“Over a third of the food we produce is wasted. And then you’ve got over 800 million people who don’t have enough to eat. It’s proven that we have enough food, it’s just a matter of getting it into people’s hands.”
— Seema Sanghavi, Founder of Cooks Who Feed
In this episode
Seema Sanghavi of Coralus Venture Cooks Who Feed joins Activator Karley Cunningham to talk about finding her niche, how Cooks Who Feed got started, and the importance of building a sustainable and ethical business.
They also discuss:
- Seema’s motivation behind starting the business
- Stories from the women employed by Cooks Who Feed
- Challenges that the business has faced, especially during COVID
- Establishing values-aligned strategic partnerships
- What it’s been like since joining the Coralus community
We invite you to join us as an Activator.
Take action and engage with Cooks Who Feed:
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The podcast is being transcribed by Otter.ai. (there may be errors, run-on sentences and misspellings).
Seema Sanghavi 0:00
I truly believe that. We don’t need to produce more food right? Over a third of the food we produce is wasted. That’s crazy. And then you’ve got over 800 million people who don’t have enough to eat. It’s proven that we have enough food, it’s just a matter of getting it into people’s hands.
Vicki Saunders 0:15
Welcome to SheEO.World podcast, where you’ll meet women and non-binary folks who are transforming the world to be more equitable, and sustainable.
Karley Cunningham 0:27
Hello, I’m Karley Cunningham and I’m thrilled to be guest hosting this episode of the podcast. I’m an Activator and the founder of Big Bold Brand, where we work at the intersection of business and brand strategy communications, sales and marketing. We cocreate with changemakers visionaries, innovators, disruptors and paradigm shifters, the types of people who charge towards difficult challenges and get excited about tackling the seemingly impossible, and building the unimagined to create a more equitable, sustainable and healthier world. Just like those in our community. My days are spent helping entrepreneurs and business owners build the strategic tools and execution plans that they need to get clear on their vision and direction to align everyone and everything in their business. Develop a clear positioning for their brand, and impactful messaging to ensure that everyone is communicating the same message and story, differentiate themselves in the sea of sameness and attract the right clients, team members and investors needed for their business to thrive. All of this contributing to accelerating the growth and success of their venture. But enough about me, this episode is all about introducing you to Cooks Who Feed, a 2022 Venture. And here to tell us about it is the founder, Seema Sanghavi. Welcome, Seema.
Seema Sanghavi 1:45
Thanks for having me, Karley,
Karley Cunningham 1:46
I am so excited to dig into this interview with you. And so to bring those into the story, who haven’t checked out Cooks Who Feed before, Cooks Who Feed ethically produces handcrafted aprons to fight hunger. Now, normally, my first question is, tell me about the problems your company solves in the world. And I know that your core problem was just made pretty clear. But I know there’s more problems that you and your team are solving. Can you tell us about those?
Seema Sanghavi 2:14
For sure. So I guess the whole idea is to be as sustainable and socially responsible as possible. So we start with, you know, the fabrics that we use, we only use sustainable fabrics, so that you know, not causing more issues and causing more issues for the for the planet. And then, in regards to who makes our products, we hire marginalized women, the goal is to get them out of poverty. We currently employ 72 women full-time. They’re all based in Delhi, India, where our sewing house is. And that’s a big, you know, hunger obviously, is our primary reason for being but I would say our second reason for being is really, you know, to empower women and to help marginalized women to give them opportunities that they may not otherwise have. So those are, I would say those two problems, our biggest problems, and then on top of that, we do provide meals. And we do that by sharing our profits with our charity partners, that rescue surplus food to provide the meals, so we’re also helping to reduce food waste.
Karley Cunningham 3:13
That’s an amazing number of problems you’re solving in the world. One thing that struck me in my research for this episode is how clear you are on your ideal customers. Foodies who cook. Were you always this clear on your niche?
