A couple of things happened in 2020. First of all, before the lockdowns, I slipped in the turning of a new age – the big 25. Then, as we all know, the pandemic gripped much of 2020 (and went on to grip the whole of 2021).
Why do I mention this?
Well, those 2 things spurred a few thoughts for me. First of all, reaching my mid 20s made me start to look ahead to the potential of my 30s and indeed… even the thoughts of having kids one day. One of the maybe random thoughts I had about my one-day kids was – “well, what am I going to feed them?!” I reminisced on how I grew up with the smell of Nigerian and West African food in our house and how I wanted my future kids to one day enjoy those same delicious tastes (and my boyfriend, who is Caribbean). Second of all, the lockdown meant that I didn’t see my parents for nearly a year, so, in actuality, even I wasn’t enjoying many of these tastes for a bulk of 2020.
This started a growing obsession and interest in cooking. Granted, I wasn’t coming from base zero – I have known how to cook a few traditional meals since I was very young, and since university, I had been cooking regularly for myself and growing this skill set. But – there were also many “traditional” meals that I didn’t know how to cook, that I really missed eating during that long stretch of lockdowns. My boyfriend was facing a similar first world dilemma and missing his parents’ Caribbean home cooking, and when I went back home over Christmas and my brothers pestered my mum and dad for their recipes, I realised it was maybe a wider spread Gen Z/Millennial issue than I had originally thought.
When I started to learn, with the help of my parents via the phone, and of course the many amazing recipes all over the internet, there were I few things I thought could make the experience easier. For one, I felt like the recipe discovery process could be more streamlined – having the ability to search by niche factors such as time-to-cook, ingredients available and meal type. Also, I believed there could be more detail – in African & Caribbean cooking, we don’t really “measure”, you just go by what you feel is right, which is what I do a lot of the time; but sometimes, it I felt like if I knew the proportions in more detail, I’d be able replicate the taste of my mum’s food a little quicker than just figuring it out.
It was a Hello Fresh advert that inspired me to create my own platform. When I saw it, I said to myself “I’d love that – but for African & Caribbean food”. Initially, the plan was to create the African & Caribbean version of Hello Fresh, but some research into how the market works and other factors such as customer acquisition and attainment made me question the viability. I went back to the drawing board and with the help of Levi, focussed on the fundamental question: I wanted a more streamlined platform for discovering and learning how to easily cook African & Caribbean food.
The solution – Soulful Kitchen!
Once I started building the platform with some developers, it spiralled into something more and more complex. I added: (i) recipe recommendations personalised to individual users based on their dietary preferences; (ii) history behind all the recipes; (iii) a streamlined search feature – to search by meal type, time, calories and more; (iv) user profiles, with the ability to submit recipes and share what you’ve made and (v) PRO features – including a shopping list, saving of recipes, more granular nutritional insights, and an ad-free experience.
So, here we go! Join the journey 🎉: