Fit Food Club
Cape Town, SA
Today my interview is with Lauren McWilliams, the founder of Fit Food Club. Fit Food Club is a meal prep delivery business from Cape Town, South Africa that focuses on making gluten-free and calorie friendly meals. It was a great pleasure meeting another impressive and inspiring Female Entrepreneur.
PLEASE TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF AND WHAT BUSINESS DID YOU START.
Hi, my name is Lauren and I’m the founder of Fit Food Club. Fit Food Club is a meal preparation service based in Cape town, South Africa.
I have studied Clothing Management at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology and went on to do my 6 months practical with the sleepwear buyer at Pick ‘n Pay Clothing Head Office.
Once I had finished my practical they asked me to come back to the quality control department. I stayed there for 4 years and then moved back into the buying area. After almost a year of no changes, I decided to take the package as they were offering voluntary retrenchment at the time.
I then went to au pair for a family in New York for 5 months where I came across a company that did low calorie, gluten-free and high protein waffles. I emailed them and asked if they would be interested in bringing the waffles to South Africa but they wanted to grow the company on their own.
Once I got home, I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease and having to find meals that were ready-made and didn’t contain gluten wasn’t easy. I decided to try my version of these waffles but struggled to get the right combination of low calorie, low carb & high protein.
At that time my brother, who is in the property / real estate industry, was working out of a container on a development site. They were ordering food from UberEats and wanted something a bit more healthy. That’s when I started meal prepping for him and the team he worked with. Which is when the Fit Food Club began. All the meals were freshly made and contained no gluten. I also tried to keep the calorie count as low as possible with each meal. I then started creating a menu and working on the website and we went live in March 2018.
WHAT DOES YOUR TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE AND HOW DO YOU STAY PRODUCTIVE?
A normal day for me consists of creating the meal list from the orders that come in, then from that list, I create the prep list. I then place our orders for our suppliers for fruit & vegetables, meat, etc. Once the food has been delivered, we start with the prep according to the prep list.
Some things can be prepped the day before delivery but we try to do most of it on the day of delivery to ensure our meals are as fresh as possible. We deliver on Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays so those are our busiest days.
The day before delivery I create the address list which then gets uploaded to the delivery service we use where they geocode the addresses and break down the route. Then it’s a matter of creating the waybills and ensuring any other labels or items that need to be included with the deliveries are done and ready.
We use upcycled boxes for our deliveries so we collect those from our local supermarket to reuse. Each delivery box is then lined and Fit Food Club stickers put on the outside. Once the meals are ready, we pack each box according to the order, place ice bricks inside to keep the meals cool and then tape them up ready for collection & delivery.
THE JOURNEY SO FAR
PLEASE DESCRIBE THE PROCESS OF LAUNCHING YOUR BUSINESS.
As I mentioned earlier, I got the idea when I was in New York but when I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease and my brother and his team needed healthy meals at work it morphed into what we are today.
For the business name, I spent a lot of time researching names and trying all sorts of combinations. Once I decided on “Fit Food” I felt like something was missing. So, I did some more searching and came across “Club” which I thought was the perfect addition as it creates a niche feeling when you order from us.
I started from scratch in my mother’s kitchen and took a loan from my dad to start. I did everything and my mom would help when needed. People loved the idea and had great constructive feedback. We then converted a section of our property into an industrial kitchen and took on a professional chef to help take us to the next level.
I am still learning as we grow but that’s all part of the process.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT SINCE YOU STARTED YOUR BUSINESS?
My biggest achievement has been that I was able to create a business that helps people with their busy lives and body goals.
Even though I didn’t study to be a chef or dietitian, before I started Fit Food Club, I lost a lot of weight by training and counting calories and macros. And that’s how I was able to create the meals we have together with the nutritional labels for each meal. I am currently doing an online nutrition course and am almost finished – just need to write the exam.
WHAT STRATEGY DID YOU USE TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS? AND HOW?
We do a new meal every month to add to our menu, we also do customized meals according to meal plans that people get from dietitians, etc. We have already had nice growth in the last 3 months when compared to last year.
I would like to eventually have our own warehouse and grow the business to at least double the size in the next year. With that comes hiring people in all aspects but I also want to be financially conscious of any moves we make to ensure we are making the best decision for the company. I try to keep costs as low as possible in all aspects of the business.
RECOMMENDATIONS & FINAL THOUGHTS
PLEASE RECOMMEND ANY RESOURCES AND TOOLS THAT YOU USE TO RUN YOUR BUSINESS.
We use Shopify for our website. It’s super easy to create your website and do changes when needed as they provide templates you can use and manipulate it to what you are needing. We use MailChimp that is connected to our Shopify account that has all our customer’s email addresses and we send out monthly newsletters with the newest meals and any news.
We also send out newsletters for anything important that comes up, competitions, etc.
We use a third-party delivery service called PicUp which is almost like Uber for deliveries. We have set days & times that we post on social media and have 2 ambassadors that help promote for us. We also use Google Ads and Facebook marketing.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE BOOKS, BLOGS OR PODCASTS?
The Secret. Putting your dreams and goals on a board might sound silly, but it does work if you put the work into getting there.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER WOMEN WHO WANT TO START THEIR OWN BUSINESS?
Go for it, I never ever thought I would be an entrepreneur and as difficult as it is, it’s one of the best things I have ever done.
Welcome to the Biz Ladies interview series!
If you’re new to these series, I interview women entrepreneurs on how they started their business, what was the idea behind it, how they got where they are, the struggles, the reality and more.
By sharing their stories, we want to inspire other women to get started.
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