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Noel Cunningham | Canada & Jamaica | Remain Open!! Entrepreneurship has always been at the core of my career choices growing up. As a student in High School (Edith Dalton James) and when it came time to choose our vocational area, I chose food and nutrition with thought that I can become a chef and own my restaurant/catering business. I started Cuisine by Noel in 2013, after the restaurant where I was working closed. There were many requests for my food and catering service so I started doing private dinners and parties. Soon after, I migrated to Canada, took a year break from my business and relaunched in 2015. Later, I developed and launch my gourmet sauce and condiments line started with a Smokey Jerk Marinade. The full line with be launched in Spring 2020, which will include several BBQ flavoured sauces and a Jerk dry rub. The idea for my jerk marinade came about in 2016, while catering a friend’s relative birthday dinner party, they asked me to demonstrate how to make Jamaican jerk marinade and I did. They loved the marinade and later ask why I don’t bottle it and have it readily available. I thought about it for some time until I got the urge and it’s doing extremely well.

“Follow your passion, be prepared to work hard and sacrifice, and, above all, don't let anyone limit your dreams.” - Donovan Bailey

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

The biggest initial hurdle for me in the start up phase of my business after migrating from Jamaica to Canada was to find the right clientele that would embrace another culture food. Being a young chef from Jamaica, everyone thought all I could make was jerk chicken and rice & peas, but as time went by I started doing the media rounds, appearing on various morning television programs in the Winnipeg area and from there I started getting more clients and then they realize I'm a chef whose culinary repertoire spans vast beyond Jamaican cuisine and does just about anything that cooks just about anything. After that realization, Cuisine by Noel was born. I wanted to do more and developed my line of gourmet While working on the launch of my sauces and Cuisine by Noel, I was faced with another hurdle, when I decided to further my education and returned to school to study Hotel & Restaurant Management. It was challenging balancing school (full time) and a growing business.

What books are you currently reading? And your recommendation for entrepreneurs to read?

I am currently reading Chicken Back Gravy, by Jamaican author, Professor Donna P. Hope, which shares life lessons. Chicken Back Gravy is a frank and candid story of someone who is full of drive and determination. It is layered with challenges and success. My second book that I am currently reading is Inseparable written by Shaquem Griffin and Shaquill Griffin. This book brings truth to the old adage ‘anything is possible’, and most of all, you have to put in the work, because nobody can earn it for you. Finally my third book is a gift from the Rachael Ray Show titled Body love by Kelly Leveque. This book focuses on eating healthy and understanding how food can help our mind and body, and as entrepreneurs, it's very important to focus on our health while we are on the road to success.

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?

My family has always been supportive and encouraging of my entrepreneurship journey since day one and as it relates to friends I don’t allow too much input from them into my business, because at the end of the day it’s my journey and no one as the same vision as I do or know where I’m going. So therefore I limit the amount of input and focus on my output!

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

The single most influential factor in my business, would be my determination to reach higher heights and to always achieve more.

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

The power of asking for exactly what you want and the importance of networking!

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

My personal advice is two of my favourite quotes that I live by:

“Follow your passion, be prepared to work hard and sacrifice, and, above all, don't let anyone limit your dreams.” - Donovan Bailey

“Do the work, identify your intentions, know your worth, don't be tempted by shiny & know that things are subject to change so REMAIN OPEN.” - Bevy Smith.

Step Up!!

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