Jen Daley, The Epicurean Kitchen (Hanover, MA)
Nothing Is Going To Hold Her Down
For many small business owners, there can be a fear of failure.
Jen Daley felt that fear. For years, she had a detailed vision for her business, but was concerned that no one would respond to her passion for locally sourced and freshly made food. In 2015, she took the plunge and started a restaurant that served quality food in a fun and relaxed atmosphere. As Jen found out, if you build it, they will indeed come.
“When we first started, people would order the usual, safe choices like turkey clubs or chicken sandwiches. As we have grown, the community has also expanded their palettes. Our customers trust our recommendations and often find new favorites, like kimchi reuben or curry chicken salad,” Jen said of her business. Two thirds of those that visit Epicurean Kitchen are return customers, and many eat there nearly every day.
Jen was inspired by cooking legends like Julia Child, who taught cooking classes at Jen’s alma mater Boston University. But she was also inspired by her parents, who manage businesses of their own. “Seeing my parents and brother own their own businesses, I knew it was something I wanted to do. I guess you could say that it runs in the family!”Jen’s dream is to move to a larger space and purchase the necessary equipment to create a wholesale line of allergen-friendly baked goods.
Jen Lannon, Jen’s Plumbing & Heating (Marston Mills, MA)
Father-Daughter Owned and Operated
The summer before her freshman year of college, Jen Lannon had a decision to make. As she examined her choices for a future career, she realized that she was not ready to make the financial commitment that comes with a college degree without knowing for certain what she wanted to do. Instead of spending thousands of dollars on a college education, Jen decided to become a plumber.
Jen needed an industry expert she could trust to show her the ropes. Luckily, her father John worked in the plumbing industry for many years and left his job as a vice president overseeing dozens of plumbers to help Jen start their company.
Her favorite part about this endeavor is getting to spend time with her father. “I am so close to my dad and I wouldn’t be in this business without him. My dad made a change to give me a future. He makes every day so enjoyable and there is no person I would rather do this with. It’s been the best adventure since day one,” said Jen.
Jen’s Plumbing & Heating, located in Marston Mills, recently celebrated its fifth anniversary of being in business. While learning under her father as an apprentice, Jen has been taking classes to get her plumbing license. It was a challenge working full days and then attending hours of classes, but in the end it’s moving Jen one step closer to her goal of being a licensed plumber and taking on an apprentice of her own.
Jen hopes that her story will help to motivate others. “I want to inspire others to do more in the trades. Whether it’s a senior at Cape Cod Technical High School who is sure that she wants to go into this male-dominated industry or a customer’s eight-year-old daughter who gets excited to see us, I want to give others the confidence to take a leap and know that they can do it too. I have a great career and a bright future.”Jen’s dream is to purchase a second truck in order to take on more jobs and apprentices, and to get office space for her employees to have a central meeting location.
Shahbaz Soofi, WooRides (Worcester, MA)
He Got His Inspiration From His Mother
Worcester is undergoing a transformation. When a major city sees an increase in development, traffic is sure to follow. Shahbaz Soofi knew he wanted to impact the transit market.
With his business partners, they considered a low-barrier way to break in to the transit industry. And pedicabs provided the answer. “No matter how we pivot in the future, pedicabs are good advertisement for what we want to do. We started with family events in parks and behind City Hall. It got our name out there so we can impact more than just event or last mile transportation.”
Shahbaz credits his mother with showing him that being an entrepreneur is not reserved for those developing apps or high-tech devices. Through high school and college, Shahbaz saw how his mother found ways to make ends meet. He realized that an entrepreneurial mindset and the ability to overcome adversity are just as important to a successful small business as having a grand idea.
As a sustainable transportation service, Shahbaz wants to offer low-carbon emission transportation besides pedicabs. “We are moving toward early childhood education transportation with hybrid or electric vehicles. There are so many households that can benefit, from two-income families to single parents that need to get their children to preschool or daycare,” he said.
Shahbaz’s big dream is to purchase a second hybrid vehicle to broaden the impact of WooRides and serve more children and families in Worcester.
Key Takeaway: You can carve out your own path
Life is not a linear path that everyone follows exactly the same way. Business is like that too - with owners coming to business ownership in their own way.
If you have a passion or great idea, you can turn that into a viable business if you have the right team around you. Strong relationships with those that can inspire you, support you and more as you navigate the challenges and rewards of starting a company is vital to your success.
Do you have a great business idea? Check out our Learning Center for more helpful tips for starting and managing your own business
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