It's Fall. The leaves are turning. Days are getting shorter. As for us, here at The Acceleration Project, we're falling for small! Welcome to our annual Fall for Small Business® series.
Over the next month we'll bring you stories of our amazing clients. To get started, read about about Legacy Volleyball, Pabade Bakery & Cafe, and Jade Garden Design in New York. We'll bring you stories about our consultants, too. They'll share what they love about working at TAP.
In the comments below, let us know what you love about the fall, and why you Fall for Small Business.®
By Elizabeth Bushaw
Like most restaurants, Pabade Bakery & Cafe faced challenges during the COVID 19 pandemic. The Carvajal siblings — Yolfer, Dahyanna, and Donny —had launched their business as a wholesale bakery in 2016. Then in 2019, the trio opened a café on East 110th St. and Lexington in East Harlem. Then in 2020, the world shut down.
When they eventually reopened, their business felt uncertain. Sales had taken a hit, operational expenses were high, and employee recruitment was challenging. Fortunately, the Carvajal siblings had TAP on their team.
To celebrate Hispanic Heritage month, we’re highlighting Pabade’s story. Consultants Nurit Praeger, Sabrina Silva, and Amy Lai provided guidance on increasing sales as well as marketing strategies. Claudia Uribe, Chief Program Officer oversaw the project.
“TAP helped us with suggestions on how to diversify our products and provided marketing tips that eventually brought more exposure to our brand,” says Dahyanna.
Born in Venezuela and raised in Colombia, the siblings were determined to keep their commitment to using the best ingredients. They wanted their products to be fresh and represent the best of fusing French pastry techniques and Venezuelan baked goods. With TAP’s help, Pabade Bakery expanded its product line to offer lunch options and implemented delivery services to further maximize sales.
“We learned that we have to be very open to ideas that can help your business succeed,” says Dahyanna. “We need to have a ‘think-out-of-the-box’ mentality and be as creative and confident as we can when making decisions that will help us achieve our goals.”
Pabade not only survived Covid, but came back stronger than ever. They hired more employees and increased revenue and profitability. And so, the Pabade story is just one of many clients we're featuring during TAP's Fall for Small Business® series.
“The Carvajal siblings’ grit, commitment to excellence and willingness to go the extra mile to make their business succeed is contagious,” says Natalia Alarcon, TAP’s Director of External Relations and Service Delivery. “At TAP we are very proud of Pabade Bakery and Cafe’s success and celebrate their continuous growth.”
#hispanicheritagemonth #smallbusiness #food #fallforsmallbusiness
The consultant and client partnership is a recipe for success
Shelly Flash and Souha Alameddine say working together is inspiring. Shelly is a TAP client, and the owner of 2 Girls & a Cookshop. Souha is a TAP consultant. Together, they've tackled some of Shelly's business challenges, and along the way, they've developed an enduring friendship. So for our second feature for National Black Business Month, we bring you Shelly and Souha, in their own words. Watch the video below.
It’s hot in New York. And hot means ice cream season! To celebrate National Ice Cream Day** we’re featuring Penny Lick Ice Cream in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY. Today, owner Ellen Sledge is getting ready to open a second shop in Mamaroneck, NY, and she says TAP played a role in her success.
“TAP gave me a framework to think about my business,” says Ellen. “[TAP] is one reason I still stand here.” Ellen says she learned to have a “dashboard mentality” that enables her to look at “indicators of success everyday.”
Penny Lick’s custard-based ice cream is peanut, tree-nut and sesame free. Customers can actually watch the ice cream being made. In addition to retail locations, customers can find Penny Lick at farmers markets, or hire a mobile pushcart for a party.
In the fall of 2019, Ellen reached out to TAP looking for guidance on how to increase sales, expand operations and get a better grasp on inventory and costs. TAP consultants Nurit Praeger, Carolina Zambrano and Amber Yusuf spent time at Ellen’s Hastings store and extensively reviewed her business. Nurit, Carolina and Amber worked with Ellen on a series of projects:
**Be sure to read our blog about Ice Cream Social, an additional National Ice Cream Day story.
#icecream #food #client #entrepreneur #womenownedbusiness #nationalicecreamday
Every neighborhood deserves a great ice cream shop.
That’s what high school friends Pam Geiger and Erin O’Keefe thought when they moved back home to White Plains, New York to raise their families. They couldn’t find a fun family gathering place in their area, so they decided to create what they were looking for. Ice Cream Social opened in 2021.
To mark National Ice Cream Day,** we’ve got the full scoop on Ice Cream Social. Both Pam (a special events fundraiser) and Erin (a stylist) knew how to create a welcoming environment, work with commercial partners, and generate the buzz needed to build a small retail business.
They transformed an old gas station into a bright, enticing ice cream parlor. In addition to regular scoops, they have milkshakes, ice cream cakes, ice cream sandwiches, coffee, and of course, Ice Cream Social merchandise.
TAP consultants Julia McClanan and Yvonne Lee stepped in to help when Pam and Erin had the opportunity to buy their building. They wanted to get a better handle on cash flow in order to apply for bank loans and secure financing.
Fortunately, TAP received a grant to support businesses in Westchester County, enabling us to work with Ice Cream Social. "It was amazing to have two people who specialized in different aspects of the business to get feedback on different parts of our business structure, " says Pam Geiger.
