Shopify Ecosystem

Brightening Up Your Plate With Nook Vibrant Kitchen

brightening-up-your-plate-with-nook-vibrant-kitchen

This is part of our #SmileABCs series, highlighting and going in-depth with small businesses and ecommerce brands. Check out the full series here.

Nook Vibrant Kitchen was also featured as one of our amazing merchants in our newsletter Talking Shop. If you want to hear more small business stories and get advice from their founders, be sure to subscribe to Talking Shop!

Changing your diet can be challenging. Whether you set a New Year’s resolution to eat healthier or you want to incorporate more plant-based foods into your diet, it can be tough to know where to start. When you’re trying to make these changes, there’s nothing more discouraging than spending hours in the kitchen trying to whip up some delicious and nutritious recipes. So why not let someone else do it for you?

We’re not talking about a personal chef (although, that would be nice). We’re talking about Madi Warnock and her team at Nook Vibrant Kitchen, a plant-forward, organic meal delivery service based in Southern Ontario.

Madi’s love for health and wellness is inspired by someone very near and dear to her heart–her sister. After being diagnosed with an extremely rare spinal condition, Madi decided to help her sister use food as medicine. And quickly, Madi realized every single person is affected by some sort of health condition–whether it be personally, or through a friend or family member.

“Everyone pretty much has an idea on what to do to live a healthy life, it’s just we don’t have time to do it.”
-Madi, Founder of Nook Vibrant Kitchen

After transitioning to a plant-forward lifestyle, Madi noticed that restaurants often tend to offer limited vegan options, most likely a salad. She set out to do the opposite. “I’ve built up over 300 different recipes that we’ve tested over time,” Madi tells us. By constantly keeping her menu fresh (no pun intended), Madi is able to keep customers coming back to try new, delicious plant-based recipes.

Adapting to changing customer needs

Nook Vibrant Kitchen initially launched in 2014 in Cambridge, Ontario under the name Galt Juice Company. Originally, the brand focused on selling juices and healthy baked goods throughout brick-and-mortar retail locations. But with the pandemic, Galt Juice Company, like all brands, was forced to adapt. This is what led to the birth of Nook Vibrant Kitchen and their direct-to-home meal kit delivery model.

“When everything started becoming direct-to-home, that’s when I decided to kind of take a step back and realize what my clients really needed.”

As any good business does, Nook Vibrant Kitchen continuously talks to its customers to get their feedback and cater to what they need. It’s this communication that led to another one of Nook’s changes. After talking to her customers, Madi learned that a lot of her clients’ partners wanted to try the meals but weren’t ready to give up their chicken. This gave way to Nook’s new Omnivore line of meals that include meat while maintaining a focus on using the best, freshest ingredients.

Nook Vibrant Kitchen–An image of some of Nook’s meals from their omnivore line. There are 4 plates on a brown wooden table. The colorful, plated meals feature various types of bowls and salads that have chicken and beef in them.
Nook Vibrant Kitchen now offers meals that incorporate meat.

Nook prides itself on being adaptable to what customers need. “That’s the other thing I love about being online is you can change so quickly. I can have a couple of conversations with clients and have them say, ‘I’m struggling with this, I really need this’ and then we can do that! It’s nice to be able to be so nimble,” Madi explains. After a few conversations, Nook introduced a low FODMAP Program for customers struggling with IBS, SIBO, and other gut-related issues.

Along with adapting to customers’ needs, Nook has used a variety of retention marketing strategies to build a thriving community. Social media marketing, regular email communications, and an excellent loyalty program have allowed Nook to create a community of brand advocates.

Nook Vibrant Kitchen–A screenshot from Nook’s website. The page is The Nook Blog and shows an article titled, “My 5 Day Juice Cleanse Journey”. The featured image is 5 multicolored bottles of juice on a wooden table. On the right side of the image is Nook’s rewards panel, which shows the title ‘Nook Points’ and has two sections visible: the sign-in bar and the points program explainer showing ways to earn and ways to redeem.
Nook uses retention marketing strategies such as a loyalty program, email marketing, and social media.

Nook offers both a point program and a referral program to acquire, engage, and retain customers. As one of Smile’s very first customers, Nook has iterated its loyalty program overtime and uses some of the most unique rewarding strategies we’ve seen. For instance, Nook offers 1.5x the points to their subscribers who order weekly as a thank you for their loyalty

They also leverage bonus points as an incentive to gather feedback about new recipes. “Sometimes when we want to test out a new product, we’ll say, ‘Hey we’re launching a new menu. If you order those products, you’re going to get 5 times the points on those.’ So it’s been interesting to use it as an incentive plan to test out new products.”  

Nook also relies heavily on email marketing through their integration between Smile and Klaviyo. Madi is able to easily include customers’ points balances on every email and include their unique referral link. “Because people are used to ordering online with me, they are actually redeeming their points and they’re actually using their referral links. So there has been a lot more online activity with the structure of our apps,” Madi explains

Nook doesn’t stop at email and loyalty program marketing though. Madi is also extremely active on their social media accounts and The Nook Blog to ensure that she’s reaching all of her customers where they are. For instance, during the month of January Madi is promoting a 5 day juice cleanse, actually doing alongside her customers, and sharing her struggles and advice via Instagram stories, blogs, and Instagram posts. This way customers feel like they’re talking to a friend when they interact with Nook, which is exactly how you want them to feel!

Advice to new business owners

After almost a decade of operating a business, it’s clear Madi has learned a thing or two. One of those things is to focus on what you love. “Over the years, especially when I was younger, I tried doing the thing that I thought was kind of the fad at the moment. In terms of communication and customer retention and loyalty, I now focus on the thing that I love the most, which is how having good food prepared for you gives you back more time so that you can focus on all the other pillars of your life.”

“I found that by talking about those aspects of it, customers understand that it’s coming from a place of real intention and real interest from me.”

As a solopreneur in an industry as complex as health and wellness, Madi has had to learn how to communicate to her customers in a caring and authentic way. “Find your voice, find what you can really talk about. You don’t have to be an expert to be a business owner or business creator. Authenticity is everything for small businesses.”

Nook Vibrant Kitchen–A selfie image of Madi, the founder of Nook Vibrant Kitchen, holding a large glass of green juice. Madi is a brunette woman and is wearing a black tank top.
Madi, founder of Nook Vibrant Kitchen, shares her advice for business owners.

Her final piece of advice is one we love and one that we think small business owners often forget. It’s all about knowing your business, industry, and yourself.

“Understand your pace and space.”
-Madi Warnock

“When I first started out, let’s say in 2 years I had 2 shops and the wholesale bakery section. I was running at a mile a minute and constantly trying to fill in inefficiencies with just doing more work. So I ended up working with a business coach at the beginning of the pandemic and our constant north star was to understand the space that you’re in and understand the pace in which you want to grow within that space. Anytime I feel myself running a bit too fast or stumbling a bit, I think, ‘Where am I at right now? How fast do I want to move in it? What’s my capability?’”

And there you have it. If you’re ready to start creating a thriving brand community of your own, check out Smile.io and launch a loyalty program of your own in minutes!

Nook Vibrant Kitchen was also featured as one of our amazing merchants in our newsletter Talking Shop. If you want to hear more small business stories and get advice from their founders, be sure to subscribe to Talking Shop!

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This originally appeared on Smile.io and is made available here to cast a wider net of discovery.
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