Booker’s Soul Food Starter Kits bring authentic southern cooking to consumers’ homes with pantry-ready seasoning kits. The company is owned by the husband-and-wife team Claude and Crystal Booker out of Macedonia, Ohio.
The chef behind the kits is Claude Booker, M.S., who grew up in rural South Carolina. He has his Associate of Science in Culinary Arts, Bachelor of Science in Food Service Management, and Master of Science in Managerial Technology.
Besides bringing deliciousness to every customer’s kitchen, each Soul Food Starter Kit sold also helps further the education of African American youth in the United States. The Booker’s Soul Food Education Fund, housed in the Spartanburg County Foundation, donates to 501c3 charities that support Black education causes and programs throughout America.
The Start of Soul Food Starters Branding
The Soul Food Starter Kits is the new retail line that follows the duo’s already successful business known as Simply Southern Sides, a foodservice brand that provides food for hot food bars in retail stores and other foodservice avenues.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, as hot bars were shutting down, the duo found a new way to provide its southern cooking to families and launched a retail line in December 2020.
“COVID was a big part of our launch. I always wanted to do a CPG line, but I was a little nervous,” said Claude Booker. “But since the world is moving to cooking at home, I had no choice.”
Thankfully, Booker had previously been introduced to ePac and the digital printing process that would help him launch his successful retail line.
“I met ePac eight months before launching. Mike from ePac sent out samples and I said, ‘now this is interesting,’ and I held onto it. And then COVID came. I said ok, I know what I want to do― I want to do soul food,” said Booker.
Booker needed a package that could stand up to the competition, as well as come up with branding, marketing, and a great soul food starters packaging design that would resonate with consumers.
“Mike met with me. I showed him the concept and ideas. Then I learned that they have the digital printing process. It was amazing! No plates, so it’s inexpensive to launch, and small minimums. I had no idea prior to meeting ePac that I could launch in a stand-up pouch. All the major brands are doing that, and it was important to me,” said Booker.
With digital printing, Booker was able to create a high-quality package, plus the low order minimums took the pressure off of his start-up brand.
“ePac removes the challenge of having to run 10,000-20,000 SKUs. I didn’t have to worry about funding and plates since it was digital printing. I could focus on a great design and great images and I knew I would look like a million-dollar brand with ePac,” said Booker.
Being able to remain flexible is one of the main benefits of digital printing. For Booker that meant being able to offer the big retailer Stop & Shop the ability to sell the individual packets of the starters in addition to the large bag.
“Stop & Shop wanted to sell the individual packets at their stores. Since they were already branded and since ePac can print both stand-up pouches and rollstock, it was easy. Digital printing allowed us to be nimble and flexible to sell both,” said Booker.
And with digital printing, brands of all sizes can take advantage of the flexibility to change a package’s design over and over again and run as many SKUs as they want.
“I knew that one thing I didn’t have to worry about was the packaging, because I had found ePac. They made it easy for us to do everything we needed to do. And with digital printing, when the time comes, I’ll be able to refresh my brand very easily,” said Booker.
Another perk of the partnership is the proximity of the ePac plant and Booker’s fulfillment center.
“ePac opened a plant 12 minutes from our fulfillment center, so I’ve been able to tour the facility and see the bags in action,” said Booker.
Simply Southern Sides Packaging
Consumers can find the brand online at soulfoodstarters.com and, starting in May, in 415 Stop & Shop stores along the east coast. Today the brand sells seven varieties of meal starter kits, including vegan options.
“Once we launched with four flavors, I kept hearing people say they were vegan. So, I created vegan collard green seasoning mix, mac & cheese seasoning mix, and candied yam seasoning mix. It was easy to do because of digital printing,” said Booker.
The mixes are sold in a stand-up pouch with six packets inside so consumers can create the southern side on six different occasions. ePac digitally prints both the exterior resealable stand-up pouch and the individual packets inside.
“It’s been a really great partnership. Today in stores, beautiful, stand-up pouches are prevalent and with ePac I was able to look like one of the major players right at launch,” said Booker.
Soul Food Packaging Partner
Are you thinking of launching a new brand or new package style in the grocery market? Let us partner with you to create high-quality, custom flexible packaging that surpasses the competition. Call us today for a free quote.