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So You Wanna Start A Protein Powder Brand with Emily Hanna from Hanna Valley Protein

Welcome to our So You Wanna Start A... series, designed to give you a behind-the-scenes sneak peek at the journeys that went into creating some of your favorite local brands.

Today's guest is Emily Hanna from Hanna Valley Protein, a Protein Powder Brand in the Des Moines community. 

Our favorite piece of advice: "Never tell your big dreams to small-minded people." Emily Hanna shared this piece of advice she received from someone else and we love the meaning behind it. You know what you're capable of and you can't let someone else try to keep you inside of a box!

If you're curious about starting a protein powder brand, learn a little more from Emily and connect with her using the links below!

1. What do you own and why did you start this business? 

I own Hanna Valley Protein and we specialize in organic, plant-based protein powder. There are only five ingredients in each of our flavors. We keep it very simple and don't add all of the junk that commercial protein powders have in them. We started because of my own health struggles and we wanted to bring a product to people that was affordable, that they didn't have to wonder where it was coming from, and they would be able to trust the source.

2. What is an early win you had that made you feel like you were on the right path?

We weren't sure if we were gonna do this because it was hard to believe I was starting something that wasn't in my background. I knew the person that ran the local farmers market and she told me she liked the idea and to apply. Then we figured out all of the logistics that went into applying for it, and we did it and I realized people actually liked it. It was never something that I planned to go beyond my own walls, but then my friends and family were asking for it. It turned into something that I didn't expect, but I'm so grateful it did. The earliest win was probably having a successful market season and realizing that it's turning into something real.

3. What's one of the biggest challenges you’ve had?

We've had so many! When we first started talking about it, I called Iowa State because things I was looking up were not giving me answers. We went to this class in Nebraska at the university and it was about starting a food-based business. It had great information, but it basically shot down all of our dreams. The minimum they said it was going to cost to start this business didn't match what we were able to put into it. We didn't want to go into debt to build this business. Even if it was slow, we wanted to do it in a way that was according to our values. I ended up seeing my friend that's in charge of the farmers market at a grad party and I told her my idea wasn't going to happen and it wasn't possible. Her encouragement is what ended up pulling us back into the business because we almost didn't do go for it because of that class. That was our first major hurdle and looking back I didn't know that at the time.

4. What are three pieces of advice you’d give to aspiring local business owners in your industry?

1) Just start it! If you're a parent, you're never ready to have a child. You're never ready to buy your first house. You're never ready. I think just start no matter how slow you go. Let me tell you there's been times when I'm going so slow and I'm still moving the right way, but I just don't ever want to stop. Keep moving forward and just try it! If something doesn't work, try it another way or try it again. Never tell your big dreams to small-minded people and that's the best advice I've ever gotten. No one is in your mind, no one is in your heart, and no one knows what you're capable of.

2) Remember your why. When you get started, you feel this pressure and you don't want to miss something. There's been times when I've allowed my business, which I am so passionate about and do believe is right, to consume me to the point where I was losing my priorities and the reason why I was doing it. I think it's important to find that balance and set your priorities and don't allow outside influences to wavier those. The journey will happen as it's meant to. If you start losing the things that are the most important to you, then what's the point?

3) Community is important. Another part that's made this enjoyable is the small business community. Entrepreneurship can be very lonely and it was for me for a long time. I started learning more about the small business community and how important small businesses are because it was new to me to shop small. There's a misconception that everything’s so much more expensive and it's not. It's also quality over quantity and what you think is more important. The small business community cheers you on and being a part of Love Local is the same way. I know that I can contact anybody when I'm having a hard time or when things are going great. It's fun to have people to celebrate with you and people that get it and can pick you back up.

5. Where is your business heading next and what are you excited about?

I believe that the sky is the limit. I have a problem with putting a ceiling on things and I think a lot of us do that with what we're capable of. I want to be bold and unstoppable and I don't know where that's going to lead. My heart is into making the biggest impact that I can and I want to provide a product, but also it's a gateway into helping people. I'm excited to get into more stores and go beyond Iowa. We've got some new products that are going to come out soon including our fall pumpkin spice flavor. I'm excited about new products coming out and seeing where things go from here.

Find Emily & Hanna Valley:

Instagram: @hannavalleyprotein
Facebook: @HannaValleyProtein

Want to be featured in our SYWSA series? Fill out our contact form here to get the ball rolling.


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