Young female entrepreneurs are a plenty here in Vancouver. Christina Culver is the brains behind the ultra popular Culver City Salads, Vancouver’s first completely plant-based and gluten free mobile salad company. Started back in 2012 as a delivery service for friends and colleagues, in just a few short years, the company has grown exponentially. I sat down with this inspiring boss babe to talk about her mission and how it all started.
1) What inspired you to start Culver City Salads?
I have worked in a million different jobs in my life. Six years ago, I was running a high end photo studio and was an artist booker, so was booking hair and makeup, stylists, etc. I also worked as a nail artist. After a year and a half, I couldn’t do it anymore so I quit and my plan was to go do nails full-time but wasn’t making enough money. So one of my really close girlfriends and her boyfriend at the time, called me and pitch at me. They said that since I was always making food for everyone and that all of my friends really liked the food that I cooked, they suggested I just bring it to their office and they’d pay me for it.
So I went out and bought a bunch of tupperware and a ton of produce and started off with a Facebook Fan Page, email and text. It started off with my friend group and of course, being in Vancouver, a lot of them worked at Lululemon HQ and all the local startups. I did it out of my apartment for over a year and always thought that this was just a means to an end. I was still doing nails but then I got an offer for a partner and stuff just got real. I decided to get a kitchen and also start branding. Then, the Juice Truck started selling my salads on their truck. We had the same branding team and they thought that we would be a really great fit. That really started building momentum. Also at that time, we had Shopify set up so that you can order salads online. I was making all of the salads myself, trying to borrow my sister’s car if I could or taking the bus to deliver everything, running around town with the Ikea bag filled with tupperware. The cool thing is that I would take the tupperware back from them, wash it and re-use it, always trying to keep my imprint really small. Not too long after, we decided to get a food truck and that’s when my sister came into the picture. She’s a trained pastry chef, ski instructor and was in holistic nutrition school at the time. We ended up getting our food truck permit and it was go-time. The truck is in its 4th year but everything keeps evolving and changing all the time.
2) What are some of the goods that you offer now?
We retail with The Juicery Co., they are basically our market place as they sell some of our dehydrated crackers, cookies and homemade dressing by the bottle. We’re also trying to work on more of that now. We also do a fair amount of catering and retreat work. We just got back from Guatemala where we just did 4 days in the Yoga Forest in San Marcos, making salads for a 50-women gathering. I really love that kind of stuff. I also get hired as a private chef for events or photoshoots.
3) You seem to collaborate a lot with local fitness studios and athletes, why is that important for you to be a part of?
I grew up in a family where we were all competitive athletes. It’s part of our foundation and Culver City Salads was created with that in mind. Also, we are plant-based and we’re seeing it more and more now, that plant-based performance food. That’s something that I always strive for, I want to show people that you can be successful on a plant-based diet. The Tight Life Challenge at Tight Club at the beginning of the year was something I actually created with them, it’s the perfect trifecta of what is important when you’re trying to make a real healthy change in your life. I want that to carry on. I love working with athletes, it’s so cool to get feedback from them and just be in that world.
4) How important is the community aspect in what you do?
Honestly it’s everything. I’m a firm believer in strength in numbers. This scene in Vancouver is pretty new but I haven’t met anyone that is on the same “mission” that isn’t awesome. The Juice Truck is the perfect example, we worked in the same kitchen together for over a year. It is also super cool to have the possibility to be able to call someone else in the community and ask for advice or help. I can’t even imagine it being any other way. I think if we’re all in the same direction, we can help each other. Everyone shouts each other out and I think it’s the best way to be. I’m so grateful it exists.
5) Where would you like to be in 5 years time with Culver City Salads?
It’s so hard to say because so much just happens with flow and things will come up all of a sudden. I would love growth, whether that’s building the brand or obvious things like having a cookbook. We’re always toying with the idea of opening a storefront. I would also like to get the crackers that we’re making into grocery stores. Also, more travel for sure!
For more info on Culver City Salads, go here.