Be true to your core values and mission and, when possible, make it a point to give back to community.
Being a founder, entrepreneur, or a business owner can have many exciting and thrilling moments. But it is also punctuated with periods of doubt, slump, and anxiety. So how does one successfully and healthily ride the highs and lows of Entrepreneurship? In this series, called “How To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur” we are talking to successful entrepreneurs who can share stories from their experience. I had the pleasure of interviewing Jackie Mendive.
An active mother of five, Jackie understands the challenges of feeding a household of active children with busy schedules. Empanadas offer a quick and nutritious way to provide a hearty meal or healthy snack. Jackie’s mission extends beyond keeping New York and Connecticut area families stocked with empanadas, she also works to fight hunger back in her home country of Argentina.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Originally from Argentina I have lived in the US for over 20 years. Making empanadas for my family was a way of keeping my culture alive. I always wished I could order empanadas online because making them is so time consuming. In Nov 2016 I made empanadas for a charity in Argentina that fights infant malnutrition, I sold out and turned my project into a business in 6 weeks.
What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
I started selling to close friends and and I sold out in a week. My ‘Aha Moment” was when people I didn’t know started calling to order empanadas.
In your opinion, were you a natural born entrepreneur or did you develop that aptitude later on? Can you explain what you mean?
I have always been very active in the community and enjoy interacting with people. From a young age I enjoyed making bracelets and selling them, then worked in a trendy clothes store, worked my way through college, and enjoyed being productive. I would not say I am a natural born entrepreneur but that I am a hard worker.
Was there somebody in your life who inspired or helped you to start your journey with your business? Can you share a story with us?
I lost a dear friend in 2016 and was extremely sad. In November 2016 I decided to fundraise for a charity that I sponsor in Buenos Aires by selling frozen empanadas- crimping day in and day out for a month was therapeutic and being busy seemed like a good remedy for my loss.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Our products are artisanal and our service is very personable. I have customers who have become friends, who share their life stories and events with me. Recently a lady I met at the very beginning of this journey invited me to meet her college friends, teach them how to make empanadas, and tell them my story. It was so nice to be part of this 61 year friendship celebration. I don’t think this is something that happens to many business owners but it is what I love the most about what I do!
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
Drive: I was always willing and excited about the business I was starting.
Creativity: In order to stand out you have to be willing to make things just a little more special and different.
Risk Taker: I always like to encourage potential entrepreneurs to ‘start before you are ready’.
Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. Can you share a story about advice you’ve received that you now wish you never followed?
Advice has been positive in general and I have always followed my instinct , growing organically and keeping quality at its best, thanks to my amazing SCORE mentor Brian Jarvis who told me to do just that.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them create a work culture in which employees thrive and do not “burn out” or get overwhelmed?
Treat your employees with respect and reward them often.
What would you advise other business leaders to do in order to build trust, credibility, and Authority in their industry?
Be true to your core values and mission and, when possible, make it a point to give back to community.
Can you help articulate why doing that is essential today?
If you do well I think it is important to destine a portion of your profits to helping the less fortunate of this world. I believe in “paying it forward” and that is why I chose to donate a bite of every empanada to charity. A small act of kindness can create a huge impact and hopefully inspire others to do good too. We have to be socially, culturally, and environmentally responsible.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Not evaluate if there is true demand for their product or service, or whether their product is viable.
Ok fantastic. Thank you for those excellent insights, Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview about How to Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur. The journey of an entrepreneur is never easy, and is filled with challenges, failures, setbacks, as well as joys, thrills and celebrations. This might be intuitive, but I think it will be very useful to specifically articulate it. Can you describe to our readers why no matter how successful you are as an entrepreneur, you will always have fairly dramatic highs and lows? Particularly, can you help explain why this is different from someone with a “regular job”?
I always feel that owning my business can be an emotional rollercoaster: when things go well it is unbelievably rewarding and fulfilling, and when things don’t go so well you are consumed by trying to make it right. The bond with your business is so tight because it is your ‘creation’. I have 5 children and my business became my 6th child, working and caring for it 24/7. Balance is key in this equation because you still have to prioritize your other 5 children, in my case at least. You don’t get days off and you don’t work 9–5, because you think about your business all the time. As soon as the project takes off and you are able to delegate, it is important to make time for yourself and set a reasonable schedule.
Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually high and excited as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.
When I had just started a TV channel contacted me for an interview in their morning show on National Empanada Day which is on April 8th. It took me by surprise! Firstly because I didn’t know there was such a thing as a National Empanada Day , and secondly because I was so honored to be invited when I had started my business only a few months before. That event made me realize that I had actually started something real.
Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually low, and vulnerable as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.
As much as we love the highs in a business you have to be prepared for setbacks. I recall one situation that was stressful back in 2019 when I had moved from a kitchen once a week to another kitchen 3 times a week and felt like I was finally settled and comfortable, and all of a sudden the kitchen was closing with very short notice. I scrambled to find a new space and luckily everything fell into place shortly after, but while you are in the ‘low’ and everything becomes uncertain it is a very stressful time. What I have learned from the low points is that you always grow stronger and the outcomes are always so enriching. The lows force you to focus, regroup , rethink and , inevitably, grow.
Based on your experience can you tell us what you did to bounce back?
Thankfully I was able to move to my current kitchen almost immediately but the uncertainty of the unknown in the process was tough. Things worked out for the better as I now have a kitchen M-F and that allowed for more production and growth, and I like to think of lows as the opportunity for new highs.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Five Things You Need To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur”? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Drive: keep going when the going gets tough.
- Resilience: to be able to bounce back.
- Creativity: to be able innovate when necessary, to keep things interesting for the customers and for us too.
- Passion: to love what you do and do what you love.
- Faith: trust in something greater than ourselves that will carry us and guide us when needed.
We are living during challenging times and resilience is critical during times like these. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
Resilience is the ability to recover from difficulties. I believe resilient people are blessed with optimism. I admire people who under the toughest circumstances have the ability to see ‘light at the end of the tunnel’, tighten their grip and move on. It takes much self awareness and control to keep calm under stress.
Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Would you mind sharing a story?
I believe that every stumble contributes to our ability to toughen up and keep moving forward, and learning from our mistakes is key in our process of growth in all aspects. No ones life is perfect but I believe a good support system and inspiring role models make a difference in the outcome.
In your opinion, do you tend to keep a positive attitude during difficult situations? What helps you to do so?
It is not always easy to stay positive but I am blessed to have a husband who thinks that difficulties are GOOD because they make us work even harder, so he is my most positive support system!
Ok. Super. We are nearly done. What is your favorite inspirational quote that motivates you to pursue greatness? Can you share a story about how it was relevant to you in your own life?
Pay it forward. I truly believe that we have to be thankful for everything we have in our lives and to repay in kindness to others will make the world a better place. Donating a portion of our proceeds to CONIN Del Viso in Argentina, and to local charities that we like to sponsor locally , makes our business worthwhile and more meaningful.
How can our readers further follow you online?
Our store is an online store www.empanadasonthego.com and readers can follow us on instagram @jackies.empanadas and on Facebook @jackiesempanadasonthego
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!