‘Wah Gwaan’, I am from Jamaica!
Her entrepreneurial spirit led Karen Williams to the creation of two restaurants in New York City. The Big Apple was great, but Karen decided the ability to have a larger facility to develop the food products that she sold in her restaurant in the Nutmeg State was appealing. She turned to Connecticut Small Business Development Center for help with financing her move to Connecticut. She was paired with CTSBDC Advisor Michelle (Shelly) Koehler to make it happen.
Karen says that thanks to the advisor she was able to overcome her challenges “Michelle is my one-stop shop for any news or views out there for small manufacturing businesses of women and minority origins. [It has been] Very informative” she said. Her business, Chef K, Inc. is a Minority Women- Owned business.
CTSBDC, the Perfect Match Passion for Food, Culture, and People
Chef K Inc. makes ginger, sorrel, turmeric, and assorted flavors of natural drinks without preservatives or additives. They also make Ginger Jam, Sorrel Jam, and Turmeric Jam. They sell directly to customers through their online store as well as through wholesale distribution channels. The company’s mission is to create a safe, healthy, and tasty product by using natural ingredients, organically grown, and applying innovative manufacturing techniques to extract all nutrients.
CTSBDC: An Excellent Choice
Karen is glad she connected with CTSBDC. “Working with an SBDC business advisor gives you the sense and feeling of working with a partnership without paying them, in Accounting, Business Plans, Events Planning, research for loans and grants that fit you, and the next move”, highlights Karen.
During the collaboration with her CTSBDC advisor, Chef K Inc. experienced a remarkable 80% increase in revenues, leading to the creation of 8 new jobs. This achievement was further bolstered by obtaining loans through Small Business Administration (SBA), Program Certification Application- Small or Minority Business Enterprise (SBE-DECD), Boost Loan Program, and a Bank Line of Credit (LOC).
Karen describes her time with Shelly as an enriching journey with the company acting as a good friend and mentor throughout. “Rely on my handler Shelly. There is help there for small businesses that we as business owners would never have come across if it was not for CTSBDC.”, she said.
Shelly says about Karen:” With passion, drive, dedication, and tenacity Chef K has taken her juice from her kitchen to a full manufacturing facility and regional distribution with only herself at the helm.”
On the Right Track!
Chef K Inc. is excited to announce its upcoming transition to "Chef K Inc. " (DBA), as reflected on its new website www.chefkproduct.com. Her team is committed to enhancing the brand image, “We are improving on our logo and labels,” says Karen. Additionally, the company is currently in the process of acquiring the company’s own dedicated space, which will serve as the foundation for future operations.
Once these crucial steps are completed, she will be expanding her reach by collaborating with distributors, focusing on manufacturing for both the Chef K Inc. Brand and offering white-label services. Furthermore, she aims to explore opportunities in government contracts and obtain import and export licenses.
Gud job, Karen!