On this week’s podcast, Marcus sits down and talks with Liz Garza of FOY Superfoods. Liz moved to Alabama from Texas to pursue grad school at Springhill and marry her now husband and co-owner of FOY, John. In pursuit of starting a new life here, they have now started many new businesses that all pertain to their passion for health. Tune in and listen or read and do yourself a favor by grabbing lunch at FOY! (You might even see us there…)
Liz: Hey guys. I'm Liz Garza, co-owner of Foy Super foods down here in Mobile on Dauphin Street in Bienville Square.
Marcus: Awesome. Well, welcome to the podcast, Liz.
Liz: Thanks for having me.
Marcus: Yeah. We're big fans of yours. We ate there today.
Marcus: That is not just because you were coming on the podcast. That's a couple of time a week.
Liz: Oh, for sure. Yeah, I see you guys all the time.
Marcus: Yeah. I think I'm addicted to your acai bowls and the jerk, which is a very tasty bowl with chicken and, you can add chicken, with spinach, and rice, and sweet potatoes, and all kinds of there yummy stuff.
Liz: Yeah, for sure.
Marcus: I don't fall asleep after eating at Foy.
Marcus: I also don't feel like I'm destroying my body when I eat at Foy.
Marcus: Yeah, but we're excited about having you on. So, to get started, why don't you give us some of the back story of who you are and where you're from. Where'd you go to school? High school and college, if it's appropriate.
Marcus: And tell us about John 'cause we know that he's a big part of this. So, give us some back story.
Liz: Absolutely. I'm from a city in South Texas, right on the boarder to Mexico, it's called Laredo.
Liz: And it reminds me a lot of Mobile. It has a lot of that old town charm. Everybody knows everybody, that kind of thing. I'm real comfortable. I feel like I fit in well in Mobile, just growing up in Laredo. I am a first generation US citizen. Both my parents are from Monterey, Mexico.
Marcus: Very cool.
Liz: Yeah. I went to high school of course, at a school in Laredo and went to college at Texas A&M for my undergrad and then-
Marcus: That's it? You just went to Texas A&M.
Liz: Right. Yeah. Yeah, that's it.
Liz: That little school, yeah. But yeah, I have a business degree with an emphasis in human resource management over from Texas A&M then went on to ... When I moved here, got my masters over at Spring Hill College in liberal arts. Of course, it's a liberal arts school, but I concentrated my degree in leadership and ethics. At the time in grad school, I was expecting our only son at the time. John and I were trying to navigate our way through, "Our we gonna go to Corporate America? Are you gonna get a job?" It was kind of slim pickings, really, moving to Mobile and coming out of grad school thinking, "Well, what am I gonna do?"
Liz: We decided, let's start our own business. We saw a need for it and it just fit into our life in more than one way. John and I both have a background family history of obesity related disease, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, all of the above. John's actually a diabetic and so, at home we were wondering, or I was wondering, "How the heck am I gonna cook for this man and not make him sick?" Trying to figure out all that world out.
Marcus: And not make him feel like he's wanting for more.
Liz: Right. Exactly. Like he's lacking or like you said, wanting. That's when we started Balance, which was six years ago. It was a paleo meal delivery service and we did that for almost four years before we started Foy.
Marcus: Does that still exist 'cause that's the first time I'm hearing of that?
Liz: Yeah. So, now when you come into Foy, you're gonna recognize all my coolers are wrapped and they say Balance and stuff on them. The business was based on basically, prepping healthy meals, packaging them down. And what we did, we established partnerships with a ton of different crossfit gyms, yoga studios, that kind of thing. We furnished the coolers and we would go make these massive drops of food. We were eCommerce. People would go to our website, they would see our menu, we change every week, and they would order meals for the week. Instead of charging them a delivery fee, we would say, "We have a partnership at a gym in Spanish Fort, or in Fairhope, our in West Mobile. If you work, live, or exercise at this place or nearby, it's convenient for you at no charge to pick up your meals that you've already ordered online and prepaid for". We did this for a few years and it kinda just grew into this big monster that sucked our life away. It was constant. We had no weekend, we had a little one, and we kinda tried to balance home life and work life and it became a little too much. We decided, "Well, why don't we take all the things we know sell really well and open up an actual restaurant." Like a brick and mortar, right? Not having a restaurant background, not even a high school job that I worked at, like a McDonald's or anything. Just passionate about health food and seeing that there was a need for it in the city and just seize the opportunity and it just worked. We realized, "Okay, now we're running Foy." That allows me to have a life. It's a lot easier. I met super cool people. We're in a little niche area here downtown.
