An exclusive interview with Sofia Keady, Founder of Coila Organic. With increasing demand for healthy, natural and organic food, Sofia Keady, an average Nutritionist with big dreams and a lot of courage, accomplished her own quest of producing nutritious and delicious beverages by starting her own business called Coila Organic.
Coila Organic’s delicious blends were hand blended with love and are currently available for purchase at health food shops, independent grocers, cafes in Australia and globally through the company’s online shop.
Tell us about yourself?
I have a very curious and inquisitive mind, always seeking information on a wide variety of topics. The broader the subject matter, such as science, philosophy and metaphysics, the more it appeals to me.
My career is actually a reflection of my insatiable thirst for knowledge. At the age of 17, I worked as an Assistant Secretary for a land development consultant company in the Philippines where my father was one of the consultants. I studied Computer Science and Psychology but ended up working as Production Manager and Graphic Artist for an Australian film and creative television facility. And then, five years ago, after listening to my inner voice, realising my strengths and exploring my desired change, I mustered up the courage to pursue something that I love and passionate about which is food and nutrition.
I also love to travel as it exposes me to new types of people, different ways of living and opens up my mind to fresh ideas as well as cultural and religious philosophies.
How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
During my clinical nutrition training, I was fortunate enough to meet some lovely clients and was able to deeply understand their diet and lifestyle. I’ve learned that the majority of them drink more than 2 cups of coffee every day and have difficulty starting the day without caffeine. Skipping as little as one cup of coffee a day can make them feel nauseous, irritable, anxious and tired. This really fascinates me as I am not one of those people who find themselves unable to function in the morning without their daily caffeine intake.
So I started thinking, what are better and healthier ways to get energy without all that caffeine clogging the system? I did some research and read on the hottest trends that have emerged globally such as golden latte (turmeric), chai latte, matcha latte, lavender latte, charcoal latte and blue latte. And then I found out about beetroot latte. I said wow, beetroot! Australians have a special fondness for beetroot on burgers, so I thought why not create a drink with beetroot as the superstar? After all, beets are popular amongst a wide range of fitness and health enthusiasts and hailed as one of the top energy-boosting superfood. And so, I decided to create two beetroot latte blends and did a trial-run involving my family, friends and colleagues.
How much potential market share can you achieve in next 3 years?
I am pretty confident that the consumer demand for natural food and sustainable products will continue to rise globally. In Australia, the growth of health and wellness products are becoming the mainstream, with supermarkets developing their own range of healthy products. In the next three years, we want to penetrate the wider market by supplying Australian supermarkets with our beetroot blends.
We are also currently looking to expand our distribution network with well-established and associated food industry professionals to effectively distribute our products in Asia, North America, Middle East and Europe. We have representatives in Germany and Hungary conducting market research to determine the best distribution channels for our products.
What was the best book or series that you’ve ever read?
One of the best books I have ever read was “ How Not to Die” by Dr Michael Greger, a physician and founder of NutritionFacts.org website. The book was honest, very informative with a large and comprehensive catalogue of evidence based nutrition guidelines and practical advice for preventing chronic diseases.
What is the best and worst purchases you’ve ever made?
My best purchase is a Native American rock art, hand painted by a Navajo artist in Arizona. I bought it because of the special element associated with it, as many Native Americans believed that boundaries between the spirit world and the natural were permeable, and things like rocks were places those boundaries could be crossed.
I cannot recall my worst purchases, as I am a very peculiar buyer. I am always trying to buy things that combines best possible quality and low maintenance with reliability.
What takes up too much of your time?
Managing business and studying a Business course.
What three pieces of advice would you give to college students/new startup business owners who want to become entrepreneurs?
First of all, find a mentor/mentors who can give you support, knowledge and encouragement to help you achieve the career or business of your dreams. A great mentor teaches you how to think, not what to think.
Secondly, develop a risk management plan to identify, assess and manage business risks. It is great to be excited and to think positively about your new business but be also aware on what could go wrong, be it internal or external event. Running a business can be a dangerous occupation and the ability to identify which risks pose a threat to successful operations can minimise the risk impact.
Lastly, be humble and down to earth. Don’t let success go to your head. Humility is a sign of strength, and is a characteristic trait that every leader should develop and value.
Who has impressed you most with what they’ve accomplished?
For me, Ingvar Kamprad, the Founder of Ikea is someone I truly admired. He has made a profound and lasting impression on me not just because of the Ikea brand and global empire that he built but also because of his unique inclusive leadership style. I admire his work ethic, frugality and down-to-earth approach to life.
Tell us about something you are proud of – about your greatest challenge.
Coila Organic is my biggest achievement so far and I’m proud of the success my venture has earned. Starting and growing a business with less time, money and fewer resources are very challenging, but as long as you dream big, have passion for your business and believe in yourself, then nothing can stop you from achieving your goals and dreams.
How people should connect with you?