"I started It's Souper because I felt there was a void for ready to eat packaged foods from my country (Nigeria) and Africa in general. African foods in mainstream grocery stores were pretty much nonexistent, this continent has so many diverse cultures and foods from those cultures. I wanted to make an impact on the food industry from an African point of view.
It’s Souper is the only Canadian brand in the soup category that is owned by a woman, who is also Black and an immigrant. I want to be a force for change in the industry, despite facing bias as an individual and as a brand. To overcome this, I remain dedicated to my goals so that I can inspire other Black food and beverage founders.
At It’s Souper, we offer Afro-fusion soups and sauces. The uniqueness of our products comes from the fact that, unlike other soups on the market, these recipes are unique, full of flavour and heartiness, and use authentic African spices. We have the Meat Lover's Chili, Moroccan Chickpea and Chicken Stew, Roasted Carrot and Paprika Soup, and West African Pepper Sauce, the latter two are vegan. Our two new sauces are the Peri-Peri sauce and the Green Pepper Sauce. Our soups can be eaten as a meal, not just a side dish, or used as a base to make other, heavier meals.
It’s Souper products are currently sold online for Canada wide shipment from www.itssouper.com, and across Ontario Canada at retailers such as Sobeys, Whole Foods, Healthy Planet, and other Indie retailers.
When starting this business funding was a major challenge. The food industry is very capital-intensive— from packaging to production, we needed a lot of funds to scale. Financial support was all self-funded in the beginning and the access to those funds was limited, but in the past year or so there has been an increase in support for Black owned businesses which I have tapped into, and am grateful to have benefited from.
For me, the YSpace program wasn’t just an opportunity to learn how I can grow and scale my business - I feel like I am now part of an extended family that is continuously routing for my success. Even post-graduation the Yspace leadership has connected me with opportunities to secure financial and employment grants. The mentors and peers I connected with through this program as well have become a vital piece that bridges the network gap for an immigrant founder like myself.
My best advice would be do your research to be sure you are filling a gap – you don’t have to reinvent the wheel but add a little sparkle to it, so you stand out. Specifically for black/minority founders – I’d say to them to do all they can to get noticed – from product packaging to thinking of yourself as the best spokesperson for your brand and seizing every opportunity to do just that."
YSpace Almuni Lola Adeyemi, founder of It’s Souper, quit her IT consulting government job to launch an Afro-Fusion Soup & Sauce line because she wanted to fill the void in the Canadian retail space for African inspired/ethnic recipes made “By Us for All". Her brand is the first African & Black-owned line of Soups sold in mainstream Canadian retail and was nominated by the Retail Council of Canada for a Best New Product of the Year Award in 2019.