Name: Chioma Osueke
Business/Location: Pristine Catering LLC/West Orange, NJ
Specialty: Creating recipes that accommodate different dietary lifestyles, while using a combination of flavors and techniques from different cuisines
What problem does your business solve?: I produce food service and retail products that are top quality, multi-purpose, easy-to-use, convenient, and time-saving. For example, my Pristine Pastry Dough product can be used for hand pies, pot pies, hot pockets, and egg rolls.
What’s your story?: I grew up with a lot of good food around me. My grandma, God rest her soul, was an excellent cook and I always enjoyed being with her in the kitchen. She focused on quality of ingredients over quantity and had a habit of finding ways to use up an entire item in order to minimize waste. Like my grandma, my mom is also an excellent cook and baker. Because of my family, I have always loved to cook and connect with the source of my ingredients, but I have also been busy with academic pursuits. While on maternity leave from a career as a research and statistics analyst, where I wrote research papers and crunched numbers, I decided to start a business. Pristine Catering affords me the opportunity to merge my cooking and academic passions: creating recipes methodologically for commercial success and cooking delicious food for clients.
One piece of advice you have for other food entrepreneurs: Look for a need in the industry and seek ways to create the solution. If you cannot afford to develop the solution on your own, seek out a like-minded person or business to collaborate with, looking out for economies of scale opportunities. Maximize free opportunities to connect with your target audience like social media marketing and networking and community events. When you must spend money, spend it wisely, and look for ways to achieve multiple, long-lasting gains from your investment.
What do you wish you had known before you started your business?: I wish I had known more about how to use social media. It took me forever to acquiesce to requests from friends to get an Instagram account for my business. I also wish I had expanded the scope of my target audience from the outset. I started out focusing on a Nigerian audience, but now, I create products with cross-over appeal, including items that are kosher, parve, and vegan-friendly.
What’s your greatest challenge in your business and how are you overcoming it?: My greatest challenge has been marketing. I am overcoming this by using social media, word of mouth, and visiting food service establishments to speak with store managers and restaurant owners to get the word out about my products.
What are you most proud of about your business?: I am proud that I found an affordable means of shipping Pristine Pastry Dough and my other products nationwide. And the fact that I have been very shrewd in avoiding huge overhead costs and a large amount of business debt.
What do you love most about being a food entrepreneur?: I love connecting with other food entrepreneurs and establishing lasting relationships. I also love receiving heartwarming client feedback!
Name: Chioma Osueke