Liz: That's just how things came about. We're already going into our second year, so far so good.
Marcus: So, you closed Balance?
Liz: We closed Balance.
Liz: And we have plans to-
Marcus: That's really interesting 'cause we know, he was on the podcast so, full disclosure, Lorenzo was on the podcast a while back and he's got a really interesting idea, but he tries to deliver to everybody.
Liz: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Marcus: That's gotta be so hard.
Liz: It is.
Marcus: Your idea of dropping to central locations and then having, especially when it comes to crossfit gyms are real big into paleo eating, which is what your menu typically follows.
Liz: Exactly. That's exactly what it was.
Liz: I met Lorenzo when he first got started. He actually reached out to us and just said, "Hey, can we meet? I need some pointers." There were a lot of things that we were able to share with him about lessons that we learned the hard way, and things to avoid, and all that good stuff. Glad to see that he's still doing it. For me, it's like hey, the more the merrier. I'm all about, "Let me help you out." If I have a great idea ... I just talked to a guy with a local up an coming gluten free bakery called Gunkel's. I just met with him right before I came here. Same thing, I was sharing with him that idea 'cause he works out of a commissary kitchen. I'm like, "Well." He's trying to retail his stuff out of different stores and he's like, "I just signed on with The Cheese Cottage and I would love for you to carry my stuff." I said, "What would really seal the deal is if you had a mini Gunkel's refrigerator, wrapped in your logo, to say "Hey, will you house this cooler for me. I'll make these deliveries and you sell my product out of my cooler, that way I have control of the inventory, of how clean the cooler is, of how things are packaged." You know what I mean?
Marcus: It puts that on him, that responsibility.
Liz: Right. Then you get more brand recognition with, "Hey, you have this super cool cooler wrapped in your logo. They spent all this money on an awesome logo design." So, I'm like, "Put it out there for people to see." If I have an idea, I'm not to shy away from letting anybody hear it. I know you asked about John. I started going off on a tangent, but John's originally from Mobile.
Liz: He went to McGill Toolen for high school. He went to Morehouse in Atlanta, which is an all boys school. They call it the Harvard for black men. It's one of those things that he's got generations of family that they've all gone through Morehouse College.
Marcus: We did an interview with Carl Cunningham just recently.
Liz: Oh, yeah.
Marcus: One of his Kapa league guys, Paul Lockett, hopefully is gonna be doing an internship here this summer.
Marcus: He's going to Morehouse.
Liz: He's on a scholarship, right?
Marcus: Yes, full ride.
Liz: I've heard about that.
Marcus: I tried to hire him and he said, "No, I'm going to college." And I was like, "No, you don't wanna do that." He's like, "I've got a full ride." And I was like, "Yeah, I can't argue with that."
Liz: Yeah. I didn't know about it until I met John, but they put out a lot of really quality men.
Marcus: [crosstalk 00:08:18]. Yeah.
Liz: Yeah, they push leadership and they push innovation.
Marcus: You're not biased at all.
Liz: Right. No, I'm not. I'm not biased at all. But no, even my son, I have a Morehouse man in training. What do you know?
Marcus: There you go. Yeah.
Liz: He finished from Morehouse and we actually met in Atlanta. He went on to Nova Southeastern out in Fort Lauderdale for his masters. He's got a background in public health, which is totally, you would think the opposite of the realm we're in now, but it kind of opened our eyes to this possibility where ... On the flip side, we have Foy. We also have a mental health agency. We house individuals with intellectual disabilities. Yeah.
Marcus: What? Where?
Liz: Here in Mobile.
Liz: We did that before we did any of this other stuff.
Marcus: What's the name of that?
Liz: It's called Lifetime Healthcare.
Marcus: Very cool.
Liz: And they are residential facilities. So, it just looks like a house in a neighborhood.
Liz: Through the department of mental health. We get managed by Altapointe and we're contracted through the state, medicaid funded. We house these individuals and basically rehab them in several ways, but diet is one of them.
Marcus: One of them.
Liz: Because people don't realize how big of a role food plays into behaviors, and disease, and all these things, right? So, we were working with dieticians getting, they call them PCP, person centered plans, to say, "Okay, well, we're gonna give this person the best quality of life doing all of these things." So, we were developing diets to say, "Okay well, this person has cerebral palsy or this person has epilepsy and so these are the foods that they should avoid." We were working trying to figure that out and we said, that's how balance came about. We were like, "Nobody here in this city that we can say "Hey, I suffer from Celiac." Or "I've got arthritis." There's special diets that you can adhere to. So we were like, "Why don't we do that?" It really was one of those conversations like, light bulb went off. We were like, "Okay, should we do this?" It happened and it grew. The crossfit community embraced us and that's how we went into the whole paleo thing. But that's how this all came about.