Seema Sanghavi 3:28
Maybe not so much in the beginning when I was still trying to figure things out. But I’m pretty confident that as soon as we started, you know, moving forward with the idea, I was pretty clear on who to target. That’s, that’s where I saw the opportunity, right? I think there’s so many people today who are becoming foodies, everyone’s a foodie, right. And you were getting, you’re seeing best sellers that are cookbooks, you’re, you’re seeing all these food shows that are everywhere. And you know, the foodie culture is taking off. And what I noticed was that when you look at the brands that cater to foodies, and home cooks, you know, like whether it’s you know, William Sonoma, crate, and barrel, all these brands, they seem to be producing more higher end luxurious products, but they’re not focusing on values that I believe are very important to the foodie community, which has sustainability and, and social responsibility. And I think most foodies care about and they’re well aware of food insecurity and food waste, and they want to be part of the solution. And I just thought that’s an opportunity because none of these big brands are addressing that.
Karley Cunningham 4:27
Absolutely. And one word that came up a few times, as you were talking about that was noticing. And so many of us move so quickly in our own businesses that sometimes we forget to take the time as the business is growing. And as things are rolling in, it’s becoming that snowball down the hill to stop and to notice, and I think that’s something that I really appreciate about what you what you said and always in the beginning it is taking practice and noticing where are we going to focus? What are we going to do? And one of the things that I noticed and the reason I hooked onto the topic of niche is that I know for many business owners niching down and tightening up their focus on who are we going to sell to is a scary thing? Can you talk about how having a clearly defined niche has helped your business and made things easier?
Seema Sanghavi 5:10
For sure. And I get that I get how if you think if you narrow down so much that maybe your markets not that big, right, and there’s this fear that you’re missing out. But I think that in regards to, you know, helping us just define our mission and our vision, and even the tone and the, the words that we use, when we communicate, whether it’s, you know, an Instagram post or a newsletter, we speak to our target audience. And yes, it will appeal to other people, but it needs to appeal to our core. So I guess that’s what kind of keeps us. So focused on that niche is that we need to be able to speak to someone otherwise, it looks like you’re all over the place, right? So we want to target home cooks, I’m sure we’re picking up a lot of other people while we’re on this journey. But it’s clearly for home cooks. The language that we use, the tone, everything.
Karley Cunningham 5:56
Yeah, and to play on that you are definitely speaking my language that is the work that we do with our customers. And you know, who are you talking to? Who is your ideal target audience, and you hit on that. And the reason we look at ideal is because you do pick up those external, other people who come along, or you know, someone who might be a foodie who might be buying a gift for someone who’s on that cusp of becoming a foodie, or they’re, you know, they’re, you know, I think about my Ukrainian grandmother, she’s not a foodie, but she wears an apron, and she’s a cook. And so it spreads organically, when you do a great job at your customer experience. And first and foremost, building a phenomenal product. So tell us is it just aprons you produce? Talking about niching down. It’s kind of a loaded question, but you know what I mean.
Seema Sanghavi 6:41
So, we started with aprons, we launched actually on a on a kickstarter campaign. That was it was just a good way for us to validate that we actually had something, and also a good way to pay for our first production run. So we thought let’s, let’s try the crowdfunding route. And we started with just two aprons, two adult sized aprons. And then when we launched our website, we launched with five and most of them were designed by different chefs. From there, and now we have about 10 – we have 10 aprons. Yes. 10 adult aprons, clarify that for a second. But we launched a kids line last year during the holiday season. So we made little versions of our three most popular adult aprons. That came from our customers just asking us, you know, when are we going to do this because we either they either had a child who loved to cook, or they wanted to encourage their children to cook. So we decided to focus on the three most popular design so that you can match your child in the kitchen. And then just last month, we launched tea towels and linen napkins with chef Vikram Vij. He designed them for us. And we just launched that last month.
Karley Cunningham 7:44
That’s fantastic. I think we need to get you in on one of our other Ventures, Pam Fanjoy. I think we need to get into some youth.
