In Conversation with Margaret Wishingrad of Three Wishes Cereal
Describe your business in a few words?
Of course! Three Wishes is a high protein, low sugar, grain free breakfast cereal that tastes like the cereals of your childhood, made with modern day clean ingredients.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
When I had my son Ellis, I started to pay extra close attention to food ingredients, and I realized that there wasn’t a cereal on the market that I felt comfortable feeding him. After two years of development, we’ve created a product we’re really proud of – a cereal made of clean, minimal ingredients such as chickpeas and pea protein. Our brand is a play on words too, Three Wishingrads (although now four with our new baby boy!), and three key standouts of our product: high protein, low sugar, and grain free.
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
My husband Ian and I had been working together for years prior at our ad agency, BigEyedWish. We love developing brands so much that we decided to create our own!
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
I’d say so. Three Wishes is definitely a family affair, but there does have to be a leader, and I decided to sit in that big seat as the operator! The best part of running a family business is that we get to write our own destiny, and I feel really lucky for that.
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?
With our initial focus being retail, we really enjoyed getting the word out about our brand through in-store sampling! To supplement that, we have always placed an importance on social media and community management. We love being able to engage with our customers on an every day basis. Once we were unable to do in-store sampling, we decided to amp up our marketing through social and email, which has been a great way to grow our brand awareness.
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?
My husband and I worked on Three Wishes behind the scenes for two years while owning an advertising agency. Being new to product, we gave most of our time and energy to perfecting the cereal itself, and left the basics that we do for every client on the back burner. Things like brand books are our bread and butter, but we found ourselves months post-launch without having created one and in need of it as we had to redirect our focus to eComm due to COVID. We were like the barber with a bad haircut. It’s important as you grow to remember your foundation – as basic as it may seem.
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
Being nimble. We launched in October 2019 in a pre-COVID world where our focus was being on shelf, and all of that came to a screeching halt in March with quarantine. Instead of losing steam, we continued to secure shelf space among retailers like Whole Foods Market while re-doing our website and re-working our eComm strategy to capitalize on the increase in online shopping. Our brand also recently won a NEXTY award for Best Clean Product, so we’re very excited about that!
When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?
We’re a family brand – our faces are on the box! – so a hire to us is like having a new person join the family. Outside of making sure an interviewee has a strong background in the area we’re hiring for, we like to make interviews more of a conversation. My husband and I met and lived in New York City, so we always love to ask an interviewee their favorite NYC restaurant as an icebreaker to get to learn a bit more about their personality.
How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
My husband and I have pretty much launched and scaled our brand entirely in the age of coronavirus, and we have learned so much along the way. We really value our relationships with both of our customers – retailers and individual shoppers – and immediately sought to implement a plan to figure out how to continue stocking our retailers’ shelves, as well as assist our manufacturers with their jobs. We’ve had to get surgical with execution both in stores and online, and quite a few retail launches were halted, but the entire process has been a great learning experience.
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
We’re extremely humbled by the amount of love and support we’ve received from consumers purchasing both in store and online, and we’re continuing to work towards an even better product and brand each day. We’re also working on some fun new products too, aside from just cereal. The goal is to continue taking unhealthy, “naughty” foods and creating a much healthier version of them.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?
You don’t need to know it all from the get go, learning along the way is part of the fun!
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?
I’ve learned to overcome rejection by turning any obstacle into an opportunity. Entrepreneurship is a rollercoaster in itself, but everything will turn out alright if you keep a positive mindset. Patience is key. There is no overnight success. You need to stick to a game plan, because there are a lot of not-so glorious parts of the business. Grittiness can never be underestimated!
How have you managed to stay grounded this year?
This is an easy one! My family. They are my everything. Our company holds the same family values as it does business values – to be honest, work hard and love. If there is a silver lining in all of the chaos, it’s that we as a society are now spending more time with our loved ones. And I wouldn’t have it any other way!
What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?
I’m Israeli born and Brooklyn raised!
What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?
There’s nothing like a long steamy shower to clear the mind and reset for a productive day ahead, and starting the day with a good breakfast is pretty important too! Once I have a clear mind and a full, happy tummy, I like to touch base with my team to go over priorities for the day.
What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?
To me, being an Entreprenista means finding a good work life balance, enjoying what you’re working towards, and putting your all into every project. Resilience is key!