Marcus: All right. Folks, I had no idea the onion that I was peeling back when we invited you on the podcast.
Liz: Yeah. I know.
Marcus: We know you from Foy and we obviously, we wanted to have you, but I had no idea. That is so cool.
Marcus: Yeah. Just to tag on, my parents are from Brazil and so I get that, the Latin and black communities both, that there's a ... Even a white community. There's not a whole lot of information given to people depending on your socioeconomic status on eating. It's amazing to me the ... I have friend who's a physician. He's a general practitioner in Washington D.C. Shout out to Terek is you're listening. I don't think you are. Anyways, he's more of a holistic doctor so he believes in eating as one of the ways he treats people.
Liz: For sure.
Marcus: Out of the blue one day, a couple years ago, he sent me Rob Wolf's book on paleo eating and he was like, "You have to read this." And the reason why is because he knew that my father, I'm 44 I think. Jerrod, come on. You're supposed to keep track of these things. I'm 44. My father had a heart attack when I was 16 years old, which would've been younger than I am today.
Marcus: For years, I have gone in to get my blood work checked and I've read up on various articles of what's important and hey, news flash, if you're listening to this and you're still having your cholesterol checked, you're checking the wrong thing. Go in and get your C reactive protein checked. The reason why, I know you're kind of looking at me ... C reactor protein is actually an indicator for inflammation in the body and getting that checked will be a better indicator of whether you are at a high risk for heart disease because inflammation is actually the reason for plaque build up in your arteries and stuff like that. Not cholesterol.
Marcus: That's why the paleo diet and all of these other diets that eliminate some of the things that ... They're all geared towards reducing the items that inflame our bodies. The reason they why they've been so successful is because they remove the gluten and all the other things that-
Liz: Processed stuff.
Marcus: Yeah, the processed stuff that inflame our bodies and so the doctors should be, those that are progressive in their thinking, should be prescribing these diets more because it will actually eliminate your problems with heart disease, and with diabetes, and with all these other things.
Liz: Absolutely. Yeah.
Marcus: Wow, I had no idea that we were gonna be having this conversation.
Liz: I know, yeah.
Marcus: This is so cool. I don't even wanna go ... I'm just so fascinated by this. Did you come here to go to get your masters at Spring Hill? Or did you move back for other reasons?
Liz: Well, I came here basically, to be with John. We were in a long distance relationship.
Marcus: So, he was here already.
Liz: He was here, yeah. I was living in Dallas.
Marcus: 'Cause you said you met in Atlanta and I wasn't sure.
Liz: Yeah, we had mutual friends and met that way. Both of us had, well, he had already finished his masters and he was here starting the assisted living facility. So, he started that on his own and I kind of help him here and there, but that's solely John. That's his thing. He built that up and that really allowed us to start this business debt free.
Marcus: Gives you some freedom.
Liz: We didn't have to borrow a dime. We did it on our own and to this day, what I have I own and if I can't afford it, I don't get it. That's our mentality with it all, but thankfully he's done well. He was more established and I was kind of in limbo with my undergrad. I was working HR in Dallas. Living the life, of course. Living downtown with all my friends and my life. I just got to the point where four years into dating, it was one of those, excuse my french, "shit or get off the pot", you know, "What are we gonna do here?" And he thought, "Why don't you just come here and go to grad school?" He was more established, of course. We were heading that direction in our relationship and so I moved to Mobile. Of all places. All my friends were like, "Oh, my God. You're moving to Mobile."
Marcus: "You're moving where?"
Liz: Right. But it's been the best decision.
Marcus: Who's laughing now?
Liz: I know. Right. Exactly.
Marcus: Those suckers are all working a nine to five and you've got multiple businesses that are up and operating.
Liz: Yeah, I've got my brother in town and he's recently retired and he's like, "Man, you've got a really sweet gig." I sleep in a little. I'm like, it will be 8:30 and I'm like, "Okay, let me start getting moving." And I'm here for our little lunch hour and then we can go on to the next thing. It's allowed us a lot of freedom. At the beginning, like I said, it was a grind with Balance and everything. It still is. The restaurant industry is like a monster and it will eat you alive. There's so many elements that people quite realize that are involved in running a restaurant. Not coming from a background at all of food, it was a huge learning curve. We went through all sorts of growing pains, but not the dust has settled, we've developed our processes. We have things that we bring in, like when we hire people, customer service training things, we have checklists for all types of things. The ultimate goal is to franchise and so we're setting ourselves up, basically treating this like a project. In grad school, you've got this big project that you work on when you're in business school. So, we said, "Well, let's just dissect this. Treat it just like a school project and have everything that we could possibly need to franchise this place and Lord willing, it will happen."