Seema Sanghavi 7:50
I know Pam
Karley Cunningham 7:51
Right? Pam’s fantastic. So I mean, that’s when things I’m always inspired within this community is it’s really easy to go, “Oh, hold on a second, do you know so and so?” And just see those strategic partnerships very, very clearly. And again, another benefit of niching down, this is who we are, this is what we do. This is the value we deliver. And it’d be very easy if you were more broad, broad base to go. But are we in, quote on quote, competition. And I know that’s not the way our community operates. But having that clearly defined niche then allows you to tap into strategic partnerships because there’s no blur, which is a really nice opportunity. So talk to us about why you started Cooks Who Feed. What was the impetus behind it?
Seema Sanghavi 8:31
I always wanted to start something whether you know, I didn’t know if it was going to be a company or I just always wanted to be involved in helping feed those less fortunate. I am a foodie, I have always been a foodie. My favorite thing in life is like having friends and family over, you know, and having a good meal. And to me, that’s a simple pleasure in life. But I know that a lot of people don’t even get to experience that, right? They are focused on just getting enough food in their belly or feeding their kids enough food, enough nutritious food. And I’ve seen that I’ve been lucky enough to travel around the world. And I’ve seen that, you know, hunger is everywhere. It’s, it’s ridiculous when you think about it, because we produce enough food for everyone. So there shouldn’t be any reason why anyone goes hungry or anyone is malnutritioned. And I’ve always been really passionate about that. And in 2016, I was in India for a friend’s wedding. And another friend suggested I go visit this NGO that was training marginalized women to become seamstresses. And I went there. And one of the biggest challenges they had was finding fair trade work for these women. So they were training them, but then they couldn’t find enough work for them. So I was like, well, maybe maybe I can start something. And these ladies will be the production team. I’ll work with them exclusively. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I said, Leave it with me. I will definitely think of something and about six months later, I was out for a run and it was just like this light bulb went off and I was like, that’s it. We’re gonna make, you know, kitchen textiles and they’re gonna have a giveback model to fight hunger and I’m gonna, you know, we’re gonna work with these ladies. And we’re gonna call it Cooks Who Feed. And it was just like literally, like one minute just light bulb went off.
Karley Cunningham 10:07
Such a stream of consciousness.
Seema Sanghavi 10:09
Karley Cunningham 10:10
Yeah, I, I have so many “aha” moments, while out on runs or mountain bike rides myself. And I find that one of the beautiful things is that when you stop thinking about the problem you’re trying to solve, often the answer shows up. And I’ll do that often when I’m working in the office, and literally the ceiling over my head, it feels like the thing that’s holding me back. So if I go out and just run and just let my subconscious roll with it, it’s amazing what pops up. So I can only imagine you’ve had many of those moments, as you’ve built the business and and set forth on this journey.
Seema Sanghavi 10:40
It’s funny that you mentioned for yourself biking, or I always find that kind of comes to me when I’m, I run. So whenever I go for a run, I usually that’s when I know what’s going to happen if it’s going to happen. Yeah, so I’ve thought and do like a voice memo to it. So I don’t forget,
Karley Cunningham 10:55
Oh my gosh, you and I use the same process. So talk to us about some of the stories. I’m curious, I was looking at the photos of the women who you employ. And I was just looking at the joy on their faces. And I was thinking there’s got to be some pretty inspiring stories about them. But let’s start with who are these women? And why are these jobs so important to them?
Seema Sanghavi 11:20
Sure. So all these women live in the north part of Delhi, India. So they’re always in like either one bus ride or walking distance to our sewing house. There’s a lot of small villages and slums in that area. So we chose to set up shop there. So it’s accessible for these ladies, these are women who are, unfortunately, never had the opportunity for an education, come from very traditional families in the sense that, you know, there’s usually defined roles for a woman usually, you know, doing stuff around the house, having children taking care of your children taking care of your husband and your in-laws. Many of them have never met women who are strong, independent women. They don’t know that, or they see it as a foreign thing, not something that happens in India, you know, that could happen to them. Many of them also suffer from domestic violence, if not from their spouse, their in-laws, or both. Many of them also they understand English. It’s funny, when we communicate, I’ll speak to them in my broken Hindi, and they’ll reply in their broken English, but we get along just great. But they’re looking for a chance. That’s what you know, I think everyone wants, right, they, they don’t want charity, they want an opportunity to earn for themselves and take better care of their children. That’s what they want.
