Daughters Of Zion CNPP Grantee Announces Jack & Taranique Butler – K Soul Kitchen & Plush Lyfe As The DOZ CNPP Entrepreneur Of The Week- November 13, 2022 – November 19, 2022
Jack & Taranique Butler
Years In Business: K Soul: 1 year Plush Lyfe: 2 years
Number of Employees: K Soul: 7 employees Plush Lyfe: 2 employees
Business phone # (901) 236-3574 or (901) 233-1902
As part of our follow-up to the progress the Daughters of Zion CNPP grantee is making within Memphis, Shelby County, and beyond- we are highlighting the weekly Entrepreneur of the Week award. When asked why Jack & Taraninque Butler were selected as the entrepreneur of the week, Dr. Gerald Kiner, Ph.D. declared, “
This power couple is unbelievable! They are a power couple in every sense of the word. They define drive and excellence and service above self. I am beyond elated to host them as entrepreneurs of the week. They are true role models within our community. They promote God first, family second, and business last; in turn, their family and businesses are prospering like never before. I desire every couple to have the intangibles this dynamic duel has, more couples do- it will be impossible for them to fail.”
Jack & Taranique Butler answered several questions for the entrepreneur of the week.
Q. Please tell us your full name and the name of your business.
A. My name is Jack Butler and I am Taranique Butler and the name of our businesses are K Soul Kitchen and Plush Lyfe.
Q. How did you find out about the Daughters of Zion Community Navigator Pilot Program?
A. We are members of Jesus People Church and Pastor Kiner told us about it.
Q. Tell us a little bit about K Soul Kitchen.
A. K Soul was created to be more than just a food service, more of a portable company to where one day we can be able to sleep and still be able to make money with it. We originally designed K Soul to be meal kits because we saw a major inflation in food prices. Because we know that right now the average restaurant is suffering due to inflation, we chose to monetize a menu where we could offer prices that are the same for every menu item. This is the same way with our meal kit program and our pilot system program. We designed this to be affordable in all situations, whether they are dealing with SNAP, cash, credit, or debit. We made it accessible to people who really need this food such as retirement homes or warehousing workers who can’t leave on break. We make it very easily accessible to anyone who needs the product. Products can be purchased under subscriptions also. We have also implemented a probiotic into our food which comes through our sauces which are organically made. This is a health factor for our food because probiotics pretty much help with the immune system. The immune booster with K cell interacts with the natural K-Cell in your body. The immune booster is a natural booster that helps with sinus’ and gut digestion. We marinate our meats and we also add sauces to our vegetables. You get a complete health benefit from eating our foods. If you subscribe and become a member, you will get free delivery to your home.
Q. Tell us a little bit about Plush Lyfe.
A. Plush Lyfe sells clothes for men, women, and kids. We also sell shoes and accessories. Plush Lyfe is affordable for resale and affordable for people. We do alot of giving backs, as well as, customer appreciation and giveaways.
Q. Tell us about your training and how it separates you from a person that says they are a chef?
A. I was trained hands-on by a Hawaiian chef by the name of Christopher Peck. Coming across each other was an honest blessing from God. At the time, I was working for a comedy club called Comedy Tennessee and they booked a major comedian, which overbooked the kitchen for the night. By me being in this kitchen for over a full year, which I was the dishwasher at the time, I watched Mr. Peck’s methods and I was able to watch him prepare everything. They overbooked one night with Polly Sure and I had to jump in and whip up some things and I guess it was just amazing to the owner of the business that I knew how to do all of those dishes just by watching. The owner then offered to send me to private school with him. We flew out to his personal headquarters where the headquarters kitchen was at least a quarter of a million dollar kitchen where I trained at and learned how to prepare over 1000 dishes which included creole dishes, Hawaiian dishes, Italian dishes, and even some Caribbean dishes. My experience came hands on and I learned that simply by just working with the company. I ended up becoming the kitchen manager of Republic Coffee and I joined a venture deal with French Quarters for 5 years in which I did their menus for 3 locations; The Collierville Avenue Mall, Ridgeway Location, and a Southaven Location. I opened up all 3 locations on the same day. I have a pretty good background in food and opening up businesses in that structure and I just have a passion for it so I decided to make money off of my passion.
Q. What do you think about your accomplishment as a former dishwasher now being a Chef, Executive Consultant, and owner of multiple restaurant businesses?
A. I can honestly say that my accomplishments come from struggles and you have to thank God for those struggles because that’s the key to success….. You have to struggle for success. It’s like “we have to hustle to eat,” “we have to hustle for God.” We have to most definitely put God first because if it wasn’t for Him, for the endurance that He has given me, the diligence I wouldn’t have the fortitude that I have to push to even accomplish one goal. It was a process for me to start at the bottom and actually make it to a portion of the top. I hadn’t made it to the top yet. I haven’t made it to the top until I am able to make money while I’m sleeping but I can honestly say from where I started to where I am now, I adore God for what he has done for me and I admire the fact that I am placing the diligence in to accomplish these goals.
Q. How do you feel about your husband’s accomplishments from starting as a former dishwasher now being a Chef, Executive Consultant, and owner of multiple restaurant businesses?
A. I support him. I have supported him since day one. I believed in his dreams and it’s up from here. We are so humble and again we just thank God because with God we wouldn’t have anything. I will support my husband every step of the way.