Marcus: Yeah. Forgive me, but I think every business owner should be looking at their business in that respect. Every business is a project. I think one of the things, I keep alluding to this 'cause I'm in the midst of it people, so forgive me, but I'm in the emerging leaders program here at the chamber and the small business administration. They call that a streetwise MBA, but the biggest thing about that program is they force you to actually work on the business and not just do the business, right? So, it'd be really easy for somebody in your situation just to say, "Well, I'm just gonna work on ordering the food and I'm just gonna work on serving the customers." But you're looking at it from a much bigger picture just like we're having to look at Blue Fish in a much different picture of, "Hey, where do we wanna be in there or five years? What does that look like? What's it gonna take to get there? How do we guide ourselves into a product spaced service business?"
Marcus: I imagine that you're having to look at, "Well, how do we set up all the processes so that we can hand this off to somebody. And that when somebody walks in it's still the same experience?" And all that stuff.
Liz: Absolutely. Yeah. The thing with it and in treating it like a school project is that you never stop learning. The industries are constantly changing. You've gotta adapt or die. Really. That's just what it is. Now, with people wanting fast food, they want it fresh, they want it cheap, they want it now. You have to get with the times in this industry. Really, my biggest takeaway from this whole experience is it's like a child. You have to nurture it, it takes a village and you have to know every single rule that you have. If you're hiring somebody, you had to have already done that job. You see what I'm saying? From the beginning up. I will mop floors, I will wash dishes, I will package food, I will chop chicken, everything.
Marcus: You have to know what's involved.
Liz: Right. To be able to tell somebody, "Well, this is how you're supposed to do it." And to develop the process say, "This is the most efficient way to do it." Because you've trial and errored the whole thing.
Marcus: It's funny because here at Blue Fish, with the exception of video editing, there's not a job that I haven't done here.
Marcus: When I hire people, I can speak their language even though they're skilled in their roles. I can speak their language because I've already done all of those things.
Marcus: But I also, I go back to one of the very first jobs that I had was, I worked in a bagel bakery in Washington D.C. I will never forget that the guy, he was the main manager of the bagel shop. And he literally, I was mopping the floor one day and he was like, "No, that's not how you do it." And he showed me the right way to mop a floor. When you're in a bakery or in a restaurant situation where a lot of stuff gets thrown on the floor, the right action can really make the difference between just pushing stuff around on the floor and actually making things cleaner. It just blew me away that, here's this man who ... I think he had military background, too. So, there was probably some of that coming through. But it was like, I never forgot that, that he knew the right way to mop a floor. Anyway, I recognize what you're saying and when you're in that position you have to know all those different skill sets so that you can train somebody else up in that situation.
Marcus: All right. Question number two. Twenty minutes in. What was your first job?
Liz: Okay, I was a lifeguard. I'm a strong swimmer. It's my favorite thing to do. I started life guarding and teaching little kids how to swim when I was a junior in high school. It was an awesome summer job. It paid well. I had a tan.
Liz: I did it with all my friends.
Marcus: You're not flipping burgers, for sure.
Liz: Right, yeah. It was cool. We worked at the city pool. I was the slide girl so I was up at the top like, "Go. Go."
Liz: That was cool. I did that for a few years. I actually did that even when I left off for college. I'd come home during the summer and do it just to make a couple extra bucks.
Marcus: Where there any lessons from that first job that you still remember, to this day? I told you about my mop experience.
Liz: Oh, gosh.
Marcus: Was there anything similar to that early on in your career?
Liz: I think that just ... That's a hard question.
Marcus: That's okay if there wasn't. Sometimes there's not. I can see how lifeguard to where you are today, that might be a reach 'cause you're taking care of people and stuff like that. I assume that there's some level of that.
Liz: Yeah. If anything, it just instilled in me that you've gotta work hard for anything that you want. I didn't necessarily get a job when I was a junior in high school. My parents weren't pressuring me to get a job, but I like the fact of having my own money. If I wanted to go and buy a shirt or whatever, I didn't have to ask for the money to go get it.
Marcus: Preston, are you listening to this?
Liz: Right? It's almost like a sense of empowerment. Like, "Hey, I've done this on my own." You just feel like you're-
Marcus: There's a freedom there.
