The Top Seven: Target Solution Foods

Lisha Williams arrived in Tulsa in the back of a pickup truck with $25 in her pocket.
“Literally, when I left college, I threw a dart at a map,” she said. “It (landed) in Miami, Fla., and I got as far as Tulsa.”
In the more than 20 years since then, Williams has found success as the owner of HI Fitness and Tanning, a personal training studio, gym and tanning salon at 111th Street and Memorial Drive. When her clients started to wonder about the breakfast she ate every morning, she saw an opportunity to develop a new product and a new business.
“Target Solution Foods is all about getting your day started well,” she said. “I’m always experimenting with healthy food, and breakfast is my main love. I probably eat more for breakfast than most women eat all day.”
She worked with Oklahoma State University’s Food and Agriculture Development Center to turn her favorite breakfast — a nutritionally dense, whole grain waffle — into a product she could mass produce, freeze and sell commercially.
The pastry is made from whole grains and flax meal and weighs in at fewer than 160 calories and fewer than 12 grams of sugar per waffle.
When she entered Target Solution Foods into the 2009 Spirit Award, she had plans to distribute her product to commercial food suppliers. But her heart wasn’t really in it, she said.
“My gut feeling was it wasn’t what I wanted to do,” Williams said. “You have to do extremely high volumes and sell really cheap. And this is a really special product — a tasty, good, nutritional product. And with the right marketing plan, which I think I’ve put together, it’ll fly in the retail stores. There’s nothing like it on the market.”
After her initial seven-minute pitch to the judges, Williams went home and completely revamped her business plan. She named her line of pastries “D’Lisha’s Naked Waffuls,” giving each flavor a playful moniker like “Honey You’re Hot,” “Date Me,” “Love You Pumpkin” and “Blueberry Thrill.”
“I wanted this quirky little attitude in my food,” she said.
She hired a team to design her packaging, which features a cartoon version of Williams and her name outlined in lights, and started calling local retailers about getting her waffles on their shelves.
Williams said she needs the contest’s first-place $30,000 to fund Naked Waffuls’ local launch. The money will be used to buy her baking pans — designed with her logo, a heart inside a target — buy raw ingredients to make the waffles and get her Web site running. If she doesn’t win the money, she’ll go after private investors, she said.
She hopes to first get her product into stores in Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and Texas. Then, with the help of a broker, she’ll sweep the West and East Coasts and work her way inland.
But, she won’t stop at waffles. Target Solution Foods will be a family of nutritious, convenient foods, the next four of which are baked goods.
She lauds the Spirit Award for aiding in the development of her business.
“It’s been so great because I’ve had people question me,” she said. “I’ve never had anybody question what I was doing before.”  



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