Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Micol Negrin & Dino De Angelis, Founders of Rustico Cooking, located in New York, NY, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Micol opened an Italian cooking school in Manhattan in 2002. I was doing research at Memorial Sloan Kettering in NYC at that time. In 2006, I joined Micol, and by 2008, the school had doubled in size. We started offering culinary tours to Italy in 2004 and now run tours throughout the year, to different Italian regions, always with a culinary focus. We teach all the hands-on cooking classes on the tours and have many repeat clients who travel with us to different regions each year. We launched a cooking video membership site when we closed the cooking school in NYC in February 2020. The fact that we are a small business owned by husband and wife makes us stand out in a field where there are mostly big players. We are boutique and personal in our approach. Our customers are largely from the US and Canada. Many have taken our cooking classes in NYC, and all are lovers of Italian food.
Tell us about yourself
We love food and love sharing the regional diversity of Italy with clients. Micol has written 3 Italian cookbooks (including the James Beard-nominated RUSTICO: REGIONAL ITALIAN COUNTRY COOKING) and writes for cooking magazines. I have a great artistic eye, do all the website design and maintenance, film the recipes for our membership site, and photograph the recipes. We find it inspiring because every day is different, and we get to share the places and the food we love with enthusiastic people who are really eager to experience something meaningful.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Being able to grow the business as a married couple without consultants, external experts, etc. We are really a team and do everything ourselves, in-house.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Knowing when enough is enough. Sometimes it is hard to step away from the phone or computer and just relax.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Make sure you are an expert in your field--don't try to sell or create something that you are not intimately familiar with.
- Try not to rely too much on outside experts.
- Always get back to clients quickly.
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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