Co-Founders Maggie and Nikki speak about the early days of starting their own business.
What was Feast & Fettle like at the very beginning?
Maggie:“There was a lot we didn’t know, there’s no guide to starting your own business. You can prepare as much as possible, and you will still require a lot of trial and error. The mistakes we made were what allowed us to grow. As long as we maintained a product and service we were proud of, we knew everything else would come with time and practice.”
Nikki:“We’re a good team. I was the structure of the business and Maggie was the brains behind our product. But it was a struggle at first.
We did everything — ordered the food, tallied all the orders manually, prepped, cooked, packaged, labeled the food by hand, charged each customer one-by-one, provided customer service, did the bookkeeping (what we knew of it) AND delivered every order to each customer. But it is one of the great things about the success of this business, because we’ve literally done every single job that goes on here.”
What’s it like to own a business with your best friend?
Maggie:“Over time we’ve definitely learned how to put business and personal aside. That was the hardest part, because they constantly clash. But in a way it helps, because we are so heavily involved in each others lives we can show more compassion and understanding while at work.”
Nikki:“It helped us get through how hard it was. There were times we were in a shared kitchen from 7 in the morning to 11 at night, just me and her, doing non stop physically and mentally draining work. But as many times as we thought about walking away, we never did. We both knew we had something.”
You launched F&F just as meal delivery kits were beginning to become a huge trend, how did this affect your business?
Maggie:“This was actually a good thing for us. We didn’t need to do as much explaining because meal kits were already everywhere. We didn’t have to distinguish what a meal kit was, we just had to distinguish that we were a step above them.”
During your time building the business you started a family of your own, how did this change things?
Maggie:“When I was pregnant, I remember texting one of the families I used to cook and nanny for, and thanking her for teaching me how to be a mom. I remember being really emotional, I was so thankful I had such good training and wasn’t scared to have my first child. After I had Quin, It gave so much more meaning to why I do what I do. I felt so much more compassion for the members I was serving.
I know why we have each item on every menu, there’s something for working adults, and there’s something for picky kids too. I picked up on the littlest things, like putting sauces on the side so kids can dip and taste it first. It also helped me see why it is so important to be rigid with delivery times. I know now that my son WILL be going to bed at 7, and it’s up to me how quickly I can get food on the table before then.”
Where did the name Feast & Fettle come from?
Maggie:“My dad ran the Roger Williams Zoo for 10 years, and they had this event called Feast with the Beast that I always loved growing up. In addition, we lived near a local restaurant named Feast or Famine that we would visit often.
So I liked the idea of Feast & (something). I actually went through the dictionary and stumbled upon Fettle, which means “of good health”. It just resonated with me, because that’s how I think of Feast & Fettle. You can eat whatever you want, whether that’s feasting on mac and cheese, pasta and hearty bread, or having something really healthy and light, it’s totally up to you.”
In the 3 years since launching the business, the girls have grownFeast & Fettle to over 20 employees and have their own office built with a custom commercial kitchen (and plans for a larger kitchen already in the works!).”