Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Barbara Zuluaga., Founder of Honest Eats, located in Houston, TX, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Honest Eats is a prepared meal company specializing in scratch-made meals featuring organic and local ingredients, grass-fed meats, and bone broth. We are located in the Heights and deliver up to 60 miles of the greater Houston area. We offer Houstonians healthy and delicious Paleo, Ketogenic, and Plant-Based prepared meals. Each meal is thoughtfully prepared, locally sourced, made with organic ingredients, and 100% gluten-free with zero processed sugar and no chemical and artificial preservatives or colors.
Tell us about yourself
My niece was diagnosed with brain cancer at age 3, which was my turning point. The years of struggle started me on a path to learn more about our food system and what made us sick. The lack of healthy meal options for someone who couldn’t cook for themselves was really what inspired me to start my business. In my first year, I cooked meals for people with gluten intolerances, autoimmune diseases, and cancer who couldn’t do it for themselves. I wanted to build a brand that people could trust but also show others that eating healthy didn’t have to be defined by a bland diet of chicken and broccoli. Health is our greatest asset, and what we choose to put into our bodies can heal or harm us.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
In the last ten years, we have touched a lot of lives through what we do. Educating the customers and seeing that “aha” moment where it really clicks when they accomplish their health goals on a meal plan are feeling great. Their bodies are responding to the changes they’ve made through food, which is the greatest impact. The biggest accomplishment isn’t gaining a lifetime customer but teaching them how to do better for themselves after they leave us.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Continuing to operate with integrity and sticking to the ethics and high standards that I’ve set for Honest Eats and myself, especially during economic struggles, has been the hardest part. A lot of restaurants have cut back or downgraded quality, while we have strived to stay consistent.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Perseverance and consistency are key. Starting a business is easy, but surviving the ups and downs is the hardest part. Set your goals, make a plan, and take it one small step at a time, matter how hard it gets. There will always be a setback. That’s just part of life. Keep working at what you want, and you’ll find a way.
- Inspire others through your journey and show up for others. When I started my business, I talked to everyone, including my competitors, to see how they were doing. I learned in leaps and bounds from other business owners during my days in a shared kitchen. Talking to my customers to see how I could specifically fill their needs to help them or improve the meals has been the best metric to track success.
- Ask for help. Joining initiatives for small business owners like the Goldman Sachs 10KSB program and the JP Morgan Minority Entrepreneur Mentorship Program have been vital to my growth and self-education.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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