Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Kristi Drake, Co-Owner of Le Panier Inc, located in Seattle, WA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Le Panier is a classic french bakery in Seattle's Pike Place Market. It's our goal to make the highest quality products on-site every day - each prepared with pure and fresh ingredients using France's traditional techniques.
Our customers are the people of Seattle, along with those visiting the city. And, of course, many customers have a love of France and its wonderful food traditions.
Tell us about yourself
My business partner and I were the first French baker and retail managers when the bakery opened in 1983. We love bakery life. Each day starts early with a wonderful aroma from the ovens. Our bakers are dedicated to their craft, and our baristas share this delight with our customers.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
It may sound simple, but actually, it is quite difficult. Our biggest accomplishment is developing and producing products each and every day that achieve the high standard our reputation demands, both a wonderful tasting product and a delightful customer experience.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Managing people. It's the most rewarding yet the hardest thing at the same time. It takes incredible effort to manage people - inspiring them to do their best work to gain skills, teaching responsibility, and demonstrating how each of us makes an impact on the work environment and its successes. We strive to create a positive environment and sense of community among Le Panier staff. Cooperation, flexibility, and humor are essential to us all.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
First and foremost - you must love the process that makes the business. Second, honor and respect the people who work with you. Be fair and create opportunities for individual growth with challenges that help their career path and dreams. Third, be creative and forward-thinking to generate excitement and enthusiasm about the business's current goals but also for future possibilities. If I may add a fourth tip - understand the financial side of your business from the first day. Actively seek help if this is not in your skill set.
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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