Blume CEO on Going from Side-Hustle to the Superstore Aisle

Meet a business owner who grew their side hustle into a successful product line carried by the biggest retailers in Canada. Small Business BC sat down with Karen Danudjaja, Founder and CEO of Blume, to learn more about her journey.

Now, Blume is available at more than 4,000 stores across North America, including Whole Foods, Erewhon, Loblaws, and Real Canadian Superstore. Karen shared how she took Blume from a side hustle to a successful business, creating kinder wellness rituals for all in the process.

Filling a Gap in the Market

Karen attended UBC’s Sauder School of Business, where she focused on real estate finance. When she graduated, she entered commercial real estate and worked as a property project manager for around five years. It wasn’t a perfect fit for her, and she started Blume as a side hustle.

Blume was a solution to two problems she identified in the market.

Firstly, she loved to go to coffee shops, but all the beverage options were high in sugar or caffeine. They also had limited transparency about their ingredients. Then, when she turned to the supplement aisle for support for her health goals, she was turned off by how “clinical” it was. As someone without a nutrition background, she found it difficult to navigate the supplement aisle and disliked the diet-culture, guilt-based marketing she saw.”As a consumer, neither of those things really work for me,” said Karen. Blume’s superfood lattes were the solution.

“We take familiar flavours that are really delicious, like lavender lattes, salted caramel, pumpkin space, and we infuse them with superfoods and other functional ingredients that really serve your body more than refined sugars and caffeine do,” said Karen. But she had the idea for Blume a year before she went into business as imposter syndrome – an internalized fear of being a “fraud” despite competency, success, and qualifications – held her back.

A headshot of Karen Danudjaja

Imposter Syndrome and Entrepreneurship

For Karen, the biggest challenge she’s faced as an entrepreneur is imposter syndrome. “I never thought I was going to do it. I wasn’t a nutritionist. I had never done a business before,” said Karen.

While imposter syndrome has been “pervasive” for Karen, her advice to other women in business is to let go of the idea of perfection. “Perfection is a construct and not real, and we shouldn’t let it get in the way of progress,” said Karen. “Perfection really doesn’t exist. It’s an amorphous idea. And it can really hold you back from being happy, enjoying the journey, and celebrating the wins,” she said.

Like imposter syndrome and perfectionism, comparison can also be a challenge for entrepreneurs.

“When you compare yourself to other people, you have no idea what their experiences are and what’s going on under the hood,” said Karen. “It’s so much more important to focus on you and what you can control and what you want your life to look like than it is to look outside for validation or proof of concept.”

Community and New Opportunities

Before Blume, Karen said she felt unhappy and disconnected from her health and her community.

Today, Blume is involved in its community, from listening to its customers and sponsoring local yoga classes to joining in pop-up events with local and international brands. Karen participates in woman-centric business communities and engages as a speaker and mentor.  Blume is one of many woman-owned businesses in the new Shop from Women directory, partnering with The Brand Is Female.

“It’s so important to surround yourself with like-minded people who challenge you and who want the best for you – uplifters,” said Karen. “Out of Blume, I’ve surrounded myself with so many champions.”

Wins and Future Plans

For Karen, one of her greatest accomplishments is getting her products carried by Real Canadian Superstore. Not only does it align with her mission of improving accessibility, but it’s also an amazing accomplishment to go from a side project to a national success story. This accomplishment has led to fresh motivation for Karen in her business.

As for what’s next, in February 2024, Blume is set to launch into exciting new categories. “It’s all around building rituals that you want to share,” teased Karen.

You can find out more about Blume on their website and find them in stores, including Loblaws and Real Canadian Superstore.

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