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?