Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with DiPippa Tara, Co-Founder of BD Provisions, located in Westport, CT, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
BD Provisions is a zero and low-waste bulk food store and coffee roasting franchise that was started in 2018. We sell hundreds of products in bulk that customers can pay for by the pound and take home in eco-friendly containers. Our store is an experience like none other, and it's even been called the "Disneyland of Food."
Our customers are people who value quality and freshness in their foods and also love that they can shop more sustainably by buying exactly the amount they need and taking everything home in glass jars or recyclable/compostable packages.
Tell us about yourself
I have over 20 years of experience in Marketing, with a focus on New Product Development. I have worked for huge global brands in the food and beverage as well as health and beauty industries, but I always had an internal fire to start something of my own.
BD, stands for our last names, Boccuzzi and DiPippa, and the business was founded after the Boccuzzi’s told us about this cool bulk store they saw on vacation. They said how the customers loved the store, but when we were talking about how everything was taken home in plastic containers, we felt that the wave of the future would be more sustainable shops like the zero-waste and low-waste bulk food stores we had been reading about in Europe. So, we decided we would be one of the first people to open a sustainable bulk store in the US!
In order to differentiate ourselves and elevate the shopping experience, we added a coffee roaster right in the front of our stores so customers could watch their beans being roasted and take them home still warm out of the oven. Then we added artisanal olive oils and vinegars, maple syrup and local honey on tap, and many other unique and special touches that make BD Provisions a store like none other.
Feeling the consumer response motivates me daily to keep growing the business. Watching a customer's eyes widen the first time they come into the store is such an amazing experience because you know they have never seen anything like it before.
Also, our customers are so amazing that they love talking about us and sharing their experiences on social media. As the social media manager for the franchise, I feel the love every time I go online, which is incredibly rewarding.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Our biggest accomplishment as a business owner was when we signed our first franchisee. We had designed our concept as a franchise from its inception, but there was such a sense of pride amongst the four cofounders of having someone love our concept so much that they were willing to make BD Provisions a part of their life and open their own store-in the middle of Covid!
We are now opening our second franchised location this fall, with many more potential franchisees inquiring about opening locations in their hometowns across America.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Dealing with the unexpected curveballs thrown at you as a business owner is the hardest part. When COVID hit, we had to completely pivot how we operated and fight for our business to stay alive. We closed the store to in-store shopping and had to shift to a curbside pickup model, which was extremely complex and time-consuming given the bulk nature of our store.
We made it through because our amazing employees rolled up their sleeves and rose to the challenge, and our customers rallied around us and supported us through a very difficult time.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Make sure you have a clear plan for growth where everyone is aligned with the end goal.
- Understand the strengths and weaknesses of everyone on your team and align tasks accordingly.
- Don't be afraid to jump in. Starting a business takes a leap of faith! You may not know everything you need to know at the start, but surround yourself with smart people and figure things out as you go.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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