Liz: Right, there's a freedom there with that. No matter how tired I was from staying up until two o'clock in the morning the night before and whatnot, I knew that hey, tomorrow morning rain or shine, I'm getting up and I gotta be there.
Marcus: I gotta get up.
Liz: Right. I think that's really important just all around with employees. That's something that you really can't train. You can't instill that in somebody. Either they have it or they don't. I deal with employees and in the restaurant industry there's a lot of turn around and that's one of the main things of just finding somebody who is reliable and somebody who takes pride in what they do. To say, "I don't care if all I'm doing is mopping the floor, I'm gonna mop it the right way and I'm gonna be here on time to do it." There has to be some sort of pride about what you're doing and just reliability, too.
Marcus: There are lessons. So, I guess the point there, when I ask that question is, if somebody is listening to this and they're in that position, because not everybody's a business owner that listens to this podcast. But if they're in that position that knowing that there are lessons to be learned in something even as menial as scrubbing a toilet or mopping a floor, that it is like you're saying, the pride that you put into that because that will carry you way into the future. It's that effort that you put forward. You may not get it right, but that fact that you're trying, it will get noticed and will carry you a long way.
Liz: Yeah, absolutely.
Marcus: Now, if you were talking to someone that wanted to get started in running their own business, is there one bit of wisdom that you would impart in them?
Liz: Don't be afraid. When somebody says no and one door closes, because that definitely happens, keep pushing. Don't get discouraged. There's gonna be times where you're probably just going to be sitting on your living room floor crying like, "What am I getting myself into? What's really going on?" But it's just one of those ... There is a light at the end of the tunnel. It does take time. YOu're gonna have to jump through hoops and do all sorts of things coming from trying to get the money, the capital together to start your business, trying to get somebody to come in and help you, that you can trust and work well with. There's so many different things, but my main, I guess, piece of advise would be, learn your business inside and out. Be able to do every single job that way, when Tommy doesn't show up in the morning, you can jump in and not skip a beat.
Liz: 'Cause that's what's gonna happen. People will let you down. But on the flip side, for every person that lets you down, you're gonna have five or six more people to come in to bring you up, and to be there for you, and to support you. But it definitely, it's good to network, get out there, talk to people, find people that you have synergy with and join forces. For example, like what we did with the crossfit gyms like, "Okay well, we'll furnish the cooler. Now, you have an extra service to offer your customers that are gonna have all these healthy meals after they work they can just take home and eat.
Liz: Then, "Hey, as an owner or coach or trainer, we'll give you everything at cost that way you can be able to help sell the food, too. You know what I tastes like. You know what it's doing for your performance, that kind of thing.
Marcus: It's also helping support their mission of helping make people healthier.
Marcus: I would imagine ... You're out of that business now, but even doing something like offering your services of coming in and actually talking about nutrition and paleo, the diet itself and the ins and out and stuff like that would've been extremely helpful to.
Marcus: Most gym owners or box owners are gonna know that anyway 'cause paleo's really big in the crossfit world.
Liz: For sure. Yeah, and I do stuff like that now. I do, with the board of health and Franklin clinic, they bring me in about once a month. There's a support group for women with heart disease and we have lunch and learns. Every time I come in, it's a different group and they always ask, "Are you a dietician or nutritionist?" And I'm like, "No, not at all."
Marcus: No, because they don't really ... I don't know. I don't know if I wanna say that. I'm not saying take it out of the podcast, but I'm just saying ... I've talked to a number of physicians that usually have one credit hour that they take on nutrition and most of it is geared towards the pyramid, the food pyramid.
Liz: Yeah. Right.
Marcus: And we now know that that was created out of an industry that wanted to push more grains than anything and that those grains are not necessarily the best thing for us.
Marcus: If you look back at ... Historically speaking, if you look back at even 50 years ago when people would wake up in the morning and they would have bacon and eggs. They would have a cup of coffee and that's how they started their morning. Those people tended to be smaller as far as body mass goes and we didn't have nearly the incidents of diabetes and all the other things that are prevalent in our society nowadays. It was because we weren't shoving a piece of bread into our mouth with every meal, or worse. Donuts, I love them. Don't get me wrong I'll eat a dozen or two. When I eat them, I know that they're not good for me and that I'm basically doing damage.
Liz: Right. Just think about the amount of processed food that we have just available to us at convenient stores or at grocery stores. To me, if it's not rotting, what's going on? What kind of magic powder do you have on there to have it just last forever?
Marcus: Looking at you Little Debbie.
