you have to have some history to be able to come become a certified B Corp.   We have always operated this way. Even before we were certified, we have always operated as a socially and environmentally responsible company. What the B Corp certification has done for us is certainly put that accountability in place.  We are constantly striving to be better. There are three pillars in the B Corp certification, we’re constantly striving to be better and achieve more and help set an example for other companies.

 

Suzanne F. Stevens 

Do you remember the three pillars?

Shelby Taylor 

B Corp Certification is based on three essential pillars: verifies social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability. Alone, none of these pillars are succinct. It’s the combination of all three that makes the B Corp Certification unique, credible, and significant. (https://kb.bimpactassessment.net/en/support/solutions/articles/43000015907-b-corp-certification-steps#:~:text=B%20Corp%20Certification%20is%20based,Certification%20unique%2C%20credible%20and%20significant.)

Suzanne F. Stevens 

What do you see as the three most important initiatives to make your social impact sustainable?

Shelby Taylor 

Continuing to grow our sales is important because our revenue is linked to our charity work. And our commitment and as a B Corp is to donate 2% of our gross revenue every year and we do that between the WE charity initiative and between our product donations to food banks. We also give to a couple of local charity events as well.  Obviously the higher revenue is the bigger our impact will be. There’s a big focus certainly, on growth. And to me, that’s the most exciting part because scaling a business is very challenging and very taxing. And but when you think of the impact you can have with scaling it, it’s, it’s quite exciting.

Suzanne F. Stevens 

Let’s just dive into the scaling bit for a minute.  What are you doing to try to scale your business right now?

Shelby Taylor 

We’re currently growing through Canada and the US we started in very much in the natural food channel with a big focus on health food stores, small co-ops which are still to date like our best and strongest partners. We are definitely growing into the supermarket chains as well.   We are growing with some bigger players in Canada now. We’re in Loblaws and Sobeys. We’re starting to do this in the U.S. as well.   We’re also expanding are expanding our product lines. We have some pretty big plans for a new product line in 2021 that we’re really excited for. We’ve also done some rotations with Costco and are continuing to work on that relationship as well.   In terms of scaling, and then we’re getting more into food service. The hope is eventually that Chickapea will be served at schools, especially across the US, where they actually do feed kids lunches every day.  They can provide a healthier option for kids. We know that pasta is a favorite and that school lunches are not necessarily full of the healthiest choices. And in nursing homes and hospitals again where there’s not always the healthiest choices, but there’s a digestible vegetarian high protein easy to eat option available there too.

Suzanne F. Stevens 

Sounds like a fabulous strategy. Have you ever thought of exporting to developing countries because you are providing such a nutritious product? Now, I don’t know if it would be their culture to eat pasta, but has that ever been a thought process?

Shelby Taylor 

Yes, we’re actually working with an international export partner. And we are starting to expand beyond Canada in the U.S right now. And there’s a very exciting opportunity in many markets, actually. I have been surprised at which markets have presented the biggest opportunity so far. Definitely we have a market in Europe and the UK. But we have some customers now in Middle Eastern countries in Kuwait, and in Central America in the Dominican area.   There’s certainly more interest from second World countries then than I had thought there would be especially because we cannot get the price point down low enough.

Suzanne F. Stevens 

Interestingly enough spending a lot of time in developing countries it’s not cheaper anyway. The grocery stores are not cheaper, people just get food from different sources. You were saying about the Middle East is interested and I wondered if don’t lead with pasta, but you lead with chickpeas, lentils. It’s what it is made of drawing them to the product in the first place.

Shelby Taylor 

Exactly. It is the ingredients alone that have a lot of interest.   People are very familiar with chickpeas and lentils in the Middle East, also in the Mediterranean, much more familiar than we are here in North America. It has only been really the last, I’d say five years, or I feel like there’s been a more mainstream acceptance of chickpeas and lentils outside of the health industry.   

Shelby Taylor 

Hummus was what really brought chickpeas into this spotlight in North America, but that’s something that people have been consuming in other countries for many decades.  I have found it interesting because well, a lot of these places may not be high pasta consuming countries but their familiarity with the ingredients. It’s going to be interesting to see how it goes. It will be exciting.

Suzanne F. Stevens 

 What are the two most challenging hurdles to sustain your business?

