Saving the World One Bowl of Soup at a Time with Sara Polon, a.k.a., Soupergirl
Building While Flying
Fixing the broken food system is no piece of cake—but one brand believes they can do it, one bowl of soup at a time. Welcome to Building While Flying! This weekly podcast is brought to you by the Sasha Group. We’re the small-to-medium-sized business arm of the VaynerX family of companies. We help ambitious companies build strong brands that flex with the times through strategy, branding, media, and marketing. In ever-changing times, businesses and brands have to shift and adapt. And across all sectors, there is an air of experimentation. Business owners are trying new things out in the wild; building the plane while flying. Our pilots, Katie Hankinson and Mickey Cloud, will be talking to a diverse range of business leaders and founders. They’ll explore how these guests tackle various challenges while staying resilient and committed to growth. Through these real-life examples of strategies put into practice, we hope to inspire you to experiment and develop your own strategies as we all navigate these uncertain times together. Sara Polon and her team have a bold mission: to make the world better with soup. Sara Polon is a former standup comedian turned self-taught soupmaker. She and her mother started Soupergirl in 2008, with a mission to fix the broken food system, and share everything they’ve learned along the way. Their soups are truly one of a kind—made with seasonal ingredients, kosher, vegan, gluten-free, and radically delicious. In their conversation, Sara and Mickey first dive into Sara’s background in comedy, and how those skills help and impact her as a business owner. Then Sara goes deep on the current food system, people’s different approaches to food, and how Soupergirl is making a difference, and will continue to do so. Sara also talks about meeting your consumers where they are, and shares how the COVID-19 pandemic forced her and her team to refocus their vision and channel strategy from retail to DTC. At the end of the day, Sara says, as long as they remain focused and understand their vision, we will get there. If you’re craving some soup after listening, head to the Soupergirl website to find where you can buy some near you, or to order some for delivery right to your door. Other In-flight Topics: Standup comedy in New York City Starting a business with your mother Infusing comedy background as a business owner Defining your approach to food Fixing the broken food system How the COVID-19 forced them to refocus their channel strategies How to meet your consumers where they are The challenges of communicating a values-focused brand story The importance of listening to your consumers Links: Website: https://thesoupergirl.com/ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thesoupergirldc/ Store locator: https://thesoupergirl.com/find-in-stores/ Order soup for delivery: https://thesoupergirl.com/enter-zip-code/ What previous career did you have to being an entrepreneur and what lessons did you carry over?
Sara Polon: Rejecting "Shoulds" on the Path to Discovery
Cookable Presents: The Psyche Eats
Before co-founding Soupergirl with her mother, former stand-up comedian Sara Polon was not in a good place. This painful two-year period in her late twenties was one of depression and its physical manifestations. It was also one of the most important and defining. From pain came self-discovery, rejection of certain expectations, renewed attention to physical health, and deepened relationships – all of which now live in her company’s products, story, values, and mission.
451: How to Break Into the Vegan Food Industry Making Soups With Sara Polon, Soupergirl [Espresso Shots]
Sarah Polon is the founder of Soupergirl, a Washington D.C.-based company that sells healthy, vegan soups with locally-sourced ingredients. It was Michael Pollan’s book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, that inspired Sarah to quit her job and start a food business to educate her community on the importance of connecting with the food they eat and properly nourishing their bodies. The post 451: How to Break Into the Vegan Food Industry Making Soups With Sara Polon, Soupergirl [Espresso Shots] appeared first on Time4Coffee.
390: What To Do If You Want to Start a Food Business w/ Sara Polon, Soupergirl [K-Cup DoubleShot]
Sarah Polon is the founder of Soupergirl, a Washington D.C.-based company that sells healthy, vegan soups with locally-sourced ingredients. It was Michael Pollan’s book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, that inspired Sarah to quit her job and start a food business to educate her community on the importance of connecting with the food they eat and properly nourishing their bodies. The post 390: What To Do If You Want to Start a Food Business w/ Sara Polon, Soupergirl [K-Cup DoubleShot] appeared first on Time4Coffee.
