Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Ilona Kossoff, Founder and CEO of Soup Maven, LLC. DBA 18 Chestnuts, located in Asheville, NC, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

18 Chestnuts is an omni-channel line of award-winning vegan, gluten-free, shelf-stable soups. We use local and regional farmers for our ingredients and handcraft the soups here in Asheville, NC. The wide variety of chef-curated flavors is stored in glass jars wrapped with Addy award-winning packaging. We are in 70 stores nationwide, ship nationwide, and offer subscription boxes. All of our packaging is compostable and recyclable. Our customers typically prioritize healthy meal options and appreciate the quality and small batch craft that makes our product so delicious.

Tell us about yourself

Like millions of Americans, I used to be someone who struggled with gut health. Soup is my favorite food because of its nutritional power and convenience. I left my career as an attorney and created 18 Chestnuts because I wanted to share my delicious recipes, crafted to deliver superior nutrition, hydration, and unique flavors, and most importantly, no matter the age, my soups leave the person blanketed in a warmth of satisfaction.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

The quality of our product is the biggest accomplishment thus far. All of our soups use the highest quality ingredients, have no added sugar, are low in sodium, and only use extra virgin olive oil in our recipes. We won the 2022 World Plant-Based Expo's most convenient vegan food of the year and sampled and sold the soups to thousands of like-minded people who are in pursuit of optimal health.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

Being courageous in the face of uncertainty is the hardest hurdle! With no safety net, the only north star is my purpose of creating and sharing the most delicious and healthy food that is remembered by our customers.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

First, always remember your passion and your why. Second, find someone who has already found success in your field and connect with them to collaborate. Third, create a team of authentic and supportive people to help you on the journey.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

Turn your craft into recurring revenue with Subkit. Start your subscription offering in minutes and supercharge it with growth levers. Get early access here.