She was home after the birth of her first child in 2008 when Tricia Williams decided to start Food Matters, a New York City-based meal-delivery service that provides organic, locally sourced cuisine. "I decided to go back to school for holistic nutrition—having a child to nourish and take care of led me down this path," Williams, 39, says. By the time she had finished, she says she "had the skills of a restaurant chef and the knowledge of a nutritionist. I landed my first client, who hired me for health-supportive private-chef work, and it grew from there."
Now she and her team deliver meals to a roster of mostly high-powered New Yorkers, professionals, and families, customizing clients' menus based on their tastes and health goals. "We strongly believe in a person's bio-individuality and help clients understand the food choices that would best nourish their bodies," she says. That doesn't mean her cuisine isn't tasty: Sample menu items include barbecue chicken with quinoa hush puppies or turkey meatloaf with sweet potato fries. Williams spoke with Clarissa Cruz about lessons she's learned since starting her business.
How did you raise your start-up money?
My first clients were a couple that paid me an hourly rate. This allowed me to save enough money to grow my business. Soon after, a doctor referred a big celebrity client to me.
What were some of the biggest early challenges?
Food preparation is easy, but [the logistics of] delivery in New York, for any business, are difficult.
What sets your service apart from others?
We customize everyone's meals. We look at a person's health history and goals and then their food preferences and design food especially for them. We act like a private chef and nutritionist in one.
How much do you charge?
Everyone's needs are different. We are not selling a diet-delivery package; these are health-specific menus that deliver results. The price ranges from $100 to $150 a day.
How do you ensure profitability, and what are your plans for the future?
By running an efficient production team. The five-year plan is to work with a market that sells prepared foods, creating dishes that are health-affirming, delicious, and accessible to everyone.
What advice would you give to others who want to get into the business?
Have a clear vision and love what you do. Don't overdo it and get carried away!