Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Claude Booker, Co-Founder of Soul Food Starters, located in Macedonia, OH, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Our business is food, and our brand is Booker’s Soul Food Starters, and we are pantry-ready Soul Food mixes created to make it easy to prepare at home. We believe everyone will love our products once they try them, but our core customer is Black Women.
Tell us about yourself
I grew up in rural South Carolina. My passion has always been food, and that love led me to be a chef, culinarian, and major Foody. I am also an entrepreneur. Soul Food is in my blood, just like the oral recipes that, for generations, have been a part of Black culture. I am also an entrepreneur. What got our brand and product started was the recent pandemic. Our primary business before the pandemic was fully cooked Southern vegetables and side dishes we provided to buffets and steamtables throughout the country. When COVID-19 hit, that business was disrupted because customers were afraid and concerned about eating from open steamtables. We were 100 percent food service. I created a retail line of products to address folks eating more at home. I launched retail officially in June of 2021. What motivates me is building a brand that African American households can be proud of. Also, the mission of supporting Black Education in America through the Booker’s Soul Food Starters Education Fund. Also, I love when we land a new retailer and are able to share the love of Soul Food with the world. In our short 18 months of launching the brand, we are in more than 2,000 retail doors.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Founding Booker’s Soul Food Starters. Being able to stay calm and grounded when my core business went away, and I was financially struggling, was beyond hard. The country was locked down; everyone was working remotely, and yet we pulled the necessary relationships together to create and Launch Booker’s Soul Food Starters.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Not trying to do everything and letting other folks help me. It was hard, but it made me better.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
Ultimately, I tell folks to work on a Direct To Consumer approach before they do anything, and then I give these three tips:
- Understand we live in a digital world and embrace it!
- Get a digital mindset and mental attitude to grow.
- Develop a basic understanding of digital skills (social media, content marking, data management, email marketing, web page design, SEO, marketing automation, graphic design, and copywriting).
Where can people find you and your business?