Travelling is THE BEST. Whether it’s a quick weekend trip or a 3-month backpacking adventure, there’s just something about hopping on a plane and visiting a different place that gives you a sense of thrill and excitement.
But while we all love traveling, there are definitely aspects of it that are less enjoyable. Have you ever dreaded the inevitable bloating that comes with a long flight, or faced the repercussions of forgetting to drink enough water because you’re running around everywhere?
Here’s where FLIGHTFŪD comes in. Created by Co-Founders Kaeli Bauman and Jamie Renny, this travel wellness brand is helping travellers stay healthy in the most delicious and convenient way possible.
Tell us about FLIGHTFŪD and how it got started! What inspired you to create it?
FLIGHTFŪD is a travel wellness brand and everything we do is focused on empowering you to travel more and stay healthy. On Oct. 1, 2019, we launched our flagship product called Inflight Elixir, a drink mix to support your body in the air.
There are 6 main effects of flying and Inflight Elixir targets those effects using a unique blend of superfoods, like coconut water powder for hydration and goji berry powder for circulation.
I was inspired to create FLIGHTFŪD while working as a Flight Attendant. I got curious about what was happening to my body while flying and about the long term effects of spending 100+ hours a month at 35,000 feet.
I first looked for a product like Inflight Elixir. It was important to find a convenient all-in-one solution because I was always on the go; When I couldn’t find the product I was looking for, I created it.
Did you always want to be an entrepreneur?
Actually I did! I saw opportunity everywhere when I was younger and started several little “businesses”. I sold knock-off designer purses in high school (think Canal Street in NYC, but in a small town in BC), started a snow-cone stand during recess in elementary school (inspired by a recent family trip to Hawaii), and sold “fish tanks” door-to-door which were mason jars with some rocks and minnows caught from a pond.
My parents were small business owners and I was drawn to the flexibility it offered them with their time – they could (almost) always work around any school or sport event I had.
What were you doing before starting FLIGHTFŪD?
I started out working in hospitality – I thought that I wanted to become an exec for a luxury hotel company or airline and eventually start something of my own; I worked for Fairmont Hotels, Disney, Four Seasons, and WestJet. When I had the idea for FLIGHTFŪD I made a pivot to the e-commerce tech industry to learn more – first with Shopify and now with ReCharge Payments.
What were the first few steps you took to launch FLIGHTFŪD (ie. getting a business license, figuring out packaging, experimenting with different ingredients and superfoods etc)?
I had no idea how I was going to create FLIGHTFŪD, so the first step was research. I started researching information about food products and supplements with Health Canada and the FDA – all the rules and regulations, I knew it was going to be important to have a solid foundation.
Second, I created a Facebook group called the “Flight Attendant Nutrition Hub” which grew to over 7000 members. I used this group to connect with people in the industry and use it as a focus group to learn about their needs and if they wanted a product like Inflight Elixir. I needed to know if other people besides myself would want to buy this product; I guess you could call it market research!
Thirdly, I started researching ingredients and sourcing product to begin experimenting with formulas. I studied Holistic Nutrition through the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition and knew that I wanted to create a product using whole food ingredients instead of isolated nutrients.
Some new entrepreneurs create a detailed business plan while others prefer to wing it! What was your process like?
I’m definitely more of a wing-it type of girl and I did not have a traditional business plan. I did however have a very clear vision for the brand from the beginning. I have a one-page document which is more of a brand and product roadmap. It covers things like our target customer, distribution channels, and our mission.
What goes into creating a nutritional product that you think people might not know about?
There’s a lot of pre-work and research required, like sourcing ingredients, working with formulators, working with governing bodies like the FDA and Health Canada etc.
Once a concept product is created, you need to find a manufacturer to produce your product as well as a flexible packaging supplier for things like your boxes, bags, packaging which holds your product. And as always, having a go-to-market strategy is really important (just like with any other business).
What were some of the challenges you faced in the early days of the business and how did you overcome them?
Early on in the business I would have loved to have had someone just tell me everything I didn’t know, but since I didn’t have that person, I spent nearly 3 years just putting one foot in front of the other” and doing a lot of foundational work and learning a lot about the industry.
It was difficult and lonely starting the company by myself, and so I knew that I wanted to find a cofounder to help bring the brand to life.
How did you first meet co-founder Jamie Renney?
I met Jamie about 3 years ago. We were both living in Nelson BC at that time and we met through an entrepreneurs morning coffee group.
At what point did you realize FLIGHTFŪD was doing well enough to support you both full-time?
I’m actually not doing FLIGHTFŪD full-time yet, I’m still working as a Recruiter. I dedicate mornings, evenings, and weekends to FLIGHTFŪD and work remotely for another company during the day. Jamie co-owns a hostel in Nelson as well.
We’ve been really intentional about planting seeds for the long-term growth of FLIGHTFŪD so we’re focused on reinvesting in the business to fuel its growth instead of taking a salary ourselves (right now). I want to avoid making decisions in a hurry or taking short cuts which can happen when you look to a new business to support you financially.
What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs who are dealing with frustration and self-doubt in the early stages of their businesses?
Firstly, it’s important to do some self-awareness work and make sure you are in business for the right reasons. Is this something you are passionate about, like really passionate about? If it’s not, it will feel really discouraging because a business requires a lot of time and work without any initial reward, and still the reward is never guaranteed.
For those who are in business for the right reasons, I would tell them to be patient and be tenacious. Keep putting work into it every single day, even if it’s just 30 minutes, you have to keep the momentum going.
Most importantly, take care of yourself and invest in your personal development. Learn key skills like persuasion, negotiation, storytelling – these will give you a leg up in all situations in life, especially in business.
How do you deal with burnout as an entrepreneur?
I turn off all electronics and get outside. It’s the most effective, simple solution to just unplug.
What other wellness tips do you have for frequent travellers?
Pay attention to what you eat when you travel. It can be tempting to go for the wine or Shake Shake burger at the airport, but your digestive system is especially sensitive when flying, so by being hyper-vigilant about eating clean, unprocessed food during travel you’ll feel so much better when you land.
Also, get outside as soon as you land. Even a 10 minute walk outside will feel so good.
What are 5 things you absolutely must have in your carry on?
Refillable water bottle
Oversized jacket which can double as a blanket
Notebook (I use planes to contemplate and brainstorm)
Snacks like carrots and hummus, bulletproof bars, and Inflight Elixir
What’s next for FLIGHTFŪD? Are there any new products we can look forward to?
We’re going to be focused on building brand awareness and growing our flagship product for a while – but in the future, expect food products 😉