The Life of a Food and Drink Founder
We chatted to founder of The Woolf's Kitchen, Dominique Woolf about her range of sauces and snacks for flavour hunters who insist that every meal or snack be an adventure.
What initially made you want to enter the food industry?
A few years ago I was at a bit of a career crossroads. Having had three children in quick succession and with no career to fall back on, I was desperately soul searching about what to do with my life. I explored many different avenues and finally realised I had no choice but to follow my main passion, which was food. I had always been a mad foodie and loved spending hours creating in the kitchen. It made total sense and I haven’t looked back.
Was there an initial memorable lightbulb moment for you?
After I had made my decision to go into food, I spent a while figuring out what product I wanted to do. I experimented with a whole range of ideas from fermentation to alcohol-free drinks, then realised the answer had been under my nose the whole time. My Thai auntie used to make these wonderful sauces, in particular a tamarind sauce. I had been blown away when I first tried it years before, and when that memory came back, I instantly knew I had my business idea.
What is a typical day for you, if there is one?
The days are always varied, which is part of what I love about the job. I have a small team and at 9.15 we meet virtually to discuss our plans for the day and what we are looking to achieve.
I will then reply to emails and deal with anything urgent. In an ideal world I would start selling by 10, but inevitably there are often various logistical issues or other areas that need attention, such as approving copy or responding to information requests from clients or agencies.
Ideally I will spend two to three hours in the morning doing sales and account management.
After 1pm, I tend to reply to emails and have the occasional virtual meeting.
My day ends just after 3 when I do the school run, then often resumes at 9pm for a couple of hours where I catch up with more emails and admin!
What is your overall vision for your business?
For me the brand is all about big, bold flavour and bringing a sense of excitement and adventure to food. The Woolf’s Kitchen is not just about sauces or nuts, it’s about an ethos of food and flavour discovery.
The team would be passionate, outgoing foodies with a sense of fun and adventure. I want people to love the job they do, but to also take it seriously and give it their all.
I see the brand as innovative and would love to always be thinking outside the box in terms of what we can achieve and how.
Do you find it hard to switch off from work as a founder? How would you best do this and what tips could you give?
Yes, very! The business is still very new, so it is all-consuming at the moment. I do emails and admin in front of the TV, go to bed dreaming of new product ideas and wake up thinking about the emails I need to send.
I haven’t yet mastered the art of switching off, but I think outsourcing some of the tasks is a good step, and being strict with allowing yourself to have a day or two of rest at the weekend. I definitely recommend doing exercise – a half hour run can do wonders!