MEET Nadine Spencer: Nadine Spencer, founder of The Indulgent Foodie, offers specialty food and lifestyle products to a broad range of clients, including chefs, food critics and every day diners, and will be writing about food on her official blog. Gourmet food products distributed by Indulgent Foodie span from rich desserts, fruit baskets, champagne and corporate gift baskets. An expert marketer with a gift for articulating key cultural trends that translate into business opportunities, Nadine has an extensive track record in brand rebuilding. Her charitable work reflects her personal mission to empower impoverished and disenfranchised women to work their way to prosperity through entrepreneurship and the free market.
MN: It’s expected that as much as $632 billion dollars in sales will be generated by the restaurant industry in 2012, according to the National Restaurant Association. Is the food industry experiencing a resurgence, and if so, how are you taking advantage of the resurgence?
NS: We are adding new items geared to the discerning consumer, with a focus on the upscale, luxurious, and artisan. This industry will continue to have strong growth, and we want to gain a sizable portion of the market.
MN: How did you develop your love affair with food?
NS: I have loved entertaining for as long as I can remember. I hosted my first dinner at the age of 16. My mom bought me a gorgeous set of china with silver scalloped edges. I had friends from high school over for a three-course dinner with a fantastic table setting! Entertaining is a great way to bond with people!
MN: Who are some of the chefs you’ve worked with over the years, people who helped you hone your skills?
NS: I think any person who is truly comfortable expressing their passion for life can cook. It’s such a personal thing, and yet also very public. When I cook, I don’t follow any particular recipe. Instead, I cook from the heart—what I feel at the moment. The great chefs I’ve worked with tend to embody this same sentiment, cooking what resonates with them and creating from their souls. Art Smith is a chef who just cooks from his soul, and his dishes are simply incredible.
MN: What inspired you to launch The Indulgent Foodie?
NS: We launched The Indulgent Foodie in 2004. I believe entrepreneurs should diversify, and this was a way to earn passive income. Also, there were many online shops at the time, but none that truly embodied the full indulgent food and food lifestyle experience. I wanted to communicate an acceptance for having the best of the best and not having to apologize for it. I wanted to provide a space for great, decadent food — the ultimate indulgence, with no apologies.
MN: What resources did you use to finance your business?
NS: Finding quality resources for female entrepreneurs is often quite a challenge. I bootstrapped and learned a lot. I wanted the first website to be spectacular and fabulous. Unfortunately, the cost of a website like that was way out of our budget. So I learned to write code and designed the first website myself. It’s amazing what one can do when the desire is there. Money is the catalyst, but it’s not all.
MN: How many orders does The Indulgent Foodie ship each year?
NS: We now partner with large retailers, providing their Foodie gifts exclusively. We’ve had steady growth since the inception of our business, and have now grown our sales to 600 percent over when we initially started.