The Good Kitchen: A Female-Owned Business; a Convenient, Real Way to Eat; A Lifestyle
A lot of times when we talk about start-ups, we immediately go to firing off the facts, figures, logistics, numbers – the production, the cost to acquire a customer, the how-much-are-you-trying-to-raise. And you can do all that with The Good Kitchen’s Amber Lewis and Melissa Hayes, too.
It’s so much bigger than that at The Good Kitchen – they’re one strong, mission-based start-up.
Lewis and Hayes are two, female business owners – respectively and as a leadership team – who are a powerful, bright combination of joyful and driven – good examples of how to do both well. Lewis is CEO and the natural visionary; Hayes is President, the integrator of the duo. They riff off each other easily and confidently, they laugh contagiously and honestly; they’re both solid and personal when they speak about ‘why’ they do what they do.
Lewis and Hayes have known each other for close to ten years, having met when both lived in Atlanta. Hayes was responsible for introducing Lewis, and Lewis’s husband, Carter, not only to the CrossFit workou but also the Paleo diet and lifestyle. Consequently, both Lewises felt serious and important shifts in their health when they changed their diets. Hayes, who touts education and experience in nutrition, understood completely.
“It’s really powerful when you change your diet,” Hayes confirms. “And we all experienced that, respectively.”
Then, in 2015, Hayes moved to Charlotte and was working on a drive-through coffee concept. Lewis who was operating modPALEO, the prepared meal delivery service offering real food and well-sourced ingredients, at the time, invited Hayes to join her for a networking event. When a rainstorm thwarted their efforts to get to the event, the two found themselves at Stagioni on Providence Road – and they started brainstorming.
“We just started talking about it, and I said to Melissa, ‘Why don’t we just join forces? We could combine our companies,’” Lewis recalls with a laugh. “She and I had been chatting business for years, and we’d been talking internally [at modPALEO] about changing the [brand’s] name, so the timing was right. We took out a napkin and sketched it out.”
Hayes was a fast yes. They had fresh LLC’s drawn up within a couple of days.
The two joined forces, and in early 2016, The Good Kitchen emerged; the brand’s messaging and visual is clean and simple; approachable and friendly. Those were all conscious choices.
modPALEO’s transformation into The Good Kitchen gave their team and the brand the ability to talk less about the constraints of any particular diet, and to talk more about The Good Kitchen as a lifestyle.
It’s something both Lewis and Hayes had been living for themselves for years. In fact, it’s so much a lifestyle to Lewis that within the first ten minutes of our conversation, she subconsciously used the word ‘lifestyle’ three or four times – and rightfully so. It is.
“It really is more about lifestyle today – eating clean, eating whole foods, taking care of yourself, supporting farmers and supporting companies who find the people who are doing the right thing,” she says.
What that means is this: The Good Kitchen’s team has personally vetted all the farms from which they source food. They travel to, meet, speak with, get to know, and observe not only how each farm’s food is raised – but also how they feed it. The Good Kitchen is especially mindful of their protein; they look for organic vegetables; they source from as close to Charlotte as possible.
As important and real and good as the product is, what they’re really looking for are the right partners.
“We’re looking to partner with farms and farmers who really are stewards of the land,” Lewis shares. “It’s not just about raising grass-fed, but improving the land, water, and soil after it.”
That process is not as simple as it might seem. It’s taken years to curate and develop relationships, explain fully what they do or want to do, and then partner accordingly.
“When I started telling people what I wanted to do, I had a farmer tell me that I couldn’t do it – because it was so expensive,” Lewis adds. “No one knew how to scale it.”