388: Why Soupergirl Listened to Her Gut & Built a Soup Business w/ Sara Polon, Soupergirl [K-Cup DoubleShot]
Sarah Polon is the founder of Soupergirl, a Washington D.C.-based company that sells healthy, vegan soups with locally-sourced ingredients. It was Michael Pollan’s book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, that inspired Sarah to quit her job and start a food business to educate her community on the importance of connecting with the food they eat and properly nourishing their bodies. Today, Soupergirl has two brick-and-mortar shops and delivers soups all over the country. The post 388: Why Soupergirl Listened to Her Gut & Built a Soup Business w/ Sara Polon, Soupergirl [K-Cup DoubleShot] appeared first on Time4Coffee.
385: What It’s Like to Build a Vegan Soup Business w/ Sara Polon, Soupergirl [Main T4C episode]
Sarah Polon is the founder of Soupergirl, a Washington D.C.-based company that sells healthy, vegan soups with locally-sourced ingredients. It was Michael Pollan’s book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, that inspired Sarah to quit her job and start a food business to educate her community on the importance of connecting with the food they eat and properly nourishing their bodies. Today, Soupergirl has two brick-and-mortar shops and delivers soups all over the country. The post 385: What It’s Like to Build a Vegan Soup Business w/ Sara Polon, Soupergirl [Main T4C episode] appeared first on Time4Coffee.
#115: Sara Polon: Soupergirl: A Multi-Million Dollar Soup Company that Improves Health and the Food System
Profit With Purpose by Anna Goldstein
After living in New York as a Comedian, Sara Polon, hit rock bottom and took a hard look at the direction she was going in life. Sara had an Ah-HA moment when she read the book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, which inspired her to get involved in the local food movement. After all she grew up on her Mom’s natural, freshly cooked and delicious soup, she got the idea to come back to her hometown in Washington DC. In 2008 she started Soupergirl with her mother to bring locally inspired, nutritious, and delicious soup to the hungry citizens of Washington, DC, and beyond. This mom-daughter duo can tell you, in clear conscience, that their soups are very healthy. They believe if you can’t pronounce something on the ingredient list, it should not be in the soup. Their soups are all plant-based and kosher filled with fresh, local veggies, grains, beans, and other wholesome goodness. The mission at Soupergirl isn’t just about soup - it’s about our food system. Soupergirl believes in real, responsible food and supports their local farming community. So that the planet, consumer, community, farmers, and laborers all win. As they grow, they believe they can inspire even bigger changes. One spoonful at a time. Recently, they were featured on ABC’s Shark Tank. What was the first soup that you made? Sara started the business with her mother back in 2008. She does not remember the first soup she made. She started her business by hosting gatherings on weekly basis and her mother would cook all the test recipes she had prepared. Sara would then share samples with all the guests, gather their opinions about different soups and that is how she was able to build the basis of her brand. She developed a database of 100 different soups. She launched her business in November 2008. Why did you choose soup to start your business? According to Sara, soup is the perfect food with high nutrition. It contains less fat and if it is prepared properly, it can have all the necessary proteins, fibers and nutrients in it. Sara wanted to get involved in the local food movement by being able to cook differently. She wanted to make an impact and she felt soup was a great way to incorporate healthy food in the lives of people around her. How did you transition from being a comedian to being in the food business? When Sara was doing comedy, she was working for different companies. She was not really passionate about her work and it was slowly starting to get to her. She has always had a very short attention span. Her breakthrough moment came when she was on a flight and read Michael Pollan’s book ‘The Omnivore’s Dilemma’. She had never understood the importance of local food movement before. After reading the book, she felt a need to get involved in the local food movement. She was considering a few different options around that time. She wanted to start her own business and her ideas revolved around incorporating comedy and health together. How did you start the business? Sara initially had a partner who backed out in the early stages of her business. After that, she got her mother involved in the business who was willing to help her. Though her mother had no idea what she was getting into. Were you ever skeptical or in doubt about succeeding in your business? Sara thinks when you are a small business owner, there is a constant struggle against