Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with James Clayton, Owner of Mellow Banana, located in Arroyo Grande, CA, USA.

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

Our business is a cafe that offers a selection of smoothie options and Acai bowls. We also serve healthy food options such as vegan, paleo waffles, avocado toast, and oatmeal bowls. Our goal is to promote a healthy diet and an active lifestyle in the community. Our customer base can range in all ages and types and are health conscious.

Tell us about yourself

My name is James Clayton. I’m from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. My fiancé and I, Chantal, run the shop. She is from Pennsylvania. Her other job is as a physician assistant. My job before opening the business was coaching tennis. I worked for a tennis academy in Louisiana. Before coaching tennis, I played tennis in college and ran cross country. In Chantal and I ‘s spare time we like to go surfing…. What motivates me to do what I do is the challenge of making customers buy into our shop, becoming trending, and seeing the fruits of our labor pay off. It’s a project, and it’s a blast, but obviously stressful when things don’t go well.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

The biggest accomplishment as a business owner is the praise we get from customers on how our shop looks. We put a lot of work into the aesthetic of the shop, and it paid off.

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

The hardest thing is appealing to the older democratic in our area. It’s tough reaching a community group that does not use social media. I love Dealing with financials, so that’s surprisingly not the hard part.

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

  1. Do not create a huge menu. That’s where you will get the bad reviews.
  2. Have great content on Instagram and Facebook. It’s 2022, and that’s very important.
  3. Keep up with your expenses every day when starting out. A business loan and credit card go fast if you’re not careful.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Owning a business takes a lot of work before opening up a business in an area. Make sure to study the demographics. Will that business makes sense for that type of community? That matters.

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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