Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in starting a cooking school, but not sure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Colleen founder at Cultivate Kitchen, a Cooking School that focuses on corporate team building and events.

Tell us all about your business...

Cultivate Kitchen is a Cooking School that focuses on corporate team building events and private events. Our customers are corporate teams looking to gather and connect outside of the office, either virtually or in person. We offer high end events for hosting clients, connecting as a team or celebrating a special occasion in a refreshing and exciting way.

What's your background and motivation to grow as a solopreneur?

I started Cultivate Kitchen (formerly Savory Kitchen) in early 2012, after several years in the wine industry and the decision not to become a chef, I found a need in the Bay Area for higher end team buildings and private event venues. I started with the goal of offering cooking classes to the public and quickly found that I not only had a passion for helping people bring their corporate team together, there was also a hole in the market for this.

Many of my competition was offering team building cooking events in a retail space or from their home, this wasn't cutting it for the corporate world. I love bringing a disconnected team together in the kitchen, shaking things up and watching them bond over a meal after. It's magic to see people enjoy their co-workers again.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Pre Pandemic we opened a second location to meet the demand, we had built the team to 35 employees and I loved inspiring that many people to come to work every day happy to be doing their job. Although the last year and a half has been a huge challenge and we have since closed that second location I'm so proud of what I, and we as a team accomplished. Pivoting this year and finding small successes there is another point of pride.

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

Being a business owner is isolating. It's hard to connect and not compete, I wish everyone understood a rising tide lifts all boats. If we could focus on shared experiences, learning and growing from each other we'd see more commonalities.

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

Find someone in your life who can help you zoom out and look at the bigger picture when you feel like you are failing, or things aren't going your way. Find a lawyer and accountant you trust with your life. Hire people that are smarter than you and don't let that intimidate you, learn from them, ask questions and grow.

If there was one thing you could do repeatedly to help grow your business, what would it be?

Figure out what you customer needs and how to give it to them. Continue to do that. Don't let your product or service become static.

What are some of the things you put in place to maintain a healthy work/life balance and to keep it all together?

Prioritize sleep, exercise and breaks. Realize that time away makes you a much more productive worker.

Who are some of your favorite entrepreneurs? Do you have any must not miss business resources that you'd recommend?

I really admire Amy Nelson who started The Riverter. I watched her grow this massive business in such a short amount of time and share all her resources along the way, then COVID ripped it out from under her all while undergoing an immense personal fight for her family.

She has fought on and continued to create, work, and share. I would say finding a group of like minded entrepreneurs, even if they aren't in your industry is key. For me that is a group called "The huddle" which focuses on female entrepreneurs and retreats.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

When you want to throw in the towel add sleep and water, if you still want to find a trusted confidante/advisor and talk it through with them and wait at least 90 days. It's not a straight line up.

Where can people find you online? and (two businesses I own)
IG: @colleentmahoney and @cultivate_inthekitchen and @whirlygigparties

If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share then email, we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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