Karley Cunningham 12:38
Amazing. How have you seen, beyond those things, some of the unexpected surprises and how the employments changed change their life.
Seema Sanghavi 12:46
Oh, I’ve seen it change all the time, I’ve seen improvements in their lives, I’ve seen it just in their outlook, in their optimism, the way they carry themselves, they are confident, you know that before they start, you can see that they lack confidence. They don’t know if they’re able to do this. And, you know, when you see someone who’s so confident that wasn’t, you know, confident when you first met them. Like, it’s, it’s really, it’s like a different person. I’ve seen it even in how they talk about their life and their ambition, you know, what they want for themselves. It’s so much more now than what it was in the beginning. So I’ve seen it in those ways. And I’ve also seen it in, there’s been a few really strong examples where in one woman in particular stands out to me she when she started, you know, she didn’t know even how to turn on a computer. And she is now you know, a production manager, she handles all our client emails, she handles everything really like nothing leaves the sewing house unless she’s approved it. And I’ve just seen her come so far. And you know, I told her, I was like, Well, I’m worried now you’re going to leave, and go be a production manager somewhere else, because you have the experience, you know what you’re doing. You know, if she does great, move on to bigger and better things. But I said, “That’s what worries me,” I would be I would be sad if she left. But that’s what I want, right? We want them all to to move on to bigger, better things.
Karley Cunningham 14:10
I can only imagine how good that feels for you and for your team. When you you, you know I was as I’m looking at you, for those of you who are listening and you can’t see but there’s there’s a door right behind Seema and I – the metaphor of opening a door for these women and then they just keep opening the doors themselves. And, you know, raising the roof and using the ceiling that was there for them as the floor to the next opportunity, like so inspiring. I’m gonna jump to your business model for a second here. And what I love about it is that it’s so simple, but through the work that I do as a creative strategist and a business problem solver. I know that simple is not easy. Can you share with us one or two of Cooks Who Feed’s biggest challenges that you’ve overcome?
Seema Sanghavi 14:55
Oh, god, I’ve had a lot of challenges. I’m sure like most businesses COVID’s been crazy, right? It’s been, it’s been really hard, hard for us in the sense that we sell our aprons to like to end customers to through retail channels. But we also sell to businesses and businesses in hospitality use aprons. So during the pandemic, it was really quiet for us when it came to our clients in hospitality. You know, we make aprons for culinary schools and caterers and all that was nonexistent during COVID. And then, in addition to that, India went through a couple of lockdowns for several weeks, right, some of the – I think one was almost three months long, so we were not able to operate for that amount of time and just getting, you know, when we were able to pick back up just putting new measures in place so that everyone was safe and had what they needed. And then of course, during those lockdowns, what did we do with the ladies? Right? How do they put food on their table? So making sure everyone was okay. Their families were okay. Everyone had masks. Everyone had hand sanitizer, soap. Things that we take for granted over here. I like we didn’t, I know, for myself, I didn’t even think of that when we first started. It wasn’t, it was only after the first few days, I was like, wait a minute, you know, how are these ladies buying masks? How are they, you know? And then we started making masks. And it was like, how do we – for them, of course for them. I was like, you know, soap and hand sanitizer, like you don’t even think twice when you pick it up here. And I’m like, because they don’t have access to that or they may not be able to afford enough for their whole family. And because they live in multigenerational families, it’s like, okay, if one person gets it, you know, it’s easy to spread in their household. So a lot of challenges when it came to COVID. Another big thing for us is, I think cash flow, which is another issue heading for most businesses, right? Because when you sell to customers, you need the inventory first, right? So we are we don’t have any investors, I own Cooks Who Feed 100%, myself and everything has been bootstrapped, or through my savings or through, you know, doing pitch contests and winning pitch contests. So just keep putting myself out there so we can keep growing this business.