Shelby Taylor 

Well, certainly keeping the business capitalized is always a challenge. I have been through many rounds of financing. I have two Venture Capital partners, many, Angel partners. I didn’t start this business with anything in a bank account.  I had to go the investment route really early on. I also knew we had to scale quickly because the way that our pasta is manufactured takes very sophisticated equipment, we have very large production runs.  Being nationwide across both Canada and the US has definitely always been challenging from a capital standpoint and we want to continue to grow the business.  We can’t pull back on marketing, we can’t pull back on things that are going to help us to grow. It’s definitely in a much better place now that we have too strong Venture Capital partners, and we have made much progress, and we’re doing very well.  I feel like that’s just finally now becoming a little easier and I have more help. But the bookkeeping business capitalized a business that’s not profitable and continuing to grow is absolutely the number one challenge.

I guess a second challenge is the marketplace.  What we’re going through right now with COVID-19 and a lot of people saying that we’re going into a recession, and people are being a little bit more careful with how they spend their money. There’s been a lot of people going back to some really old traditional comfort foods, and not really following through with the healthy habits that they may have developed.  How long that’s going to last and whether that’s going to sustain the marketplace is always going to be a challenge. Products are going to market faster than ever before.  

Suzanne F. Stevens 

You’re talking about two really important things that I actually want to dive into both of them. You mentioned the pandemic.  You said a lot of people are going to comfort food and not to healthy choices. I think that’s really true. The reality is, I think a lot of us are calling it the COVID weight,  and now that COVID is continuing, we have to be smart about it. I think we’ll see a change. Have you seen any impact on your business, specifically during the pandemic?

Shelby Taylor 

So far through the pandemic, we have actually seen a positive impact because we are a shelf-stable pasta and a shelf-stable protein. And we saw a huge surge in sales through March and April. We don’t know where it is going from here?   Definitely things have normalized, and people have calmed down and realized that the food industry is stable. Our pasta actually made in Italy, so we were affected before everything started to happen here in Canada or the US.  We really had our eye on the situation for several weeks before we were on lockdown here and we were working through our plan in case our manufacturing partner were to shut down. We were a more comfortable spot by the time we were on lockdown here, we invested in our inventory and made sure we had several extra months on hand. That’s a financial commitment that we had to make and that my board had to be in agreement on.  So far, it’s been positive, but we’re definitely seeing things normalize. I’ve spent much time in the last many weeks on webinars and looking at data in terms of what are the behavioral habits that people are forming? I’m not sure where the economy going.  We’re still, not sure exactly the impact that this is going to have. But while the natural food industry is still going very strong through all of this and they’re still seeing high numbers, I think we’ll start to see it come down a little bit.

Suzanne F. Stevens 

You also made the comment, Chickapea is a protein. It’s an affordable protein, which in the Canadian market, right now our proteins have gone up quite a bit. There could be a benefit to you that you may not even have expected because one side of the market has been hit. I mean, you buy beef right now and it’s expensive.  

Shelby Taylor 

Not only that, but not everybody has a big extra freezer at home, and you’re looking for food products that can have a two and a half year shelf life—a high protein product that can sit on your shelf for a long time. And I and I’m not going to lie, I have a huge hope out of this, that we’re going to see more people turn towards plant-based eating, at least more. Maybe not 100% but I certainly hope that we’re going to see a lot of eyes open to plant-based eating and the protein that you can get out of a plant-based diet.

Suzanne F. Stevens 

Do you ever market your product with an emphasis on the environmental benefits?

 Shelby Taylor 

Absolutely, especially on the B corp side of things. The environmental responsibility part of our business is very important to us, it’s very important to me. And we are working on putting together more messaging around the environmental side and helping people understand what it means to use organic. What it means to choose plant-based in terms of how much less water for example that it takes to grow pulses which are chickpeas, lentils, beans, then it takes to raise the cow. We focus on the impact of choosing plant-based proteins over animal proteins.

Suzanne F. Stevens 

It’s such a, such an important comment that you’re making and such a great opportunity because depending on who is looking at your product, different people are motivated by different things. And the environment conversation is has escalated. People may have forgotten about the environment a bit during this pandemic. And yet at the same time, nothing has changed.

You also were mentioning, your capital, and how much you’ve relied on investors. Over a period of time and I know you promote that Arlene Dickinson with District Venture Capitals invested in your business near the beginning. What are some advantages and a couple of disadvantages going to the investor route?

Shelby Taylor 

There are definite advantages and definite disadvantages. The biggest disadvantage is losing the equity in your own company.  You have to prepare to give up ownership in your company and, and that means, essentially bringing on a partner.  I still run the business alone, I don’t have an actual business partner, my investors do own a certain percentage of the business.  I had to form a proper Board of Directors, which are essentially my bosses. Sometimes answering to a board and to investors, it’s challenging when it’s something that you’ve started and that you’re operating and in the beginning, I think that it’s a really big transition, one that I have adjusted well to and I believe that myself and my investors we’ve come to trust each other over the years. I’ve also come to trust in myself a lot more as a business owner too and trust my values and my instincts more and that has helped those relationships too.

