Archive / Chickpea

Welcome our newest family member FoodyDirect!

asulia blog foodydirect  partnership announcement

Starting today, you can order Asulia vegan and vegetarian dumplings online nationwide!

We’re excited to announce Asulia’s new partnership with FoodyDirect, the best mail order gourmet food company.

Everything seems available online, so what’s the big to do? Well first, shipping frozen anything comes with ridiculous shipping rates since it has to be 1 or 2 day air. I wanted to make sure we give our valued customers rates that make sense and partner with the best in the industry. For a low flat shipping rate of $9.95 or $24.95, you can get our shiitake kale, curry chickpea, and taro root dumplings sent straight to the comfort of your home.

We’ve joined a family of amazing specialty foods. Entertain like a pro and order for your next meal or party with foods your family and friends will love.

From Oprah’s favorite cookies to Emeril Lagasse deli favorites, and now Asulia’s healthy and delicious dumplings, FoodyDirect’s got you covered.

Have you signed up for e-news? Psst, subscribers will receive $10 off their first FoodyDirect order.


New digs at MassChallenge

Asulia blog new digs at masschallenge

We moved into our summer home at MassChallenge (MC) in the Innovation District a few weeks ago!  During the first week and a half at MC, we attended bootcamp sessions designed to fast track the learning process of this 4 month accelerator program, which is like a condensed version of business school.  We have the privilege of learning from some of the community’s most respected founders from companies such as Monster, Rue La La, Communispace, iRobot (Roomba, your pet’s BF), talented entrepreneurs on the MC staff, and many more.

Post bootcamp, we’ve been meeting more amazing people, hearing from speakers, and attending marketing, team culture, funding, workshops and more. There’s even happy hour once a week, but my favorite is the fizzy water we have on tap in the kitchen! Good thing we juice to keep energy levels up!  The support and community here is amazing. It’s an honor to come in each day and be surrounded by such awesome people. Although Asulia is one of only two food startups here, we all have something to contribute, despite our different industries.

We’ve also been busy redesigning the packaging for our kale, chickpea, and taro root fusion dumplings, expanding into more stores, and out in the community sharing lots of samples at events!

Details and info about free dumpling tastings and where we’ll be next are here.

Hope to see you soon!




Redesigning our retail boxes

asulia blog redesigning our retail boxes

It’s time to get out the crayons and markers! We’re redesigning our current Asulia fusion dumpling boxes to fit freezer shelves better and to better catch your attention.

Well not really, since we are ogling at designs online at The Dieline, in grocery stores, and more. I like to sketch out ideas in my little red moleskin notebook and work collaboratively with our designer to come up with new ideas.

While giving out samples of our fusion kale, chickpea, and taro root dumplings at events, I’ve gotten useful feedback about how our retail boxes look, and also more importantly how they make you feel upon first look. This is that it reminded you of another brand, it looked healthy, and simple.

In our initial foray into the world of packaging design, we strived to create a look that was clean, modern, simple, and something that fit in at natural and organic food stores. We accomplished the later so much that we’ve learned that our boxes don’t stand out!

So it’s time for change.

It feels a bit daunting to embark yet again into the world of packaging. Our current packaging may look simple, but it was a long process to get it from concept, to draft, to print.  There are a number of factors to consider when designing a consumer packaged goods product. For example, what message you’d like convey, how certain colors make you feel. With only a few seconds to make a great impression on the shelf, understanding who you’re shoppers are, their needs, and a bit of marketing psychology comes in handy.

Being in the freezer is also different than a product that’s on the regular shelf. You’re looking through pane of glass that can accumulate a bit of condensation at times from the freezer door opening and closing. The use of colors and images need to be adapted to this type of environment.

The first time we printed our retail boxes, there were a number of issues we didn’t catch before going to print. To fix this, I hand stickered labels on ALL the boxes. In fact, some boxes I’ve stickered twice, after finding out about another issue. I’m thankful my fellow food entrepreneurs advised me not to print a large run. This go around, I’m implementing a checklist along with multiple editors to look over everything before we go to print!

