Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Vincent Berretta, Co-Owner / Co-Founder of Tres Lecheria, located in Seattle, WA, USA.

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

We are Tres Lecheria. The world's first exclusive tres leches shop. We created individually packaged tres leches cakes in 14+ different flavors and sell them via our flagship store in Seattle, WA, as well as through 40+ retailers in the PNW. We also ship nationwide through Goldbelly. Our customers are people that enjoy a delicious, creamy dessert made with high-quality ingredients.

Tell us about yourself

I have been involved with many small business ventures throughout my life. Some of them were laughably managed, while others went on to great success. I'm lucky to have been involved in both kinds so that I could learn from success and failure. I first got started with Tres Lecheria quite by accident. A friend and I had co-founded a small, Mexican-style panaderia and custom cake shop in Seattle. We weren't very big at first, but we were steadily growing. When the pandemic hit, it wiped out half of our revenue from the custom cake side. At that time, our tres leches cakes were selling exceptionally well in our store and also at a single retailer we had at the time. We decided that if our business was going to survive, we'd need to completely pivot, focus on our best-selling item and boost our wholesale accounts. And we did exactly that. We've found success and trajectory that I never thought possible, and I look forward to each day as new opportunities emerge.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

My biggest accomplishment, I think, was not giving up when the going got tough. And it got really tough. My business partner was working at least 80 hours a week, and I was coming in nights and weekends after my day job. At one point, we had less than a week's worth of capital, and I sincerely thought we'd have to shut the whole thing down. But we stuck with it, and we bounced off that nadir and haven't looked back.

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

For me, it was the amount of work that went into keeping the business running and not feeling like we were making much headway. It seemed, at times, that we were running ourselves ragged, we were selling out of product, and we were booking custom orders. But at the end of the day, the bank account would go down - or just flatline. It took a concerted effort to look at the facts - that we were growing accounts, we were buying new equipment, and we were increasing our head count. All of those things have an upfront cost, and I needed to be patient until we got to profitability, which we did!

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

  1. If you work with a partner, make sure you know them really well. Make sure that you can communicate and express your questions/concerns/ideas without attacking or feeling attacked. Especially as you grow, a lot of changes will happen in the business, and you need to be able to talk about that.
  2. This is mentioned so many times in articles like this, but be realistic with finances! There is a huge temptation before you open your doors to underestimate what it costs to operate the business and to overestimate the amount of revenue you'll make. DON'T DO THAT. Ideally, you should talk to someone in a similar industry. Ask if you can see their monthly outlay. There are a million expenses you don't think about before getting started.
  3. In that same vein, make sure you have enough working capital. Especially in food, you need a good deal of money to open your doors and to run your operations before you see any kind of profit. You need as much runway as you can give yourself to keep things going.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Lastly, I'll add that if there is any way to try your business on a small scale before you go all in - do it. Work for someone that does what you want to do. Or start extremely small. If you want to sell cakes (like us), start a cottage kitchen. Go to farmer's markets, and see how you do. Get a feel for the number of hours that you'll actually have to put in to sell that $5 piece of tiramisu.

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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