I’d say the biggest disadvantage is obviously in giving up equity and, it’s very important to understand exactly how that process works and what giving up that equity means, which is a big conversation. There’s a lot of value that comes with these partners as well and not the least of which is some peace of mind in terms of whether you can continue to capitalize your business and a good example of that is when COVID hit and when it was hitting Italy very hard that,  we could go to our board which has members from our investment group on it in be able to say, okay, we want to invest in this many months of inventory. We need to be prepared to invest in that, and we might have to raise capital earlier than we had expected.  Having that board and those investors that have the means to do that and say, “don’t worry, we got your back, we’ll put the money in if you need it,” that’s huge. The peace of mind for me is probably the biggest benefit. They bring a great deal of contacts and expertise, of course, a lot of guidance, and experience in terms of how you operate your business.  There’s definitely value but choosing the right investors is important. And like I said, we chose the last round that we did, we specifically went after Venture Capital that was a certified B Corp. And because it’s important to us that our partners have aligned values and that they understand that we care about more than a single bottom line, and you can understand that best if you also care about more than a single bottom line,

Suzanne F. Stevens 

Excellent advice for collaboration, finding those with similar values.  If you become a B Corp, there’s a whole suite of people that you can tap into and establish a relationship with quickly. It’s kind of like dating. Getting into introduced by a friend rather than a foe a match can be a lot quicker.

Just going to switch gears a little bit and focus a little bit more on you personally. What is the most rewarding aspect of your career?

Shelby Taylor 

Oh, that’s a big question. I think this business, being successful and having done what it’s done it’s still mind-blowing to me when I sit back and look at it because, as I say, I don’t come from a family of business owners. I mostly come from a family who didn’t even graduate high school. And this is something that I never really believed I could do. Although I think the deep down, I obviously believed it. But this was definitely not something that was expected of me or anything that, I really ever thought possible. The first my first investment meeting, which I did on my own and with an angel investor, I think the moment that they called me and told me they were going to invest in me was a surreal moment that somebody that didn’t know me could believe in me that much. I think the most incredible thing out of all this is definitely grown in much more confidence in my ability to run a business but to lead people and to really achieve my dreams. I think the most exciting part out of all of that is what I can give to my kids on a personal level. It’s been hard. There is a lot of time that I’ve had to spend away from my kids, but I really truly believe in setting them an amazing example for them that they can achieve anything that they put their mind to.

Suzanne F. Stevens 

What has been the most challenging?

Shelby Taylor 

The most challenging is definitely from a personal standpoint. I mean, there are challenges in the business on a weekly, if not daily bases. I have screwed up many times. I could go through a massive list. And in the beginning, those challenges felt like, the end of the world. It was overwhelming every time we screwed something up in the beginning, and you thought the business was going to come crashing down. But once you go through many of those challenges, you become more confident in your ability to overcome them. And they don’t feel the same way as personal challenges. For me, the biggest challenge has been on a personal level and then has been trying to balance, and I hate the word balance because it really means something different to everyone. And it’s really been trying to balance my desire to be a great mom with my desire to be a great business leader.

Suzanne F. Stevens 

The inevitable challenge that women often experience. It doesn’t go away as much as we hear it over and over and over again. It just doesn’t go away especially during times like this when you need to manage your children as well as the business all the time.

What is the most significant decision you made in your career?

Shelby Taylor 

I think it was to go all in. The decision to go ahead and push forward with little experience, and the decision to believe in myself and to believe in, the dream that I had.  That wasn’t easy.  You want to think, especially with a young family or any family, you want some level of certainty and stability. And it was the decision to basically give that up and understand that we could lose a lot. There was a long time that our house was on the line. A lot was on the line for the business.   Those were big decisions, but basically the decision to go for it.

Suzanne F. Stevens 

What impact has Chickapea made on you, your life

Shelby Taylor 

Oh gosh, I feel like a different person from when I started this, mostly in good ways. And then a couple I don’t want to say bad ways. But I’d say before this I was very naive, but I also believe that it was that quality that made it possible for me to make this happen. Once you go through all the challenges and know everything can come up, it’s like, would I ever do this again, I don’t know. But it’s made me number one, much more resilient. I feel like an incredibly resilient person that I wasn’t before. It takes a lot to get under my skin. It takes a lot to make me lay awake at night, stressing about things. I really believe in my ability to overcome challenges to get through hard times. I believe in my ability to do hard things. That’s the biggest upside, becoming a very resilient person.

