We recently interviewed new business owner Natalie Firth of Just The Fox Kitchen who has been working tirelessly these past few months to get her new nutritious meal prep delivery service off the ground. In the interview we find out about her cooking history, the most recent chef she has worked with, plus all her ups and downs of launching her brand new business.
Tell us about the journey that led you to launch your brand Just The Fox Kitchen…
I’ve always loved cooking food and have been a chef for many years now. Before I started Just The Fox Kitchen I worked as the executive chef for Matt Healy’s Gron Kafes where I really fell in love with creating recipes that were delicious and nutritious.
I had the idea for a meal prep delivery service that wasn’t focused on diet culture. More on eating well to make you good inside and out, for a while as I felt this was a real gap in the market. Aimed at busy people that like good food and eating well but are just too busy to cook everyday and make lunches for work. Allowing customers to ‘reclaim your time’ and get on with the things they enjoy doing.
I’ve always wanted to work for myself and build my own business, so this year I decided it was going to be my business year, and I would finally make it happen. So I did plenty of market research, tested recipes, worked with an amazing business women on branding and marketing, and I launched Just The Fox Kitchen in March this year. And it’s been all go since.
What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced and how did you overcome it?
Everyday there is a new challenge when setting up and running a business, I learn something new everyday. I knew how to cook and what I wanted the Just The Fox Kitchen concept and brand to look like but I had no idea about marketing, website building, social media ads etc so its been a steep learning curve.
But I think my biggest obstacle was my own confidence and building that up to a point I felt like a could launch my own business. I’m lucky, I have a great support network and I work with some amazing people who help Just The Fox Kitchen grow. When I look back on the Just The Fox kitchen journey so far, I’m amazed at how far I have come in such a short space of time and that keeps me motivated to keep pushing forward.
Just The Fox Kitchen
If you were to describe your business mantra in three words, what would they be?
I’m not sure I have a business mantra in the strictest sense of the word. I believe that the effort you put in you will get back out in everything you do. I have a life I want to lead (that involves lots of holidays) and I work hard and set weekly, monthly and yearly goals to achieve that. What it comes down to for me is living life to its fullest and making everyday count.
What advice would you offer anyone interested in venturing into the freshly prepared meals industry?
Know your market and what they want and do lots of research before you start. Food wise, test, test, and test again. Freshly prepared food that is delivered to customers homes needs to be made to last a few days and still be great quality. It is a very different product to preparing food for a restaurant where it is eaten straight away; test all your recipes, leave them overnight and check the quality. Also get customer feedback and work on building positive relationships with suppliers and customers alike. I would say I’m an introvert and don’t like putting myself out there for praise or criticism. So this was a big hurdle for me to overcome. But if you don’t know what your customers think of the product you supply how will you grow?
Talk us through an average business day in your life…
I’m a real early bird, waking up around 5-5:30am. I like to get up and moving straight away but I can’t function without firstly having a cup of tea, no milk or sugar. I walk my dog around Temple Newsam Estate (in Leeds) which is a great way to start the day, I can clear my mind and focus on what I want to achieve that day. If it’s a kitchen day, I will have placed all my ingredients orders the day before so it arrives at the kitchen first thing in the morning, so I can get straight to work prepping food for that days orders. I have a small all female kitchen team, they make the days fly by as we are always laughing. Once all the food is prepared we can then start ‘bowling up’ the meals. We then quality control check every meal, collate orders, load vehicles and I then delivery to customers homes or offices. I also deliver to fitness studios, yoga studios and cafes that retail, or nourish and balance bowls as grab and go options. It’s a long day but I love the sense of achievement and talking to customers. When I get home I respond to emails and messages, Check my to do list and make a plan for the next day. I then chill out, sometimes with a glass of Prosecco 🙂
Business can be an upward struggle at times, what do you do to stay positive?
I try to plan nice things to do each week that may be seeing family and friends, a new fitness class, or my favourite thing to do is go out for dinner . When you work for yourself it can be very hard to switch off from work mode. I know lots of great women that are killing it with their businesses and I find it really helps to speak to them. We can give each other advice and support and sometimes we rant and joke. It frees up any tension I may have and puts things into perspective.
What is your go-to quote when lacking motivation?
“Though she be but little, she is fierce“
I’m not sure why I adopted this quote (maybe because I’m only 5:1) but it has followed me around since University, so much so I had a print made for my home and when I read it I get a boost of energy and determination. ‘Though she be but little, she is fierce.’ Its from a midsummer nights dream.
How much has social media played a role in the success of your brand?
I think for a food business social media is key. There is such an active food scene on social media becoming part of that at local and national level is very important. Most of my customers have come from social media word of mouth and viewing posts. Just The Fox social media is growing organically which I like. What I think is very important for a business on social media is to be honest and positive. All the images and content that is on @justthefoxkitchen is of the food that I made and the views that I believe in. When used in the right way social media can be a great way to build a business.
Just The Fox Kitchen
How do you want people to feel when they first order and try your meals?
I built Just The Fox Kitchen around the premiss that to eat delicious and nutritious food you don’t have to spend hours in the kitchen every day. So when you order from me I want you to feel pleased that you have reclaimed your time and you don’t have to worry about that age old question ‘Whats for dinner?’
When eating my meals I want you to be happily surprised that nutritious food can look and taste delicious. I’m not a fan of diet culture, calorie counting and feeling guilty if you have a brownie. I believe in intuitive nutrition and listening to what your body needs. Food should be enjoyed and eating should be a pleasurable experience. So I want everyone that try’s my food to feel happy eating it and feel energised to carry on with their day.
Our readers love to travel, what destination is at the top of your bucket list?
There are so many places I still want to visit, Iceland, Costa Rica and Scandinavia to name a few. But I think top of my bucket list is to travel down the west coast of America. This was my plan for my 30th but unfortunately Covid put a stop to that. I’m planning again for next summer, I want to hire a vintage mustang (my dream car) and just drive down the coast. Eating as much food as I can handle on the way. California, in particular San Francisco is at the forefront of new culinary trends so I can’t wait to try new ingredients and get inspiration for new Just The Fox Kitchen recipes.
What’s next for you and your brand?
This is Just The Fox Kitchen’s first summer season so we have a big summer of festivals and catering events planned which I’m super excited for. I love catering parties and celebrations as they are always happy events to be a part of. I also have my first ever chef demo at Harrogate food and drink festival coming up on August bank holiday weekend. I’m nervous/excited for that one. Aside from this, I’m working hard on building our subscription and meal delivery service. I have just launched our office and work lunches. So you can now order delicious and nutritious Just The Fox meals to your office or work place every week. As a new business my main goal for this year is to build the brand and let as many people as possible know about Just The Fox Kitchen and what we do.
Where can people find out more about Just The Fox Kitchen?
All the information you need about Just The Fox Kitchen is on our website Just The Fox Kitchen we also have an active social media account @justthefoxkitchen are weekly menus and new business news is on there. If you have questions about our food or for enquires you can message me via social media or email [email protected] and I will respond as soon as I can.