Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Maureen Obrigewitch, owner of Souptacular Soup Company, located in St. Albert, AB, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We are a family-operated business SOUPing Canadians since 2001! We are proud purveyors of Canadian pulses, sourcing locally grown from across Canada! All of the Souptacular soups are pulse and plant-based soup mixes! These soups attract foodies, health food nuts, and families, as they are healthy, easy to make, and come with a secret-made in-house seasoning! Therefore all Souptacular soups boast very low sodium, meat, and chemical-free flavours! Vegetarian and vegan friendly!
Tell us about yourself
I grew up in a family business as we operated a campground and cabins resort called “Folding Mountain.” This is located just outside of the Jasper east park gate. This blossomed and grew over 20 years and was the start of a love for business and catering to tourists!
I actually met my husband Al, just 2 miles down the road at another resort called the “Overlander Lodge.” He was working as a summer student from N.A.I.T's cooking program and was completing his cooking degree and practicum! It was love at first sight! I ended up stealing him away from his job, and we hired him for the following summer! Then we married!
We both share a passion for food and cooking, but we were most motivated to create easy healthy food. We took simple low in sodium lentils and bean mixes to share at the farmers' markets and listened to what people wanted from their soups! We call this a team effort and have shared our soups across Canada for over 20 years! We SOUPer love creating healthy food!
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
We were primarily a farmers market product for over ten years until we were approached by “save on foods” in 2010 and invited to enter all Alberta stores as they were initiating a “local products” program. We were the first to come in, which was a new beginning for us. We grew into all “save on foods” stores. We worked hard to improve and modify our product and packaging to capitalize on this great opportunity.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
One of the hardest things we faced was transitioning from a farmers' market product to a mainstream product on the store shelves. When you are at a farmers' market, You are behind the table selling and sharing information on your product. However, when you’re on the store shelves, you’re not there to “sell it.”
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
I always say that you need to start very slowly and not get too excited about your product initially. Take the time to go to the farmers' markets and craft shows, talk to people, share your product information, and see the feedback.
Your vision may not be what they see. But the biggest tip is to listen and ask the consumer lots of questions. You may not want to hear tough questions like what the consumer likes about your product and what they don’t like about your product. Then you can take that information, make your changes and modifications, and go back to the market and ask the same questions again to other people!
Listen to the consumer because, after all, they are the ones that are going to come back to buy that product or not.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
We are truly and authentically a family business! Our three boys also work with us! We expanded our business to a distribution center located in Edmonton, but we have maintained our family business, also still located in Saint Albert.
Our eldest son worked with me at the farmers' markets in Edmonton called Old Strathcona farmers market and now is the lead in production. Our second son took his business degree and just graduated, majoring in accounting! He is our office manager. Our youngest son helps with blending seasonings and packaging! I am mostly marketing now, following up with stores, and ensuring our customers are completely satisfied with their Souptacular soups and service. My husband Al is still a fine cook, and he doesn’t cook for me as often as I would like. However, he is still dabbling with more recipes and more exciting new products coming out in the future!
We will keep everyone’s health in mind as we still pride ourselves on using natural God-given ingredients from our prairies to our seasonings: we promise you a good healthy Souptacular experience!
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email firstname.lastname@example.org; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
Feel inspired to start, run or grow your own subscription business? Check out subkit.com and learn how you can turn "one day" into day one.