How I Went From Teacher to Entrepreneur and Podcast Host

Nicole Culver is the founder of Blissful Eats, a company that is dedicated to creating delicious healthy snack options like granola and boost bites that have ingredients that you actually know and can pronounce.  They are non GMO, gluten free, kosher and many of the Blissful Eats products are paleo friendly.  Nicole also blogs at nicoleculverblog.com where she shares business tips, health and wellness inspiration, and life as a mom of two. She is also the host of the Blissful Bites Podcast.

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Click to listen and Subscribe to the Blissful Bites podcast in iTunes to listen to Nicole’s 100TH EPISODE.

Tell us a little bit about you, Nicole Culver, and what you do.

I used to be a special ed teacher. I taught in New York City in Queens for five years right out of college. People always ask what did you think you would do when you were growing up.  Forever I thought I would be an elementary school teacher. I love kids. I obviously still love kids.

I thought I would teach forever until I retired. After about year for I started realizing I don’t think this is for me. I had a pretty significant life trauma where I lost my godmother who was like my second mom and it kind of just went downhill from there. As far as teaching, it made have an aha moment where I realized I was really miserable.

Every Sunday I would cry that I didn’t want to be at work. It had nothing to do with the kids, because the kids always brought me so much joy every single day. Teaching isn’t what it used to be. You don’t have a lot of control over the classroom.

Year four I started planning my escape, and I went back to school. I went to the Integrated Institute of Integrated Nutrition. It is an online school. I received my health coaching certificate which was the best thing because I always was very into health, fitness, cooking, and baking. I started taking on some health coaching clients after work. I was cooking and baking with them. I was always bringing in baked goods to work and sharing them. People always said to me, “You should start a business.”

Year five I started planning my escape for teaching. My husband and I did a lot of planning. I decided that after the last day of school that summer I would work on getting my company into as many hands as possible to see if it was a viable business option.  I also did health coaching on the side. My husband and my family couldn’t have been more supportive. After about six weeks of handing granola and granola bars out to every person I possibly could, I was like I’m actually going to do thi.  In August I quit my job over the phone, and it was the scariest thing I’ve ever done. It was also the best thing I’ve ever done.

quit-teaching

 

What made you feel like you could start a food business without really any background or education in that?

I have no idea. I don’t know why I thought I could do it, but I knew I have the ability to figure things out. After interviewing all of the women entrepreneurs who have food businesses, that is the common thread: Everyone has the ability to figure it out. There is no food entrepreneur handbook unless you’re going to someone and you’re hiring them as a consultant or something like that. We just started doing research.

Did you get a lot of “nos?” Were there nights when you came home and you just thought why did I do this?

The big problems don’t always come from the “nos.” Sometimes they come from the “yeses” Once you have those “yeses,” you have to be able to scale. You have to be able to have the money to scale. In the food business there are a lot of upfront costs with packaging and minimum runs of a product. It didn’t always come from the “nos” because luckily we haven’t had that many. It comes from the funding and the issues that you need to run a profitable food business.

Tell us about a few things that have gone really well or a few moments where you just thought “This is why I do this.”

I would say the big part comes from getting emails, Instagram comments, and Facebook messages from people who really really love the product. We get a lot of messages from people who have allergies who can’t eat a certain food. They have just discovered our granola and are really appreciative for a granola that they recognize all the ingredients and tastes great. A lot of times they’ve gone through a lot of other products and can’t find something that their stomach likes. I am most appreciative to the customers because that’s why we’re able to keep going.

Tell us a little bit through the process of starting The Blissful Bites Podcast?

I was always looking for other stories of other women who’ve started food companies, and I couldn’t really find any. There is a book which about two years ago Nikki Frezza from Nikki’s Coconut Butter introduced me to called, Cooking Up a Business. That’s an awesome book because it just shares stories of people like Justin from Justin’s Nut butter.

I always said when I started I’d find a way to give back. I didn’t know what it would be like, but that was always something that I was really passionate about doing. I started writing more business posts, and then I got an email from the Today show and was asked if I wanted to interview her because she had a new book coming out.

I said yes. Then I was like, “What am I doing? My blog is so small. I don’t have that many readers. What why would I be interviewing her for this?”

I also was listening to a lot of podcasts. John Lee Dumas has a free podcast course that I ended up taking that. I set my launch date for February 1st. I reached out to basically every friend and contact I had in the food industry and that that’s kind of the history.

Can you talk a little bit about how you have looked at your business as a whole and growing your community? Talk about what the future is and how it all fits into what you’re doing as a company.

The podcast is the first touch point for a listener to get to know me. I reached out to people and asked if they would share their story. People were so gracious to hang out with me for an hour on Skype. I started sharing those stories and getting a strong listener base. I realized that there needed to be another step. Listeners of the podcast were so amazing and joined me for 10 days in the Food Entrepreneur Summit. I still had people asking for more. That got my wheels turning. I realized that bloggers need help turning their blog into a business because the majority of bloggers are so focused on page views and sponsored posts. I started putting together resources to show people that it’s not all about sponsored posts and page views. You can actually bring in money and earn a good income if you focus on the other aspects of your talents.

After interviewing over 100 women and compiling your surveys, I’ve put together a survey to help you figure out where you are as a food blogger and what you need to focus on to get to the next level!

Click the button below to get started! 

Food Blogger Quiz

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