Alicia and Alejandra Torres-Candè of Lasto Foods on why you will never be ready to launch a business, but should do it anyways
Describe your business in a few words?
Lasto Foods is a company that produces almond and peanut butter and packages it in squeezable containers for maximum convenience. We do not add any oils or emulsifiers because we believe in the power of simplicity and natural ingredients.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
We’ve always been very passionate about health and wellness since a very young age. Our family is very active and health conscious, and we always knew that we wanted to do something around the wellness industry. We were both stuck in our careers and wanted a change. So we asked ourselves: Why not now?
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
We were both in very different industries before starting Lasto Foods. We have backgrounds in professional cooking and finance, which are very different but perfect in a lot of ways. We take care of different sides of the business, and we work great as a team.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
Yes, we both did. We grew up in a family of entrepreneurs, and we always knew we wanted to have something of our own in the future. Entrepreneurship can be really tough but also incredibly rewarding and fulfilling. I don’t think we see each other doing anything but this, and we feel incredibly grateful to be working together on a project we are extremely passionate about.
Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?
A lot of the strategies we had at the beginning did not work, but that’s the thing about launching a business: it’s all about trial and error, gathering information, learning from it, pivoting and moving forward. To be honest, we did not have a marketing strategy at the beginning, but we did give out a lot of our product to people to gauge their opinion. Thankfully our product was very well received and people just started sharing on social media little by little until we became a big community.
We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?
We have made many mistakes from which we have learned. I think the one that really strikes us the most happened when the company was in the scaling process. We were a tiny company when we started. It was just the two of us doing literally everything. We grew incredibly fast and could not keep up with all the work, so we started to lose some important details which cost us clients and a lot of money. We were simply not prepared for this to happen so fast, which of course is an important problem to have but we had to learn to always be prepared and to not take more than you can handle.
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
Having the courage to launch a business! You really are never going to be ready and we have always admired people who take risks in general. We live by this motto: “Fear the fear, do it anyways.”
When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?
We always want to see how people are going to react to a variety of scenarios. Typically we will ask questions on how candidates would handle certain situations, what are their thoughts on different matters, how they react to stress, etc. We want to learn from employees and having people whose opinion and judgment we respect is crucial towards building a good team.
How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Ironically our business took off when the pandemic started. We invested a lot of time doing research and development and marketing during this time. We had to pivot with our strategies as most people had to and it worked. We started growing online and that led to more wholesale accounts, more sales and more brand awareness.
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
We want to expand our product line with different flavors and presentations. We also want to be able to educate our customers more on health and wellness topics. A lot of fun things are coming!
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?
Try to see problems as opportunities. You’ve probably heard this a million times but a change in perspective is key towards addressing all of our life’s challenges. Every time we are facing a difficult situation we ask ourselves: How can we see this differently? The answer always comes.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?
I wish I had asked for more advice from experts. At first we were really shy about asking questions or opinions to others, and we have found that there are many good people out there in the world who genuinely want to help you. While Google does have many of the answers, asking someone for advice can save a lot of time and energy.
How have you managed to stay grounded this year?
We take self-care very seriously for us and for our employees. Even though being an entrepreneur is a demanding job, we are very strict about eight hour work days. We believe in the importance of rest and how it impacts our performance.
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
Of course! That is what we preach in our brand. You need to have balance in every aspect of your life – mind, body and soul – to have a wholesome life. We take downtime very seriously and make space for it. We both have hobbies and wind-down activities, and the time we take for that is non-negotiable.
What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?
We are sisters! A lot of people don’t know this, but we are super close and we love working together. It is great to work with family, especially when you have a great relationship and your abilities complement each other. We feel incredibly grateful for this.
What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?
- Make a list of everything you need to do, from the smallest thing to the biggest.
- Choose the three most important things and do those first. Categorize the rest and distribute it throughout the day or week.
- Take rest very seriously.
What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?
We really hope that one day there will be complete gender equality and the term will not be categorized as ‘female entrepreneur’ but only entrepreneur. But to us that means having the opportunity and privilege to work on a project that we’re not only passionate about but that will impact the life of other people positively. Our greatest joy is to inspire other women to chase a life that they are proud of.