We’d love your feedback on our ideas. Stay tuned!


Asulia at Shark Tank Casting

asulia blog asulia shark tank casting

As an entrepreneur, I hear over and over, “you should go on Shark Tank”. I think there are a few reasons why I’m told this:

A) People know funding is important for any startup business.
B) People know I’m taking a big chance starting Asulia on my own without the assistance of any equity investors.
C) People love watching the show.

Looking back, I think if I didn’t bootstrap to launch, it would have taken much longer to go to market. Answering to someone else about your spending can make things complicated, to say the least. Funding may seem like the magic solution, but it’s not the end all be all. I feel that creativity, focus, determination, your ability to work with people, and having the right heart about why you’re doing what you do matter so much more than having a big bank account.

Frankly, until I heard the casting crew was coming to Boston, I’d never thought much about Shark Tank. You’re probably asking, what changed? As I continue to grow Asulia and meet new friends in this startup journey, I’ve connected with founders who have gone on the show. Their feedback over time has made me think twice about the opportunity to pitch to Shark Tank investors.

My mission with Asulia is to create delicious fusion veggie foods to help people eat healthier while supporting girls’ education. We’re a growing natural foods brand with big ambition and a lot of heart! For Asulia to have the impact I envision means growing, and that may mean finding the right investors to help me get there.

So, I decided to go to ABC’s Shark Tank Casting Call.

asulia blog asulia at shark tank casting

It started early in the morning. Asulia dumpling boxes and I stood in line for about 3 hours in 32 degree Fahrenheit weather outside in Central Square at Workbar. At about 9:30am, they announced wristbands would be handed out. Only the first 500 to get a wristband would get a chance to pitch to the casting team. Once I got my lucky number 71, I walked over to Life Alive to fuel up on vegetables before returning to pitch.

I grew up in Montana. I seldom ever meet anyone from MT so when Catrina Marsh, Associate Casting Producer told me she was  born in the town I was from, we were both in shock. It put me at ease to know she was from the same place. I gave it my all and felt good about 1 minute pitch.

At about 1 minute 18 seconds into this clip from WCVB, you can see me in action pitching to Catrina. The Boston Business Journal was also there capturing the day’s event. I’m on slide two, not my most flattering photo, but you get the point!

The casting call is just the first step of many to make it on the show. Will Asulia make it on Shark Tank? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest!



Asulia at Whole Foods Charles River Plaza

I love living in The Bean. One of the things that I love about Boston is how accessible everything is, including grocery shopping. Off the red line at MGH, Whole Foods Charles River Plaza is one of the best locations to get everything you need.

I’m ecstatic that Asulia’s taro root, kale and chick pea dumplings are now available in the freezer aisle at Charles River Plaza Whole Foods!

When I used to work in the financial district, I would walk to Whole Foods Charles River Plaza at lunch time to pick up lunch and or groceries for my newest kitchen adventure. It was a treat to get out and escape from work and the gym, where I was indoors in a basement doing yoga. A lovely, well-lit studio, but I preferred shopping and lunching at Whole Foods instead!

In the past, when I didn’t know what to do with my vegetable obsession (#vod), I’d go to my happy place — the produce section — for inspiration and dream of a day I could make a career in food. Well, I’m happy and humbled to see it come full circle.

Thank you for your continued support. We have added lots of new stores to the list and we have some fun event coming up. Come say hi!

Happy Chinese New Year!

Eating dumplings, as well as wearing the color red, for Chinese New Year represents good luck.

Dumplings signify family reunions and are a traditional New Year’s Eve food. When folded in a crescent-shape, they symbolize wealth because they look like gold ingots.

My family and I always celebrate with dumplings, taro root dishes, and other traditional foods like noodles. If you’re not married, you get a traditional red envelope with money inside from family and friends.

Wishing you a Happy Chinese New Year from Asulia! Hope to see you at an event soon.