self-doubts. Sometimes, in the morning she has this energy and feels like she is going to conquer the world today and then later in the day she feels tired or demotivated due to various reasons. The food industry is very hard, there is a lot of competition. How do you maintain your mindset and focus? Sara believes in herself and in her business. She believes her business is meant to grow because she is staying true to her passion towards food. She also performs meditation that helps her control her stress. Why do you think the food system is broken? People are far removed from where their food comes from. We usually go to the supermarket and everything is neatly packaged in there. We are not connected with how that food item gets to our shopping cart or to the supermarket shelf. We need to be connected with how the food we buy from the supermarket is prepared, who prepared it, how it was farmed. With her business, she is trying to create awareness among people to be more involved with their food and its story. What do you think has had the biggest impact on your growth? Sara thinks her customers have had the biggest impact on the growth. They have promoted the business as well by spreading the word about the business. Sara has a community of fans which many brands do not have. Sara considers herself to be lucky to have such fans. How did you come up with this name for your brand? Sara brainstormed with her family and friends for the name. She had a vision of the illustration. She knew people will be able to relate with the name and that it adds flavor, it adds humor and relates to what she was trying to do. Did you ever have a business plan? Sara initially had a business plan but she was never able to finish it. It has gone through several iterations over the years. Sara believes business plan needs to be a living documentation, it needs to change with time. How has your business changed ever since you aired on Shark Tank? Sara has decided to ship her products nationwide. Every person in the country can now get her food. She was able to set up meetings with major grocery chains and was able to put her products in their stores. What is your favorite soup? It really depends on Sara’s mood and time of day. She usually prefers her ginger butternut soup. In summers, she prefers the chilled watermelon gazpacho. Sara also says there is nothing like a lentil soup with simple vegetables. What is the best advice you have ever been given? The best advice she has ever been given is to never stop believing. Someone said to her that her biggest challenge was going to be staff. She believes anticipating your company's needs, hiring people and planning accordingly is very important for company’s prosperity. You have to be proactive and think three steps ahead. What are you proud of? Sara is not where she wants to be, it keeps her hungry and it keeps her motivated. She says she is not proud of anything as yet. How can we connect with you? thesoupergirl.com
Ep. 141 - Soup's On! How to Grow An Authentic Soup Business with Sara Polon, Owner of Soupergirl
My Food Job Rocks!
After a stint of being a comedian, Sara Polon started to spiral downhill and it wasn’t until she decided to do a triathlon, that she started to move her life around. But how did she decide to feed herself? With her mother’s soups of course. And that’s kind of how Soupergirl started. With constantly changing innovative flavors such as Split Pea Mint and Mexican Black Bean Sweet Potato and speedy delivery service, Soupergirl is growing fast. Soupergirl has been featured in the press multiple times and has critical acclaims of the taste and health benefits of the Polon’s family soup. Rumor has it, they’ll be appearing on Shark Tank very very soon. Check the show notes for more details. Anyways, super insightful interview with Sara Polon. I learned a ton about passion, motivation, and high pressure processing. A quick note, we talk about Alexa during this interview and while editing, Alexa added 5 apples to my shopping cart… NEW Sponsor - FoodLabelPro.com Is your product packaging compliant with the new FDA rules? The compliance deadline is January 1st, 2020. At FoodLabelPro.com we will upgrade your current panels for only $50. FoodLabelPro.com also provides package and claim reviews, laboratory analysis, shelf life testing, printer/graphics services, and menu analysis. We are your one-stop shop for food packaging: FoodLabelpro.com. Sponsor - BAKERpedia This episode is brought to you by BAKERpedia – your one-stop, resource that answers all your questions on industry trends, ingredient information, food safety and more. It’s shared knowledge, freely available, always. BAKERpedia.com – we do all the thinking so you can focus on your business. Show Notes James Altucher – Comedic Journey We want Soupergirl to be happy, fun and approachable Washington Post Article about Soupergirl When someone asks what you do for a living, what do you tell them in a sentence or less?: I’m Soupergirl, I