Entrepreneurs often have to balance their small businesses with full-time jobs, having a social life, and finding the time to decompress. sanaía APPLESAUCE founder Keisha Smith-Jeremie is taking her balancing act to the next level as she builds out her brand while being the top human resources executive at a Fortune 500 company.
“I’m working before I go into the office, I have my team meetings on weekends, I do other work at night,” Smith-Jeremie said. “If you’re going to do both, you need to be able to draw boundaries to make sure you’re honoring the commitment that you’ve made to your job.”
sanaía APPLESAUCE, an applesauce brand created for adults, launched in 2017. Smith-Jeremie said she got her love for fresh fruits from her home in the Bahamas and began making applesauce in her spare time in college. She began mixing flavors that would be more appealing for older groups. sanaía APPLESAUCE now has six flavors, including blackberry, ginger, guava, hibiscus, lavender pear, and tamarind.
Smith-Jeremie has been bootstrapping her company and said that entrepreneurs need to make sure that they have the cash flow to run their businesses before quitting their day jobs.
“There’s a lot of pressure on entrepreneurs to jump before that moment,” Smith-Jeremie said. “Hold on to your job for as long as you need to because cash flow is the most critical part of running any company.”
Now making the healthy snack is more than a hobby for Smith-Jeremie as she works to expand the brand’s reach while maintaining her role as a chief people officer. She said working in human resources for more than two decades has helped her create a small, effective team for her own company.
“I’ve seen a lot of executives try to do things on their own, and I’ve seen how that can actually stunt the business and growth,” the creator said. “It was important for me to hire a team pretty early because I don’t have the luxury of being able to do it all by myself.”
Smith-Jeremie’s best friend has been an integral part of the team. Smith-Jeremie is the godmother of her best friend’s child, and the company’s name is also inspired by the little girl.
“I took her to the store to see the applesauce on the shelves at Walmart,” Smith-Jeremie said. “It’s been amazing to watch the sense of pride coming from her. She feels like this is her business, and I love that.”
Smith-Jeremie had the chance to pitch sanaía APPLESAUCE and received funding from business mogul Mark Cuban. Thanks to other Black women entrepreneurs who had been on the show before her, Smith-Jeremie had all of the hacks to handle the booming orders that came in after the show.
“SharkTank is like a national television commercial,” Smith-Jeremie said. “The traffic that we got after SharkTank was incredible.”
sanaía APPLESAUCE is now available in 800 Walmarts nationwide and online on Amazon.