Soup maven Alison Velazquez
After an indulgent vacation in early 2014, Alison Velazquez, ’04 BUS, wanted to jumpstart her health. She tried a multiday juice cleanse, but couldn’t overcome the “brrr factor” of consuming cold beverages—and nothing else—during a Chicago winter. Instead, the personal chef and Pilates instructor concocted her own cleanse regimen of soups that made her feel healthy, full—and warm. Seeking a scalable business opportunity within the healthy-living niche, Velazquez gave herself just one month in Fall 2014 to launch Soupology—a line of vegan, low-sugar, preservative-free soups packaged for one-, three- and five-day cleanses. Following its success, she plans to launch a Soupology storefront, cookbook and separate line of healthy everyday soups.
Why such an aggressive launch timeline?
If I didn’t launch Soupology by Nov. 1, 2014, the holidays would be too close. Plus, I wanted to know I was ready to handle an influx of New Year’s resolution orders. That self-imposed deadline meant I had to develop recipes, branding and packaging quickly, then solve the next problem. Partnering with the marketing channel Gilt City Chicago gave me $12,000 in sales my very first week, followed by a successful Today Show segment.
Why are your soups vegan and preservative-free?
That’s what I want to eat, and it’s what my customers want. They’re concerned about what they put in their bodies and love receiving the soups within 24 hours of our making them. They know that soups sold in stores can’t make that claim. The vegetables’ high fiber content keeps people full, versus a fruit-based cleanse, and eliminates the blood sugar spikes that come with fruit.
What is ahead for you and Soupology?
DK Publishing, a division of Penguin Random House, is publishing my first cookbook in January 2016. Souping contains more than 100 healthy, vegan, hot and cold soup recipes, and 10 outlined cleanse programs. I also plan to launch a separate line of fresh everyday soups. Some clients buy one of our cleansing packages, just to incorporate the soups into their regular diets. Freshness is key because there are no soups like that on the market.