Meghan Flather’s genius idea to start an organic popsicle company came to her in a place where most people do their best thinking—in a car, surrounded by bumper-to-bumper traffic.
“It came up two years ago—I was driving down the street, and I saw a guy with a popsicle and I thought, I would run him over for that popsicle! I just really wanted it,” she explains. “It was hot out!”
But the thought of an organic ice pop option stuck with Flather long after rush hour. “It was one of those weird ideas in your head that just doesn’t go away, and a year and a half later I was like down the rabbit hole like, “Well, I have this food company now.”
And that’s how Sunday Cats, Flather’s organic ice pop company, was born. We sat down with Meghan to pick her brain about the ups and downs of entrepreneurship, how to start an organic food company, and why you should be careful about how much money you raise from investors.
“Food was always a super important to me. There’s something really cool about knowing how to take care of yourself, it imparts some sort of power to you and gives you the confidence to feel like you can take care of others, too.
Not a lot of people know how to take care of themselves, especially when it comes to food. And the food industry doesn’t set us up to learn how to do that. There’s a lot of what I call “food elitism”—the industry makes it confusing to eat healthily. For most people, food is your first line of defense. It’s your first form of healthcare.
And there’s really no healthy ice pops out there. And just to have something fun and whimsical and make you smile, and it’s like a healthy gateway food for kids.”
How she knew Sunday Cats was an idea worth pursuing
“I’ve always been entrepreneurial, but this one [idea] was my baby. It was so much more challenging than anything I’d ever tried, and I really really liked that. The idea in itself was simple—but then it came to finding the right manufacturer, sorting out the proper ingredients, making sure that this was all going to work because this particular product doesn’t already exist (there’s no organic ice pops on the market), so figuring out how to bring that to life and how to find the right partners was the challenging.
And there were so many times where I was like, Why am I even doing this, this is so dumb. Over ice pops? Really, Meghan? Get a real job. Why does this matter?
I just kept at it because there was something in me that really felt there was something about it that was going to be worthwhile. There’s no real rhyme or reason—I can’t explain why I didn’t stop doing it because there were so many times I wanted to.”
On how to deal when things don’t work out as planned
“Every setback that happened—and there were a lot of setbacks—it was kind of like, OK well, this is the direction we’re going in now. For example, our first round of production didn’t get finished in time to get in stores, so I said, Alright, let’s use these for sampling, for marketing, for product testing.
You can’t waste any opportunity you get. I don’t think there was any genius decision I made—I was just holding on. That’s all it is—you’re just holding on. A lot of the times you want to let go and say, Whatever, this is dumb. But you just have to hold on and use what you have, where you are.”
The thing that keeps her going when things get tough
“What’s the thing that keeps you from quitting? Well, there’s no other option. I think if you set yourself up in a certain way, you have to survive.
If I decide to quit this and do something else, I’m going to run into the same problems. A lot of the tough things that an entrepreneur deals with are just life problems—the only thing is that you don’t have the buffer of having someone else take responsibility for you.
As soon as you see it that way, you realise that even if I left this and moved to Costa Rica and became a surf bum, there’s gonna be issues there with people, with yourself, with your survival, that you’re going to have to face. So you might as well do it because it’s giving you the best opportunity to carve your own path.”
The biggest lesson she’s learned
“You’re never going to be completely comfortable with everything that’s happening, so you have to just push through.”
Best piece of advice she’d give other aspiring female entrepreneurs
“Everything is possible, it’s just how difficult is it going to be to do it. And I would say you need a lot less money than you think.
If you have the opportunity to take a lot of money, just don’t—you don’t need it, and you’re going to end up spending it on things you don’t need or not using it. You can do it for a lot less than you think, and it actually allows to you focus on the important stuff. It’s OK to be small and grow slowly.”