Hayley Ray is the owner of smoothie bowl company Soulfuel, and she’s on a mission to make healthy eating tastier than ever. The ambitious entrepreneur is still young, but she’s already travelled the world as a chef. A former TV presenter, the healthy eating proponent has already achieved such a great deal, but her latest venture was inspired by her own health issues.
Hayley suffers from endometriosis, a painful, potentially debilitating condition that affects one in every 10 women across the UK. She also has polycystic ovary syndrome, and recently endured a life-changing cancer scare. These health issues prompted Hayley to research the area of healthy eating, and how it can promote general wellbeing. And she soon discovered a world of culinary possibilities.
Hayley’s work involves delivering her incredible smoothie bowls to people from all walks of life. Her pop-up counter makes appearances at events up and down the country, which gives her the opportunity to talk to women suffering similar health conditions. These connections, along with Hayley’s palpable passion for healthy food, are the inspiration behind Soulfuel.
Hayley said: “I moved back to the UK from New Zealand in July 2017, and I thought to myself ‘what am I passionate about?’ I’d been working as a chef all over the world, so food was high on the list. But more than that, I decided I wanted to make nutritious food with good ingredients.
“After a little research, I discovered that the kinds of vegan, sugar-free and dairy-free foods I was passionate about just aren’t available in the UK. I saw a gap in the market, and decided to start my own business.”
Meeting challenges as they arise
Hayley’s journey is still in its early stages, but she already has a clear vision of where she’s heading. The challenges of running a business don’t faze her, but she’s under no illusion how difficult the road ahead will be.
Hayley said: “I’m currently looking for an angel investor who shares my passion for fresh, nutritious food. But I’m looking for a very particular person or organization who wants to make an ethical investment. That’s been tougher than I imagined.
“The UN has 17 global goals, and I’m keen to support one of them with my business. I’m passionate about tackling the issue of plastic in the oceans, so I’d like to think Soulfuel could play a role. I already minimise plastic, but I’m interested in cashback for plastic schemes that operate in New Zealand and Australia. I can’t believe we don’t have anything like that in the UK.”
Hayley hasn’t been shy in asking for advice and information. She’s already discovered companies in her industry she never knew existed, and she’s meeting with manufacturers to discuss ideas for shakes and snack bars. One of Hayley’s long-term ambitions is to get her SoulFuel brand into supermarkets, but she’s determined to find investment partners that are compatible with her brand’s ethical identity.
Right now, however, Hayley admits to struggling with working alone.
She said: “I think one of the biggest challenges I’ve had to face is working by myself. But despite the challenge, the whole thing has been a great learning experience. You realise what your weaknesses are, but you also find out what you’re great at.
“Fortunately, I’ve been backed by the Prince’s Trust, so I’ve had some advice and help. I now know where I want to be, so it’s all about hard work.”
Hayley has received some pearls of wisdom over the years
Like any budding entrepreneur, Hayley appreciates the value of the experience and advice of others.
She said: “The best advice I’ve ever been given is to believe in yourself. It’s OK to doubt yourself occasionally, but you need to believe that you can achieve your goals.
“I’d also tell people to remember the reason why they started their business in the first place — because this is the reason they should keep going. You have to be confident in your vision and your abilities, even when things aren’t going so well.
“I often use the phrase ‘where focus goes, energy goes’. Make sure you focus on the right issues at the right times, and your energies will be directed in the right area.
“Another thing I’d say is to surround yourself with the right people. There will be people who don’t believe in what you’re doing, so try not to take things to heart. Concentrate on the people who believe in you.”
Hayley has been on a steep learning curve over the last year or so, and she knows there’ll be many bumps in the road over the coming months. But she’s already developed a never-say-die attitude to business.
She said: “I’ve made some serious cutbacks recently, but you have to when you’re getting a business off the ground. But every time I feel like I’m losing focus or becoming negative, I take a look at one of my vision boards.
“Vision boards are like collages containing all of your hopes and aspirations. I’ve created a few because they always remind me of why I make the sacrifices I do.”
Soulfuel continues to go from strength to strength as an increasing number of businesses and events realise just how popular healthy, clean eating is these days. Hayley is still at the beginning of her journey, but she’s already created a successful brand that has a very bright future.
What Do You Do?
I’m Hayley Ray aka the ‘smoothie queen’ & face behind Soulfuel, the smoothie and smoothie bowl product for people who want to be conveniently healthy
If you could have any superpower what would it be?
My super power would be the ability to stop time – in the style of Bernard from CITV’s Bernard’s Watch! Loved that show growing up!!
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
BORA BORA of course!