Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food services but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Erika Minkowsky, Founder of The Heirloom Chef, located in Oakland, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Our business is called The Heirloom Chef. Our diverse team of personal chefs provides high-quality seasonal cuisine that can be customized to fit our client's needs. Our business focuses on three main offerings: weekly personal chef services, postpartum meal support, and dinner parties. For our Personal Chef Services, our customers fit into a few main categories: Folks healing from intense health challenges, whether it's surgery, cancer, carpel tunnel, etc. Other clients reach out to us because they have serious dietary needs (like the Low FoD Map Diet), allergies, or food preferences like Paleo or Vegan, who need support to eat the way their bodies ask. Others utilize our services to lose or gain weight, depending on the advice from their health practitioner. Lastly, we have several clients who live very busy lives with their families and simply don't have time to cook. For our dinner party service, we have been able to offer a great intimate experience for people wanting something special besides going to a restaurant. We're also able to customize our Seasonal menu to meet dietary needs in an upscale way with a focus on local and fresh foods.
Tell us about yourself
I worked for my current company for many years before I became an owner. When my boss at the time, Maggie Lawson, told me she would be moving back home to the midwest from the Bay Area, she offered me to be a 50/50 partner or full owner. I always wanted to be an entrepreneur but wasn't sure what the right professional avenue for me would be. Since I had a two-year-old at the time, I agreed to purchase half of our business while she moved to Ohio to begin our business there. I have always been extremely hard-working and creative and loved working and organizing groups of people. My background is in activism, natural medicine, culinary arts, and birth work. Made this opportunity a perfect option for me. Each day I'm motivated by the potential to be a better boss and create the best possible services and experience for our clients. Maggie and I work together to make both branches of our company as wonderful as they can be.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I became a brand new business owner just three months before the pandemic hit. We weren't sure that our business would make it. We fought hard and strategically to turn our contractors into employees and flow with the needs and changes of the unknown. As it turned out, we were in the perfect industry at the perfect time, and our business and team expanded almost 3x from where we started.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The responsibility! I'm often woken up at night with details from the day or concern for my team well being. I take being a boss very seriously and strive to do my very best every day while managing the demands of family life and the expenses of living in the Bay Area.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Be Patient! Growing a successful business takes a lot of time, energy, faith, and hard work. Nothing happens overnight.
- Believe in yourself and your own path. Everyone's journey is different, and anything is possible with the right amount of commitment and vision.
- You can't possibly do it by yourself, and who would want to? Hire people to do the things that you don't like to do so you can focus on the bigger picture.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Check out our sister company in Ohio, Goosefoot Cook and Grow.
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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