Eleni is the Founder of Eleni’s Kitchen. Read our interview with Eleni about her experiences with Xcelerate business advising (Food/Bev/CPG, Sales & Distribution, Admin & Operations).
What inspired you to start your own business?
Eleni’s Kitchen is a line of Ethiopian sauces, spices, and injera that I created to share the story of my Addias Ababa childhood through food. After taking time out of the workforce when my kids were small, I launched my business at local farmer’s markets. My products are now sold in New Seasons, Market of Choice, and several co-ops.
What are some of the key areas where you’ve worked with Xcelerate to grow your business?
Since learning about Xcelerate in 2020, I have worked with a variety of Xcelerate coaches to get set up on Quickbooks and better understand my numbers; to gain insight into my website traffic sources and leverage SEO to convert views of my online cooking classes into direct to consumer sales; and to dig into my cost of goods sold and adjust my pricing for optimal margins. Xcelerate’s coaches helped me get ready for my first big tradeshow and my goal of successfully landing a mid-sized specialty food distributor. We are now in Town & Country Markets in Seattle and were named a trendsetter product at the Fancy Foods Show.
How has your identity as a woman and any and all other intersectional identities impacted your business?
Being a woman that has to care for my kids and family means I had to learn to balance it all.
What were some of the challenges you faced this year and how did working with Xcelerate help you to overcome these challenges?
Not knowing what to expect from a tradeshow, having someone help me with getting clarity, and how to go with a specific goal was very helpful.
Are there any wins or achievements you have celebrated this year while working with Xcelerate?
Most recently, Xcelerate’s food/bev coaches helped me get ready for my first big tradeshow and focus on my goal of landing a mid-sized specialty food distributor. In addition to meeting that goal, Eleni’s Kitchen was picked up by Town & Country Markets in Seattle and named a trendsetter product at the Fancy Foods show. With skills and confidence, I am now eyeing Whole Foods and national growth. Even as I scale up my grocery business, I plan to continue catering and selling prepared foods at farmers markets, both of which keep me connected to the local community. I am also working to have my own commercial kitchen, I use a domestic kitchen currently. The build out hopefully will be finished around the Summer or Fall of 2024.
Is there anything else you'd like to share about your Xcelerate experience?
I appreciate the support I received from Xcelerate. The coaches have so much knowledge to share about the packaged food industry, and they care about helping and mentoring.
Follow Eleni’s Kitchen on Instagram: @eleniskitchen.ethiopianfood
Celebrate Women's History Month with us Freeland Spirits!
In honor of Women’s History Month, Oregon Entrepreneurs Network (OEN) is hosting a panel featuring female founders who will share about their entrepreneurship journeys.