Ayesha Curry Wants to Be the Martha Stewart for Millennials
There have been a bevy of young chefs, creative minds, and Hollywood stars aiming to be the Martha Stewart for the millennial generation, armed with a digital arsenal of DIY videos and graphics on YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, and more.
The latest entrepreneur stepping up to the challenge is cookbook author and Food Network personality Ayesha Curry as she debuts her new meal-kit delivery service, Homemade. To complement the boxes, Homemade is also establishing an online community exclusive to meal-kit subscribers, providing access to seeing Curry cooking live in her kitchen on a weekly basis.
Fortune had the chance to reach out to Curry as Homemade launches its subscription service this week. The beta option sold out in 24 hours on Monday, but the general subscription service becomes available today. Meals should start hitting doorsteps by May 8.
Fortune: What’s the inspiration behind Homemade?
Curry: As far back as I can remember, many of my fondest memories revolved around food. The time I spent in the kitchen with my mother and my grandmother are moments I cherish, and what inspires me to bring my girls into the kitchen to make memories of our own. Knowing what a profound impact that connection has had on my life, it’s devastating that mealtime has lost its importance over the years. Helping to make it easier for families to get back around the table, spending time together, is at the center of everything I do professionally. I wrote my cookbook with that intention, but I realize that recipes are only half the battle.
Meal kits provide the convenience of a curated meal, with ingredients delivered to your doorstep. By eliminating the most stressful steps of meal planning, a weeknight meal feels more attainable and all that time saved can be reallocated to enjoying time together.
There seems to be an endless stream of make-at-home meal kits from Blue Apron to Purple Carrot, among others. What makes Homemade different?
Yes, indeed. And I think I’ve pretty much tried them all! Which is actually how Homemade came to be. I gravitated towards meal kits very early on for both their novelty and convenience. However, as a busy mom with two young kids, I was having a very difficult time finding a meal kit that my whole family could enjoy. I needed meals that were beyond the basic humdrum weeknight meal, but were still accessible enough for my daughters. And because I couldn’t find it, I created it.
Homemade has meals that are approachable, but don’t lack in flavor and excitement. It has extras like coloring books, to keep little hands busy while the meal gets prepared. I made small tweaks that made it a fit for my busy family, knowing that a lot of other people will find it a fit for their busy families, as well.
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What are the meal kits like? What menu options are available? What goes into brainstorming these recipes and menus?
Homemade is currently providing two options, either a couples box (two meals for two people each week) or a family box (one meal for two adults and three kids each week). I essentially curated a list of my go-to weeknight meals, recipes that have become staples in my house over the years that are guaranteed crowd pleasers for both the adults and the kids. When I’m creating a recipe, my first priority is ease and accessibility; focusing on fewer, fresher ingredients that can come together in a snap.
Homemade also features some recipes passed down to me that I loved eating growing up, like my mom’s Brown Sugar Chicken and some of my grandmother’s favorite Caribbean dishes. Starting in May, we’ll also be launching our kid boxes. It will feature classic kid favorites with a healthy twist, all the delicious flavor but a lot more nutritious.
How does the new Homemade channel complement the meal kit service?
Homemade is not just a meal kit, it’s about creating an entire experience around the home-cooked family meal and building a community where people gather, connect and share their stories. Social media has been such a powerful way to engage with parents just like me and I want to take that to the next level. So I’m working with a Silicon Valley software company, ON24, to run my own Homemade live-streaming channel that is 100% dedicated to bringing back the idea of the home-cooked meal. It is a hub of all things Homemade, where I’ll be doing interactive, live cooking demos, allowing people to cook alongside me and ask any questions they have along the way.
Homemade is so personal to me, and having the ability to invite people to virtually join me in my home kitchen to cook together helps build connective tissue between us. My vision for Homemade has always been to be more than just a weeknight solution, and the Homemade channel will be the space where we’re able to achieve that.
Where and how are the kits prepared to ensure they are fresh and will last through delivery? How do you plan to scale the business as it grows?
To prepare for launch, we went through an arduous process of shipping and reshipping test boxes with intricate thermometer tracking to ensure products arrive at people’s doorsteps fresh and in tact. It was very important to me that we be accessible nationwide at launch, so we took the additional steps to make sure each box has the required insulation to make the cross-country trip.
It’s been such an incredible education to see what goes into it. But with each day, we’re learning and improving so that we can make sure we’re providing fresh, high-quality ingredients you can feel good about feeding your family.
On top of many meal kit startups on the market, there is also a growing number of startups relying on celebrities and personal lifestyle brands. How do you think you can overcome a potential fatigue for this trend among consumers while still projecting an authentic concept?
I think often times consumers are underestimated. As more and more products crowd the marketplace, consumers are becoming more and more discerning. It’s not difficult to sniff out the fabricated projects from the authentic ones, so I’ve been very careful to align myself with projects that I’m both passionate about and that I have a significant hand in creating.
Every aspect of Homemade, I’ve touched and meticulously thought through. These Homemade boxes are truly an extension of me. So at the end of the day, I feel confident in the fact that whether people embrace them or not, I put out a brand and a product that I believe in and that reflects who I am.