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Founder QA: Being a Female Entrepreneur In The Food Industry

 Erica Liu Williams Founder of gr8nola
Erica Liu Williams Founder of gr8nola

After interviewing 5 inspiring female food founders in honor of International Women's Day, I decided to ask myself similar questions to reflect on my journey as a female entrepreneur in the food industry. Hanging up my 10-year tech career to pursue my passion in an industry I had zero knowledge in took quite a leap of faith, but I couldn't be more fulfilled doing what I love, every single day -- bringing clean snacking to the masses.

Happy International Women's day to all my ladies out there, hope this inspires you to find your inner #girlboss! 

Erica Liu Williams Founder of gr8nola

What has been the biggest challenge and biggest reward you've faced in your entrepreneurial journey?

Erica Liu Williams: The biggest challenge has been building up enough confidence and belief in myself that I can follow my passion, do something I love and pursue gr8nola full-time. For those who aren’t familiar with my story, gr8nola started as a total side project during my 10-year tech career, and it took me 4.5 years to fully “leap” into the business and become a full-time food entrepreneur.

The biggest reward by far has been the amazing connections I’ve made along my journey: whether it’s meeting face-to-face with customers/fans to other entrepreneurs and folks in the space. Luckily, the natural foods industry is a very friendly one, and I’ve made some really meaningful friendships both on and offline and cultivated a really gr8 community based on the shared values of health and wellness.

What advice do you have for hopeful future female entrepreneurs?

ELW: I’d say: Go for it, but start “lean.” Meaning, test your idea/product/service as quickly as possible with the fewest resources needed, and only when you get positive signal that it could work, then invest more time or resources into it. Prove the concept first before you go all-in.

Most importantly: Network! You don’t know how many opportunities and big breaks have come from me simply taking the time to grab a coffee or take someone to lunch -- simply to learn more about their story and from their experience. Learn from other people’s successes (and even more critically, their failures -- you can save yourself from making the same mistakes!). Your journey will be a lot less lonely, too :).

What does "girl boss" mean to you? What are 3 character traits of a successful "girl boss"?

A girl boss to me is a woman who is 1) true to herself/values 2) driven towards the life she desires, on her own terms and 3) owns her outcome.

Talk about the quote "empowered women empower women."

ELW: I strongly believe in community over competition. In my ex-tech career and current gr8nola journey, I’ve been fortunate to be surrounded by many strong, smart and confident women, aka “empowered women.” I’ve been able to learn from many other female entrepreneurs who have taken time out their busy day to let me pick their brains and learn from them. Over time, as I’ve built up my confidence (and brand), this has -- in turn -- inspired me to do the same unto others, and it’s incredibly gratifying to be in a position to give back! Empowerment breeds empowerment, I’m proud to be part of this movement.

What has been your proudest accomplishment in your gr8nola journey?

ELW: This isn’t really an accomplishment because it would imply it’s “completed” (which I am far from…I am just beginning!), but I’m most proud of the community and platform I’m cultivating around the mantra of never settling for good and always being hungry for gr8ness. I never imagined myself becoming an entrepreneur, and when I started selling my granola for fun, I never imagined it’d become my full-time gig. I’m proud to be building a brand that actually inspires and motivates people to be “hungrier” in life -- not just with what foods they choose to put in their bodies, but with pursuing their goals, dreams and passion.