Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Lauren Schultz, Founder of Malama Meals Oahu, located in Honolulu, HI, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Aloha! We are Malama Meals Oahu. We are a small, family-owned business with a unique approach to providing our customers and their families with a variety of wholesome, delicious, and healthy prepared meals delivered to their doorstep. Each week an exciting menu is published on our website for customers to pre-order from. Once a week, the orders are cooked with fresh ingredients in our commercial kitchen, packed into individual servings in eco-friendly containers, refrigerated, then delivered. The customer now has a week's worth of meals in their refrigerator that are ready to "heat, eat, enjoy and repeat"!
Our customer is anyone who wants to eat better but doesn't want the inconvenience of having to plan, shop, cook and clean up! The majority of our customers are busy working professionals and the elderly.
Tell us about yourself
I started Malama Meals Oahu shortly after I had my daughter. I was working full time then to be able to support her, and I knew there had to be another way. I have always enjoyed cooking and have a background in nutrition, so I tried cooking for a few friends. Their friends saw the meals I prepared for them, so they ordered, then their friends saw, and it spread like fire! My business grew with just referrals in the first year. The thing that motivates me the most with my business is the customers. They are always so excited to get their meals and so appreciative that they are given back time. It brings me so much joy!
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I have a difficult time deciding on what I feel my biggest accomplishment is, as we've only been in business for 2.5 years. But I am proud of the fact that even though we opened right as COVID-19 hit hard here in Hawaii, we have grown from making 60K in our first year to being on track to grossing over 300K in this 3rd year. We went from being a single-person operation (me!) working out of a shared kitchen to a small (AWESOME) team that works out of our own newly built commercial kitchen.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The hardest and most exciting thing to me as a business owner is that you never know what's coming. It doesn't matter how good of a week you have one week; you're always stressed about the next! But that is also exciting because you are in full control of the success of your business. You are in control of how much you want to scale it, grow it, and how much love and effort you want to put into it.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Build and KEEP your team. Especially in these times, it's hard to find good help. Your employees are the heart of your business; it's difficult to run without them. Treat them fairly and keep them happy. Make sure they feel appreciated. If they feel they are a part of something good, they'll work harder for the company's success.
- Don't hesitate to begin. Learn as you go. Don't be afraid to fail. Even if you fail, you'll be right back where you began and have a lot to learn from.
- Business is always a rollercoaster; learn to enjoy the ride.
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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