Karley Cunningham 17:04
Yeah, there’s always there’s always the hustle that supports the business, right? There’s the core business and the hustle that supports the business. I’m looking at your strategic partnerships. And what’s really interesting is, it would appear from your website, that they’re really tight, and you’ve garnered and worked to partner with some fantastic partners and develop great relationships. And I sometimes see, especially women entrepreneurs struggle with the belief that they have to achieve their purpose themselves, you know, beyond making money beyond buying, making a viable business, you know, Cooks Who Feed and helping to contribute to end poverty, hunger, that that’s a big problem to solve. And, you know, I love the story of going for the run, having an idea and it just being so very clear. But often, that big purpose can get in the way of the dreaming big when it comes to defining your purpose, itself, you know, well, I’m not going to have it that big because, well, I don’t know how I’m going to achieve it. But what I’ve learned through reading about your partnerships with cooks who feed and those you partner with, you’ve done an amazing job of leveraging those partnerships to achieve its purpose. So were strategic partners a part of the plan to end hunger right from the start, or were they an evolution of your business model? Talk a little bit about that, because I think the insights into that are going to help inspire some of those who are listening to this.
Seema Sanghavi 18:20
So from day one, I knew I had to bring on partners. As you mentioned, fighting hunger is a big deal, right? It’s a big problem. And well aware that I’m not solving this on my own, I cannot solve it on my own. And there’s so many wonderful organizations that are, you know, also making making way and making progress. And it didn’t make sense to me to reinvent the wheel like to do something that someone else is already doing so wonderfully. That is why I reached out to the charity partners that I did, I wanted a charity partner here in Canada, because we are Canadian company. So I reached out to Second Harvest here, which many people know and they’ve been around for so long. And they know what they’re doing similar to my partner in the US rescuing leftover cuisine, they’ve been around for 10 plus years. Like they they’ve they’ve won awards for what they do. They’ve been recognized, as you know, being able to, they’re they’re mostly volunteer, you know, run, so most of the money goes towards providing the meals. And then same with our partner in Asia, it’s I wanted to make sure that these were reputable charities that knew what to do. And then also I realized it saves me from trying to figure out that part of the business if they’re already doing it, well, why wouldn’t I just work with them. And for them, it was a no brainer. Most charities they survive because of donation, and especially during a time of COVID. A lot of those donations, corporate donations, were not there. So for someone to reach out to you and say, “hey, I want to start this, and every time I saw a product, you’re gonna get, you know, a donation to go towards the work that you do,” they were like, “Okay, well, great.” So it wasn’t hard to convince them. But I see it as a sustainable way to do this. I don’t think relying purely on donations is a sustainable way to fight hunger? I think there has to be more to it.
Karley Cunningham 20:03
Absolutely. So what I’m hearing you say is is just to put it out as some takeaways for the listeners is, is, in vetting strategic partners is know what your parameters are. So for you, it was an established organization who was clear on what they did. And they’re good at what they do. Someone who is aligned with helping you achieve your purpose, someone who already had the ways and the understanding of seeing a good partnership themselves, and simply being open to partnerships and relationships and engaging with them that way.
Seema Sanghavi 20:33
Sure. Another big one, too, was that they also believed in that we don’t need to produce more food, they’re rescuing surplus food to provide the meals. And that was a big one for me, because I truly believe that right? I think it’s over, over a third of the food we produce is wasted, right? When you think of that, that’s crazy. And then you’ve got over 800 million people who don’t have enough to eat. It’s been you know, it’s proven that we have enough food, it’s just a matter of getting it into people’s hands. Yeah. So wanted to only work with organizations that also believe that and, you know, our relationships have they’ve been growing, they’ve been getting stronger. They support me, like, I only see win-wins here. Because you know, they’re promoting what I do, because it benefits them. It’s, I couldn’t have done it without them. That’s for sure.
