This week's guest is Nicole Centeno, the founder and creator of the infamous food brand, Splendid Spoon. Nicole's brand combines the power of plants and the art of mindfulness in ready-to-eat meals delivered to your home. In this week’s episode, this innovative entrepreneur educates us on the ins and outs of creating your first food product and shares how Splendid Spoon evolved from homemade soup to 55+ types of nationally distributed deliciousness.
Nicole had always been interested in the relationship between nature and food, but it was motherhood that motivated her to start her business. She put her education in biochemistry, nutrition, and culinary school training to work in pursuit of the ideal balanced diet. Making healthier choices easy and delicious for herself, her children, and the planet became Nicole’s goal and the seeds for Splendid Spoon were planted.
Splendid Spoon’s mission is to make plant-based diets accessible and appetizing with their ready-to-eat meals, shots, snacks, smoothies, and more. The brand’s 100,000+ followers can vouch for the amazing brand as it exists today, but the journey hasn’t been easy or straightforward.
Nicole’s first steps into entrepreneurship were slow and scary. She graduated culinary school in 2010, worked catering and pop-ups on the side, and didn’t quit her day job until 2.5 years later. The loss of financial independence from her partner triggered feelings of insecurity and shame, but she ultimately found her conviction and passion to be a “north star” that kept her going strong. Without a background in finance, business, or mass production, she took a chance and watched it grow into a bright, dedicated team of people and a full-scale line of products.
One thing that hasn’t changed since the very beginning of Nicole’s journey is her source of inspiration: the customer. Without knowledge or experience to help her through the stages of building a business, she took her first steps toward expansion by talking to vendors at the popular Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg Food Markets. Through these conversations, she learned the ropes of food licensing, the requirements for a commercial kitchen, and got approved as a vendor while building a network of other small business owners. Even though she lacked the technical knowledge of how to scale a business, she realized then that customer feedback would be the key to developing a successful food brand.
Nicole grew as an entrepreneur over the next few years, mostly by learning what didn’t work. Her early experimentation with “soup shots” catered to the experience of flea market tasting, but didn’t fit with her mission of promoting a plant-based lifestyle, so she pivoted to a meal delivery service via bike messenger. It was a super buzz-worthy idea that garnered a lot of press coverage and widened her consumer base across NYC; however, she once again felt that it wasn’t the right business model for her mission, so she went back to the drawing board.
Nicole pitched to wholesale distributers and was rejected. Instead of throwing in the towel she shifted her focus to hiring employees and investing in social media marketing. The new Splendid Spoon team introduced a new source of energy and creativity to the brand now being promoted online with a simple message and great photography. Nicole found a whole new audience and was able to scale her product and delivery system from soup via bike across New York City to meals via mail across the country.
It was a joy to have Nicole share her story with us on the talk show today. For more or to support Nicole and her brand check out Splendid Spoon on
and their website: www.splendidspoon.com
Thanks for listening!