Christy Venter is a Glenmont, New York-based entrepreneur who was tired of the unhealthy snack options that were provided in school vending machines. As a certified Holistic Health Coach, Venter is passionate about healthy eating and as a mother she saw first hand how junk food companies marketed their products to kids. She decided to do something about it. She started by putting her own ‘healthy’ vending machines in local schools, libraries and offices. Eventually she scaled up her business HealthyMe Living to include a monthly snack subscription box that ships all over the country. Subscribers can choose healthy snack boxes for kids, adults or the whole family and options change every month. Today Venter is balancing growing the business as a solopreneur with the goal of eventually hiring a team to help her expand even further.
Venter’s story, as told to The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project:
What was your reason for starting your business?
I saw how much access there was to really unhealthy snacks in vending machines so I decided to start my own healthy vending machine business. I placed machines in area schools, libraries and offices. It was well-liked and I was growing to the point where it was no longer sustainable for one person to be running the whole show. I found I could only service local machines, so I decided to start shipping snack boxes throughout the country so that there was more access to healthier delicious options for snacking. I change up the boxes each month – it is exciting to find and share new healthier snack options.
How do you define success?
To have others find new healthier options that they are excited about and start to replace some unhealthier options. I’ve heard from so many people who have tried a product from their snack box and it has become a new staple in their pantry. Discovering new healthier options that they otherwise would never have tried, is exciting for me to hear. These small changes lead to many healthier outcomes down the road.
Tell us about your biggest success to date
Hearing people say that their kids or parents or grandparents love the healthy snacks and how glad they are about that. It always feels good to give and receive a gift. It feels even better to send one that will be enjoyed and also benefit their health. Parents especially love seeing their kids enjoy the new snacks.
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
Trying to do it all. Being the one to find, purchase and pack the boxes as well as the marketing, customer service and technology is hard. I’m still working on addressing this and trying to find ways to get some assistance. I love what I do and can’t afford to pay someone just yet. I’m hoping I can grow a bit more and then develop a team. Shipping is also a challenge since the prices keep going up and customers are used to free and fast shipping from other companies such as Amazon. I’m trying very hard to keep it free but it’s becoming quite a large expense.
Have you experienced any significant personal situations that have affected your business decisions?
Having children myself, I saw first hand how junk food companies targeted them with marketing. I’ve tried hard to push against that.
What is your biggest tip for other startup entrepreneurs?
Be organized and consistent. I’m still working on keeping up with consistent social media posting, emailing and newsletters.
How do you find inspiration on your darkest days?
I see how far we still have to go with cleaning up our diets. Every small change is a step in the right direction. We won’t solve it all right away but baby steps is all it takes.
Who is your most important role model?
Companies who are creating these great new products and working so hard to do it with high quality products, sustainable ingredients and finding ways to give back. There are so many great companies out there and it’s not always easy to do what’s right. ◼