Sarah Kiely has bone broth on the brain. Actually, she pretty much has food on the brain, all the time. “I’m obsessed with food,” she tells me earnestly. We meet to chat about her new venture Sadie’s Kitchen, and her bone broth products which are just about to land in Irish supermarkets. Sarah’s concept was unique to the market; Sadie’s Kitchen is currently the only company to retail bone broth as a take-home product, so families can enjoy it minus the hours of preparation – typically, the clear broth is made by boiling down chicken or beef bones for up to 24 hours to extract the nutrition. She went from preparing her broth at home as a hobby to having Supervalu eager to stock her produce – quite a feat for a business still in its infancy; she only began trading in November last year.
The nourishing, restorative soup is trending at the moment; the new super food everyone can’t get enough of, but Sarah, who doesn’t have a business background, says nothing prepared her for the mammoth task of going out on her own. “Looking back, I don’t know if I could do it all again,” she said, laughing. We chat to the Dublin-based lady about the rise of bone broth, turning a dream into a reality and everything she’s learnt along the way.
Your background is in PR and media, what made you want to branch out into the food business?
I had worked in FMCG marketing and PR for about three years before I made the jump. At the time, and I had been instrumental in launching artisan food brands to market and realised food was an incredibly exciting and innovative space to be in, in Ireland. I had become disheartened with agency life for a while and knew where I was working wasn’t a very positive environment to be in. Half our office was made redundant abruptly last May, myself being one of them. I took about six weeks to digest the past few years, what I had learned and where I wanted to be in five years’ time. I just knew in the pit of my stomach I couldn’t go back to the same role, just in a different office, so I decided to set up Sadie’s Kitchen.
Tell me how Sadie’s Kitchen went from being an idea to reality?
I think it was when I was shortlisted for ‘Best Business Idea’ in Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur last year, that it really started to grow legs and gave me the much-needed confidence boost to start backing myself. It was an amazing validation from some of Ireland’s top business people, and while I’d always known I had something special with the product, I was more my fear of people not ‘’getting it’’, so when they did, that’s when magic really started to happen.
It’s tougher than I ever imagined it would be. Any preconceived notions of being a #GirlBoss were blown out the window the day I registered the business.
Why bone broth?
Bone broth has been around for centuries, it’s having a resurgence in popularity in the last couple of years, partly because health and nutrition are so important and people are becoming more educated about what they’re feeding themselves and their families. I had been drinking it for about two years, and while I loved the taste and how it help soothe my digestion issues, it was not at all convenient to make. After reading up on the benefits offered by adding bone broth to the diet and I knew it was only a matter of time before this health sensation hit home. We were the first in Ireland to offer bone broth, and we are the only company to retail as a take-home product. It’s exciting to be innovating and bringing new trends first to market.
Your business is still relatively new, but how would you sum up your journey in three words so far?
Intrepid. Stressful. Exciting.
As you have a media background, how did you find the business side of things?
A background in media helps, it makes you analyse facts and people, and my intuition is something I never question. This has stood to me in business meetings with buyers and suppliers. I think the discipline of being freelance helped me with starting a company, I get up the same time each morning and even though I don’t have an immediate boss hanging over my desk daily, I’m harder on myself than any employer ever could be, so I make sure I work my best and achieve my daily goals. It’s definitely tougher than I ever imagined it would be. Any preconceived notions of being a #GirlBoss were blown out the window the day I registered the business. It’s a strange way to work if you’re used to a form of structure as I was coming from a PAYE job but I wouldn’t change any of it, as I love the challenge. Setbacks and roadblocks are a daily challenge, it’s all about working harder and smarter to stay ahead.
Be brave. Nobody knows or loves your business more than you; passion is infectious, and the right attitude will open you up to so many opportunities
Has any particular moment stood out so far?
Getting our products listed in Supervalu is the biggest achievement so far. There have been so many little wins along the way too. Sometimes the moments have passed you by before you even know it. I’m trying to remind myself that giving yourself a pat on the back isn’t complacency, it’s about being present and grateful for the positives in your life at that time.
Who inspired you starting out?
This is a tough one, in Irish business I have to say what Marissa Carter has achieved with Cocoa Brown is so inspiring. I love how she acknowledges the wonderful team around her and has brought everyone along for the ride in her empire’s ascension while being a mother to two young children.
In food: Shane Bonner the creator of Newmarket Kitchen in Bray where we produce, is also someone who’s inspired us. Shane broke new ground last year by setting up a unique environment to help start-up food businesses to create and grow their brands and has been a huge supporter of the business. Also, the success of Brian Lee’s Chopped is simply mind blowing. I met Brian once, and he really is the definition of an entrepreneur.
I think every job I’ve had has also inspired me to start my own business, in ways that only make sense to me now. I really do believe each job triggered a series of events that I could never have imagined, so I find great comfort in knowing where I am right now, is where I am meant to be.
What’s been your biggest take away from your journey so far?
Growth. I have grown so much this past year and have learned things about myself that I never knew I had in me. I’m proud of my determination and passion and the fact I will not take no for an answer. It was very hard starting out, and the support I received from close friends and family will never be forgotten. It’s been the most difficult journey both personally and professionally, but I wouldn’t change a thing. I feel incredibly lucky I have the chance to make a difference and the autonomy to create and innovate. That’s something I need for my own happiness, and I’m grateful every day I get to do it.
If you could advise any woman with a side passion for turning an idea into a career, what would it be?
You don’t have to dive head first into it. Financial fear is the biggest limitation of starting a business. You don’t have to have the dramatic story of jacking in your job in investment banking to start an organic candle company. You can be building up your business plan while punching the clock somewhere else.
I think everyone’s level of risk is so different and personal to their unique circumstances. The Local Enterprise Office is a fantastic service for start-up businesses, set up a meeting with yours before you decide to make the leap and above all, be brave. Nobody knows or loves your business more than you; passion is infectious, and the right attitude will open you up to so many opportunities.
Sadie’s Kitchen bone broths are available in selected Supervalu stores from May 16th and online at www.sadieskitchen.ie.