Friday, 24 May 2013

2Inspire Network Business Profile: Carib Gourmet

In this 2Inspire Network Profile we meet Vanessa Bolosier, the founder of Carib Gourmet. Her inspiring business journey is a great example of following one's true passion in life...it feels great and in Vanessa's case it tastes great too!

Please tell us what is a typical business day for you?
I wake up around 6am, have a good breakfast. I typically start the day with some lime juice and water or ginger tea. I then check my emails, usually there are tons of them so I pretty much email back for a good hour or so. I then set the objectives for the day and liaise with my assistant and interns. When there’s no admin, mornings are primarily dedicated to cooking, developing recipes and spending time in the kitchen.

I usually have a light lunch and move on to meetings. I then try to keep all my meetings in the afternoons so all that needs to be handled admin wise is done and managed. Meetings can either be with suppliers, manufacturers, external consultants that carry out sales on my behalf or plain and simple networking.
After all the meetings, I have an afternoon treat, like a piece of coconut fudge or a cake to pick myself up. I’d have that with a nice cup of coffee. I finish my day with all the product shipping depending on the orders that come through. I debrief the day with my staff around 6pm. I usually work very late but I don’t know if that qualifies as work. It’s more me writing blog posts, looking for innovative products, looking at my competition etc. I then have a good stodgy dinner, oftentimes something Caribbean or African as my partner is from Ivory Coast and enjoys me experimenting with West African recipes.

What made you start the business and how did you get started?
The opportunity came organically. Every time I went back to Guadeloupe, I’d bring back local goodies like jams, rums and spices. I ended up going to people’s homes to show how to cook and enjoy them. Everyone said I should do it professionally – so I set up the company! I started the business because I come from a family of successful entrepreneurs. I believe in being in control of my destiny, I wanted to feel free and happy in what I do.
What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment in the business world to date? 
There are many things but I could mention such as brand endorsements etc.

But there are two things I’m very proud of:
- Helping my very small suppliers who had no exposure secure high order volume from large companies across Europe.
- Secondly, I can confidently say that every single customer that has come through my company has learned something they didn’t know about Caribbean food and definitely Caribbean gastronomy from a different angle.

What has been your biggest challenge in business so far?

My personal challenge was really differentiating a hobby from a business. Making viable and profitable (and sometimes clinical) business decision was the hardest, especially when very passionate.

What are your future plans for the business?

We are launching our own confectionery brand called Coco Gourmand. The range includes coconut fudge made from pure coconut milk, coconut drops, coconut ice and coconut brittle. If you have as much of a sweet tooth as I have, this is a winner!

If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?

I’d approach organisation that provide funding for start-ups. They really do help in terms of mentoring and honing your business skills.

Why is it so important to inspire young women in particular to follow their dreams?

I think women are very powerful individuals. They have so much passion and are often very multi-talented. Being able to juggle so many things at once really is a skill that women inherently have. So why not put it at the service of your dreams? It’d be such a waste to let anyone else benefit from it.

What advice would you give to somebody who wants to start a business in your industry?
Be passionate about what you do. That’s what will keep you driven when all hell breaks loose. Get your numbers right, your business model right: that’s what differentiate a business from a hobby. Get a mentor and surround yourself with driven business people.

What or who inspires you in business and why?

What inspires me: the power of being able to change things, change a perception and impact positively. Who inspires me: successful female entrepreneurs such as my mother.

What is your favourite inspirational quote?
Worry about nothing and pray about everything. Philippians 4.6

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