Liz: I'm all about, "Hey, in moderation." Yeah, every once in a while yeah, we order pizza. We go get burgers and fries or drink beers or whatever. Enjoy life. Don't restrict yourself to that point, but at the same time be aware of what you're putting in your body and what it's doing to your body. Be an example, too, to people who have children that kind of thing. Their gonna mimic what they see. Make it a point to instill that at a young age now, where, hey, you go to the school cafeterias and you see they're feeding them junk.
Liz: At least they can get a quality meal for breakfast and for dinner 'cause at school it's like, it's just a lost meal right there. There's a ton of stuff that's just processed things that are at the grocery store that we really should just do away with altogether. There's other countries that I've heard just rumors, "Oh, in Europe, Cheetos are banned. They don't even sell them."
Marcus: You can't even get them.
Liz: Yeah, you can't even get them. I'm like, "Why are they on every shelf here?" What's going on?
Marcus: There are other options, too. Now, if you were to look to the business world, is there a person or organization, or something that motivates you that you've kinda looked to?
Liz: Yeah, gosh. That's kind of a loaded question, too. At the local level, there are a lot of entrepreneurs who I admire and I just follow and that kind of thing just because I feel like there's a movement going on right now.
Marcus: In Mobile, definitely. Heck yeah.
Liz: In Mobile, especially here downtown. There's so many doers. There's so many movers and shakers and everybody has an idea and everybody's like, it just lights a fire up under you to see other people doing it and making it. At the local level, there's tons of them. I follow Scott Tindle a lot. I love what he does. He's been able to reinvent himself over and over. Matt Lamon is another one that I admire, what he's doing. There's so many, gosh.
Marcus: Both of them have been on the podcast, too.
Liz: Oh, really?
Liz: Yeah. Super cool down to earth people. They're always willing to help. I remember when we first started Balance, Scott came in was just like, "I wanna introduce myself to you and I wanna learn about what you're doing."
Liz: And it just meant so much that it's like, "Hey, this person who's already established is coming, taking the time to figure out ... Like, "Hey, this is a new cool idea and I wanna know more about it."
Liz: With no agenda or anything.
Marcus: Matt is really big in crossfit so, I can imagine he really took to what you all are doing.
Liz: Exactly. For sure, yeah. He was a customer of ours. It's funny to just see how over the years we've all just found our own way, but still have synergy with each other.
Liz: It's just cool. We're all in the same age group. It's an exciting time.
Marcus: Anybody else? You looked like you were getting ready to say somebody else's name.
Liz: You look to people of like, of course, somebody like Oprah or somebody who built this giant empire-
Marcus: Nah, it doesn't have to be. I ask the question open ended. I'm appreciative actually, that we've done ... You're our third episode today. Full disclosure, we batch record these. We record four or five in a day. The previous two also mentioned ... One of them, it was his father, but his father's a business owner, a barber. The other one was mentioning some local entrepreneurs that were already doing business in the industry that she wanted to do business in. I think that's cool that people are looking ... 'Cause I'll be honest. Growing up, I was never big into idolizing celebrities or anything like that. So, I have a really hard time with that now, too. Although, I do have a deep appreciation for freaks like Elon Musk and these guys that are just literally changing the world that we live in. At the same time, I would much rather work with other business owners in the area, geographically, or within my own industry, and look to them and see what they're doing. There's a conference for agents and owners that I went to in February and there was a guy there that he had no intentions of building a large agency and as he sat on the stage he was saying, "I've got over a hundred employees."
Marcus: He probably has one of the largest agencies, and it's a digital agency. So, they're very much like what we are. I was just blown away. Three years ago, I think he said, it was eight people.
Marcus: So, he went from, it was a small number, it was like eight or twelve people to over a hundred people in just a couple of years. That's the guy that I'm just like, "Holy Cow. How in the world?"
Marcus: How do you scale at that level and still keep the wheels on the bus?
Liz: Yeah, I've got a friend that is, he's a dentist in Dallas. Came out of dental school, worked for one year for a dentist, and came up with a concept ... In a city like Dallas, it lends itself to opulence, valet, and red carpet, and all this kind of thing. Well, he started at a company called Mint where they marketed themselves in such a way that now, he has twenty Mints and they're all over the place, all over Texas. We all started at the same time. And John and I, when we visit, we go to their house and we're like, "oh, my God." They have this super cool, they're driving a Bentley, and we're like-
Marcus: 8,000 square foot house in Plano, Texas
Liz: Right. Yeah. How on earth did you manage to build this that fast? What's the secret sauce? What's up? What are you doing? I guess some people just have it in them and if we can just have small takeaways from what they do-
Marcus: You know what's cool? People are gonna listen to this and they're gonna say the same thing about you.
