Made in New England Series: Stephanie Morrissey of SOULFU3L
When Stephanie Morrissey and Christina Morris met, they instantly connected. In fact, they had so much in common that they decided that very day to start a business together, without really knowing where it would take them. They put their values and passion before a business plan, and simply let their hearts guide them. This path led them to start SOULFU3L, a soul-centered, sractch-made meal delivery business out of Boston.
While they started off cooking in Christina’s tiny city kitchen — stacking meals on bookshelves to make room — they’ve since grown into a commercial kitchen and officially became a business this past October. We met up with co-founder Stephanie to chat about their mission statement, balancing a meal and why hand-written notes are a key part of their business model.
R.K: What made you start your brand? How did you get the idea and decide to collaborate?
S.M: Christina and I are best friends, and she’s my business partner. But we didn’t know each other a year ago! We were actually introduced through a mutual friend and met up at Whole Foods. We ended up talking for four hours that night! We had the same story but it was a little bit different. Christina was into fitness and known as a Crossfit athlete, and I had my own nutrition business and was making snacks through Wildly Nourished. If you looked from the outside, we had it all. But the truth was we were both longing for something so much more. There was a piece beyond food and fitness that we longed for – connection, community, inspiration and all these things that really fuel us. So we’re like, “Let’s start a business.”
We had no idea what it was going to be, and at first we thought maybe we’d do corporate wellness. So without knowing what our business was going to be, we created a mission statement based on how we wanted to feel. And then randomly one of our nutrition clients asked if we could make 10 meals, and at that time we were waitresses, dog walkers and what not. Then 10 meals turned into 20, which turned into 40 which turned into 100 which turned into 400!
R.K: How did it all begin? What was the first thing you did when starting off?
S.M: We didn’t decide on what it was going to be until it was asked upon; we wanted to see what was needed and what people were looking for and then respond to it. Our goal was to make it super simple. Nutrition is so overwhelming and can be such a turnoff, so our whole thing is we balance our plates with fats, carbs and protein and it’s just real food. Every recipe we have is super simple.
We had to teach ourselves everything, like scaling the business. We weren’t even chefs, so we had to just to take a leap.
R.K? How do you create your recipes?
S.M: With our recipes, we make what we want to eat. We’ll think about what we’re craving, and think of a traditionally “unhealthy” food that we can use real food for to make it better. We love learning about different cultures like Hawaiian or Asian, and bringing in one of their staple foods to make a meal from. So it’s pretty random and we just like to make it fun. There’s a lot of soul to it!
R.K: What’s your favorite dish you’ve created?
S.M: Oh man! I think my favorite is our Hawaiian BBQ Pineapple Chicken dish. It’s fun and has a little culture; it has that sweet and savory twist and I love it.
R.K: What did you have to learn the hard way? Any particular challenges along the way?
S.M: It’s really hard and you don’t know how much work goes into it until you’re hauling 200 pounds of chicken up six flights of stairs. It’s just insane what we do! The people at all the stores know us. It’s hilarious!
The biggest challenge for us has been the distribution; it’s really challenging to deliver door-to-door and have it be seamless. So we’re trying to think of more ways to help with that, like decorating fridges with Core Desired Feelings. The idea is to have these SOULFU3L fridges around the community where people could pick up their food!
R.K. What’s your biggest accomplishment or proudest moment so far?
S.M: Creating our community. We have a “Soul Challenge,” so every week we have some kind of soul food to think about. Sometimes we’ll staple a hand-written quote to a bag. We hear the best stories, like a woman who was having contractions in her house and looked over at our bag and it gave her the courage, or someone whose family member passed away said our food is grounding.
R.K. Walk me through the delivery process, and how that works. Do you girls get to connect with your customers?
S.M: Food has given us the ability to connect. It’s pretty cool because in addition to our meal prep and stuff like that, we’ll get to go places and meet people. And we do a lot of corporate Lunch and Learns, so while they’re eating we’ll talk about how we started and how to balance a plate. It’s been really awesome!
Right now we have a delivery person to help us, but we stay in touch with our “Soul Fam” all the time via email and know what’s going on with people. So we’re always reaching out to them, seeing what’s up, tagging them in posts and those kind of things.
RK: Has there been a benefit to starting your business in the New England area that you don’t think you’d get elsewhere?
S.M: Yes, absolutely! First is inspiration. If you start a food company, there’s no better place. I have such good friends in the area, and there are so many inspiring young companies who have started with nothing and created something. It’s stepping into a community of inspiring entrepreneurs! In Boston, we’re really connected with B/SPOKE and Everybody Fights, which is great because they already have families and we’re able to fuel their families.
R.K: What would you love to see in the New England food and wellness scene that you don’t now?
S.M: I would like to continue learning about all the local companies, which is awesome what you’re doing here! There are so many cool companies, so I want to continue to learn and stay local and eco-friendly.
R.K: Who has been the greatest influence or role model in starting your business?
S.M: Music was a really big part for us. We both love the singer Nahko; he’ll change your life if you listen to him. One of his lyrics is “Don’t be afraid, you’ve got purpose. Find your medicine and use it.”
We love music so much that we actually built a 10-foot teepee and went to music festivals and put feathers in people’s hair.
R.K: What’s your favorite quote or business mantra?
Our mantra is “If you know your ‘Why,’ you can endure any ‘How.’” So we knew why, and we knew that we would be given the how if we just continued to deliver truth.
R.K: Where do you hope to see your brand in the next two years?
S.M: A dream would be to have SOULFU3L refrigerators in community spaces in Boston! In addition, for the people that can’t afford SOULFU3L, we have been building an education program on how to meal prep and educate people on how to make five-ingredient meals. Everyone deserves to be able to eat well. We’d love to travel a little bit and talk to people, share inspiration and the message of “You can do it.”
R.K: What advice would you give someone looking to start their own wellness or food business?
S.M: I would say to start behind closed doors. Practicing self-care and living your own truth is the most important thing because nothing else will come if you don’t have that. Be authentic and transparent because if you’re making it your mission, it should be you.
R.K: Here at The W.E.L.L. Summit we like to say “Your vibe attracts your tribe.” How would you describe your vibe?
S.M: I think we’re both free spirits for sure. Adventurer. Believer. I like interpreting dreams and Christina has her motorcycle so there’s edge and there’s earthiness. There are all sorts of contradicting things. I’m the Nervous Nellie and she’s the “Let’s just do it!” But our values are the same. We just want to bring happiness and freedom to people!