Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Mary Santana, Founder of Naked Foods RI, located in East Providence, RI, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Naked Foods RI has made it our mission to help you eat healthy without the hassle of planning, shopping, cooking, and cleaning up. We offer healthy grab n' go meals, family meals that feed 4-6 people, as well as salads, wraps, grilled pizza, protein shakes, and smoothies. We also offer customized meal prep meals that are portion-controlled and calorie counted for you. Our meal prep meals are individually packaged in a ready-to-eat microwavable, BPA-free container.
Our customers are looking to eat freshly cooked meals that are healthier for them, whether to lose weight, help with eating better because they are a diabetic and not sure what they can eat, or because they just enjoy eating their favorite foods but cooked differently. For example, chicken parm meal or sandwich. We bake the breaded chicken and use whole grain pasta, or they can have a roasted sweet potato and veg. All our foods are baked or grilled, with 97% lean ground turkey meat, lean steak, and antibiotic-free chicken breast.
Tell us about yourself
I started in 2012 in East Providence when I opened a Shape It Up Fitness studio and Shape It Up Nutrition. We held Fitness classes, and I helped coach clients to lose weight. I am a group x certified instructor, certified health coach, and certified sports nutrition coach. I helped many, many people lose weight, maintain weight and even some who needed to gain healthy weight. In 2016, I met Steve Cortinheiro, who became my client for 2 yrs. He lost 80 lbs. using my program; he also became a health coach and loved helping people through their weight-loss journey. Steve and I partnered up and changed my business model. We found that our clients had a tough time with meal prepping, not knowing what to eat or how much to eat. So, we started cooking for our clients from home, which spread pretty fast. Steve approached me in 2018 and proposed that we start using our facility to help our clients by cooing their meals in-house for clients. When our clients come in for weekly weigh-ins, we have a consultation and figure out their meals for the week. Shape It Up Nutrition became Naked Foods RI in May 2018. Now we are open to the public and provide them with healthier options for meals, smoothies, protein shakes, and much more. Seeing our clients and customers happy daily and feeling good about themselves makes it all worth it for us. Every now and then, we all fall off track. But, it's great to see them come through those doors again and want to get back on track with a healthier lifestyle.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I believe our biggest accomplishments were still providing our services to our customers and clients through this pandemic and Opening a 2nd location in Warren, RI, in Nov 2021.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Balance work & family.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
Do not be afraid to take the chance. Make sure you do a business plan to help grow your business is using social media; word of mouth has helped us grow our business a lot.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Being an owner of a business can be very scary just because you don't know how it will turn out. But for me, I had to give it my all. Its always been my passion for helping people, and I love to cook. If you are doing something you love, it doesn't feel like work. So, don't be afraid to take risks in life, especially if you are good at something.
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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