Marcus: Yeah. All right. Are there any books, podcasts, people, or organizations that have been helpful in moving you forward?
Liz: Off the top of my head, for sure, Leadership Mobile was very instrumental in moving us forward and Foy as a brand, downtown. I was a class of 2017 and it was such a diverse mix of people, but a lot of us were in downtown. This was during the process of, "Hey, Foy is gonna be opening." We were doing the construction and stuff. While I was in the class, that's when we opened Foy, and they were just so supportive. I had Todd Greer, who is another person who I just adore and follow.
Marcus: He's been on the podcast.
Liz: I'm sure.
Marcus: Yeah. He's a good friend. Susan Shawl was in that as well.
Liz: Susan, well, she wasn't in my class, but I love Susan. Love her, love her. We keep joking about we have a Susan button at Foy 'cause she comes in pretty much everyday and gets the same exact thing.
Marcus: She's funny.
Liz: Yeah. I love Susan. But there were a bunch of people in our class that were just super supportive. When we first opened, I remember, they all came to the grand opening. They were all sharing it on social media and most of them were people in the city like, "Hey, if you're having an issue with this permit. If you need this, call me." That's big. There's a lot of red tape involved in opening a business, especially a business in downtown Mobile. So, to have that network of people is priceless.
Liz: That was a big organization that, for me, it helped put us on the map, for real.
Marcus: Correct me if I'm wrong, 'cause a lot of people may not know what leadership Mobile is. Leadership Mobile is a program where you are meeting on a regular basis and you're also being introduced to various leaders in our community whether it be visit Mobile with all the CVV stuff, so the tours and stuff that's going on. Or people at the city, or just other leadership positions in the city.
Liz: Yeah, University, at the hospital. You are meeting where the buck stops. They've got CEO's, CFO's.
Marcus: Yeah, you're not meeting the person at the front door. You're meeting the person at the sea level.
Liz: Yeah, and they get to tell you their story, which is always interesting. Then they get to talk about the good stuff that they're doing in the community. And you learn a lot, especially not being from Mobile, you learn the history of the city. We did a timeline at our first retreat. They do an overnight retreat out in Fairhope at Camp Beckwith and it's tons of fun. It's bonfire, we all bunk with each other, and they do this thing where they have a big ol' time line and you mark, "Okay, this is the inception of the city." So, you either were born this date or you moved here on this date. So, everybody puts a marker on when you moved here whether you left and came back. At that point, everybody gets to share their story of how they came in, what they perceived, will they stay. All things Mobile. You start to learn ... One of them, she's a city attorney, [inaudible 00:37:25]. What's her name?
Marcus: It's okay.
Liz: Can't think of her name. Anyway, you would think she was a historian or something. She knew everything about Mobile, but it was so cool coming from somebody who ... I didn't know much about the city, but it just opened up a whole new idea of the city. Thinking it's not a sleepy little old town. There's a lot going on here and there's a lot that has happened here.
Marcus: I think as an outsider, and you can appreciate this, too, coming from Dallas. I came from D.C. One of the things that I love about this city is that the people that are doing cool things in this city are people, individuals that are just saying, "Hey, I wanna start this thing." And we're not really a city that larger brands look to. Which is kind of a bummer in some instances because it'd be nice to be able to get some clothes people and stuff like that 'cause shopping is a little bit difficult.
Marcus: It would be nice to have some more options there. Outside of that, it's nice because we do have small businesses that are here, that are providing services. It just makes for a different texture to the city.
Marcus: Instead of D.C. where it's like, you've got an Olive Garden, a Maggiano's , and some other Italian place, I can't remember enough of the names. But three different choices and none of them ... Well, Maggiano's is good, but anyway, none of them are very good.
Marcus: But here we've got a lot of different business owners that have started restaurants. When I think of Foy, or I think of Vaughn's, or I think of Rooster's, or even El Papi, or Five, or all these different restaurants, it's like none of those are huge corporations with hundreds of locations. These are all just individuals that have started restaurants. It's just so cool to go to these places and you're always very friendly and so are all the other restaurateurs, they're always very friendly when you walk in 'cause they know the clientele is keeping them in business.
Liz: Right. It's like Cheers.
Marcus: Yeah, exactly. It's like where everybody knows your name.
