SMALL BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT - Lovelandtown Grocery & Provisions
Welcome to our Small Business Spotlight, where we highlight an emerging or established business. The mission & vision of Swivel Works is to help small business owners gain exposure and success though the support of our community. We hope to share inspirational stories of founders & business owners that will give each of us insight into the joys, struggles, & reality of running a business today.
We are thrilled to introduce you to Lovelandtown Grocery & Provisions!
What is the name of your company and how long have you been in business?
Nettuno food truck began in 2014. Lovelandtown Grocery & Provisions opened on Feb. 3rd of 2018.
How did the idea for your business come about and how did you determine it was the right business for you?
After having a seasonal (and weekend-only) business for three consecutive years, we realized we wanted something more year-round and consistent. We also wanted a kitchen of our own to use and possibly rent out to others for additional income. The location we're in now had been vacant for about 3 years and, needless to say, needed a lot of T.L.C. The kitchen was perfect, (after a good clean-up and some new equipment was added), but the size of the market space was intimidating to two food truck owners. However, Joe had a vision. He's the mastermind behind all of the design elements, aesthetic, and every product on the shelves. Unlike the food truck, we wanted to go outside the Italian and seafood-driven menu and focus more on organic, local, and specialty products; providing the community with what we saw as a void in that area. We both have a passion for eating well and knowing the source of everything we eat. It's important to us to also support local makers, small businesses and farmers. Joe is constantly researching and networking to provide our customers a carefully curated one-stop-shop. Hearing our customers appreciation is all we need to know we did the right thing and we're in the right business.
What do you think are the key elements for starting and running a successful business?
First and foremost, a good partner and a committed, capable team. Knowing what everyone's strengths are and allowing them to utilize those strengths and feel good about their contributions is also very key. When you have passionate people who appreciate one another, the rest is cake. But knowing what the gaps are and finding the right talent to fill those gaps is super important. We have a lot of friends who are small business owners, and it's not surprising that in every case, there's a "creative" person and then there's a "numbers" person. "Right-brained, left-brained", "yin and yang," whatever you want to call it, it's necessary in a successful business. When it comes to STARTING a successful business, perseverance is totally key! It sounds so cliché, but it's so true...And here's another one, "If it was easy, everyone would do it." #FACT Finally, the reality is, you need a lot of stamina. Period.
Did you have a mentor or someone who inspired you along your entrepreneurial journey?
Joe comes from a family of entrepreneurs, so it's kind of in his blood. I have an uncle who opened up his own business at the same time we were opening ours, so it was great to get his advice. We also have a lot of friends who own their own businesses in Asbury Park, where we live, so to have them as a "sounding board" and constantly sharing best practices is priceless. They're constantly inspiring us and pushing us to be better. Of course, most importantly, our parents have been amazing advisors and are constantly giving us encouragement. We're really lucky to have them in our lives.
Do you have a book(s) or listened to a podcast, or webinar that really helped you focus on building your business?
I like to read Entrepreneur magazine when I'm able. I wish there was more free time in our days right now for us to be able to dedicate to our education. Joe is on the internet daily and is always staying on top of new products and research. I also have a corporate job where I have access to webinars and conferences related to successful women and their careers.
Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most? And why?
We both admire Marlow & Daughters and Marlow & Sons in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (where we lived a few years back). Everything about what they're doing with these businesses and others is spot-on. From their philosophy, (working with local farmers to provide the best quality meats and produce) to their aesthetic, we love everything about their spaces, including Diner, the Wythe Hotel, and Reynard.
Where you see yourself and your business in 10 years? 20 years?
We're constantly thinking of ways to improve, and I don't think that'll ever stop. To say there's an end goal right now is hard, other than to have a profitable, top-quality, sought-out, well-known, reputable business. Right now, I'd say that my 5-year goal is for our small businesses to be able to support us enough for me to be able to devote all of my time to them. Speaking for me, I just want our food truck and market to be the BEST they can be and all of our customers leave super happy and excited to come back. We both look forward to looking back at our story, knowing that "successful business owners" was a nice long, happy chapter we both experienced together.
In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur.
When you come up with a new business concept, how long do you spend working on it's development before deciding if it has merit to move forward?
Joe and I are complete opposites in this arena. I always think of it from a risk perspective. For smaller, less risky decisions, I usually go with my gut and what makes the most logical sense. For bigger concepts and decisions, we typically take a few days or weeks, but I'm usually the one "pulling the trigger" (or deciding not to move forward) after we've weighed all of the pros and cons.
How many hours do you work a day on average? Do you have routines that you do daily to start your day with a positive outlook?
13-14; I wish I could say that I have it all together and I start my day with meditation, yoga or exercise. Fact is, I don't yet, but that's my goal this year. I do make sure I start my day getting on the same page with Joe about our businesses before heading off to my corporate job and Joe heads to the store. I've gotta have my home-made Americano with skim milk and a carby breakfast to put me in a good mood. I'm also a firm believer in "making it a good day"...It's all about the attitude you choose.
How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
It's great that we're both owners of our business because we "get it" when the other one is feeling frustrated or down. (In fact he just got home and brought me a glass of wine because, he gets how I'm feeling.) However, it's not all "rainbows and butterflies." We both work long hours, so that means less time doing "fun" things and enjoying vacations. That can take a toll, but we find days we can come in late, or I can take a day off from my corporate job to "catch-up" (i.e. house work, invoices, emails, etc.). We also have less time to spend with friends and family, but luckily, they all understand. We make the time when we can and value the time we have together that much more.
How do you generate new ideas?
First and foremost, travel is the inspiration for everything. From my perspective, new ideas would be in relation to marketing, HR or new ideas to be more profitable. I'd say I network, I go on social media or I talk to my friends who are small business owners. For Joe, new ideas would be related to product, concept and menu. He was influenced and inspired by Brooklyn, as well as our time in Italy (we've traveled there 3 times since we've been married and love it there!) Joe's an artist and he treats food like an art form. He's constantly pushing the boundaries when it comes to sourcing the best products.
Does your business participate in your community or with charitable causes?
We're members of the Point Pleasant Chamber of Commerce, we've volunteered and participated in an event at Fulfill (formerly the Food Bank of Ocean and Monmouth Counties), and we donate our left-over bread and pastries to the local food pantry, St. Gregory's of St. Mary's church. We'd love to support and donate more in the future as we grow. Giving back to our local community is important to us.
What do you attribute your success to?
Hard work and humility.
If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
Lose any sense of entitlement and ego. And, a good sense of humor goes a long way.