They say do what you love — and Jean Tsai is doing just that: The former business consultant turned her favorite snack into Pop Karma, an all-natural popcorn company based in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. She’s also a finalist in our Fellows Program — designed to provide women entrepreneurs with a community of support to connect, learn and grow their businesses. Here, Tsai tells us about her company, shares sage advice and reveals the art of choosing the perfect movie treat.

Most exciting part about owning your own business…
Learning all the things I didn’t know! It’s fun to be building something — and watching your business grow.

And the most challenging…
Every day is different. You get thrown different problems and you have a limited number of resources, so you have to be creative.

What sets my business apart…
We are intensely focused on excellence in all ways. The company is named Pop Karma because we believe that all of our actions have an effect. Because of that, we use top-quality ingredients and are really focused on customer service.

One thing I know now that I wish I knew starting out… 
How important it is to stay focused on your vision and not get sucked into the day-to-day. It’s about looking forward.

How my business stays environmentally friendly…
We use organic and non-GMO ingredients as often as possible. We also use green electricity and work with the Lower East Side Ecology Center to make our business as green as possible: from anything small, like putting in LED lights, to watching our energy consumption. We recycle and offer reusable tins to our customers — it’s our green packaging.

The mantra I live by…
Eat mindfully, sweat daily, live your values, have an open mind, keep moving forward and keep laughing.

Ways that I embrace ambition… 
By being the best I can be and thinking about how I can move the business forward and be a resource for all my employees, for our customers and for the community.

The key to balancing work and family…
Really understanding what your priorities are and staying focused on them. You’re not going to be able to keep every day balanced, but overall, you want to make sure your life is balanced.

Best business advice received…
Always plan ahead. Every day, you’ll encounter all kinds of spontaneous little crises, so it’s easy to be only reactive — but as long as you have a plan, at least you’re still moving forward.

My best advice for would-be entrepreneurs…
Be intensely committed to your vision. There are a million things that are going to get in your way, so you really have to believe in what you’re doing.

My favorite Pop Karma flavor…
I love them all, and it depends on my mood. But my favorite is probably Kyoto Mix – I’m interested in global flavors. I love to travel and it reminds me of trips to Japan.

The wackiest flavor I’ve ever come up with…
We made a Cholula caramel for a client and tried making a milk tea popcorn, which we haven’t quite perfected yet. One of my favorite foods is spaghetti, so maybe a spaghetti popcorn…though it sounds a little gross!

My feelings on movie-theater popcorn…
I never eat movie popcorn. I usually bring my own (under my coat). The flavor depends on the movie. If I’m going to an action movie, I’d have the Spanish Barbeque. For a rom-com, I’d say classic butter popcorn. For a horror movie, you kind of have to be comforted, so I would probably bring our Zen Cheddar.

Being a Tory Burch Fellows Finalist means…
Joining an amazing family of accomplished and generous people made up of finalists and Tory Burch Foundation employees. I met amazing women, was inspired on a regular basis and received wonderful opportunities.

Women entrepreneurs should apply to the Fellows Program because…
There is no downside. You get to focus on your business in a high-level way during the process, then you have the opportunity to meet amazing people and find opportunities.

As an entrepreneur, you should never be afraid of… 
Doing things the wrong way. Your way is unique and it is what makes you an entrepreneur.

Women entrepreneurs are…
Brave. There are so many reasons and things to hold you back, but women entrepreneurs persist.

My ambition is… 
To grow a kind business that creates pure, irresistible snacks and sows good in the world.

#EmbraceAmbition