Liz: Yeah. It's funny 'cause we get a lot of people that are not from Mobile, Alabama at all. They're from all over, just coming in on the cruise ship, or coming in for a conference, or one thing or the other, 'cause we're near all the hotels. There's a common thread where they're like, number one, there's a ton of entrepreneurs. There's a lot of small business down here. It's so cool, it's just so quaint and all these things. Then they're like, "This is in Mobile?" It's like if we're just underestimated and then they come and see and it's like," [inaudible 00:40:03] pretty cool little town."
Marcus: Just don't tell too many people.
Marcus: Not yet.
Liz: Yeah, that's the thing. When they come in they're actually impressed. It's cool, I'm proud to be from here and I'm proud to, I have a business here. It's just cool all the way around from literally sourcing our ingredients locally, because we've got the perfect climate for everything as far as fresh produce is concerned.
Marcus: You do get some of your stuff from-
Liz: Everything. Well, all of our produce comes local.
Liz: Of course, we have to outsource a lot of our specialty items like how we deal with hemp, and flax, and all-
Marcus: You mean you don't get acai locally?
Liz: No. We order that online and you'd be
Marcus: I know. I joke because acai is actually a Brazilian fruit. I think it's very cool. I'm gonna say this, I very much love what you all are doing. I can literally like paleo pancakes is a favorite, the Thai chicken quesadilla absolutely love it, the jerk bowl is phenomenal, I love the acai bowl. I'm sitting here rattling this stuff off. I don't have a menu in front of me.
Liz: I know. I'm like, "Hey."
Marcus: She's like, "Hey, he knows my menu."
Liz: I know.
Marcus: What's the smoothie that I always get?
Liz: PB and J?
Marcus: No, it's the hummingbird.
Liz: Oh, yeah. The hummingbird.
Marcus: The hummingbird. See? Even the smoothie. No joke, give them a shot. Tell people where they can find you.
Liz: On all social media outlets, we're at Foy Super foods. Foy is an acronym for the Fountain of Youth and we call ourselves the super food café. We of course, take pride in all of our ingredients. We have an open concept so you can see our kitchen, see all the stuff that we're using and putting out. We're in Bienville Square right on Dauphin Street. It's 119 Dauphin in the old Tom McCann building which I've heard was a shoe store that everybody used to shop at back in the day.
Marcus: That's too cool. I did not know that. Yeah, that is cool.
Liz: Yeah. Yeah, hopefully Foy number two will be right around the corner. We're looking and in negotiation for a couple different spots right now.
Marcus: In general, you don't have to say exactly but in general, can you say where that might go?
Liz: Yeah, definitely Airport Boulevard. Somewhere with a lot of traffic.
Marcus: Over in that direction.
Liz: Not too far west, but pretty central to make it easier for people to get to us. Definitely gonna have ample parking. We're shooting for a drive-through and we're trying to step it up a little bit because that's a lot of the feedback that we get from our customers now.
Liz: It's like, "Oh, my gosh. I would eat at Foy so much more if I could find a place to park."
Marcus: Yeah, there's no parking down where you're at right now.
Liz: Exactly, yeah.
Marcus: But honestly, with as busy as you are normally when we go in, I don't know that you could handle ... 'Cause that is a true testament. You guys are always busy when I go in there.
Liz: Yeah, busting out at the seams of the little place. We've got 1600 square feet and we've added some outdoor seating, but we're rocking and rolling.
Marcus: If it's raining or cold outside.
Liz: Well, that too. Yeah. When it rains, which is pretty much every day here.
Marcus: Well, I wanna thank you again for coming on the podcast. Wrap up any final thoughts or comments you'd like to share?
Liz: Well, just pretty much of course, I'm honored that you asked me to come here and share some of my stories.
Marcus: I'm glad we did. I had no idea.
Liz: Yeah. Of course, we love seeing you guys. I know you guys come in all the time and definitely just appreciate the love and I love what you guys are doing. Any way that we can help each other out, I'm all about it.
Marcus: Yeah, absolutely.
Liz: It's interesting to learn, even too, your background. I saw your face. I'm like, "He's got the olive skin." You've got this look and I was wondering are you from here? But it's cool to just find different people. Especially, of Latin decent here in the city.
Marcus: Yeah, yeah. 'cause there's not that many.
Liz: No, no there aren't many.
Marcus: Not like Dallas or Laredo.
Liz: Right. Yeah, Laredo, for anybody who doesn't know, is like little Mexico.
Marcus: Yeah, I was gonna say-
Liz: You can't even go to McDonald's and order in english. Nobody speaks english.
Marcus: Right, yeah. "Hola, Buenos Dias."
Marcus: Well Liz, I appreciate your willingness to sit with me and share your journey as a business owner and entrepreneur. It's been great talking with you.
Liz: Cool, thanks a lot.