Q. What was it like getting a position with your husband? What has it been like working with your husband?
A. We are definitely a good tag team but I get it the most because my husband is very critiquing of every little thing. I just had to learn how to separate being a wife and being a co-business owner. I have to understand because my husband knows things that I do not know. I know things that he doesn’t know. We just had to learn how to communicate and listen to one another and it makes it work.
Q. What has been one of the biggest challenges that you have had to overcome in the Plush Lyfe Clothing empire you are building?
A. I have always been a people person but just getting new people and getting out here. I started out of my trunk when I was living in an apartment complex. I would leave work and pack up my trunk and set up a table. I would tell all of my customers to either meet me at the apartment or to meet me at the gas station and I would have Jack or my brothers to stand by me and protect me. I wanted something bigger and God said “bigger” and I ended up getting a store and it just has been growing and like I said just making it affordable has been able to really help people.
Q. What has been one of the biggest challenges that you have had to overcome in the K Soul empire you are building starting from scratch?
A. Building K Soul Kitchen from scratch was probably the hardest part of it because it was actually a Denny’s at first. We had to totally restructure that building and remodel everything. We then had to write the business up and we had to structure it just the way we wrote it all the way down to the blueprint of the meal kits and what the meal kits served. I can say it was very difficult in the beginning only because we started with the bare minimum of money. Our building is worth 2.5 million by itself so starting the business and financing the inventory and finding this and finding that out of pocket has been challenging. We have an investor but the investor really wanted to see us to it off the muscle and with minimum backup financially. I can honestly say that even with an investor 98% of the business is black owned and that’s a proud thing to say, knowing you came from the bottom now you’re up with it. We can say we are over the hump and we are about to bounce over another hump. It’s really just about getting over those humps and the first one is most definitely the difficult one.
Q. How in the world did you accomplish being the only restaurant in Memphis to take SNAP benefits? How do you feel about that accomplishment?
A. When it comes to the EBT implementation, we allow our resources for our meal kit program and our pilot system, which is kind of like you may see those Hunt’s Brother Pizzas in convenient stores, so what we wanted to do was have a way to put actual restaurant food, like real homemade restaurant food, in stores and make it affordable for everybody to be able to try and to be able to say “hey, if I’m not at K Soul Kitchen at least I can still be able to eat K Soul Kitchen at home.” We wanted our customers to feel confident that even if they couldn’t afford to eat K Soul with cash or debit they could still use their SNAP benefit card and be able to purchase these products and take them home. Our products are very convenient for parents like Taraniuqe and I that have kids utilizing air fryer and microwave technology. It’s very easy for our kids to unpackage those and put them in the air fryer and microwave and cook themselves a whole meal, with a dessert, and not even need the supervision of a parent to do it. It’s also good for the elderly. We have implemented the UPC codes to our product so that we can place them in the stores that way we can really put them up under the SNAP benefit therefore people can come in and purchase the product on EBT resources.
Q. Was it a difficult process to get your restaurant to be in the program to accept EBT cards?
A. Well, when it came to us actually trying to implement it into the restaurant atmosphere of the business it didn’t conflict with each other because originally with business you have to be able to sell a certain amount or percentage of all cold foods and by it being a restaurant type of structure, it will go well over that 20% mark, whereas, we would not have qualified for the EBT implementation to the restaurant but we still wanted to put it under the SNAP benefit program for people all the way around Memphis and wherever else because if we were to get into logistics and start moving our product to different states then these same UPC codes would be able to be utilized in those states where people with different SNAP programs would be able to use those benefits as well.
Q. How did you come up with the name for the business?
A. As far as K Soul, we wanted to do something very different. Our sauces are organic and they are made in Korea. They take 2 years for the fertilization to take place by itself which created the probiotic. So we took an ancient sauce recipe and we turned that into soul food.
A. Plush Lyfe came from wanting to give them a bedazzled life to make customers feel good and comfortable.
Q. How did you come up with your pricing plan?
A. We priced everything due to us buying our foods through major resources. We go through like US Foods and Cisco and we buy foods in bulk. Once we have the food we break it down into increments and portion control and food cost. Depending on what we are paying for it and after breaking it down we are not making a maximum on our money we are actually breaking slightly even. We were able to monetize all of our food items by portion control and food cost control to be $12.69 for all of our items, which we know that no restaurant in Memphis is doing that. We wanted to be the first one to be doing it.
A. I just wanted to make it affordable and not too much for people to be able to afford to get clothing for their entire family.
Q. What is the greatest testimony someone has had from using your services?
A. They always say it’s good soul food and great customer service. Great customer service is given in both businesses and we make sure our customers are 100% satisfied. We don’t get bad reviews since we have been in business because we go above and beyond in our business to make sure everyone is satisfied.
I have even had several elderly people that have told me the services are convenient for them because they don’t really have people cooking for them anymore or anyone there to take care of them. Most elderly people still want to enjoy good cuisine food and good soul food and not experience the processed foods that are in the frozen food sections of the store. They still want to eat good quality food. They also like the fact they are eating something healthy and eating something they like at the same time.
Q. Why should someone come to your business?
A. Because we are going to give them the best prices ever. We connect and have relationships with our customers. They don’t just come one time, they continue to keep on coming and they refer to other people because we continue to give them the best.
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