HCC Small Business Center Helps New Business Succeed at Preserving Tradition
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Last updated:Monday, Aug 06, 2012 at 12:39 PM Posted:Thursday, Aug 02, 2012 at 03:34 PM
Jessica DeMarco, co-owner of Copper Pot & Wooden Spoon, always had owning her own business in mind. She, along with sister-in-law and co-owner Dayna Stubee, knew the business needed to be a little different than other businesses and offer things you don’t see every day. The two chefs also knew they wanted to use fresh produce from local small farmers and be as sustainable as possible by composting and recycling.
The result is a unique business making high quality artisan foods such as jams and pickles, all while preserving tradition. Their products are sold online, at the Historic Waynesville Farmer’s Market, and in local shops in Waynesville, Asheville, and Cashiers.
“I wanted to do something creative, to make something,” says DeMarco about their business. “Both Dayna and I have culinary arts degrees. My grandfather farmed. Food was always important in my family. We had big Sunday dinners.”
The result is a unique business that is filling a niche. The pair is turning their dream into a truly profitable business.
“Everything seems to be coming together,” says DeMarco. “My brother is a graphic artist and he helped develop the brand.”
But everything is coming together for a reason. Both owners have real experience they bring to the business. Both worked for Biltmore Estate and Stubee still does. DeMarco has learned a lot about the business side of the food industry from that experience, as well as working in bed and breakfasts. Stubee is in the NC Rural Center’s New Generation Ventures program that targets business owners under 30.
“They have excellent contacts and pay attention to detail, both in their business planning and food products,” explains Sharron Donnahoe, Director of Haywood Community College’s Small Business Center.
One of their best relationships has to be with farmers at the Historic Waynesville Farmers’ Market. It is an excellent place to buy produce for Copper Pot & Wooden Spoon. “We also can test market our products there without having to invest a huge amount,” explains DeMarco.
DeMarco met Donnahoe years ago while she was working at Carolina Gourmet, a local restaurant that is now closed. They formed a relationship talking about business plans and how to start a new business. DeMarco attended several workshops offered through the Small Business Center. When it came to writing a business plan for Copper Pot & Wooden Spoon, Donnahoe was helpful in guiding them in the right direction.
“Sharron helped us key the business plan down to what we really needed,” says DeMarco. “We didn’t know about the Green Loan available to businesses through the NC Rural Center Microenterprise Loan program until Sharron told us about it. We had no idea we were eligible for it.”
Copper Pot & Wooden Spoon became the first business in Haywood County to get this type of loan. Money from this loan was used to purchase equipment for their new commercial kitchen and manufacturing location. The Rural Center’s N.C. Microenterprise Loan Program encourages self-employment and small business growth through loans of up to $25,000. Local program partners like the HCC Small Business Center provide business counseling and assist borrowers in preparing loan applications
In addition, Copper Pot & Wooden Spoon was selected as one of two winners for the Haywood County Chamber of Commerce Business Start-up Competition. The business was awarded a $5,000 prize. This was the second year they tried for the competition.
“This year, we were a lot further along with the business and had much better sense about where we wanted the business to go,” DeMarco says.
DeMarco is quick to admit that it is overwhelming to think about starting a new business. “HCC’s Small Business Center is very helpful to get a sense of what it takes. It makes it a lot more achievable to have a resource like the Small Business Center in place. You don’t have to start from scratch. The great support in this county gives you the confidence to move ahead with your dreams.”
Visit Copper Pot & Wooden Spoon at the Historic Waynesville Farmer’s Market or online at http://www.copperpottraditions.com/.
Copper Pot & Wooden Spoon is one example of a business making the most of the resources available to them at HCC’s Small Business Center. The Small Business Center provides budding entrepreneurs with the knowledge and resources needed to make informed decisions concerning their business ventures. A resource library of print, audio, and video materials is also available for loan. The Center is located on the main campus of HCC in the Learning Resource Center. Counseling services are available by appointment and are free of charge.
For more information about the HCC Small Business center, call 828-627-4512 or visit sbc.haywood.edu on the Internet.
Copper Pot & Wooden Spoon co-owners (pictured left to right) are Jessica DeMarco and Dayna Stubee. The two chefs started a unique business making high quality artisan foods such as jams and pickles, all while preserving tradition. Their products are sold online, at the Historic Waynesville Farmer’s Market, and in local shops in Waynesville, Asheville, and Cashiers.