Sound Bites Nutrition LLC is owned and operated by a registered dietitian, Lisa Andrews. Lisa is a seasoned food and nutrition professional that provides nutrition education and counseling, cooking demonstrations, and freelance writing.
Lisa has authored 3 diet and disease cookbooks- The Healing Gout Cookbook, Complete Thyroid Cookbook, and Heart Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook. She also writes regularly for Food and Health Communications and Today’s Dietitian.
Lisa enjoys helping people create meals that make them feel better, whether that’s for blood sugar management or weight reduction. It’s fun to see people discover nutritious food and learn to make it themselves.
In addition to her consulting work, Lisa developed a line of food pun merchandise including tee shirts, totes, note cards, and other items. She calls this “Lettuce Beet Hunger” as a portion of the proceeds of food pun sales goes towards food insecurity programs in Cincinnati.
Founder’s/Owner’s story and what motivated them to start the business
Lisa comes from a long line of dieters, which initially sparked her interest in nutrition. Her mother was on every diet under the sun including Slim Fast, Mayo Clinic, Grapefruit, Cabbage soup diet, you name it. She struggled with her weight for several years after having 5 children.
Her dad developed type 2 diabetes as an adult, and also had to make modifications to his meals. Her sisters were also a bit weight-obsessed. Lisa dealt with bulimia in high school and after recovery, wanted to learn how to help people with their diets.
After completing her degree in dietetics and finishing a dietetic internship, Lisa started work as a clinical dietitian at the VA Medical Center. She was there for several years and became well-versed with chronic illnesses. She eventually went back to grad school for my Master’s degree and reduced her work to part-time at the hospital. She took on other roles such as teaching at the University of Cincinnati and working as a community dietitian to learn build her skill set.
In 2008, she launched Sound Bites Nutrition to focus on wellness and empower people to take care of their health through balanced nutrition. Her role has evolved from clinical counselor to nutrition consultant. Every day is a little bit different and she loves the variety of work she’s gotten involved in such as cooking demos, presentations, and freelance writing.
Lettuce Beet Hunger
The food pun merchandise started as a “push back” to poke fun at diet culture. Lisa’s philosophy on food is that it shouldn’t be punishment. Is celery juice really worth drinking? It sounds awful! If you have to plug your nose to swallow something, it’s probably not worth it.
The tee-shirts came along in 2016. Lisa was in a popular clothing store when she saw a tee-shirt that said, “breakfast, lunch, dinner” with images of a doughnut, pizza, and a taco. While she’s not militant about her own diet, she didn’t see these as very humorous. She thought to herself, “What would I wear?”.
She decided to make up her own designs. Since she’s always loved food puns, this made sense to her. Her first pun was “Peas romaine seeded”, which translates to Please remain seated. This one is really fun to wear on an airplane.
After selling the shirts for a few years, she wanted a way for them to give back to her community. Because of her interest in food insecurity and nutrition education for people that don’t have access to food or diet counseling, part of food pun sales goes towards food insecurity programs. Lettuce Beet Hunger was born in 2018.
Lisa has a few of her designs of shirts and note cards at a few small gift shops around Cincinnati and would love to grow. She has roughly 40 designs, so several are printed on-demand to avoid keeping a lot of inventory, which can get expensive!
The main challenges of starting the business
When she got her degree in nutrition over 30 years ago, she hadn’t planned on being a small business owner. Lisa started Sound Bites Nutrition when she was still part-time at the VA Medical Center. She juggled both jobs for about 6 years until she finally left the hospital in 2014.
Some of the challenges in starting the business were finding the right designer to make a website, finding a small business accountant, setting up the LLC, and finding an office space. There are many set-up hoops to jump through when you first get started and it can be overwhelming. Her husband made her logo and helps with some of her tee designs.
Another big challenge was figuring out a name! It seemed like all the fun and creative names were taken. She came up with the name while driving by a car stereo store and seeing the word SOUND. Sound Bites seemed perfect but was a pretty common name. She added Nutrition at the end and went with it.
Another challenge was deciding what services to offer and what population to see. Since Lisa’s experience was with adults and not children, it made sense to work with adults only. She doesn’t work with eating disorders or those with food allergies, so she’s stayed with seeing clients that are interested in weight loss or disease management (such as IBS, diabetes, high cholesterol and cancer, for example).
The challenges the business/market is facing
Like other small businesses, Sound Bites Nutrition was hit hard during Covid. Lisa gave up her office where she previously did nutrition counseling since she wasn’t able to use it for 6+ months at the start of the pandemic. She quickly learned about a HIPPA-compliant online platform and started seeing nutrition counseling clients that way.
She lost money from canceled speaking engagements, flights, and other events such as in-person cooking demonstrations. It was a difficult time to have a small business.
The challenges now are primarily finding vendors or stores to carry her food pun merchandise as well as building a team to work with. Since she doesn’t have a background in the apparel business, it’s difficult to find others in this line of work to help her through the process of distribution, marketing and scaling the business.
The other challenge is competition. Freelance writing seems to be more popular among dietitians than it had been in the past.
Pricing services can also be difficult. You don’t want to overprice yourself, but you also don’t want to leave money on the table. Figure out how much you’d like to make per hour to discover what you should be charging.
The opportunities the business/market is facing
The beautiful thing about working as a dietitian is that as long as people will continue to eat, there will always be work. Whether it’s providing recipe development for a food company, counseling clients, or providing nutrition seminars to corporate companies, there is a wide variety of work available.
Lisa was asked to teach a high school nutrition class a few years ago and continue to do so now. She enjoys educating students on the importance of eating healthy. This is really important in this population as they’re very heavily immersed in social media, which can negatively impact their body image.
Lisa has also become a webinar provider for an EAP (Employee Assistance Program) and can provide webinars from her home. She has done several TV interviews and cooking demos from home, too.
Sound Bites Nutrition recently partnered with the Free Store Food Bank on a tee shirt design for their employees. Lisa is good at networking and will hopefully collaborate with more companies on food pun designs moving forward. She’d like to connect with restaurants, small food brands or dietitians and chefs that need fun gifts. This is her long-term goal.
Advice to others about business
- If you’re considering starting a business, do some research and see who your competition is. What makes you different than your competition? What skills do you have that would be desirable and helpful to people?
- Be open to networking. Tell people what you do or what kind of work you want to do. The world is small! Word of mouth is one of the best ways to get your business out there for people to hire you.
- Don’t burn bridges. If something didn’t work out, move on. You have to have a thick skin and not take things too personally.
- Learn new skills- Microsoft office, google platforms, writing and professional speaking. All of these will come in handy with a business.
- Be active on social media. Be your true, authentic self. Try not to compare yourself to others. It’s important to connect with people but also have fun with it.
- Gain experience through trial and error. If you do the same work over and over, it can become boring. Take classes or do online coursework to learn more skills. This makes you more marketable.
- Get a business bank account separate from your personal account.
- Ask for help! Look into hiring a business coach or SCORE mentor for assistance. SCORE is an acronym for the “Service Corps of Retired Executives” and is free.