deliver whole food, vegan soup to the masses “Sara Polon is going to clean your colon” We rebranded the cleanse concept and put it as more on the meal If you eat four soups a day, you’ll eat less but you’ll feel more energized New and innovating flavors every week Beet Gaspatcho Peach Gazpacho We try to get traditional flavors and give them a twist Lay’s Do Us a Flavor Queso Chips Frieka Bulgar New flavors work when you pair something new to something old My mom cooked from scratch. We started this company because we saw how many things are low quality and had so many preservatives Why did you start Soupergirl?: After I stopped doing Comedy, I slowly slid to rock bottom. I signed up for a triathalon and paid attention on what I eat. Michael Pollan – Omnivore’s Dilemma We first started in the kitchen. I just invited people to my apartment. When we started delivering, we got press because we were authentic. We started catering, then selling to Costco, then ship How did you get a first customer?: We had a launch party. I asked 6 friends who didn’t know each other and they spread it their friends and it brought 100’s of people. The invite went viral and got forwarded to the press. Daily Candy – begged them to not get the scoop What is the hardest part of the business?: Growth is hard. You have to keep people interested, loyal and still have great quality What are ways to manage growth: Try to hire proactively. Some of the worst mistakes I’ve made was reactively hiring. For example, we hired a kid to deliver soup and he got a hit and run and didn’t tell anyone. What is the most important skillset you can have?: Leadership. You need to learn how to delegate. Do you have any books about leadership?: Actually. No. It’s more about people. How do you choose advice?: You have to be passionate about it. If you're not passionate about the business, the advice you take can destroy you. Passion will sort out the right advice Soupermeals Any stories about your soup?: One of our customers got her bloodwork done and the Soup meals gave her the best blood results Cancer treatments, harsh illnesses Parents use their soup for kid’s diets Food Trends and Technology: For trends, plant-based. For technology, clean meat High-pressure Processing (HPP) – Our gaspacho is HPP HPP increases shelf life from 10 days to 95 days HPP used in Hummus and things HPP can have your product explode your product The biggest challenge a food producer needs to face: If you have an idea and you want to cook something, there’s not a lot of shared kitchen spaces to try a product. There’s barely any guidance for this. You need a lot of physical assets that are hard to get. More people are getting sick in food because your food comes from everywhere Maker’s Space shuts down Cottage Industry Laws One thing in the food industry you’d like to know more about?: The future. Things are changing so rapidly. The tension between retail, farmer’s market, so much technology is going on. Trends will boom, but there are niches that will never go away Coconut Oil Who inspired you to get into food?: My mother and Michael Pollan What’s your favorite kitchen item?: Just a knife and a cutting board. I also use my Vitamix. However, to make soup, you just need a knife and cutting board Food Mills Why are you closed on Friday and Saturday?: I’m Jewish and we’re a kosher company so I have to follow the law. Sometimes it’s frustrating, but I’m glad that it forces me to have a vacation How many of your customers are orthodox jewish?: A lot of my customers are not orthodox and vegan. Most of my customers just love good food. How do you like working with your mother?: I’m really lucky. My mom is so energetic How do you make vegan challah?: We make a water challah. We get it from a kosher bakery Any advice to get into the food industry?: Life is short, do it! Regret is the worst feeling in the world. Start small, don’t invest too much until you’re ready. You get to the point: Do this, or do nothing else. Every time I’ve had a Where can we find you for advice?: Our website. Just send me a message. Twitter: @soupergirl Supergirl Like This Episode? Then You Might Like Hugh Thomas - Ugly Drinks: Also exploding in the US, Ugly Drinks is a snarky, CPG brand that is just fun and enjoyable. I learn a ton about marketing from Hugh and this would give you the best steps to start small. Lisa Tse - Sweet Mandarin: Lisa heads Sweet Mandarin, a very popular restaurant and sauce line in the UK. It seems like in the restaurant world, press is king.
Tune in for the debut episode of The Leap, as host Sarah Gordon talks to The Soupergirl! Soupergirl is Sara Polon, a former stand up comedienne turned soup-maker. After reading Michael Pollan’s book, the Omnivore’s Dilemma, Sara decided to get involved in the local food movement. She thought about being a farmer but she can’t even keep her house plants alive. Tune in to hear how she made the leap into small business and what advice she has for aspiring food entrepreneurs.