The TAP team focused on several areas:
**Also for National Ice Cream Day, check out our blog about Penny Lick.
#icecream #summer #clientstory #womenownedbusiness #smallbusiness #entrepreneur
A relish, a condiment, a marinade, and a salsa. That is Cha Cha. Rooted in the Black south, it typically includes cabbage, green tomatoes, peppers, garlic, onions and spices. Making Cha Cha preserved the bounty of produce from family gardens.
Linda Williams-Pruitt and her husband grew up eating their families’ Cha Cha. Linda actually learned to garden alongside her mother and grandmother. Her passion led her to become an urban farmer and master gardener. In 2010, she created Mrs. Pruitt’s Cha Cha, named after her husband’s grandmother and her Cha Cha recipe. The recipe dates back to 1830!
Mrs. Pruitt’s Gourmet Cha Cha is not just delicious and versatile. For Linda, it’s also a way to transmit Black history and culture. So to honor Juneteenth, TAP is recognizing Mrs. Pruitt’s Cha Cha, and the work Linda has put into building this business.
Linda sought TAP’s assistance to help grow her company. She had an extensive schedule of farmer’s markets, and wanted to build her retail store presence. Linda was concerned about financials, cost, branding and marketing and sorting out team responsibilities.
In a post-project survey, Linda praised her consultants Suzy Haber Wakefield and Teresa Shock. She wrote, “The process was superior. I would not change a thing . . . What was so positive was that they kept me on track to the point that I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
Teresa focused on financials, with an emphasis on helping Linda understand her cost of goods, and its impact on profit margins. Teresa and Linda worked together to organize Mrs. Pruitt’s financials in QuickBooks, making it a valuable source of information for Linda to draw on. One key takeaway was the need to manage expenses and hold vendors accountable.
Suzy focused on marketing and brand awareness. Using TAP’s proprietary Website/Brand Audit tool, she and Linda took a hard look at the Mrs. Pruitt’s website. They found a number of ways that changes to the website could better support the brand.
With the audit, Linda now has a roadmap to strengthen her branding and messaging. Equally important, Suzy and Linda identified social media and marketing resources that might be available in the community, thus reducing the need to rely on paid consultants.
It may be an old recipe. But it’s a thoroughly modern business.
#juneteenth #blackownedbusiness #smallbusiness #entrepreneur #food
Quality ingredients are essential when you bake. They’re also critical for building a business.
Colleen Orlando and Rian Finnegan are the perfect mix at Little Loaf Bakeshop, a queer and trans owned vegan bakery, founded in 2021 in Poughkeepsie, New York. Little Loaf reflects Colleen and Rian’s values. It’s accessible, welcoming, sustainable, locally sourced, and committed to fair pricing and employment.
To celebrate Pride Month, we’re diving into Little Loaf’s story. Colleen and Rian have created a safe and welcoming space for the queer community, especially teens, at a shared commercial kitchen at the Poughkeepsie Underwear Factory (PUF), which is operated by Hudson River Housing. And they’ve developed a real following. Customers can buy the goods at the Cafe at PUF and at Hudson Valley farmers markets.
With their vision, Little Loaf is growing and thriving. But they needed some extra help with their financials. TAP consultants Susan Newman and Kathryn Koessel stepped in and gave Colleen and Rian a crash course in Finance/Accounting 101. Colleen and Rian now believe they can “forecast how we grow in a profitable way” with a “financial model that we can use for years to come.” They appreciated how hands-on Susan and Kathryn were, both in their meetings and in their work outside of the meetings.
The TAP team focused on three key areas:
The TAP team also helped Little Loaf understand their product costs and margins in order to become more profitable. As a result, they eliminated low-margin products which weren't big sellers; and they increased the price on other products which were big sellers, but were priced too low.
In addition, Susan and Kathryn also took Colleen and Rian through a TAP-created Food Finance Webinar, providing some sector-specific context for the financial discussions. At the end of their sessions, Colleen and Rian had a comprehensive costing model that allows them to calculate the product cost of each item, as well as a financial projections model that allows them to project profitability and cash flow based on changing assumptions.
The end result of all this hard work? Perfectly delicious treats. As for the rest of us? We can simply enjoy.
#pride #pridemonth #LGBTQ+ #clientstory
Photo credits: Jen Evans (Lead Baker!)
We have our final #smallbusinessweek story to share. Meet Que SeRaw SeRaw, a vegan restaurant in Burlingame, California. Owner Kerry Bitner talks about what it was like to work with her TAP consultants. #entrepreneur #womeninbusiness #smallbusiness
Crespo Whiskeys & Wines in Dobbs Ferry, NY is next up on our #smallbusinessweek features. Watch this video to hear owner Jershom Osheaf talk about how TAP consultants helped him with critical aspects of running the business. This video was part of our annual April benefit. To see other client stories, be sure to visit this page. #smallbusiness #entrepreneur
TAP's annual benefit in April featured a series of client stories. You can watch the full replay here. But now, let's take a close up look at one client, Freddie Lee's Gourmet Sauces. To learn about other TAP clients, please visit this page.
About this blog
This blog features some of our client engagements.