Karley Cunningham 21:17
So incredibly powerful. I’d love to hear about your entrepreneurial journey. So you never set out to develop a business, did you?
Seema Sanghavi 21:25
I did not. I have one experience prior to this, and it didn’t go so well. So I never really looked at this as “Oh, I’m starting a company,” it was just “okay, we’re just going to start something to get other foodies motivated to solve this problem.” So we can solve it together.
Karley Cunningham 21:42
So bringing a community together to start a movement. Exactly. Talk to me about the energy around the movement. What did you find? Once you got clear on how you were going to launch the business and what it was going to be? From the kickstarter campaign? What was the experience of starting a movement versus starting a business?
Seema Sanghavi 21:58
So a mindset, right, because I guess I was starting a business, right. But that’s not how I looked at it. I didn’t realize I was actually starting a business until I realized, “Shoot, I should probably be keeping track of the financials,” and all this stuff goes with a business, right? Yeah, I think, in fact, that probably helped me to not see it as a business from day one. It was just focused on the mission focused on what we wanted to achieve. And it helped me see things a bit more clearly as well. And it also helped me decide what things to do what not to do, just looking at it that way.
Karley Cunningham 22:26
Yeah, I would agree with you mindset, but also structure. Yeah, you know, what you put at the heart and the center of the focus really does become the focus. And it really is the women and the ending the hunger, which stays the focus, which seems to me pretty darn powerful and gives you a lot of traction.
Seema Sanghavi 22:44
Karley Cunningham 22:45
Speaking of community, we couldn’t go an interview without talking about your being a 2022 Venture this year. Congratulations, by the way.
Seema Sanghavi 22:54
Karley Cunningham 22:55
I’d love for you to reflect a bit on your journey within this community. How did you find out about the organization? When did you decide to apply? Because I know some folks are like, “Oh, no, I couldn’t do that this year,” and the wait and the wait and then all of a sudden they apply. Talk to us about your journey.
Seema Sanghavi 23:10
So it was actually another venture that introduced me to the community. Patrice Mousseau from Satya Organics. She introduced me, we were part of an accelerator together through Elevate. And she had mentioned to me she’s like, you know, “The, the applications for Canada are opening up you need to apply.” I was like, “Well, tell me more. What is this community, tell me more?” How has it benefited you and she only had all these wonderful things to say and she is a great spokesperson. Because she definitely within like five minutes. I’m like, “You’re right, I’m gonna take the time to apply.” And also she mentioned to me, this is not like other applications, right where it could take days and you know, these long winded answers an essay question. Oh, no, no, no, it’s straightforward. If you know your business, you can do it. So yeah, hearing that, I was like, you know, “What, what do I have to lose?” And I try to always look at everything that way. “What do I have to lose?” The last thing you want is regrets. Right? Like, “Oh, I wish I would have.” I don’t want any regrets. So I thought, let’s apply and, you know, great if I can get in if I can’t, well, there’s always next year, but I was lucky enough to get in and it was actually Pam Fanjoy. They called me to tell me
Karley Cunningham 24:18
Seema Sanghavi 24:19
And it’s – again, I’ve been out for a run when she called me. And I literally like was like, I was in tears. I was like, oh my god like this is just crazy, because – just overwhelmed. Last year was a tough year. And I think just getting some wonderful news like that, when I least expected it. It just I started to tear up and I was like this is the best news I’ve ever heard in years.
Karley Cunningham 25:02
That’s fantastic. And I love that. Shout out to Patrice. I’m very excited to see her next week, live and in person and that’s one of the special things about this community is the tightness of it and how it’s just the ability to pick up the phone and call someone and say, “Hey, you I need some help with x and y.” And that leads me to the question of how has this community positively impacted your business since becoming a Venture because you were effectively by Patrice not even just saying you should, she was like you need to apply since that those words and those need and the call from Pam, how has this community impacted your business as well as you.
