How Suzy Karadsheh turned her passion for Mediterranean food into the successful blog and e-commerce platform, The Mediterranean Dish

Suzy_Blog Header

Suzy Karadsheh shares with us how she turned her hobby for cooking authentic Mediterranean meals into a business, pivoting to meet customers needs, and the importance of taking breaks for yourself during the work day.

Describe your business in a few words?

The Mediterranean Dish is the leading online resource for wholesome and approachable Mediterranean recipes. With more than 600 recipes and videos, The Mediterranean Dish is the top authority for modern Mediterranean recipes with representative flavors from all over the Mediterranean, from South of Europe to North Africa and the Middle East.

What made you take the leap to start your own business?

I was born and raised on the shores of the Mediterranean in Port Said, Egypt, and grew up with a wealth of Mediterreanean ingredients and foods visiting the local market with my father and cooking with my mother. After a career in fundraising and public relations, I decided to start The Mediterranean Dish as a hobby to document the flavors and recipes I grew up with for my daughters. I’ve always been passionate about cooking, specifically the mediterranean way, and I wanted people to join me and have it as a resource.

What was your background prior to starting your own business?

I moved from Egypt to the United States for school and worked in fundraising and public relations before pursuing my true passion for cooking.

Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

No, it was totally by accident! My husband actually jokes that I am an “accidental CEO.” It stemmed from my passion to share the food I grew up with and help others eat the Mediterranean way.

Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?

When I first started The Mediterranean Dish in 2014, it was simply just a hobby. It wasn’t until 2016 where I turned my attention to it full time. At that point, I had already been sharing recipes and started to steadily grow my following; Google and other search engines started to pick up on the effort I was putting in. There weren’t any other sites that were speaking to Mediterranean cooking in an authentic and accessible way. Our strategy was, and still is, to serve our audience by offering easy and approachable recipes, ideas, and articles on how to live the Mediterranean lifestyle.

We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?

I make mistakes every day! One of my earliest mistakes was not thinking of The Mediterranean Dish as a business. For two years, I was just doing this as a hobby. Because I didn’t think about it strategically, I was late to the game on learning how to build a blog and grow my following. In 2016, honed in on learning food photography and social media, and it was a hard learning curve. I was lucky that I quickly recovered but it still took hours of blood, sweat and tears to learn. 

Also, I made the mistake of trying to do everything myself, which has burdened me to this day. We’re now looking at expanding our team to help manage the business. It is important to team up with people who can do a specific skill better than you can. 

What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?

I am proud to say that I finally took the plunge to write my own cookbook that is coming out in 2022. I am working with an amazing publisher who is helping me bridge a much needed gap in the Mediterranean cookbook space. I am also proud that The Mediterranean Dish is the leader in this category; it’s become a way for me to share my own recipes with the world, and ultimately highlight other experts in the Mediterranean food.

When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?

We hire based on the candidate’s personality and soft skills, as opposed to hard learn skills. For example, hire someone who is authentic and willing to learn, and truly wants to dig in and grow, as we’re in such a nimble industry. We’ll go the extra mile to bring this type of person on board.

How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?

We’re some of the lucky ones, as the pandemic, for better or worse, has forced people to look into their pantries, look into how they cook and invest time into their own meals. We had a good uptick of people visiting our site, as people are looking to eat more simply and wholesome ingredients.

What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?

I am releasing my first cookbook in Spring of 2022 with more than 100 new recipes! We’re also expanding our e-commerce page, which has become a one stop shop for Mediterranean ingredients. We’re excited to see where the business can grow and how we can continue to serve more people who visit our site. 

What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?

Pivot, and pivot quickly! Our focus was not about creating brand new content, but creating relevant content to meet customers’ needs during this tough year.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?

I wish I knew I couldn’t do it all, and brought on a team to help me earlier. I would be in a different place both mentally and also from a business perspective.

How have you managed to stay grounded this year?

I learned to take a step back when approaching the work day. I want to make sure I spend more time with my daughters and make sure my work is serving someone. I am focused on being service oriented, and learn where I can fill the gap to help someone and everything else falls into place.

Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?

I believe in it, but haven’t done it very well! I’ve been working on making sure I have particular business hours and use those to get things done and have a hard stop. I try to keep a shorter, focused to-do it. I also try to exercise and move every day, even 5 minutes is better than nothing.

What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?

I love to take some time and plan for the week. I plan what my week will look like and every day I write my short list of priorities for the next day. I go to bed and have a better chance of getting those things done. 

Take a break when you need to. Even if it is just 10 minutes and a walk around the block to get some fresh air and clear your head. 

Put your phone on Do Not Disturb, a true lifesaver! 

What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?

It really means a willingness to serve and help others. I’ll find new ways to bring forth what people need, and innovate to make that happen.

Share it!

Posted in
Tags

2 Comments

  1. Haya blank on March 25, 2021 at 12:53 am

    Love your recipes and the easy way you present them, I normally write the ing. While you demo .
    Was interesting to read how you started and want to wish you all the best.
    By the way I grow up eating middle eastern food and that’s what I normally cook.

  2. Lonnie Capon on March 25, 2021 at 8:30 pm

    Very nice! Your recipes are the best around, and you are a joy to watch. Best of luck for the future!

