Author: Jade R
For someone who loves sweets, it hasn’t always been an easy journey on the quest to find a variety of delicious, yummy & most importantly vegan treats. In the last few years there has been a surge of vegan sweeties that are readily available – YAY! I caught up with the owner of one of the UK’s newest vegan confectioners – Laura Scott of Conscious Candy to find out a little more about her journey as a female entrepreneur within the emerging vegan food industry.
1) How did you become an entrepreneur & can you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Laura, I’m 21 and I live in Devon. I’ve been vegetarian for most of my life and vegan for over 3 years now. I own the Conscious Candy Company, a vegan Pick and Mix business that sells over 50 varieties of vegan sweets in 1kg boxes and 200g bags.
I’ve always wanted to run my own business. Even at a very young age I’d be making things to sell at the local village market, from nail art to handmade cards. I’ve had more business ideas and business plans than you could ever imagine but I never mustered up the courage to take the risk.
This changed however once I had finished University and started working full time as a Graphic Designer. I became very bored and hated the fact I was working so hard to make someone else so successful. I started listening to other stories from successful entrepreneurs and knew I wanted to create something that was mine.
Each day at work an ice cream van would arrive in the parking lot (ps- this is when I start to sound mad). It would play the typical child friendly music and I would be taken back to the age of 7 when I would run outside to collect my magnum from the jolly man behind the window. Except every day it arrived, I couldn’t leave my desk, I wasn’t 7 anymore, I was a full time working adult. I wanted to feel like a child again and I longed for that freedom.
I had a dream about a vegan pick and mix stall and it all went from there if I’m honest. Once again along with all my business ideas I never thought I’d go ahead with it but this time I got a credit card, did the market research, found the suppliers, created a website and then it left me no other option than to launch. Within 2 weeks the business was so successful I quit my job and I’ve not looked back in the slightest.
2) What tips do you have for other women looking to succeed in business?
Work hard. There’s really nothing more than that. Trust yourself and your instinct and just go for it. Work through your lunch breaks, wake up at 4am if you have to, forget about a social life. If you’re starting a company it will take over your life but if it is something that you truly want then you will work hard for it.
Also, own what you’re doing. Believe it or not there’s still a fair amount of prejudice when it comes to women in business. People have genuinely asked me if I have rich parents or a sugar daddy, the truth is I spent most of my childhood on benefits and I have no interest in taking my partner’s money. Even when I go into the warehouse to handle a delivery I stick out like a sore thumb among 50 men who can’t believe I own my own business.
Owning a business is hard work, in fact it is like a roller-coaster. You won’t believe the highs and lows you will feel. Some days you will feel like you’re on top of the world and other days you want to cry in bed all day. But if you’re meant to be an entrepreneur I believe it will always make you stronger.
3) As an entrepreneur what motivates you, and drives you?
The biggest reason why people start their own businesses is likely to be for money, and whilst it is a nice factor the real thing that motivates me is the freedom. If I want to work 7 days a week I can, if I want to work 2 days I can. Whatever I put into it will reflect in my success. I always worry I’m going to be ‘late’ when I leave to go to my office and then I have to stop and think ‘I can never be late’.
Competition drives me. Sometimes it drives me so insane to the point where I am obsessive and I am practically dreaming of tactics and new ideas to get ahead. My partner can always sense this in me, I’m distracted and cooking up ideas. I am a very motivated and determined person anyway so when it comes to competition I want to number one.
4) What is your mission?
I want to create my own vegan sweets in the future. I am a super creative person – a designer by trade and I want to create new ideas, flavours and products. Justice for animals is at the top of my list. I quickly learnt when I became vegan that showing people pictures of slaughter houses and ramming vegan information down their throats wasn’t going to achieve anything. I want to show everyone that veganism can be amazing and it can taste amazing also. The more vegan products and businesses out there, the more positive focus on veganism there is.
5) Did you encounter any problems during start up?
Hell yes. Things don’t always go your way.
When you meet lovely things called MOQ’s (Minimum order quantity) and you can’t afford to buy all the things you envisioned. Or when products are out of stock. Or when something doesn’t turn up the way you want it. Or when you vastly under estimated the amount of customers you’d have on your first launch day.
On our launch day we sold over 200 boxes within the first 24 hours. Not going to lie, I thought the only person that would order would be my Gran. I packed boxes all weekend, I woke up at 4am to start, then worked through my lunch break at work and then did endless amounts of emails during the evening. Not going to lie, obviously all of this was a good problem, but you’ll always get surprises that are good and bad, it’s how you conclude it that makes the difference.
6) What is unique about your business, and what made you choose this type of business?
When we started we were the first Vegan Pick & Mix company to sell 1kg boxes and if you searched vegan pick and mix literally nothing was found.
I like to think what makes us unique however is the little extra things I find myself doing to make other people smile. Including a random note/letter or sending people gifts along with their wedding orders. Little gestures can make someone’s day, even a nice personal email can. I love every customer that I have ever communicated with and think of everyone I talk to as a friend.
I didn’t choose this business, it really did choose me (big time cliché I know)
7) What do you put your success down to?
My crazy mind, imagination and determination. No one will make important decisions for you so work hard and prove everyone else wrong.
My mum always used to say “Laura, you’re not ever going to be a millionaire, you’re not going to always be the best and you’re probably not ever going to own your own business…” Hearing all these things makes me so so determined to prove people wrong (sorry mum).
8) What would you say are the key elements for starting and running your own business?
Trust. You have to trust your idea and gamble.
Interaction. Talk to people, ask people questions and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
9) Who inspires you?
I don’t really have one individual that inspires me, I read a lot of autobiographies by entrepreneurs and enjoy them but I guess I am most inspired by life itself. Also, I think you should be inspired by your future self. Think about what you want and who you want to be and let that be your inspiration.
10) What is your company ethos and culture that exists in your organisation and how did you establish it?
I always wanted The Conscious Candy Company to be fun, compassionate and friendly. I wanted people to feel like children again and receiving a kilo of vegan sweets is one way to do that! I love sweets and I love animals and I wanted to share that with others.
11) Do you have a favourite quote?
“ You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” (Martin Luther King)