It should be no surprise by now how much of a fan I am of FLIGHTFŪD. But I don’t think I’ve shared much about how much I am absolutely impressed and amazed by Co-Founder and Creator of the brand and product, Kaeli Bauman. I met Kaeli last summer in a coffeeshop while she was visiting Seattle, and I left our coffee date feeling inspired as ever. We talked a fair amount about flying (as she is an ex-flight attendant for a major airline), her beloved product, the side effects of flying in which she shared so much incredible research that pretty much blew my mind, our favorite layovers, and other jumpseat topics. I really admire her, not just for what she’s created, but for what she stands for and I am excited to share this interview with you.
What was your favorite thing about being a flight attendant? Least favorite?
My favorite thing about being a flight attendant was the flexibility in my schedule and the sense of adventure I felt every time I came to work. My first year as a flight attendant was, in particular, very memorable. It didn’t matter where I was flying to or where my layovers were, I had so much fun. The morale was really high with crew members at that time and we all had so much fun no matter where we were. I made some lifelong friends, and my time spent working as a flight attendant holds a very special place in my heart.
As many good things are, my favorite part of being a flight attendant was a double edged sword – despite loving the flexibility and travel that came with the job, I started to crave more routine and stability with my weeks. It was hard on relationships with people who weren’t in aviation – it was very much it’s own little bubble which other people didn’t understand.
What was the inspiration behind FLIGHTFŪD?
The inspiration came from my experience working as a flight attendant and getting curious about what was happening to my body in the air. I didn’t feel great while flying and I sensed that it was taking a toll on my body. I went back to school to study holistic nutrition and did research on flying and health – this is where I discovered that there are 6 main effects of flying on the body.
I went to several health food stores in Toronto (where I was living at the time) and on layovers in NYC and LA looking for a product which could address these 6 effects. Every store gave me 6-9 different supplements to take which wasn’t awesome because I lived out of a suitcase and was really looking for an all-in-one solution specifically for flying. This is when I decided to go out and create the product I wanted myself.
How long did it take you to do all the research you needed to get the product created?
About 3 years. There has been a lot of foundational work behind the scenes prior to our Oct. 2019 launch. Originally, it was just myself, and now there are 3 of us building the company and bringing the brand to life. I had no idea where to begin to start a food and supplement brand, so the first year was what I call a “sponge” stage – learning a lot about manufacturing, regulations, formulations, food science, supply chain, building my business acumen etc. We launched two concept products in 2017/2018 to test the product and get feedback and then officially launched at the end of 2019.
When was the moment you realized FLIGHTFŪD could succeed?
I knew it could succeed when we started getting repeat orders. It’s one thing when someone purchases your product to try it for the first time, but when they love it and come back again, I think it really shows a successful product-market fit and validates that you are solving a problem people care about.
What has been the biggest obstacle with launching FLIGHTFŪD?
Great question. I think an interesting challenge for FLIGHTFŪD is that we are, in a way, creating a new market. People don’t really know what is happening to their bodies when they are flying and so because of that, they aren’t actively seeking out a product to help. This means that we have to get creative with our marketing – a lot of what we do is around education.
What is your biggest tip for female entrepreneurs when starting their own company?
I have 3 tips:
- Make sure that your business is something you are really passionate about and which adds value.
- Have a lot of patience. You’re going to have to put in a lot of work without any “reward” initially. This is the opposite of how most of us operate, we’re living in a very “instant gratification” obsessed world right now.
- Practice resourcefulness and resilience. You’re going to have to get creative and scrappy, be solutions focused, and bounce back and pivot from setbacks.
Aside from FLIGHTFŪD, what are your travel essentials?
A big scarf which can sub as a blanket, a good book, and some healthy snacks pre-packed from home.
What foods do you eat when you fly? Is there anything you avoid?
I try to eat food which is easy to digest and packed with micronutrients. I love packing apple slices with cinnamon and cayenne pepper. I avoid meat and dairy because they tend to take longer to digest and are mucous forming. I also avoid cruciferous veggies like broccoli or cauliflower because they make be feel bloated.
Where can travelers purchase FLIGHTFŪD?
Right now they can purchase online at www.flightfud.com and soon some local stockists as well. We also offer an Aviation Employee Program where flight attendants and pilots can enjoy our product at 40% off. We launched this program to make the product more affordable and accessible to them – https://www.flightfud.com/pages/aviation-employee-program.
What’s next for FLIGHTFŪD?
We’re focused on building awareness of our flagship product Inflight Elixir, but expect new food products in the future 🙂
How much of your success do you think is hard work and how much of it do you think is luck?
Love this question. Elizabeth Gilbert wrote about ideas and how they are brought to life in her book “Big Magic.” She believes that “Ideas have no material body, but they do have consciousness. Ideas are driven by a single impulse: to be made. Therefore, ideas spend eternity swirling around us, searching for available and willing human partners. When an idea thinks it has found somebody – say, you – who might be able to bring it into the world, the idea will pay you a visit.”
I fully believe that the idea to bring FLIGHTFŪD to life found me when I was at a place in life where the idea was relevant to me (working as a flight attendant) and I paid attention. So I’d say there is a bit of luck with having the idea. The important part is the execution, which is definitely hard work. I fully believe, with conviction, that you can’t “out work hard work.” So for this, I’d say FLIGHTFŪD’s success to date is 10% luck and 90% hard work.
And with that, I will leave you with the link to support Kaeli and her amazing creation (MY absolute travel essential), FLIGHTFŪD. Try it for yourself the next time your plans call for travel. All the love and take care of that body!