The Boston Center for Adult Education has a series of classes called ‘Passion Turned Paycheck’ that brings business owners in to teach about how they have developed their business showing you that you can have your own small business if you have the entrepreneurial “itch”, are passionate and driven, and have a great plan ahead of you.
The owners of Nella Pasta, Leigh Foster and Rachel Marshall, were hosting a class about their experience running a small food related business. Nella Pasta is a specialty ravioli producer that focuses on ravioli fillings that are made with local, fresh, seasonal ingredients. Nella translates to ‘in the’ in Italian which is based upon their philosophy of taking car to only put the best in the ravioli. They cool in 3-4 min from freezer and are generally half veggie, half cheese with a part whole grain dough (through experimentation they learned 100% whole grain would make it doughy and overpower the filling). They started just 4 years ago and are now running an award-winning company that is stocked in some Boston area Whole Foods.
The class started with Leigh preparing some ravioli for everyone. She prepared their roasted cauliflower ravioli. She dressed with simply with a basically fresh tomato sauce. The Nella Pasta ravioli’s have such flavorful fillings that you would not want to serve them with a heavy sauce, a bit of oil or butter will be great as well. I really enjoyed their ravioli as it was a nice texture and very flavorful. I would purchase it as it is very quick to prepare and is adorable for a dinner for 2.
Leigh ran through the history of Nella Pasta explaining what they learned and how they have grown over the years. Their friendship started while at work as they both had a passion for food. During the recession they were both laid off on the same day in December ’08 so they took that as the opportunity to start a business together. Both were self-taught cooks but to make their business come together Rachel took culinary classes while Leigh took business classes. Luckily, they were successful right away as sold out their first farmers market in 35 minutes. But that created its own set of problems- how to keep up with demand?!? Thankfully they figured it out have done from 60 packages to 12000 a week and have since won several awards including the silver award for Sofi 2012 for beer & goat cheese ravioli and DailyCandy’s ‘Start Small, Go Big’ contest.
Leigh also got into the technical business strategy and different things to account for when running a food based business.Some of the major things to do are performing SWOT analysis, assemble a plan of action, and analyze opportunities for future growth. But it does not just stop there as business is constantly growing and evolving so you will need to continually adjust your SWOT analysis as priorities change and you have to handle different situations. She also suggests reaching out to different businesses and business advisement groups, such as SCORE, for review and advice. These business professionals can explain to you all the different things you need to account for in general, as well as for a food based business. How much insurance do you need to account for? How to do you transport your food? How is it packaged? All of those things need to be accounted for through different phases of your business as it grows.
The information that Leigh provided was very informative and was very comprehensive, and that was just in a short class. It was a real eye opener as you need to account for so much when you start a small business. It can be really intimidating but it is best to know what you need to prepare for. Having a well thought out plan is best and helps you develop your business and livelihood.
Rachel hurt her back so Leigh would be have to put the show on just herself but she seamed at ease with it, even when her laptop could not connect to the TV. She explained that if she was sick and Rachel had to teach she would have struggled with it and yet when Leigh is struggling with something Rachel can swoop in and help out. They are a perfect complementary pair that have worked hard to get where they are. Finding someone who you can work well with and find support it key to a great friendship and business partner.
I wish them lots of continued success.
The BCAE is hosting another class in their ‘Passion Turned Paycheck’ series this October with the owners of Crush Boutique. Rebecca and Laura, the owners of Crush will discuss how they got started and how they are balancing being energetic, stylish, while having a genuine love for their work. October 24 from 6:00pm – 8:00pm
This is a great series if you are interested in starting a new small business.
*While I did receive this class complimentary provided by BCAE these opinions are entirely my own.