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Alain & Neima | Florida | Huge Sacrifices!!

I am a native of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, where I first discovered my interest in cooking. Later on, I developed an increasing passion for food and foodservice which led me to attend the Culinary program at the acclaimed Johnson & Wales University. Thanks to my heritage and having spent most of my career in South Florida, Caribbean and Latin flavors play a major role in my style of cooking: My partner Neïma, passion for travel and tourism began at an early age, when by the age of four, she was already on her second passport. She was also influenced by her family’s legacy of Chefs and love of lavish, extravagant parties. This path would lead her to working at the Providence Biltmore Hotel in Rhode Island, then becoming the Catering Manager of the corporate division of What’s 4 Lunch? Café and Catering. When we first decided to get into business for ourself, all we wanted was to be able to express ourself freely, showcase our creativity without boundaries. Neima and I wanted our business to represent our core values: quality, value, elegance and transparency. So six years later, those values are truer than ever.

What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?

One of the biggest hurdles in building a catering business is how to make your presence known in the market especially in South Florida. This is a large state and there are a lot of catering companies that have been doing it for a while. Coming in as a newbie was a huge challenge: making a name for ourselves, cementing our brand and our identity so that we could stand out of the pack. Other challenges were staying on top of the ever changing trends, putting a staff together that believed in our values and wanted to push for them.

Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits?

How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?

I actually didn't feel any contention from fabulous and friends. I would say that maybe some hesitation because of uncertainty. Unless you're backed against the wall and have no other way out, as a human you'll always be afraid of changes because you envoy comfort ans consistency. All I had to do was work hard, lose some sleep in order to make my way.

What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?

I can sum it up to: persistence, hard work, desire and being truthful to ourselves.

What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?

I wish I knew that you end up actually working harder than a regular job. You barely have or don't have days off, time off, vacation, holidays or any time for yourself pretty much. Being an entrepreneur means that you have to make huge sacrifices.

What advice would you give to an upcoming young and experienced entrepreneur locally and internationally?

My biggest advice would be to figure out what you really want to do, what type of business you want to be involved in. Don't go around saying you're an entrepreneur but you're still testing some markets to figure out what you want to do. Be patient, persistent add truthful.

Add Truthful!!

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