Nina Faull, a psychology major in college, landed a job in the medical field upon moving to Denver in 2000. She worked in the administrative side of the medical field while pursuing her MBA and moved into medical sales upon completing her master's program in 2005.
However, Nina soon found herself in a groove - work, home, cook, clean, TV, bed, repeat.
One night she got the random idea to write a cookbook for her husband... nothing difficult. Just easy recipes so that she could break the monotony of work, home, cook, etc.
Nina adorned the pages with vintage boudoir photos, instead of pictures of the food, and before she knew it, she was writing a vintage food column for the UK's Vintage Life magazine.
“After becoming thoroughly disenchanted with my workplace, I decided to take a chance and start anew,” she told Timely Visit. “I set out on a journey to find out exactly what I wanted to do.”
Armed with little more than a few savings and a thorough confusion as to what she really wanted to do with her life, Nina started to try her hand at different things.
She wrote the first draft of a novel, completed her scuba certification, and even picked up some contract work to productively fill her time.
A great business idea born at a party
Later that year, Nina and her husband took a dive trip to Cozumel and because of their overall "we like to party" attitude, were volunteered to host the post-dive trip party.
The food she had prepared for the party was a hit, specifically her tomato salad prepared with her version of her mother's red wine vinaigrette. She used balsamic vinegar and what was just an ordinary salad dressing to her, became an overnight sensation.
“Friends began asking to pick up prepared bowls of dressing and that's what got me thinking,” Nina revealed. “However, I didn't want to just hand it to people in a bowl... that was too boring. I ventured that an old wine bottle might be the perfect solution.”
So, she began researching bottling vinaigrettes and found that there was a bit more involved with bottling salad dressing than she originally thought.
“I did some preliminary research, explored chemistry I swore I'd never use after college, and that's when the idea to bottle and sell my vinaigrette struck me,” Nina said. “If I was willing to do this much work for my friends, why not make a business out of it?”
The idea was to create elegantly bottled vinaigrettes, made with only the highest quality ingredients... and voila, Doxy's Fine Foods was born.
On July 7, 2012, after months of science testing, licensure, measurements, and more, Doxy's first product arrived at the Farmer's Market. Nervous about how the crowd would react, Nina and her husband were thoroughly relieved when they loved it!
People began asking if they had more products... they didn't. They had spent all of their time and money on the vinaigrette. They had another of Nina's mother's recipes, but it was for a buttermilk ranch, and Nina didn’t want to explore bottling it because of how many ingredient alternatives and preservatives it would take to make something like that shelf stable.
So she did the next best thing, she got her licensure and began packaging up the seasonings required to make the dressing. People could buy the seasoning blends and make the dressing on their won, fresh at home. It was another quick success!
They added more dry blends to their product list and were soon on the shelves of grocery stores, attending national expos, and moving into a bigger administrative office.
Pivoting into a better business model
Doxy's is now just over two and a half years old and has already seen many changes. Their first product, the fine balsamic vinaigrette, has since been discontinued and they have pivoted from a salad dressing company into a seasoning blend company.
Nina says this is because there are so many uses for their blends. “Customers can do so much more than just make dressings with their blends because they do not contain buttermilk powders or other ingredients that would make the various blends specific to just one application.”
“Creating simple recipes with big flavors means a lot to me, as cooking an in-depth dinner after a long day at work was never that appealing,” she explained. “So I designed my package size so that just one of Doxy's packets can be used to season an entire recipe - super simple.”
Nina added that most importantly, Doxy's has been helping consumers suffering from celiac, other forms of gluten intolerance, as well as people suffering from various food allergies expand their recipe options with their seasoning blends.
She says all of the products they offer are all natural, gluten-free, non-GMO, and contain either no MSG or no added MSG. Their ranch and chipotle blends have also begun to find their way onto fine dining and other restaurant menus.
Doxy's has added multiple blends to their offering, including a natural onion soup & dip mix, that quickly became the company's best seller, pasta sauce herbs, and a unique sweet and spicy blend they call cocoa fusion.
Savoring the delicious taste of success
“I prefer to measure success on a moment to moment basis. I feel that growth, or even the promise of growth, is something to be celebrated,” Nina shared with Timely Visit.
She revealed that before Doxy's was two years old, they had expanded their product line to include five products, and were on the shelves of more than 40 grocery stores from California to Florida. Not too shabby for a fully self-funded company.
Nina believes that the success of Doxy's is due to certain personality traits, what she likes to call "The Three Rs."
1. Resolve – Her determination to make Doxy's succeed.
2. Resourcefulness – Her ability to just figure it out. Money, administrative issues, packaging issues, you name it – she's had to figure it out.
3. Resilience – Every time Nina has been knocked down, she's gotten back up.
Nina has big plans for Doxy's Fine Foods - everything from becoming a household name to adorning the menus of even more restaurants. “In the short-term, Doxy's is eager to continue cooking and creating so all of their customers can enjoy simple and delicious home cooking.”
Nina’s advice for other entrepreneurs
The first thing Nina would say that is absolutely necessary to do each day is to take quiet time to just zone out. “You need that time to relax your body and mind and not get overwhelmed on a given day. It’s like a mini-meditation. If you must, put a post-it note up to remind yourself to take this time.”
She adds that it is also necessary to maintain one’s health and exercise, but admits that when the time comes for the gym or that run, it is easy to be sidetracked and find oneself at a loss for time.
“So it's a good idea to make a commitment to a friend, whether it's running a 5k or simply meeting at the gym. Find something that will force you to take time out and take care of yourself.”
Nina concluded saying that one last thing, which she thinks this is the most important, although she can't deny that she herself still struggles with, is being gentle with yourself.
“It’s easy to pressure yourself to work more or be at home more,” she explained. “But you're learning everything, literally everything, about your business. Sure, it's easy to be hard on yourself, but once you get used to it, it's even easier to be gentle with yourself.”
“You're on a learning curve, so take some time off to learn about yourself and how all the pieces of your unique situation fit together.”