Brittany Canty recently left the tech world to combine her passion of snacks and travel to launch Comfort Eats with her best friend. In her previous life she was a developer turned product manager, even earning herself a patent along the way. Currently she travels the globe, tasting all the amazingness that this world has to offer and hopes to bring comfort to every person away from their home as they thrive in their new environments.
Where did the idea for Comfort Eats come from?
The idea for Comfort Eats came from my last trip to New Zealand, where I visited my best friend and co-founder, Reina. She moved to New Zealand with her husband a few years ago from Chicago, IL. While I’ve only visited her 2x in those years, each time I packed my suitcase FULL of the snacks that she missed. So on that long flight back, I realized that there was an opportunity here for others to get that taste of home that they missed so much. And then I remembered the trouble that I had when I was trying to find a service to send her those snacks for her birthday, and I tried every combination of words in google and came across one site that only had 1 predetermined box, mostly of things I knew she didn’t like. At that point, I knew I had to do this.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
There is no typical day, and that’s the way I like it! A day could include anything from packaging up orders and walking them to UPS or USPS. It could include adding new items to the shop, which we do every 7-10 days. And then of course, looking at the data. Not just sales data, but what products customers are requesting, what locations are they coming from, how are our ads doing, etc. And then trying to figure out what needs to be tweaked and how to get more awareness of our brand.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I work with my fantastic co-founder. We’ve worked together in the past so we work really well together, plus she’s a design genius! She can take what’s in my head and make it a reality visually.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I love that people are becoming more culturally aware, we are seeing it with Comfort Eats too. We initially thought that only American expats would be interested in our products, but we’ve seen other cultures be really interested in trying American snacks for the first time, and I love it! I can’t wait until we expand to global snacks, I think it’s a great way for people to learn about other cultures and food is a great way to form that connection.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
My past as a product manager has given me lots of experience in managing complex projects and products, with massive teams of people. So managing myself is only slightly easier. I try to have 1 goal per day. Whether that’s responding to an interview, or recording a taste test. Making sure that I accomplish one solid thing a day gives me the freedom to take the day as it comes and not feel too structured, while still making sure that I’m progressing on my goals.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Trust your gut! The world has a way of putting its insecurities on young people, and pressuring them to double and triple guess themselves. Unfortunately, that then carries itself into adulthood and can be really paralyzing for a lot of people. I would tell the younger me that you have a gift that’s unique to you, trust it, listen to it, and follow it. It will never lead you astray.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Self-care! Listen I built a business around it! It’s great that self-care is really mainstream now, but unfortunately, most people think bubble baths and candles. And while that’s nice, true self-care goes WAY beyond that and entirely more personal. For me, having a slice of pie at the end of a stressful day is entirely self-care. There’s enough pressure to look a certain way or eat nothing by leaves during the day that my self-care is being happy in my skin, indulging in a slice of pie and not caring. I also turn off my phone, spend 3hrs reading a romance novel and watch movies as a form of self-care.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Listening to our customers. We’ve built this business around people, making sure that we have ways to hear from them on a regular basis. It’s not only important for the success of the business, it’s important to me.
By listening to our customers, we understand more deeply what they want from us, and how they use our products. We ensure that we are solving their problem and not the problem we think they have.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
In the very early days, I registered my business with a virtual office/coworking that I had never been to. I knew of the space, it was down the street from my apartment, but I had never been inside. So when all the paperwork was done, I had filed it with the city and paid my fee, 3-4 weeks later I went to sign up at that virtual office place, I found out that they didn’t really exist! I called multiple times, went by and couldn’t get in. I had to change my business address to a different coworking space, pay another fee and wait another 3-4 weeks which pushed back the official launch, but I definitely learned a valuable lesson.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Most big US cities have massive convention halls, and for each convention, there is so much money being spent on sending people to man booths. Not just the travel expenses, but also the time invested. I feel like there’s a more efficient way to provide the labor, particularly since most of the time people are just giving out flyers and swag. I think a company could source local people, with different levels of needs and train them onsite to fulfill the needs of their clients, thereby saving the client a ton of money.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Extending my trip to New Zealand. It was much more than $100, but I wanted to stay a few extra days to be apart of a very special experience.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Trello. I used it a lot in my product development days, and it’s a lightweight task management system that can be customized in so many ways. I use it to ensure I am prioritizing the 2 most important things and any given point. It helps me focus while making sure that I capture all the other random things that float through my head on a given day.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Necessary Endings. It’s a little untraditional because it’s not a business book, but this book helps you understand that some things need to end, and it’s perfectly ok at times even great that they do. This book helped me realize it was time for me to leave Corporate America to do Comfort Eats full time. It also reminds me to focus on certain things in my life, that I need the energy and space to do a few things really well and now spread myself so thin on things that don’t matter as much.
What is your favorite quote?
I’m going to modify it a little, but its “Don’t be afraid of failure; be afraid of an unlived life” I used a version of this as my senior quote in high-school. But it’s a great reminder that we have one life to live on this earth, we need to make the most of it. Waiting is never going to get you to where you want to be.
- Self-care comes in different ways. Do what’s authentic to you.
- You have everything you need to succeed, trust yourself.
- Customers are at the core of what you do, listen to them.
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.