Seema Sanghavi 25:21
So I’ll start off by saying how it’s impacted me, because I think that’s also impacted my business because of my outlook. It’s so nice to be seen. I think so many entrepreneurs, especially women entrepreneurs, you don’t feel like you’re being seen. You know, you’re feel like you’re fighting a battle alone. And when you finally are able to be seen, that gives you the motivation to keep going, you know, that there’s that this whole community of people who believed in you enough to give you, you know, to, to help you fund your business to help you fund your dream to help you fund your mission, it’s not a small amount, it’s they really believe in you. And that is very humbling, and also makes you recognize, okay, I’m on the right track, and you need that I think as entrepreneurs, right, every now and then you need that hope, right? You need someone to be like, yes, you’re on the right track, we believe in what you’re doing. And that’s impacted, obviously, my outlook on on the business that’s impact impacted my own, like self-esteem, and therefore impacting, you know, impacts the way how I run my business and what I’m confident in doing and the risks that I’m willing to take to do it. I have a lot less fear. And, you know, moving forward and how I want to see this company grow and the things I want to do. And I believe that is because now of being part of this community. So that’s, I think, for me, that’s the biggest thing is being seen.
Karley Cunningham 26:42
I absolutely agree with you. And I always love hearing about the stories of how it changes, self-worth, self confidence, the ability to know that there’s a bunch of people behind you. And that’s one of the things that is so inspiring about this community as well. What about your business? So you’ve been impacted? confidence to step in and go bigger? So how has that affected the business?
Karley Cunningham 27:06
Well, a big part is just having so many people who are so well-connected, right? And being able to, I think, at least from my business, it’s a lot of it is, you know, the connections. Who do I know? How can how can we grow, because we sell a lot to businesses, whether it’s in hospitality, or we work with realtors, we work with home builders, because we customize our textile. So they make a great housewarming gift. You know, it’s really how many of these business clients can I meet or put myself in front of right? So having this network who are all connected. You know, it’s like, “Hey, do you know someone who works here? If you do, would love to have an intro.”
Karley Cunningham 27:42
Yes, indeed, I do. I have a very good client who’s a realtor. So I will make that intro after we wrap up the podcast.
Seema Sanghavi 27:49
So that’s exactly, its that instant. Like there’s probably someone who knows someone here or probably someone who knows in this know someone in this industry, and that it just helps you move on a bit faster. Because when you’re not, when you’re not, you know, when you’re just looking at your own networks, it’s that whole, “Hey, let me cold call, let me do my research. Let me find out who the right person to speak with is. And that obviously takes time. And when you’re when you’re just starting time is so crucial, right? So when you have someone that says, “Hey, I know this, I know someone in this company, I’ll put you in touch.” It’s like okay, days that could have taken you days right to find the right person if you even end up finding them at all. So that is valuable, right? It’s so invaluable.
Karley Cunningham 28:31
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. It reminds me of a story of a friend of mine, Pam Slim, who loves John Legend, and she’s an author, and she does a lot of workshops. And so her. It’s the keep asking aspect. And so every time she’s doing workshops, she says she’s convinced there’s going to be a person in the room, who knows John Legend, and she is going to get to meet him. And, well, I was actually at the conference she was at last week when she mentioned it from stage and someone walked up to her afterwards and goes, “Oh, yeah, I can make that connection.” So it’s, right? So it’s but it’s also the encouragement of don’t give up keep asking. And I think that’s one thing that I know myself I still struggle with. I’ve been in business for myself for almost 20 years is remembering it’s okay to ask because people want to help.
Seema Sanghavi 29:15
Yeah, but that comes with this community too. Right? Like you it feels like a safe place to ask it is a safe place to ask. And not all communities are like that, right? But this is what it’s all about. So you feel even though you might have been hesitant before and this feels like a safe place to ask any question you have.
