Nature My Therapy: Voodles Jamaica

Counting Down To The 20th Staging Of The Jamaica Observer Table Talk Food Awards, Thursday, May 31, 2018

Thursday, May 03, 2018

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I made these products because... I made a lifestyle change to a plant-based vegetarian diet to improve my health and well-being and, after seeing the wonderful results, wanted to offer plant-based, natural and organic convenient options that are not only healthy but also delicious and healing to consumers like myself.

My major challenge is... as with any small business on the journey of growth and development where your products, goals and vision are kept in alignment with your principles, patience becomes a daily practice and setting realistic goals and feasible expectations is a major challenge, but is key.

On the practical day-to-day workings of Voodles Jamaica and Nature My Therapy, the major challenge is finding affordable and suitable biodegradable packaging for our products. We would like to be 100% green but the cost to our consumers would be very heavy and it is not practical at this time.

This issue remains, and managing the raw material inventory means... while there is a learning curve and we continue to see better ways to improve, thankfully it is no longer as challenging as it was before we got introduced to QuickBooks, which assists with stock keeping and reminders.

Nature is our primary supplier and she works on a schedule and while that schedule is sometimes unpredictable she keeps her course and this allows us to grow and learn at her organic pace as it relates to stock management and raw inventory.

The product became available at... General Foods Liguanea and Ocho Rios in February of this year and now at Loshusan supermarket in April 2018.

The response to the products has been... overwhelmingly positive. This has been very encouraging to us as a small business. Consumers have expressed their appreciation for the taste, the convenience, and quality of the packaging.

Our core customers are... those interested in leading a healthier lifestyle, and who are open to new and innovative products that are convenient to make and plant-based. Parents, the fitness-conscious and people with food allergies have been reaching out to us to say thank you.

I plan to grow the business to become... an islandwide supplier of healthy plant-based food items that are natural, organic, preservative-free, convenient and affordable.

My first breakthrough came when... General Foods Supermarket got excited about Voodles Jamaica and, after an hour-long meeting that should have lasted 10 minutes, asked us to stock the shelves!

Jamaicans should support my product because... Voodles Jamaica and Nature My Therapy are proud supporters of small and medium-sized farmers across the island. We encourage Jamaicans to buy these home-grown and home-packaged foods.

Also, with lifestyle-related illnesses on the rise, it is important to make healthy plant-based choices for not just ourselves but our children and families. Balance is what keeps life interesting and worthwhile, so we must support local producers of healthy options as this will encourage the next generation to make better and more sustainable choices.

My product is successful because... Voodles is local and the flavours of the raw vegetables are relatable but at the same time very exciting and interesting. Voodles appeals to a wide cross section of people from the very young to the most senior of our citizens.

People love the convenience of packaged healthy plant-based alternatives.

If I knew then what I know now... we would have planted more zucchini!

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