In this Entrepreneurs profile, BlackSpeaks.com decided to feature Alexandrya Ross, founding owner and operator of Greenish Foods, an online food preparation company specializing in event catering, business catering and meal planning. Her meal offerings can be viewed at greenishfoods.com. A native of Nashville, Tennessee, Ross comes from a family of master cooks. She credits her mother, grandmother and grandfather with inspiring her with their expertise in soul food, especially during holidays and family get-togethers.
Ross started Greenish Foods two years and has a staff of six employees, which include family members. She works from home to prepare all of her offerings. She has since expanded to provide catering services, including both individual and business catering, and often prepares meals for customers who are trying to lose weight.Greenish Foods serves the villages of Clarksburg, Clarksville, Columbia, Nashville and Watertown in Tennessee. Ross caters to customers of all backgrounds but her clientele is largely African-American. She draws from a variety of cultures for her meals, including American, Asian, Jamaican and Mexican food and incorporates a lot of seafood in her fare. She holds a master’s degree in psychology from Vanderbilt University in Tennessee and works with Citizen Kitchen to start and develop her business. Ross plans to expand her business with a food truck and has already obtained a license for one.
The following is the result of phone interviews on Dec. 12 and Dec. 18, 2019 between BlackSpeaks.com and Ross:
1) I had the chance to view your partially constructed website and I understand you are revamping your pages. When will your new site be up and running?
I still have a lot of work to do for the site. I have to write and use pictures. I am working and I have to find time after work to complete it.
2) I see from your website at greenishfoods.com that you offer event catering, business catering and meal planning. Is that correct? Tell me about the features of each service. Are you expanding? Please be specific.
I do offer event catering, business catering and meal planning. As a meal planning occasion, for example, I got a woman and her husband as my customers and cooked for them. Event catering is done buffet-style. I do personal meals. Customers get more for their buck that way. I get great prices on meal prep. Those meals are hot and ready. It is the same for business catering. I have meals for individual catering. I am sticking to the core services until I get a food truck. Then I can expand.
3) Is that correct that you deliver in the Nashville metropolitan area? Do you target any one demographic group of customers? If so, which? If not, do you offer services to any demographic? Are you expanding? Please be specific?
I do deliveries in Clarksburg, Clarksville, Columbia, Nashville and Watertown. I cater to anyone. For meal prep, I work for people who try to lose weight.
4) I see from the site that the company accepts payment via cash, PayPal, check, money order and bank transfers as long as they are made before service. Is this correct? Any special features, discounts or programs?
I am offering all of those payment plans. I may run a special on Facebook or Instagram. I will update these.
5) I understand that you offer gift cards. Is that correct? Are they for any company service or specific ones? What is the financial value of each gift card? Do you offer them for special holidays or times of the year? Are you expanding? Please be specific.
I am going to start gift cards. The values will be tiered — $25, $50 or $100.
6) I saw the gallery of foods online. They are delicious and visually appealing. Do you specialize in any particular type of cuisine or embrace different cooking traditions? Are you expanding? Please be specific.
I embrace different traditions — American, Asian, Jamaican, Mexican and seafood. I work with any form of cuisine.
7) I see you require 72-hours’ notice for event catering and 24 hours for business catering. Is that true? Explain.
I do offer 72 hours for both events and business catering. Meal preparation is 48 hours.
8) When did you start Greenish Foods? How long have you been in business? What is the size of your company? How many employees work for you? Do you have a brick-and-mortar structure or a catalog outside of an online presence?
I started Greenish Foods two years ago. I have six people helping. I did not get into catering then. I have a master’s degree of psychology from Vanderbilt University in Tennessee. I’ve been doing it at home. I’ve been working with Citizen’s Kitchen, a resource to grow my food business in Nashville. I’ve got a business license to get a food truck.
9) What were the trends in the food and catering industry before you started Greenish Foods? What are the food and catering industry trends now that you are president and founder?
I honestly look up and at everything — Pinterest. I like the food on the Food Network. I make up stuff. I can have sausage in a quesadilla. I look online to see if something has already been done it. I like to think outside the box. I like food.
10) How big is your customer base? Are they all recurring customers? Do you get a high percentage of new ones and how do they find out about Greenish Foods? Do African-Americans make up the majority of your customers or is your base racially mixed?
They are recurring customers — probably 50 at a time. I get them by word-of-mouth. Those are my events-catering customers. My meal preps are usually personal meetings. A customer will say, “Hit me up for –.” I’ll say, “Okay.” I also get my customers through social media. Every week, I put up something different like mac n’ cheese burgers. My customers love it. It’s a burger made of mac n’ cheese. It’s delish! My customers are largely made up of African-Americans.