Leave a Comment





How to achieve a life of financial freedom with Alisha Pennington of ATvantage Athletic Training

Describe your business in a few words? Empowering, Dynamic, and Comprehensive. What made you take the leap to start your own business? I have been a business owner in a very niche industry (athletic training) for almost 10 years, so I have experienced the freedom and flexibility that comes with being a business owner. My…

How Jenny Strebe used positive affirmations and crystal healing to create her modern haircare brand AIIR Professional

Describe AIIR Professional in a few words? A modern haircare brand that is focused on well being through positive affirmations & crystal healing. What made you take the leap to start your own business? As I was driving every aspect of my stylist business and social media facets, the peace and relief I found in…

How FLyQuest CEO Tricia Sugita is using the esport platform to affect real change and make people happy

Describe your business in a few words? FlyQuest is an esports organization competing in the franchised League of Legends League Championship Series (LCS). What made you take the leap to help transform FlyQuest into the organization it is today? One of my primary goals throughout my career in esports has been to create a community…

Lauren Montgomery, founder of Monty’s, on making simplicity the new sophistication through her line of plant-based dairy products

Describe your business in a few words? Monty’s makes clean and craveable plant-Based essentials like cream cheese and butter that nourish your mind & body. With simplicity and nutrition at the core of the brand, Monty’s selection of cream cheeses and butter are made from real-food ingredients and crafted using time-honored techniques like fermentation. What…

How Maradith Frenkel turned bamboo into pajamas for the whole family with Little Sleepies

Describe Little Sleepies in a few words? We make buttery soft bamboo sleepwear that your whole family will love. What made you take the leap to start your own business? I saw a white space in the market after I had my son. I absolutely could not find a sleeper that checked all of the…

Erin Coles couldn’t find exactly what she was looking for in a band for her wedding so she launched her own — The Metropolitan Players

Describe your business in a few words? The Metropolitan Players is a wedding band collective based out of NYC – so we provide incredible music for weddings! What made you take the leap to start your own business? When my husband and I were planning our own wedding, we couldn’t find exactly what we were…

Azora Zoe Paknad on creating a new entry point to sustainability with Goldune

Describe Goldune in a few words? We make sustainability less beige! What made you take the leap to start your own business? I was into the sustainability world, personally and professionally, but I didn’t see myself in any of the dominant narratives I saw on Instagram or online in general. On one end of the…

Elisa Marshall on creating warm, French-inspired spaces with Maman, a collection of NYC-based cafés and venues

Describe your business in a few words? Maman is a New York City-based collection of cafés and event venues, offering family inspired recipes with French influences in a warm and welcoming home like environment  What made you take the leap to start your own business? Before I opened Maman, I had many passions and there…

Kim Hehir, co-founder of Brutus Broth, on enhancing your dog’s health through specially formulated bone broth

Describe your business in a few words? Brutus Broth is the latest innovation in pet health, made with human-grade bone broth that has been specially formulated to enhance any dog’s existing diet by adding beneficial nutrients, amino acids, and joint protecting supplements. What made you take the leap to start your own business? Sue’s dog…

How a lack of female empowerment in the real estate industry lead Marina Shiferman to create her business, The Real Estate Academy

Describe your business in a few words? I teach women how to buy and own real estate correctly so they can be the bad ass queens of their own lives. What made you take the leap to start your own business? I was a realtor for 10 years, I loved it but something was missing.…

Carla Olivia on revolutionizing the beauty bar experience with DashBar

Describe your business in a few words? DashBar is beauty made efficient! We are one stop beauty and wellness for the modern woman. What made you take the leap to start your own business? I have been an entrepreneur since I was 22 years old. I started my first business because a great opportunity was…

Christina Matteucci (a.k.a TeucciMama) on her 19-year tenure as the ultimate Number Two

Describe your business in a few words? I’m Christina Matteucci, Executive Director of David Beahm Experiences and proud “Number Two” to celebrity event designer David Beahm. I’ve produced legendary soirées all around the globe, but it’s my unique, 19-year tenure as the ultimate Number Two that qualifies me as a sought-after speaker and coach. In…

Niki Shadrow Snyder on coining the term “givefluencer” and making an impact with the Project Pop Drop foundation

Describe your business in a few words? My husband and I started the idea for the Project Pop Drop foundation on our first date. Our business sponsors a monthly drop off at a different homeless shelter each month. We spearhead these donation events with our children, and with local businesses and schools. We call this…

How Natasha Case of Coolhaus is disrupting the dessert space with cutting-edge ice cream creations

Describe Coolhaus in a few words? We are an innovative dessert company, specializing (for the time being) in ice cream/ice cream novelties. We are known for thinking outside the box, super unique partnerships, a truly cutting-edge brand identity and an inventive way of entering the marketplace with our trucks, brick and mortars, and now national…

How Jennifer Jolorte Doro used strategic partnerships to build Nouri from the ground up

Describe Nouri in a few words? Supporting people to feel their best. What made you take the leap to start your own business? I wanted something of my own. I’ve worked for many successful entrepreneurs and I knew I could do “it” my way and really enjoy it. What was your background prior to starting…