Ashleigh, founder of Cook It Up travelled the world for inspiration for her fresh home-cooked meals and bakery, which is now going down very well in her local area of Hucknall. She has amassed forty pages of notes from her calls with Digital Boost mentors from BT, Google, and others, which she is acting on with support from a growing network. One mentor, ex-Walt Disney, and BMW Designworks expert Mahima Karol, a digital design and e-commerce specialist, has followed her journey and has high hopes for future nationwide success.
Health is Wealth is a favourite phrase of Ashleigh, founder of Cook It Up, to describe her healthy food-delivery business serving her local community in Hucknall, Nottingham. A sustainable business started in January 2021, she selects fresh ingredients for her unique dishes and encourages pre-orders to enable time for the flavours to soak in. Her Healthier Options Award and 5* rating from the Food Standards Agency are some of several credits she has gathered in just a few short months.
Ashleigh’s imagination for feel-good, tasty food has been nurtured by her family and inspired by travels abroad. She gathered a following on Instagram for her cooking demos, tips, and advice before finally taking the plunge into her own business. The crafted dishes she serves up incorporate a wonderful burst of flavours, with favourites like Mexican Burrito & sweet plantain, Caribbean Coconut Prawns, and several vegetarian options reflecting the most popular dishes of places she has visited.
She learned her craft by joining home-cooks shopping at their market for spices and herbs and in their kitchen. On a five-month sprint from Mexico to Columbia, she gathered dishes by learning directly from the locals, often over an open fire. She came home to experiment, seek out ingredients and adapt recipes as necessary to share the authentic taste she loves with her customers.
A natural in business, Ashleigh’s venture has the feel of one much more established. One of her Digital Boost Mentors, Mahima Karol, said: “Ashleigh has her own unique style and has found a niche with her customer base. If you suggest something she takes that, actions it, and tracks outcomes. She’s a smart business-woman who will be very successful.”
What’s more, Ashleigh is grateful to benefit from the full support of Ashfield District Council who have put her in touch with key people to connect with for growth. With their help, she recently took over a market stall and offered her new vitamin-packed cookie line and samples of main dishes, which sold out and set off a huge uplift in orders to her website.
Getting a Boost
Deliveries of Cook It Up’s heat-up-when ready freshly prepared meals began this year , drawing on a pool of drivers to match timed slots. Ashleigh has created a local following with her food for busy lives, but running a business is a different matter. She applies the core-business skills taken from a career in media production, TV broadcasting, and e-learning, from where she has strong abilities in organisation and accountancy but knew that she needed additional business knowledge and specific help on creating an online and offline presence.
That’s when she discovered the free-of-charge workshops and 1:1 mentoring sessions offered by Digital Boost, who provide unlimited mentorships via partners. After several conversations with experts from Google, BT, and others, she has forty pages of notes and has already successfully implemented several ideas.
Mahima, a design consultant who has worked extensively with Walt Disney Company and BMW Designworks, has a special interest in Ashleigh’s journey, which she has followed since they first spoke in January. She learned about Digital Boost from the Judge Business School in Cambridge and signed up as a mentor to share her digital design expertise and knowledge.
Amongst other things, Mahima suggested creating a leaflet with a QR code to connect with the Cook It Up website, gave advice on ways to keep customers coming back through calendar events like Mother’s Day and has worked with Ashleigh on branding to visual design, photography and use of video, drawing on her extensive experience in these areas.
“I would recommend Digital Boost, whatever stage your business is at. It’s encouraging to hear you are doing things well, but what I wanted were simple, actionable things I could tweak. I have implemented those and had immediate results.
It’s always good to get a fresh pair of eyes. With Digital Boost you can learn from people with a wealth of experience, shortcut the process, and avoid common pitfalls.”