Making the best out of truly adverse circumstances is embodied in Leola Foon. At just 28 years of years, the fit and healthy Sydneysider nearly lost her life to a brain aneurism.
At work one day in November 2010, she suddenly collapsed in immense pain – but this was just the beginning. Brain surgery, weeks in hospital and rehabilitation only took her part of the way.
“I don’t think I’ll ever fully recover; it’s a mental battle more than anything. People who have gone through traumatic experiences will know, you tend to relive it a lot. Anyone looking at me would never know what I’ve gone through. And sometimes I have to remind myself that I have gone through something, and I am pretty tough.”
Leola says she still bears the scars of her traumatic ordeal, but positively, now looks at life differently compared to before her health scare. “It’s not easy but I suppose you have a choice on how you want to deal with it. You choose your destiny.”
As a result, her health scare proved to be a major catalyst for change for Leola. Whilst running her own business was not something she had previously considered, having always enjoyed cooking, healthy meal delivery service More for Me was born.
“The concept of healthy meals which are prepared and delivered, already exists – but I thought I would put my own spin on it. With the options that are out there: the really healthy ones are very expensive, and the other ones are all about counting calories. With that, a lot of the foods are processed and that goes against what I believe in, which is just to nourish your body with good, fresh food,” Leola says.
After an intensive research phase and ensuring all of the regulatory checks and balances were in place, the business officially kicked off in October 2013.
“It was a lot of research first of all. To run a food business you need an FSSC certification, which is a food safety supervisor’s certificate. It’s an online course and ensures you know all about food safety, and temperatures etc.”
“Also one of the requirements in New South Wales is that your kitchen is fully approved. So for example my kitchen at home would not be fully approved, so all of More for Me meals are prepared in a commercial kitchen located in Ultimo, which I rent by the hour,” Leola says.
After registering her business, and using the ABN she already had in place, Leola was set to go. “Obviously when you start your own business you’re your own boss, so for me the biggest thing was having a ‘to-do’ list in place. You’ve got to hold yourself to account and make sure you’re staying on top of all those things, and tick things off.”
The past few months have been busy for More for Me, and there is plenty in the works for 2014. Leola hopes to grow her customer base, and get to the point where she can focus solely on the business without the need for part-time work.
“I was really quite overwhelmed about how well More for Me was received – I grew it on social media using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and just spread the word that way, got my friends to share the page, share my menus and things like that. I’ve been doing all the meals myself, and delivering them, so I was really busy for the first couple of months. Now through New Years, I suppose the referrals start to slow down a little but you know, that’s to be expected.”
Utilising her 10 years of marketing experience, Leola is targeting her advertising efforts. By approaching gyms and clubs in particular, Leola is hoping to see some referrals, and flyers strategically placed to target members. “You need to try and put your name in front of the people you want to buy your product, so that’s where I’m trying to go – to find like-minded people who have a focus on healthy eating.”
Following her traumatic health experience, Leola says she’s learnt the hard way not to take anything for granted, to make the most out of her life, and do what makes her happy.
“Life is short, and I know how easily you can lose it. And that goes back to why I started this business – nourishing your body properly helps prevent heartache later on in life. I was a healthy 28 year old when my aneurism happened, and if I hadn’t been so healthy I probably wouldn’t be here today. I think a lot of people don’t appreciate that we only have one body, so bloody look after it!”