“To succeed, you need more than just a good idea.”
Rachel Roth, Serial Entrepreneur and founder of OperaNuts
Rachel Roth, founder and CEO of OperaNuts, is a true entrepreneur. Even as she was pursuing a successful career as a fashion marketing executive and journalist, she was always spotting market opportunities and creating products to meet consumer needs. “I had a great career at major fashion companies including Liz Claiborne and Ellen Tracy, but always hungered to do something on my own,” says Rachel. “I am a doer.”
Rachel’s love of good food and opera led to her first business at Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. When she discovered that attendees were offered a limited menu of hot dogs and beans, she spotted an opportunity, and A Moveable Feast Picnics was born. Rachel ran her gourmet business for 8 years on the weekends while keeping her full-time job. Then, after Rachel was diagnosed with high cholesterol, she created Rachel’s Guiltless Cakebreads, made with no butter, eggs, and sugar. Today, Rachel is the founder and of OperaNuts, a delicious mix of dark chocolate and almonds coated in her own secret sea salt sauce.
We asked Rachel what she thinks has led to her success as an entrepreneur. Here are her thoughts:
While experience and enthusiasm remain important attributes for any entrepreneur, in today’s world founders must also be tech savvy. “I knew marketing and merchandising, and I had experience in the food business, but today’s technology is different,” says Rachel. “I knew I needed help if I was going to make OperaNuts a success.” So Rachel went to New York Cares, where she was paired with a volunteer tutor who helped her become adept at using technology to promote her business. Today, Rachel leverages her website, email communications and social media presence to promote and sell her product.
It’s not enough to have a good idea. Success requires patience and a lot of legwork. Rachel started small, testing her product with a few people at a time as she worked to find the best ingredients and the perfect recipe. She brought her nuts to dinners with friends and gave samples to people she knew. For example, she asked her hairdresser to try her nuts. He liked them so much he agreed to sell them in his shop for the Christmas season. Another friend who worked at Williams Sonoma asked her to participate in their Artisan’s Market held in January. “I spent 2 months scrambling to promote the event and sold out. Now, I sell OperaNuts at pop-up shops in Williams Sonoma, West Elm and Kiehl’s. We also ship to 44 states and the UK, Denmark, France, Spain, and Australia.”
Starting a business is like having a baby. It takes time and you have to be willing to sacrifice other things. “People don’t always understand what it takes to make a business successful. It took 2 years for me to perfect my product and get people to buy it,” says Rachel. Rachel also notes that you need to understand your customer and to keep an eye at all times on the competition. “I was always thinking about my business – how to improve my product, how to increase my orders. And I gave up other activities like going to movies or reading books because I wanted to work on ensuring my business succeeded. I am lucky I have a great customer base. People wait for my nuts. But it took a lot of hard work to get here.”
To learn more about Rachel’s story and to place your order for OperaNuts, go to https://operanuts.com/
Copyright© 2020 Emelie Smith Calbick and Betty Wong