Amanda worked in sales and marketing for a computer company before meeting Stephen and having four daughters in quick succession. When the girls were young, it soon became apparent that she was a terrible cook and that Stephen would have to teach himself how to cook in order to prevent the family from starving. As the girls grew up, the two youngest girls became interested in cooking alongside Stephen and now the youngest, Anastasia, has joined Soupologie and directs the new product development. Amanda, in the meantime, has become excellent at washing up.
Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?
I founded Soupologie in 2012 to answer the need for healthy, tasty, plant-based soups. Working with Stephen, I felt that there was an opportunity to create a new narrative around soup, taking it from being a basic staple to an exciting, nourishing meal. Stephen was used to making soups as an easy way to get vegetables into the children and I thought that there would be a demand for soups that were made exactly as you would at home. Still true to that ethos, Soupologie soups are all packed full of vegetables, they are dairy and gluten free, and are also free from the top 14 main allergens. All Soupologie products are vegan and low in fat, sugar and salt.
How did the idea come to you for the company?
The idea came about after I agreed to help out at a local Christmas Fair in 2011 and asked Stephen to bring along some soup he had made. It was there that I realised how much people appreciated wholesome soup made without any artificial ingredients or heavy processing. I also became aware of how many people have allergies and food intolerances, which is why our soups and now our ready meals too are always gluten free and free from the top 14 allergens.
How did you achieve awareness?
We started by going into local shops and offering them the soups on sale or return. Each week we would go into the shop to see what they wanted to give us back and each week we had sold out and they placed a larger order with us.
How have you been able to gain funding and grow?
We have grown organically over the years, principally by word of mouth. In 2014 we raised money through crowdfunding and subsequently we have taken on other investors. This has enabled us to expand and grow our product range as well as our distribution.
What are the key successes?
Getting into the supermarkets has resulted in big leaps of growth for us, starting with Ocado and Waitrose and now Tesco as well. These are exciting moments for us as a business.
What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?
Challenges include getting into the supermarkets in the first place and then keeping true to your passion and beliefs in the face of stiff competition from the huge corporates that we’re up against.
We are the only family business making soups and ready meals that are vegan, free from the main allergens and low in fat, sugar and salt. We have to build our brand awareness without big corporate budgets, which can be hard!
What are your plans now/for the future?
To keep growing and expanding our range of vegan, free from products always making them healthy and super tasty, of course!
What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?
If you have an idea or a service or a product that you truly believe in, do as much market research as you can to make sure that you have true clarity on what you want to do, why you want to do it and the positive difference it will make, then go for it!
Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success?
Market research helps you discover if there’s a real need for what you want to offer; surround yourself with people who have experience and knowledge in areas where you are weaker; have people you can lean on in your friend or family group who you can turn to when, inevitability, the going gets tough; always give yourself thinking time: decisions don’t have to be made on the spot, don’t allow yourself to be pressured into making snap decisions that you will live to regret.
Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most and why?
Stephen and Anastasia who are inspirational in the way they work together and in the ideas for new products and flavours they come up with.
Linda McCartney for being way ahead of her time and creating vegan products long before it was fashionable to do so.
Thomasina Miers is an incredible inspiration: she has revolutionised eating Mexican food in this country and has established an amazing brand.
Prue Leith for establishing Leith’s School of Food & Wine and thus being instrumental in inspiring so many cooks and chefs around the world, including our very own Anastasia!
What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?
Our personal favourite that we use all the time is: ‘Grab life by the bowls!’
On a somewhat different note, Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote ‘The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams’ is for all of us who dream to make a difference.
What are your Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn social handles and also website links so our readers can connect with you?