Suzanne F. Stevens 

That’s fabulous.   You’ve obviously done a lot of uncomfortable things but can you think of one thing that sticks out in your mind that you’ve done that’s uncomfortable but if you didn’t do it, you would not have achieved the success that you have today?

Shelby Taylor 

One thing over here right because doing this is all about living outside your comfort zone. And I really believe what they say but you cannot grow in your comfort zone. Everything is uncomfortable.

There are things that come to mind but they kind of go together. The first pitch I mentioned.  I was desperate for someone else’s feedback. And I was desperate for advice and I hadn’t even written my idea down. That led to a relationship with a business advisor who was the person who made all the introductions to my early investors and that was what really got things going and off the ground. Going to do that pitch and sharing my ideas with people early on was, was big.

Suzanne F. Stevens 

And it’s such an important lesson because a lot of us like to have our ducks in a row before we start.

What advice would you give to someone starting a social initiative?

Shelby Taylor 

Do it. And like you said, you’re never going to have all your ducks in a row. It’s never going to be perfect timing. Like having a baby, it’s never going to be perfect. I do believe in what a lot of entrepreneurs say, you need to execute. Yes, you want to have plans. You have to have some things in place. But, execution is key. And you’re never going to know if something’s going to work without doing it. Especially starting a social enterprise, don’t let go of those values, because there’s a lot of pressure to learn. Go have values and focus on the bottom line financially. Don’t let them go. Because ultimately, I do think that that is what’s going to make a business successful, it’s going to make you have loyal customers or clients or whatever it is. Stick to those values. And I really believe that they’ve guided a lot of businesses to the success that they’ve achieved.

Suzanne F. Stevens 

Excellent advice.   I’m just going to wrap this up with a little fun, rapid-fire.   

These are short, sharp answers. Are you ready? What’s the one thing you wish you knew prior to engaging down this path of Chickapea?

Shelby Taylor 

How crazy it was to launch in the US nationally all at one time.

Suzanne F. Stevens 

Worst piece of advice you’ve ever received.

Shelby Taylor 

Wait until the business is off the ground to have a baby.

Suzanne F. Stevens 

The best piece of advice you’ve ever received,

Shelby Taylor 

Do what you do best and farm out the rest.

Suzanne F. Stevens 

Which of your strengths to rely on most to have the success you’ve achieved?

Shelby Taylor 

Kindness

Suzanne F. Stevens 

Who’s the greatest female influence in your life?

Shelby Taylor 

My mom

Suzanne F. Stevens 

Which is all good. What three values do you live by?

Shelby Taylor 

Kindness to yourself and to others.

Leading by your values.

SO unto others, as you would want done to yourself.

Suzanne F. Stevens 

I’m just going to say words one-word answers is all you need to give. Okay? community,

Shelby Taylor 

people

Suzanne F. Stevens 

purpose.

Shelby Taylor 

Entrepreneurship,

Suzanne F. Stevens 

meaning,

Shelby Taylor 

value,

Suzanne F. Stevens 

contribute

Shelby Taylor 

giving

Suzanne F. Stevens 

conscious

Shelby Taylor 

Thinking

Suzanne F. Stevens 

sustainability

Shelby Taylor 

forever

Suzanne F. Stevens 

Learn

Shelby Taylor 

grow

Suzanne F. Stevens 

Leader

Shelby Taylor 

guidance,

Suzanne F. Stevens 

collaborate

Shelby Taylor 

community

Suzanne F. Stevens 

consistency

Shelby Taylor 

parenting

Suzanne F. Stevens 

you

Shelby Taylor 

growing

Suzanne F. Stevens 

we

Shelby Taylor 

together.

Suzanne F. Stevens  

Thank you everyone for joining us.

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Do you have any words of wisdom for our audience regarding contributing to society?

Shelby Taylor 

I think that starting a business is probably the best way to do good in the world. And that’s a different way of thinking than how a business has been in the past. There’s an opportunity in starting a business to do great good in the world.

Suzanne F. Stevens 

Great advice.

This is Suzanne F. Stevens until next time, make your contribution count.

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Conscious-Contributions™ Cultivator: Author, Professional Speaker, Moderator, Host, and Social Entrepreneur. WisdomExchangeTv is part of YouMeWe Social Impact Group — igniting a culture where your contribution counts for you • your company • your community. YouMeWe.ca | we@youmewe.ca

    1 Response to "Shelby Taylor, Chickapea"

    • Wisdom Exchange Tv

      It was an honour interviewing a woman who truly understands that creating a business to just be profitable will only fulfill you for so long. Thanks Shelby for you fabulous insights, as a mother, and philanthropist and a business leader!

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