11) How old are you? Where did you graduate from high school? Did you go to college after high school? If so, where? What was your major or field of study? Are you a chef or nutritionist/dietitian? Was your major or degree in business administration? Did you graduate and when? Did you gain another degree or further your training? If so, what and when? Did you work for other companies before and after this? If so, which ones and when? What were your titles?
I went to Hillsboro High School in Nashville, the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga and Tennessee State University where I got my bachelor’s degree in psychology. I was trying to obtain a master’s degree of psychology but I had to stop school after 10 hours of college credit. I can get a lot of people. Something about what I do is attractive to them. They especially like foods that are cheesy and greasy.
12) How did you enter the food and catering industry? How did you gain an interest in it? Who or what inspired you?
My mother, grandmother and my grandfather inspired me. I remember soul food. I remember holidays — Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving.
13) What made you decide to open your own food and catering business online? When did you make that decision and under what circumstances? When did you start the company, buy the property and launch your new business? Did you ever start a catalog or open up a brick-and-mortar business?
I needed my customers to have access to my food preparation offerings and meal images online. This was the best way to start the business.
14) As a business person, have you joined any business organizations and other groups? If so, which ones?
Not really. I’ve only joined a few groups on Facebook.
15) Are there any articles about your business online or in any magazines or magazines? If so, where? Would you e-mail them to me?
Not now. Hopefully soon, aside from my website, my offerings can be publicized online.
16) Are you on Facebook, Linkedln and Twitter pages?
I am on Facebook, Instagram and Linkedln.
17) Walk me through a day of work for you as president of Greenish Foods. What kind of suppliers and services does your company require to thrive every day? What would you call a good day at Greenish Foods? What would you call a bad day at Greenish Foods? Please be specific.
A good day would be me getting many orders with high supply and demand. A bad day would mean no orders.
18) Do you have plans or New Year’s resolutions to expand Greenish Foods in 2020? If so, how?
I want to get a food truck. It would expand my business. I would do home delivery and parties. Everything would be at your doorstep as a customer.
19) How has the millennium affected your business? How has the economy with some joblessness, consumer debt, college debt, homelessness and other features, affected your business? Are you finding more and more customers with financial difficulties? Are the number of customers decreasing because of the struggling economy?
Not really. Food is a necessity just like clothing. I don’t meet people who find that my prices are an issue.
20) Are any of your family members or friends supporting your business? Any siblings or children? What about a spouse? If so, whom? In what capacity do they serve the company and for how long?
My fiancee is here with me from the start. My sister drew my logo. My friends and family work with me and support me, especially for the catering aspect of my business.
21) Do African Americans and other racial minorities support your company? If so, how? Bank financing or capital as support? Patronage or customer participation? Website development? Advertising and marketing? Word-of-mouth spread? Special event sponsorships and events? Exactly what type of minority businesses have supported you? Have you reached out to them or have they approached you? If so, how?
They reached out to me and I reach out to them. F. Zaria Chinelo is assisting me with the marketing of my websites. As a result of all of this support, I can attract high numbers of customers and I get many recommendations.
22) Do African Americans support other African-American businessmen and women, sufficiently in your view? What would you like to see?
Not at all. They would rather spend more money on McDonalds and Burger King because they have bad experiences with a few black-owned businesses. They don’t look at supporting black-owned businesses in a positive light.I have always been on time and on point with my food services. If anything was ever incorrect, it would have been corrected immediately and then some. I have never had any complaints.
23) Do you see enough African Americans and other racial minorities as successful as you are in businesses similar to yours? If so, who? Do you feel that you can help young African Americans who may have some difficulty breaking into business management and leadership? Do you see enough young blacks and minorities serving in leadership and management roles such as yourself as an owner of a business? If so, why or why not?
I personally have not met many minorities in the food business. I know they want to keep their business success secrets. As a result, I don’t get those. However, I do get a lot of support from the owner of Seafood Sensations locally. He is black and from Antioch, Tennessee. He is one of my top customers. If I need support, he gives it to me. I’d like to help other young blacks grow their businesses but I am not in a position to do so yet. I am still growing my business.
24) What advice would you give young businessmen and women in business in terms of management and leadership and advancing their careers?
Timing is everything. Organization is everything. Having leadership and management skills is important. You have to lead and know what you are talking about to have people on board with you.
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