Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Nicole Simper, Founder of Maven Oak Creative, located in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.

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

Maven Oak Creative is a boutique catering company that specializes in creating over-the-top cheese platters and grazing tables for events large and small! My customers range from large corporate companies to everyday people who are just looking for a fun Tuesday night dinner.

Tell us about yourself

Hey - I am Nicole Simper - AKA "the Platter Maven," an artist, adventurer, avid cheese supporter, and founder of Maven Oak Creative!

I thrive on adventure and have spent most of my adult life traveling and living in Seattle, California, New York City, and in an RV cruising around the country. I have held almost every position possible in the service industry, including working as a Culinary Assistant for a traveling TV show called Scraps on the FYI network. I have an Arts degree and an affinity for food, and I started Maven Oak in 2019 to elevate and bring THE drama to the snacking experience. Life is too short to eat boring food!

I was born to create, and being able to make a living off of that is incredible; they definitely do not teach that in art school. When days get tough, I think, well, I can go get a 9-5 or just keep on going.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

That I am still standing! And beyond that, I have a profitable, sustainable business going into year 4. Being acknowledged for my craft is very special, and I feel very grateful to be where I am today.

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

The highs are high, and the lows are very low. It is the most rewarding thing I have ever done and also the hardest. There have been plenty of moments where I pause and think, what am I actually doing this for and you might have a little cry, and then you remember all those reasons and just keep going. The importance of just keeping on going is HUGE! I have had slow and steady progress, and it was not until the last year or so that I am really feeling all of the little day-to-day moments starting to pay off in a big way.

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

  1. Have a plan of what you want your LIFE to look like. A business plan is great and necessary, but it's more important (at least to me) to build a life I am excited about living and build a business that supports that.
  2. Have a kick-ass support system. Family, friends, and peers, they all play a very important role in surviving small business life.
  3. Have a thorough understanding about your business financials. Be as hands-on as possible. If someone asks you what your profit margin is, you better be able to say with confidence what it is. This will also save you from being surprised if one year into the business, you can't afford to stay operating; you will know it's coming and hopefully be proactive about the situation.
  4. Community over competition. There is room for all of us!

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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