Jasmin Wooden - Blue Sage Cuisine

One of my personal core values can be summed up in this quote by Virginia Woolf (from A Room of One’s Own): “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”

I have also been heard many times to say, “My favorite food is the kind that someone else makes and serves me.”

These two principles have led me to a strong appreciation of and love for people who prepare amazing food and present it beautifully! And Jasmin Wooden is just one such person.

I had the privilege of attending an event last December that she catered, and the first thing to be set out was the most beautiful (and large) charcuterie and cheese board I had ever seen. It’s also worth mentioning that I’m 99% sure I could live on charcuterie and cheese boards…and tacos. After I posted a photo of the charcuterie with that exact sentiment, Jasmin responded that the only thing she too loves more than tacos is a good cheese and charcuterie board and a soul-sister love affair began.

Jasmin was also a speaker on the panel of Trailblazers that night, and I was even more blown away by her thoughtfulness and compassion when it came to sharing her business and the joys and struggles of running a business doing something you love. When asked her one big takeaway from 2018, she shared a story of literally collapsing because she was working too hard IN her business - and how that prompted her to get clear on who she is serving and why - and allow her clients to self-select. As a result, she made more money in 2018 and had less stress than she ever had with her company.

This is one of the key tenets of running a values-based business - when you get clear on your values and incorporate them into every aspect of your business, you will make more money and have greater joy - as well as greater impact - from your business. And y’all know how much I love it when a real life Champagne Hippie validates one of my deepest core beliefs!

And yet, this IS one of the hardest parts about running a business. Every client I’ve ever worked with has said (at some point), but I can serve EVERYONE - if I limit my target market, I’ll miss people who (a) need what I’m offering, (b) can give me money for it, or (c) both. We all know that feeling. We hold space for two things at once - I cannot be all things to all people AND limiting my reach/market/audience means I can’t make as much money/help as many people as I want.

The reality is that only the first part of that sentence is true. When we try to be all the things to all the people, or when we try to do all the things ourselves, we end up working harder than we need to to make less money and have less impact in the world.

In contrast, when we can get clear on who we are truly meant to serve, we will make more money and have a great impact by doing less work. I also love how she talks about building her team. Another thing that happens when you get clear on your values, and incorporate them into every aspect of your business, is that your team (employees and/or collaborators) will self select as well. When you have the exact right people working for and with you, you will have less turnover and your very own built-in sales team.

Jasmin is the perfect example of all of this. I’m so grateful to have met her, and I hope that you will enjoy learning more about the work she is doing. And, of course, if you are in NE Florida, I hope that you will reach out to her about catering your next event…IF her values are a good fit for you!

My takeaway: When we try to be all the things to all the people, or when we try to do all the things ourselves, we end up working harder, making less money, and having less impact.

Website: Blue Sage Cuisine Instagram & FB: @bluesagecuisine

Tell us about your business. What do you do? Who do you serve? How long have you been at it? 

Blue Sage Cuisine offers scratch-made, locally sourced catering services for social and corporate clientele. We service Wedding Catering and Special Events - both intimate and large scale - with a special focus on plant-based, soy-free Vegan offerings.

We are in our 6th year in business, and I own the company. For the first 3 years, I worked a full-time, work from home job. CJ and I balanced our family, my job, his business and my burgeoning idea. It was tough.

I spent those first few years shaking off my nerves, adjusting my pricing (multiple times), and trying out various lanes until I found my niche. I built up a clientele, begged friends and family to work alongside me and finally, after 3 years, took the leap to full-time business ownership.

Why did you start your business? 

My junior year of college, I struggled with some health issues centered around my kidney function. After months of tests and procedures, I was introduced to a whole food lifestyle via a book called, The Makers Diet, by Jordan Rubin. It completely changed my life.

Within 9 months, I was fully functioning and well. This became a new lifestyle for me. The benefit of this lifestyle change was that it wasn't a radical diet that took away your choices, but rather a comprehensive lifestyle plan incorporating physical, nutritional and spiritual wellness. It was something I could stick with because I could eat everything I loved - I just needed to know where it was sourced, how to pair my meals, and to understand why I needed that nourishment.

Fast forward 10 years. I moved to Jacksonville and continued cooking and serving friends based on my personal dietary choices. People were always amazed that they were eating "healthy" food. For me, it was just food - REAL food. As the business idea came to fruition, it was solely based on being able to share my journey of wellness and healing through food.

I was confident that scratch-made, preservative free food made with locally sourced ingredients would be a game changer. I wanted to share my story, support people on their personal healing and wellness journey and to help change lives and ideas on food.

What does "social good business" or "values based earning" mean to you? 

An uncompromising focus on the thing that matters most to you. Whatever your intention is, keeping that at the forefront of your business and money-making efforts, as you offer service to others.

What is your favorite part about running a social good business or your favorite experience since you started? 

On the client connection piece, there are 2 really important factors.

One: Finding our people. We want our clients to connect with us. There has to be more than just a food order. We want to share our story and understand theirs. We need them to know in their hearts that they picked the right person for their special day. We let people know that they are welcome to keep looking if we are not the right fit, and the same goes for us. We have to be in tune with one another's goals in order to provide the best possible product and service.

Two: We really love that we can serve clients who are working to maintain a specific lifestyle. Our clients are often Vegan/plant-based, Gluten Free, Cancer Survivors, or just overall mindful of their food choices. We love to be able to serve their special events without them sacrificing the values most important to them.

Our favorite moments are the ones where a couple says, ''well we're Vegan and we want something we can enjoy at our wedding." Then we tell them, "How about we make EVERYTHING vegan? Your guests will love it!" Their faces light up!!! It’s like we just suggested the impossible, and made their dreams come alive!

From a team perspective, I tend to find people who not only believe in the vision of the company, but also live it in their daily lives. As a result, they are so invested in what we do everyday. I also strive to create a warm and inviting environment for my team so that they WANT to be there. Our clients choose us because they connected with not only the food, but also with Blue Sage, with Jasmine, with our values.

My team is a direct extension of that connection and their role is vital to our success. I am specific about who serves on our team, and I try to constantly let them know that they are needed and appreciated.

What is your biggest struggle in running a social good business? 

It can be exhausting.

There are a lot of shortcuts that would expedite the process but they would go against our values. When you haven't slept in 20+ hours and have been on your feet in the kitchen for 16 of those hours, you start to wonder, do we really need to handroll all 500 of these lentil meatballs? LOL

What would you like most to accomplish in the next year? 5 years? 

A goal for 2019 is movement of a product line in local stores.

5 years - Happy, committed and connected to an unconventional, uncompromising course of life.

Who are your business icons, heroines or mentors? 

Chef Roblé Ali , Toni Hernandez Brown, Michelle Obama, Oprah

What's your #1 tip for someone just getting started running a values-based business? 

Stay focused on your WHY! It is imperative.

There are so many ups and downs in business and if you are not consistent and connected to WHY you are doing this, you will sway. Its inevitable. You will chase money. You will chase convenience. Your driving force has to be more than just business ownership - it has to be value and purpose led.

What are your favorite conferences or retreats to attend?

The Knot Wedding Pros

Catersource

What is the last book you read? 

On our vacation this week, my daughter and I finished The Magnolia Story, by Chip and Joanna Gaines together, and I finished Amy, My Daughter by Mitch Winehouse.