By her own admission, Jennifer Wellsman had long dreamed of owning her own business, but there was one issue, she didn’t know what type of business she wanted to start. When one of Jennifer’s friends who was busy launching her own business admitted that she would like to have a personal chef because she didn’t have time to cook, Jennifer saw an opportunity. The idea matured and after three years, Jennifer transformed herself into a personal chef and Thyme to Dine was born. Now she is both CEO and head chef, an uncommon combination. We asked Jennifer some questions to learn more about Thyme to Dine and Jennifer’s daily life as an entrepreneur.
I am a personal chef. I provide my clients with healthy meals to enjoy at the end of a busy day. For the most part, my clients are families with two parents who work and where the kids have extra-curricular activities. I also work with couples and single people who are active professionals, but I also prepare meals for seniors. I am based in Saint John in Newfoundland-Labrador. The economy is good, and there are many professionals who are busier than ever and making a good income. They want to eat healthy foods but they lack time. So, there is a real need for the service I’ve proposed with Thyme to Dine.
I save people time and money. In our busy lives, people are looking for ways to save time so that they can focus on what they really want to do with their time. They don’t have time to cook but they also don’t want to be going through the drive-through getting unhealthy meals for their family. They want to be eating healthy meals. Meals they wish they could be making themselves if they had time. I provide those healthy meals. I save time by menu planning, grocery shopping, cooking, packaging and labeling the meals with reheating instructions. My clients put them in their freezer and on those busy days, they take one out, defrost it and heat it up.
The way my business works is that I meet with clients, discuss their dietary needs and set up the details for me to come to their homes and cook. I then develop a menu of five recipes unique to them that will yield 10 meals for the client. Each meal is large enough to feed their families, and they have the option to change the menu if there is something they don’t like. On the cook day I prepare the meals using fresh ingredients. I then package and label the food with reheating instructions.
I love being my own boss. Making decisions and having the freedom to manage my time the way I want is great. On the other hand, I am confronted with new difficulties. I have to devote time to marketing activities in order to find new clients and grow my business. I don’t know from month-to-month how many clients I’ll have. It’s all a question of making my services known to ensure that my client bookings are full each month.
I realized that new clients would not come to me—I have to go out and find them. The networking forces me to get out of my comfort zone, but I know it’s essential if I want to increase my visibility. I also took a course to help me gain the confidence I need to meet people. Today, networking is one of the activities I take on with pleasure. I am a member of many business groups comprised of women. We meet every month and learn a lot about female entrepreneurs. We talk about our businesses, the challenges we face, and the highs and lows. That’s very beneficial because we encourage and help each other. I hope to be able to employ others in the near future.
Interview conducted by: Claire Gendron, Bilingual Marketing Content Coordinator, Futurpreneur Canada