First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Caroll Lee: We’re doing well, thanks. My husband and I just moved our family of 4 plus dog to LA after 20 years in NYC, and it’s been a huge quality of life upgrade in many ways, with access to the beach and nature and so much delicious food. But we also miss our friends and the community we’d built over the years. Mostly, I feel incredibly grateful that my circle of loved ones are all in good health and that my husband and I can continue to do our work. Health truly is wealth, and we realize how fortunate we are to thrive, despite the difficult times.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Provenance Meals.
Caroll Lee: In 2012, in my practice as a Certified Health Coach, I was giving my clients great advice on how to eat and prioritize their health to improve their energy, confidence, and wellbeing. The one thing I couldn’t do was take over their meal planning, shopping, cooking, and cleaning to give them their time back. Or could I? The more my clients asked me, “Can you help me find the good food I should be eating?”, the more I realized that there was a big problem that I could help solve. It became my mission to help busy professionals eat a nutrient-dense diet that would help them look and feel their best. That led to the founding of Provenance Meals.
How does Provenance Meals innovate?
Caroll Lee: We’re a small but scrappy team, and we’re able to move fast. We are constantly assessing what is working well and what is not, as well as what our customers want and need so that we can find innovative solutions to problems. As a company, we’re still relatively small in scale, so I have no problem with throwing new things out there and seeing what sticks. Lastly, we really take the time to ask our customers how we’re doing and listening to their feedback.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Caroll Lee: Right when COVID-19 hit in the spring of 2020, many of our NYC-based customers began leaving for homes outside the city. We knew we needed to expand our footprint in order to support our community. We adjusted our courier delivery zones to include Long Island, Westchester and Connecticut, and saw our demand grow.
Our goal has always been to introduce as many people as possible to the power of food as medicine. So in late spring 2020, we launched nationwide shipping. We crafted the Feel Good Fix, a new cleanse program which helps you feel the powerful effects of a plant-based, anti-inflammatory diet in just three days. In addition, we launched our nationwide Wellness Shop, our product line of nourishing supplements, snacks, and pantry staples.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Caroll Lee: They say that “sales mask all sins” when you’re running a company. Taking a hit to our revenue in the early days of the pandemic forced me to take a hard look at what was working in the company and what “sins” were going unchecked. I had to make some difficult decisions, including some layoffs, and let go of some projects that weren’t going to come to fruition anytime soon. I was, and still am 100% focused on running things lean and efficient. It was an important lesson to learn. If things are not going the direction I planned, it’s time to take early and decisive action.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Provenance Meals in the future?
Caroll Lee: My meditation practice helps me feel centered and grounded. Also, I am forever an optimist, and I’m genuinely excited about the trajectory my company is on. I see so much opportunity for us in the future as a company with great revenue, consistent year over year growth, and an addressable market in health and wellness that is booming globally.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Caroll Lee: Our competitors are other meal delivery service providers. We don’t focus too much on what our competition is doing so much as we focus on connecting with our community of clients. They are experiencing firsthand the power of a health-promoting diet and know that they can improve their health and all aspects of their wellbeing by eating the nutritionally designed food that we prepare for them with love.
Right now we’re raising capital via the equity crowdfunding platform Republic.co. Our plan for growth and expansion is being fueled by the support of this investor community.
Your final thoughts?
Caroll Lee: This is an inflection point for our company where we have a huge opportunity to grow and expand, despite or even because of the pandemic. Stepping up to the many challenges has made me realize how much I love working in my company and helping my community weather the challenges together.