Updated: Jun 11, 2018
While many of us look forward to the predictability of traditional career paths, Juliana Costa decided on a different route entirely. Not only has she spent time teaching English in Brazil, she's also worked in a law firm and served as a stewardess on a motor yacht travelling the Caribbean! Now she's back in Zimbabwe where she co-founded Real Food Zim, the country's first recipe box delivery service, a venture which has inspired other entrepreneurial pursuits.
Name: Juliana Costa
Based in: Harare, Zimbabwe
Education: Eaglesvale High School, Zimbabwe
Bachelor of Social Sciences in Law and Politics (University of Cape Town, South Africa)
Postgraduate Diploma in Management and Marketing (University of Cape Town, South Africa)
1. Real Food Zim is Zimbabwe’s first recipe box delivery service. You and your co-founder Kate Worsley-Worswick, saw a need to alleviate the tedium associated with cooking dinner and provided a simple and delicious solution. What inspired its creation and where do you see it going in the next few years?
Our love for Zimbabwe was our starting point! Kate and I were both overseas when we saw the successful concept of a “recipe box” and we knew we had to bring this idea to life back home. We saw a growing need to educate people on how to cook and eat better in their homes and we knew we could do this through our recipe boxes. In addition, we wanted to show how you can get the most amazing local produce, home grown and of the finest quality and we have successfully showed this to our customers who eat Real Food.
As with any business, growth is the name of the game and I believe as long as we keep making steady steps to increasing our market share and reaching new demographics and customers we are on the right track. We can’t give all our secrets away but we would like to focus on brand expansion, add more kinds of recipe boxes and add an e-commerce platform for locally made goods for delivery across Zimbabwe and the world.
2. There’s a belief that people need to have their lives mapped out perfectly before they are out of school, which is not as easy as people think it is. Once you finished your first degree in Law and Politics, you went on to pursue a few other programs and took on a variety of different jobs before co-founding Real Food Zim. Could you give us a look into what you did leading up to your current job and why you pursued those things?
I believe we all evolve and grow so much during and after university that it’s almost laughable to think you can map out your life like generations before us did. Unless you have a strong calling to one profession from early on (which is great too!), with the amount of information available to us now- it’s hard to only develop one talent! I have been a legal assistant in Harare, a qualified English teacher in Brazil, run my family manufacturing business in Zimbabwe and even a stewardess on a super-yacht in the Caribbean. I pursued these very varied jobs- maybe because I was never sure which career in particular to follow but I was young and needed to satisfy my intense desire to travel and have amazing experiences around the world. And now (and for now) I’m an entrepreneur, digital marketing expert and a spin instructor!
3. Is there anything you learnt from those experiences that you find invaluable to your work as an entrepreneur?
The combination of those experiences taught me volumes about self-discipline, independence, courage and ingenuity. They also revealed to me my various strengths, weaknesses and most importantly my passions of which I am grateful. I also invested a lot of my time and money in travel and that has been key to my success in being able to think bigger and to see things from varied and fresh perspectives.
4. You are an advocate of using your passion to create a viable and profitable career. Although this is a sentiment expressed the world over, few are willing to turn their backs on traditional, ‘safer’ careers in favour of doing what they love. What words of wisdom and practical advice do you have for those who want to pursue their interests but feel they may not translate into a sustainable career?
There are many paths to each individual’s journey to happiness and fulfilment and I believe filling your life with work you love is key (whatever that may be and however long it may take you to discover what that is!). Also, in the times we live in- there are careers being created that not only didn’t exist a decade ago, but now are driven by passion and more lucrative than your well established jobs. Also, if you’re not doing that you love, you’re not “safe” in that career anyway… your passions will always come up to remind you what’s important.
5. What are your career highlights to date?
I’ve tried to always do my best and be present in whatever work I’m involved in and that inevitably leads to every career having its own highlight to be honest. With Real Food, I was honoured to represent Zimbabwe and our business at the first Google for Entrepreneurs Pitch Drive. Real Food was selected from hundreds of applicants as one of the thirteen most exciting start-ups to watch in Africa. In August 2017, I travelled to 5 European countries with 12 other awesome African entrepreneurs showcasing Real Food to investors, potential stakeholders and people curious about entrepreneurship in Africa.
6. As far as new and exciting projects go, you mentioned branching out into Luxury Wellness retreats, which will be piloting in November this year at the stunning Elephant Camp in Victoria Falls. What can we expect from this compelling new venture?
Real Food has birthed the the magnificent Re(al)Treats brand which looks at wellness not only from a food perspective but from a holistic point of view of mind, body and soul. Through Re(al)Treats we create luxury safari wellness retreats across Zimbabwe that provide the ultimate health getaway and reset. We are currently targeting the international market and we think it is important to showcase our beautiful country to the world again. Carmen, our head of Re(al)Treats, is a qualified Yogi and a Swiss hotel management school graduate and like Kate and I, came back home to Zimbabwe to bring an idea fuelled by passion into a reality.
Image by @ayeh.kphotography
7. What does a day in the life of Jules look like?
5.30am: Hot water and lemon, coffee and off to the gym
6am: Morning workout session (Cardio or Kayla)
7am: Meditation, gratitude journaling and a nice healthy big break-fast
8am: I have a morning job as a digital and social media marketing expert at a leading local company (which I love- lots of creativity and new projects daily).
1pm: Lunch and I try be in nature or outside for fresh air
2pm- 5pm: The broad spectrum of Real Food tasks with my team
5.30pm: Teach a spin class (twice a week- such fun) or attend my Rotary meeting (once a week- it’s important to also work for your community)
7pm: Real Food for dinner with my amazing partner, family or friends
8pm: Catch-up on “life admin”, hang out with my loved ones, play with my cats, listen to a podcast, write my to-do list for the next day or read.
8. Finally, if you had the chance to go back and start all over again, would you change any of what you’ve done leading up to where you are now?
No, otherwise I wouldn’t be who I am, or where I am now. And its where I’m meant to be and I’m excited for what’s coming next.
If you’d like to get in touch with Jules, you can find her or Real Food Zim on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook or Pinterest. While you’re at it, you may as well head over to their website and try one of their amazing delivery boxes! Just remember all orders need to be in before Sunday afternoon for the following week.
Have you already tried one of these amazing recipe boxes? Leave a comment below and tell us what you loved most!