Julie Shipley is the owner of The Soup Shop, a local small business in Melbourne offering more than 60 different homemade soups. Julie had idea for the Soup Shop in 2009 after spending 15 years building and repairing computers. She is a brilliant example of how one can build a successful business off of passion. She went all in on soup, studying in New York at the Culinary Institute of America, then taking classes at Keiser University. Her business began by providing soup to other restaurants but soon transitioned from wholesale to retail when she opened The Soup Shop in Post Commons in 2012. She is a recent graduate of the weVENTURE Ignite 360 program and kindly answered a few questions for us about her success and her recommendations for those looking to start their own businesses.
What three pieces of advice would you give to college students who want to become entrepreneurs?
I would encourage a college student to learn to read financial statements! You don’t have to have a finance degree but being able to read your numbers and read the trends is imperative. I learned this only recently with the help of a mentor and I wish I had known it all along. I might have done things differently.
Be prepared financially to support yourself outside of the business for a while. I was fortunate that I did not have to draw a salary initially and was able to return the profits to the company for the first few years.
Be unwilling to compromise on the quality of your product. Consistency is key with your customers. I have never taken shortcuts with my soup. Even when grocery prices are high I have never skimped on ingredients or amounts. There have been times that I leapt out of bed and driven to my shop in the middle of the night because I can’t remember if I added something to a pot of soup. Most of the times it is just fine but I have cranked up the stove and remade a soup for delivery the next morning.
What motivates you?
I am motivated by the ability to create a nice work environment and above average pay for my employees. Feeling as if I have created something that brings others pleasure is a nice bonus!
Where you see yourself and your business in 10 years? 20 years?
In the next ten years I hope to continue selling my soup at my shop and at Independent Grocers as well. We are currently located at The Melbourne Beach Market and also at Alimentari Gourmet Market in Vero Beach. I would like to expand to a few more markets. In the next twenty years it is my hope that a business person with the experience necessary will come along with a desire to turn The Soup Shop into a national chain.