Can healthy food taste good? Not that long ago, Collin McReynolds didn’t think so.
But participating in a 30-day nutrition challenge at Crossfit Align four years ago led McReynolds to change her diet and inspired her to start Crave Fuel, a prepared meal service, in 2014.
“I wanted to figure out a way to make the meals taste good, something that felt homey,” said McReynolds.
She dived into learning how to use the prescribed “paleo” foods to create flavorful, satisfying dishes and never looked back. Six months after the challenge and 65 lbs. lighter, she launched Crave Fuel.
McReynolds said she specializes in making healthy comfort food from fresh, natural and unprocessed ingredients. She calls Crave’s meals “nourishing and healing.”
All her recipes start with high-quality, local ingredients. One of the best sellers is Butternut Squash Lasagna in which the “noodles” are thin slices of squash.
Customers order from a rotating menu, and Crave delivers weekly in Little Rock and North Little Rock, or meals can be picked up at Crossfit Align.
Crave operates out of the CareLink Community Kitchen in North Little Rock, where Meals on Wheels is based. The business donates five percent of its sales to Meals on Wheels.
“It’s been crazy. When I started Crave, I didn’t know anything about owning a business,” said McReynolds. To learn, she listened to podcasts and bought books. Then Rene Hooper of Crossfit Align told her about the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
“For anyone who owns a business or is interested in making their passion into a career, this should be your first stop,” McReynolds said.
Martial Trigeaud, a business consultant at the center, is advising her about marketing.
“I would ‘throw darts,’ thinking, ‘maybe this will work,’” McReynolds said of her previous marketing tactics. “I’m learning how to be really smart about it and not waste my time. You have to be strategic.”
The center’s free market research and analysis is helping the first-time business owner understand where to focus her efforts.
McReynolds remarked on the detailed information she received. A report describing Crave’s key customers noted they are busy people interested in services such as dry cleaning delivery. She said on her next meal delivery trip after reviewing the research, she noticed that over half her route had dry cleaning deliveries hanging on their doors.
Refining her marketing and other processes will pave the way for Crave to grow, McReynolds believes.
McReynolds has a six-year-old son but thinks of her business as her child, too. Owning a business “is like having another kid – or two,” she said.