Hema Reddy was a working mother of two who didn’t want to choose between convenient snacks and healthy living. Now, with Crafty Counter, she’s providing everyone with better food options.
Crafty Counter’s WunderEggs are a true plant-based alternative to hard-boiled eggs, perfect for salads, snacking, and so much more. Made from 100% real, quality ingredients, these wholesome marvels are good for your body, the planet, and factory-farmed chickens all at once.
Recently, we caught up with Hema to learn more about her journey and hear her advice for fellow entrepreneurs.
1. Why did you start Crafty Counter?
I started Crafty Counter to create food products that introduce more plants into everyone’s everyday meal choices. Growing up in India, I watched my parents obsess about wholesome ingredients. Cooking for family and friends was their love language. And they never compromised on quality.
When I migrated to the U.S. about 21 years ago, I was a young mom who was often on the road. I realized that there was a lack of convenient, whole food options in supermarkets. Then, in 2020, my family and I switched to a plant-based lifestyle. We really missed eating eggs.
After two-and-a-half years in development, we are humbled to say that our Hard Boiled WunderEggs look, taste, and feel very similar to chicken eggs. They’re here to fill that nostalgic gap with a delicious fulfilling experience.
2. What obstacles did you face along the way?
So many. Oh, so many obstacles! Imagine doing R&D with little to no funding for a product and process that didn’t exist in the entire world. This was all during the height of COVID, when the country was plagued with labor issues and long delays in securing everything from raw materials to machinery.
Every time I hit a wall and consulted with a food science expert, I was told to add questionable ingredients to get past it. But I refused to compromise on the integrity of the product. For me, plant-forward meant eating foods with simple whole foods ingredients from harvest to plate, with the fewest stops possible along the way. This meant that the process became even more important.
Another obstacle was finding a manufacturing partner and capability for a custom designed line. I had two very terrible experiences where I put my trust and money in partners that didn’t have the best intentions.
Lastly, it was difficult to find venture capital funds that believed in our idea. I would hear, “Is there even a market for egg alternatives?” or “You are too early,” or “If you can do it, anyone else can, so your business isn’t defensible.” That’s when I emptied my personal savings and connected with a handful of angel investors who truly believed our vision.
3. What lessons do you have for other entrepreneurs?
You cannot scale a business without scaling you. A wise person said that and I fully believe it. Entrepreneurs must invest the time in strengthening their mental and physical health.
Remember that it always takes longer than you think — and more capital than you think — to achieve your goals. Plan for a safety net as you may not draw a paycheck for a long while. Do not follow the unicorn stories, because 98% of startups don’t fall in the unicorn category. You will need grit, perseverance, and the ability to quickly pivot based on market conditions and consumer behavior.
Never make any idea or business about you. The mission comes first and that mission has to be about the greater good. You must live by the impact statement intentionally. You need to define success at two different levels, personal and business. Business success doesn’t define you.
4. What’s on the horizon for Crafty Counter?
We are building an entire egg shelf as a new destination for shoppers. Our vision is to replace any chicken eggs-based product needs with an egg-free equivalent. Stay tuned for exciting new products to come!
5. How do you keep work/life balance? What drives/inspires you?
Balance is a frame of mind. The only way to maintain that frame of mind is to invest in a routine that ensures its optimum state. I never deviate from my morning routine of waking up at 5am to exercise, stretch, and listen to a podcast on spirituality and prayer. I am an ardent listener of various commentaries on Bhagavad Gita.
Starting your day with a clear mind is paramount to how that day goes and your ability to bring the best version of yourself for your family, your team, and the workplace. Of course, there are times when I don’t wake up early enough or miss a day, but I get back at it as soon as I can.
I also involve my kids and family in the journey, whether it’s talking about our day or having them participate in product development, sampling, store visits, and social media content.
Allocating a percentage of time in selfless giving is also important to me. On Saturday mornings I like to do grocery store food recovery runs, helping to ensure that food products set aside by the local co-ops can be taken to a local church serving the homeless.
Always having a perspective and being grateful for everything that comes your way with a sense of surrender is liberating and empowering at the same time.
- Meet the Founder