Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Zeila Santos-Schappelle, Owner of Brigadeiro Sprinkles, located in San Francisco, CA, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

I handmade Brazilian Chocolate Truffles called Brigadeiros. Brigadeiros are the most beloved dessert in Brazil. It’s a mix between caramel and truffle. Always fresh and made-to-order. My customers are chocolate lovers that enjoy good handcrafted chocolate. We don’t make just chocolates; we deliver an experience.

Tell us about yourself

I first started m business when we moved to San Francisco. In Brazil, we cannot have a celebration, a birthday, a wedding, a baby shower, etc., without Brigadeiros. I wanted my daughter, now 14, to grow up with some of my traditions, so I started making them for her birthday parties, and everyone loved them and asked where they could buy them. I took a 6 months sabbatical from my finance job to create Brigadeiro Sprinkles and never stopped. What motivates me? I love to see their faces when they try it or when they receive my beautiful artisanal Brigadeiro Boxes; it’s priceless!

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

My biggest accomplishment is starting from 0. I had no knowledge of how to run a business or how to choose from designing my own packaging to creating Amazon flavors. I took tons of classes, testing, and trying, but now I can consider myself a professional. I have loyal customers; I am invited to feature my products all the time. It’s a blessing.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Budgeting, Marketing. Since my product is something nobody knows about it, it takes great time and effort to explain and educate my customers. Once they tried it, they loved it. Funding is really hard, so I keep my full-time job and continue growing my business on the side, it’s not easy, and I work most nights and weekends but totally worth it.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Be really passionate about your business; people can see that, and they will also believe in your product.
  2. Do it for love, not money; it takes a long time, effort, and putting on your own money to build a business. It does not come overnight. I am still finding my own business, and just now, with the finance courses I took, I learned how to profit from it.
  3. There are tons of free help in San Francisco. Look for non-profit Organizations, and they can help you with anything from learning how to run a business, to finance, marketing, accounting, legal, etc. You can even find a free mentor to guide you in the right direction. It is a lot, but if you really love and believe in your business, you can do it! And never stop learning!

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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