We had the good fortune of connecting with Elysse Voyer and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Elysse, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I had known for years that I wanted to run a business of my own, but I took a very winding road to finally get here. My formal education and early career was in research astrophysics – believe it or not! After my postdoc, I made a decision to leave that career path, and found myself living in the Bay Area and working in tech which was a natural transfer of my skill set as a scientist to industry. However, I was really not feeling excited or motivated in that world and kept coming up blank when trying to envision a professional future for myself where I was fulfilled by that work. I had always worked part-time in the food service industry since I was a teenager and had found more joy in those jobs than anything else I had ever done. So, when I went back to the career drawing board, about 5 years ago, I took a huge leap and enrolled in the San Francisco Cooking School’s Professional Culinary Program to start a full-time career in food with the hopes of one day running my own business in this industry. I was very lucky to be in a position in life where this was a possibility, and, to have a supportive partner who encouraged me and helped me see how I transformed into a truly happy person when I started working in food. After school I was lucky to do my internship and afterwards work as a pastry chef and line cook at Flea Street Cafe in Menlo Park, CA. About 3.5 years ago, after moving to Flagstaff, AZ, I took a position on the line at Shift Kitchen + Bar eventually becoming the sous chef. I really learned how to hustle, get creative, and be prepared for anything in that kitchen since our menu changed on a daily to weekly basis. I also really got to know the Flagstaff community since I got to chat with our guests every evening as I cooked at the open chef’s counter. While working at Shift I became pregnant with my first child and worked all the way through 8 months of pregnancy! When I finally had to turn in my professional knives to prepare to give birth, I started cooking at home for my own postpartum period. During this time, I discovered a whole new world of cook books and food that focused on healing traditions and nourishment to help women recover from the birthing process and I just fell in love with everything about it. I had that light bulb moment and I knew that this was the business I eventually wanted to bring to my community. Postpartum mothers, new parents, and people needing nourishment were the folks I wanted to feed as a chef. Still, it took me another 1.5 years to find the right moment to start logistical planning for my company, Just Delivered. I knew I wanted to start small and low-risk so I could build a brand the way I envisioned it without huge financial pressures to succeed. I wanted my packaging to be as sustainable as possible, my ingredients to be as local and organic as I could manage, and my menu to be seasonal. I started by networking with other local food industry folks who had started similar small business ventures in Flag, I worked with a business counselor on my business plan, and took a 4 week marketing workshop for women in the food industry. Once I found a kitchen to rent, got my licensing in place, and developed my menu, I jumped in and opened Just Delivered at the end of May 2021!
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
After making space for my own postpartum period, I really saw that (in American culture especially) we need to fight tooth and nail against our society and sometimes what it has ingrained in our own psyche to hold this precious space of recovery and transformation into parenthood. It might be the only chance some of us ever have to slow down in our early-mid adult lives. I love being able to be a part of this moment for other people and to encourage that slow down by nourishing them with amazing food. Just Delivered aims to meet the basic needs of new families and postpartum mothers by providing an unobtrusive food and meal delivery program for the first few weeks or months after their baby’s arrival. We stock our clients’ freezers and fridges with nourishing broths, soups, grains, pasta, proteins, lactation supporting snacks, and even house made ice cream/sorbet for when they’re craving a treat (and because I have a personal love affair with ice cream, ha)! Our food is focused on nourishing new mothers as they recover from birth with ingredients that support and work on their recovery, and, nourishing their partners who are also dealing with the sleep exhaustion and challenges of a new little one. Our menus are constructed to stock up for a flexible meal and snack schedule, rather than 3 square meals a day, so you can eat whenever your body needs nourishment. We at frequencies convenient to our clients and our delivery is always unobtrusive and contactless right to the door. Additionally, we offer food packages for nursing mothers to help with milk supply and calorie needs (which are very high when breastfeeding). Our service is also a great gift for friends or loved ones who are expecting a new baby. In the first month of business I have had several non-new parents reach out about Just Delivered’s service to for a variety of life situations that fit our business model really well. So, now the wheels are turning and I am eventually hoping to branch out to provide nourishing food delivery for other situations such as post-hospital stays or post-surgery, for example.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Flagstaff is a very cool place to live and I feel incredibly lucky to have ended up here. If someone was visiting town I would take them to every local brewery/meadery for tastings since brewing is one of my personal passions (I have been a home brewer for many years now) and we have some incredible spots here. For dinner I would bring them to: Shift Kitchen + Bar (of course!), Pizzicleta, Brix, Delhi Palace. For lunch: Kokiyo, Indian Gardens, and Mama Burger. For Breakfast: Tourist Home and Mix Flagstaff. In my opinion, the best thing to do in Flag is to get outside and explore nature – go hiking, camping, exploring. There’s a great local hiking guide by Cosmic Ray that you can purchase at many local shops and it gives a great overview of the local trails to check out. Lake Mary is also a great spot for kayaking and paddle boarding. I would also bring folks to Lowell Observatory which has an incredible public program and a brand new public observing deck.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My partner, Ryan, definitely deserves a huge amount of credit and recognition in supporting and encouraging my entrepreneurial story. We are two people who have always tied our careers to our personal journeys through life and we have been supporting each other since we first started dating in college. We have both worked hard to find happiness and balance together and I would not have made it to this point without him and his support. I also have to recognize the postpartum cookbook that helped me cook my way through my own postpartum period and planted the earliest thoughts of Just Delivered in my brain: “The First Forty Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother” by Heng Ou. Not only does this book have beautiful and thoughtful recipes but it also holds incredible advice and words of encouragement for postpartum mothers strongly reminding us that we need and deserve to take time for ourselves after the incredible feet of giving birth and during those days of caring for a new born human.