Asulia at Le Cordon Bleu

Asulia blog Asulia at Le Cordon Bleu
On 2/12/14, Asulia will be at Le Cordon Bleu for Mass Innovation Night’s MINfoodie 6 event.  The four food startups with the most votes will also have a chance to present at the event. I’d appreciate your vote to be among the four to be able to share more with the attendees. Please cast your vote for Asulia Foods here from all your devices. Thank you!

Back in 2012, after I was laid off from my job, I seriously considered going to culinary school, since I love food and cooking. I couldn’t have imagined that I’d be going to Le Cordon Bleu in such a different way!

The Asulia team will be giving out free samples of our vegan chickpea, kale, and taro root dumplings. The MINfoodie 6 event is free and open to the public. Support local innovation! Please RSVP to the event so we can better prepare. The culinary school is graciously hosting the event along with Mass Innovation Nights and the Canadian Consulate is kindly sponsoring the evening.

Hope to see you at Le Cordon Bleu! You can find more events here. Join us on our food startup journey by subscribing to our e-news, like us on Facebook, follow along on Instagram,  Twitter, and Pinterest.


Demoing as a Whole Foods Vendor: From dream to reality

Asulia blog-demoing as a vendor at whole foods from dream to realtity WF dedham

Asulia blog - demoing as a whole foods vendor from dream to reality snack aisleasulia blog-demoing as a whole foods vendor from dream to reality asulia boxes in freezerasulia blog-demoing as a whole foods vendor from dream to reality sue and mom

I packed up Asulia dumplings last Saturday (1/11/14) for our very first demo at Whole Foods (WF) with my mom. Every team needs a uniform, we wore wheat-colored sweaters, kale green aprons, and special name tags.

When you’re a vendor at WF, you need to bring everything with yourself and take everything with you when you leave, so it requires a lot of preparation.

The night before, I made a last minute run to find a skillet. After trying a few options, I recently got an induction cooktop for tasting events like these. They heat up in seconds, so they work really well for heating up our frozen dumplings. However, you need induction-friendly pots and pans. I thought my stainless steel skillet would work, but when I tried it out the night before, I realized it was a no go. So off I went in search of induction-friendly cookware. While other people were heading out for Friday night fun, I was heading to Marshalls! I had just an hour before they closed and found a great cast iron skillet, which is great at conducting heat.

On Saturday, we were up early. I saw that it was rainy and cloudy and wondered if that would keep people at home, but fortunately WF shoppers are not afraid of the rain and the Dedham store was packed.

First things first. Before setting up, we had to make sure that enough boxes of dumplings were on the shelf in the freezer case. Check.

Next, we got our table and display all set up, but our electricity kept cutting in and out. So, we loaded everything into a shopping cart and setup shop in our second location, dodging WF customers as we wheeled through the store. The electricity went in and out at our second location too! Finally, with the help of some really great team members at WF Dedham, we got hooked up to the power source at the hot bar and could resume heating up our chickpea, kale, and taro root dumplings.

We shared hundreds of dumpling samples nonstop for 3 hours, to all kinds of people, young and old. We were so busy that as soon as one batch was ready, another line was already forming. Our suggested and preferred way to heat up Asulia dumplings is in an oven, but we can’t seem to heat them up fast enough at tastings. This is why I switched to an induction cooktop. I love seeing people’s faces when they first taste our dumplings. Of course we talked about our mission, vegetables, and healthy eating, but we also talked about other things, what they were shopping for, families, holidays, the Patriots game,  personal stories, things going on in people’s lives. I find that food is a connector, and I love that. Afterwards, we were exhausted and ecstatic at the same time. My mom and I had a late lunch at WF and of course picked up a few items. It’s hard to leave WF empty handed!

For me, the experience was super surreal. It’s a true milestone for me. I’ve spent countless nights and weekends bootstrapping Asulia, taking it from a dream to reality. When I see Asulia boxes on the shelf at Whole Foods, I’m seeing my dreams of helping people eat healthier and helping to send more girls to school come true. I love my job!

Many thanks to the team at WF Dedham! We couldn’t have pulled it off without you.

Stay tuned for future events by signing up for our e-news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and check our events page. We look forward to eating dumplings together soon!