Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Collette Simko-Knauss, owner and founder of Events by Collette, located in Austin, Texas, USA.

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

We offer mini donut cakes catering, private cooking parties for adults and children, team building, and gift cards too!

Ok, now a little background on the donuts: Everyone, including students, family, and friends, has continuously been voicing to me I should sell my food products, especially my mini donut cakes. Eventually, I made the right connections and convinced myself into taking the risk. My father is a serial entrepreneur, and much of my risk-taking in life is due to viewing his accomplishments and following my mother's encouragement that I can be successful in anything I put my mind to.

My COLLETTES, mini donut cakes began selling in August 2021 in the Austin area for pick up, delivery, catering, and weddings. These have become the healthy, allergy-friendly alternative to many in the Austin area, and we sell out weekly. If I overbake, I take them with me to my exercise, Lagree studio, and sell out quickly. The women feel like they are buying drugs from me, directly out of my car cooler, asking, "how much do I Venmo you?"

We sell at local establishments such as Crown Donuts Lakeway, Vivel Crepes and Coffee, and Now Coffee. We are a partnership with Keep Austin Wet, where we will deliver to your boat rental. When you have a massage session with Graceful Touches, a box of preordered donuts will await you upon arrival. Once a month, we sell at the Lone Star Farmers Market at the Bee Cave Galleria.

You buy the donuts like a box of truffles. We have many seasonal flavors: espresso, strawberry, avocado lime, cinnamon, chocolate, pumpkin spice, and gingerbread. Special orders are available. Since I am very earth conscience, the packaging is, of course, compostable. The mini donut cakes are, of course, gluten-free, vegan, soy-free, dairy-free, peanut-free, low in sugar, and have no artificial flavors or colors. We also offer Cinnamon and Chocolate in completely Nut Free.

Yes, we are still teaching classes while selling our mini donut cakes. In addition to our in-school extracurricular classes and homeschool in-person classes, we are still offering virtual classes to those who prefer them and to those who want to try a Free Class before committing to a class package.

Throughout my classes, we expose the students, children 3+ and adults, to our gluten-free, soy-free, and for those with dairy and nightshade intolerances recipes.

Tell us about yourself

Girl from California moved to Austin, Texas. I lived in Europe and South America before starting a family, and I love to cook! I speak English and Spanish. My travels and residency while studying in high school, undergrad, and post-grad MBA programs in three continents plus food allergies, help my company, Events by Collette, create unique recipes, and make cooking, baking, and eating a delicious activity.

When I was 31, I am 40 now; my cousin, who is an orthopedic surgeon, helped me to discover why I was always feeling ill, the reason I had skin problems, and why I was suffering from lethargy. I tested out a new diet with his suggestions and felt like a cloud had been lifted from my body. I went for allergy testing, and it confirmed my cousin's suggestions.

My next task: clean out my entire kitchen. There was nothing in the apartment I could eat without getting sick. Still to this day, when I talk to friends about my allergies, they all are so glad I discovered a remedy for my discomfort. My friends who lived or traveled with me agreed I was suffering and were toward sympathy me.

My husband and my son have been a huge support system through my battle. My husband and I are constantly researching new foods worldwide. Therefore, we eat a wide variety of international foods in our home. Yes, my 5-year-old son eats like an adult with his palette. I must prepare most of my meals in the home due to a lack of trust in the restaurant industry as most hospitality workers are not well educated in food allergies.

During this allergy discovery period of my life, I was running an event planning company under the same name as the current company, Events by Collette. Yes, I rebranded E by C two years after my son was born, and I worked from home. Being a stay-at-home mom and having a son who may as well be called Curious George, I had to figure out a way to get meals on the table yet keep my son out of trouble. I had to teach my son how to respect the kitchen and created a sous chef out of him!
I saw how different my son was compared to his friends and other children in the kitchen. He had better-eating habits and was more willing to try nutritious foods. Before I decided to rebrand the company, I was planning on closing E by C since being an event planner is not a good fit for a mother who needs to work 24 hours a day. Although I thought, wouldn't it be fun to teach other people who have food allergies how to respect the kitchen and eat healthier while learning how to prepare their own meals.

Approximately two years ago, I began offering free classes to my son's school, and the children were curious and listened. Then the COVID-19 virus lockdown occurred in the year 2020. I asked my husband if he could film my son and me every Saturday while we prepare a recipe from my recipe blog or cookbook as a possible promotional tool for my culinary school when there is an opportunity to open for classes. He agreed to being the cameraman and editor. We had so much fun filming. We sent the videos to our friends and family for entertainment purposes, and everyone asked for more!

A few months after we began recording, I started getting homeschool students who signed up for virtual classes. Then when Texas opened more after the virus lockdown, I began teaching in-school extracurricular classes and homeschool in-person classes.

The donut recipes from my classes were loved so much, everyone asked, "why aren't you selling these?" I took the risk, and I am glad I did since that became my next successful product on the market while also continuing to teach!

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

As a business owner, I am proud to say that all brands and products of my business have been successful. Before we were a culinary company, we were a successful event planning company. I attribute my success to my ability to sell, sell, sell. My husband always says I am a great salesperson when I want to be, and I never am too bashful to approach anyone if I want something badly enough.

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

Being a mother, I must be extremely organized in taking time to prepare lesson plans and shopping for ingredients. I am a “mom” when my son is not in school, camp, or sports activities, so I have a strict schedule and must write everything down or else I will forget! No, I don’t have a nanny.

At times, I have difficult students I need to figure out different disciplinary ways to handle them better in class. At times, I have students with allergies that I don’t usually deal with in the kitchen. I take this as a new challenge and test ingredients in the kitchen to make it friendly for them to eat. Fortunately, in the USA, we have so many products available to us. If you know how to use the ingredients properly, anyone with any special dietary needs can be happy!

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

  1. Be organized.
  2. Know how to sell.
  3. Ask your friends, family, and anyone you know to help you and exchange expertise to both further your businesses or your values.

Where can people find you and your business?


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