Karley Cunningham 29:33
Excellent you segwayed fantastically for me. What is your ask how can our community support you in the now what is it that we can help you with and it could be the, “Hey small ask, do you know, realtors, you know, these are the types of people that I want to be introduced to,” but I’m also curious if there’s a big ask that you’re, you know, something’s coming down the pipe.
Seema Sanghavi 29:54
Yeah, if anyone knows any larger home developers, I would love to meet someone in their marketing team. We just closed a deal a couple, maybe about a month ago now with our first big home developer. And they like it’s, it’s our biggest deal to date. And I didn’t even know we could do that. And now that I know we can do it, I’m like, okay, well, there’s a lot of home builders out there. Now it’s, you know, being introduced to them. Because like I said, our textiles make great housewarming gifts. But in addition to that, we’ve partnered with other Canadian brands, all sustainable brands. To create a gift box, we call it Better Box, because we’re creating a better world. So we’ve got like Piece by Chocolate, Tease tea, Balzac’s Coffee. So either companies that give, do a gift-back model, or they’re sustainable because of their production, or, you know, it’s fair trade. But everyone in the box deserves to be in this gift box. So it’s not just Cooks Who Feed, it’s, I wanted to celebrate all of these brands that I thought, okay, you have products that make a great housewarming gift if we combine everything together. So that’s actually what we sold to this home builder was almost 1000 of these boxes, because they give a gift right? So when someone moved finally moves into their home, there’s a gift there waiting for them. So yes, if anyone knows any home builders, that would be amazing. Another initiative that I’m trying to see if we can do is partnering with like a Williams-Sonoma, a Whole Foods to do a cobranded apron.
Karley Cunningham 31:20
Karley Cunningham 31:20
So their logo their colors that they could carry in their store. So a way for them to to give back and be connected to the community and to you know, help marginalized women and help obviously fight hunger, but would be their apron that would they would carry. So looking to see if anyone knows anyone in these bigger like lifestyle type of retailers, whether it’s like Whole Foods, Williams-Sonoma, Crate & Barrel, West Elm, any of these big retailers that carry like kitchen.
Karley Cunningham 31:45
Or all of them.
Seema Sanghavi 31:46
Or all of them. Yes.
Karley Cunningham 31:47
I’ll take all of them.
Seema Sanghavi 31:48
Go big or go home, right?
Karley Cunningham 31:50
Alright community, your challenge has been set. If you know, any home developers or if you know, anyone who is in the specialty stores, Williams-Sonoma, those types of stores, please connect with Seema and make it happen. Is there anything else you want to share with the community that I haven’t asked you today to wrap up our chat?
Seema Sanghavi 32:11
Um, one thing I always like to share with people is that, you know, people say, “Oh, hunger is such a big problem.” And it is a big problem. But I think it’s something that we can definitely solve. And it just requires everyone to do something. And whether that’s like, it could be anything, right? Whether it’s buying an apron, or going to your local food bank, and donating or volunteering your time. I think if everyone did something small, this wouldn’t be the problem that it is today. In fact, I think we could eradicate hunger and we need to, because that’s the only way you can break the cycle of poverty for for families is to you know, you can’t think about getting yourself educated and going out and getting a job when you’re hungry. So that can be you know, your your basic your water, shelter, food. These are things that we need to make sure everyone has, and I think yeah, just anything small. Contributing in any small way is will have a big effect.
Karley Cunningham 33:03
I agree with you. And I want to hone in on one thing to wrap up the interview is doing one small thing like buying an apron. I don’t think we touched on one apron from cooks who feed donates, how many meals?
Seema Sanghavi 33:17
Karley Cunningham 33:18
Right. So the multiple of 100. Congratulations on achieving that bringing it to life. And thank you so much for being here for this interview today. I’m so excited for everyone to hear it.
Seema Sanghavi 33:27
Thanks for having me, Karley.
Vicki Saunders 33:31
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Transcribed by https://otter.ai