Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Richard Monis, CEO of Craft Cartel, located in Miami, FL, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My business is called Craft Cartel, and we specialize in craft cocktail catering for the event industry. We offer services for a multitude of different events that include weddings, corporate events, private events, kosher events, and essentially any kind of event looking to elevate the beverage services for their upcoming special occasion.
Tell us about yourself
I started working in the food and beverage industry all the way back in college. I took some brief time off from bartending and took a job in the hospitality industry, which allowed me to travel the world for a number of years. Eventually, I found my way back to the states and landed in Miami, at which time I found my way back into bartending, but the bartending game had made a huge change from my early days of working at Dave & Buster's. The craft cocktail scene had emerged, and suddenly there was a whole new excitement around bars and cocktails that I had never before experienced from my days of sugary processed prefabricated ingredients. As I learned this new skill and techniques of mixology, I knew I wanted to create something out of this knowledge and skillset, but I never had the ambition of staying in brink and mortar spaces like I had been for so many years I had worked at some great bars and restaurants that just didn't really work out, and I saw this as a huge risk to try and take not to mention really expensive, so I needed another way, and I found that one day at a high-end wedding in San Diego, CA. I was standing in a single file line at this really beautiful wedding to eventually arrive at a blue plastic acrylic bar with beverage offerings of Amstel light, Heineken, vodka soda, whisky coke, all the basics you typically see at a wedding, no matter the budget it just seems to be more or less the same things. I thought to myself at that moment that Craft Cocktails were the new norm; everyone was demanding great tasting, creative, fresh ingredient cocktails, and for some reason, I found that not too many people at that time across the country that I could find anyway was doing this and certainly not here in South Florida, so I came home from that wedding at within a couple of months Craft Cartel was born.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My first 3 years it wasn't like it is now; I didn't have nearly as many clients and inquiries. At that time, the truth is I wasn't even that sure who to market ourselves to, so it took some time to really get things going. I easily could have given up and thrown in the towel, but I believed in what I had put together, but I just needed to figure out how to get my brand out there. Sticking with it through the early years when it wasn't so promising and focusing on building trust with planners and clients is really something I pride myself on. To grow in the event industry as a vendor, you need to build up trust and reputation for yourself and your brand, it takes time, but I used every opportunity I was given to exceed expectations so that people would want to work with me again.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
I think for most of us; it has to be growth. When your small business is growing, it is exciting. It feels amazing to see your visions and thoughts finally coming to fruition, but it also comes with challenges. When I started to do this, I was able to handle all the clients, the event inquiries, the ordering, the prepping, loading, unloading, working the events, sending proposals and contracts etc, etc. I was able to handle all this because the events had not become too overwhelming yet, but as my business grew, so did my opportunities for bigger and bigger events, and eventually, I was very overwhelmed. I realized quickly that I could no longer do all this properly on my own, so I needed to start bringing in the right help and letting some things be managed by others so that you could continue to grow your brand.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- You don't need to always reinvent the wheel; sometimes, you just need to make the best wheel in town.
- Focus on providing true value to your customers. I truly believe that when you focus on providing the most value to each and every customer, even if it meant you spent a little more than you budgeted if it exceeds the client's expectations. I do that every time, then more and more and more opportunities will come. People know value when they get it, and for me being at events, I always have a large audience to market ourselves.
- Reinvest in your business. I didn't have a lot of money at all when I started Craft Cartel. I did it all back then because that is what needed to be done. I took events for free for tips 8 years ago; when I started doing this, I did free events to promote myself in an attempt to get my name out there. Of course, I don't do all that anymore, but I knew that I needed to at that time, just like I needed to reinvest my profits in more equipment, trucks, a bigger warehouse, staff etc, etc. My ability to handle the demand now is only possible because I reinvested in the business as we have grown it.
Where can people find you and your business?
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