The path ahead might not always be so obvious, but Holly Cunningham shares how she found her way to a new, growth seeking off-shoot of her 14 year old parent company.
I had been in business with Hollyberry Baking and Catering Company for about 14 years, and we had plateaued a bit. We had hit the maximum we could produce at our current facility, and we were doing fine, but not really able to grow much beyond where we were. So I was at a bit of a crossroads. I knew that in order to move forward, we needed to take some risks. I’d taken risks in the past, but this was going to be a big investment and I knew I needed to be ready. I prayed a lot, felt peace about moving forward, and things started falling into place.
Before I decided to move forward on any big changes, I had been presented with a lease renewal. At the time, I was still considering what exactly to do next and decided to just sign the lease until I knew the next step. I took the lease to my landlord, but he wasn’t there so I left the lease on his desk. While I was driving around that day, I drove by a property that a consultant had briefly mentioned was for lease. I was in the parking lot of that location and had not even been inside yet, but I had butterflies because I finally knew that this was the next step, and I could not wait.
I called my office assistant to go over to the landlord’s office and remove the signed paperwork – hopefully before he returned! Well, he was there, and I had to call him later to ask to be let out of the commitment. He reluctantly agreed and let us stay on a month to month basis while we moved forward with the other property. It was a close call! After some negotiations on the property, we moved in about 6 months later. We completely renovated the facility into a new catering kitchen, office space, tasting room, and our new retail concept, Nourish.
“Good business is like a good marriage; you want to hold onto and remember the first feelings of falling in love so that when hard times come, those feelings can help you get through and remember why you are doing what you are doing in the first place.”
The idea to take our years of catering expertise and create healthy and creative meals for families had been a dream for about 5 years. It was exciting to finally watch the dream become a reality, but your dream has to fit into real life challenges. You have to take risks to make that dream happen, and it can be super scary. After years of being an established business, I had to become very vulnerable and hope the idea resonated with consumers.
We also launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise money and to test the viability and response to our new Nourish concept. The Indigogo campaign also stretched me out of my comfort zone! I was nervous for sure, but also so energized by new passion, excitement for my employees, and the potential growth of our business. This expansion would not only allow us to try out a new concept, but would take our current catering business to the next level. As I look back, I can see how each step of the process provided confirmation and also redirection on what Nourish has become today.
It is always good to remember the beginnings of something, because the struggles inevitably come. Good business is like a good marriage; you want to hold onto and remember the first feelings of falling in love so that when hard times come, those feelings can help you get through and remember why you are doing what you are doing in the first place.
Follow Holly and Nourish on Instagram (@NourishAtHome), and Twitter and Facebook (@NourishByHberry) and check out their website at www.nourishathome.com
St. Louis native Holly Cunningham founded Hollyberry in 1998 to provide made-from-scratch baked goods for corporate gifts on a local and national basis. In 2001, Cunningham launched a catering division to provide box lunches and buffets for corporate clients, as well as contemporary menus for events. Under her leadership, the company has grown to become one of the largest catering companies in the St. Louis area, according to the St. Louis Business Journal, and is the preferred caterer at more than 30 top area venues.
In 2015, Cunningham opened Nourish, a market and café-to-go in Warson Woods, Mo. Under the Nourish brand, the company then rolled out St. Louis’ first family-friendly meal subscription service and now, Nourish is the hometown answer to the popular recipe and prepared food services that have become an important part of Americans’ meal planning and preparation.
Cunningham is also committed to the St. Louis community. Hollyberry has partnered with St. Patrick Center, SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri, and Dierbergs Markets, Inc.
Hollyberry has been voted “Favorite St. Louis Caterer” by the readers of Sauce Magazine an unprecedented eight times. Hollyberry Catering recently received The Knot “Best of Weddings” award for 2016, and they have also been honored by the St. Louis Chapter of the International Special Events Society as a winner of five esteemed Louie awards for Best Wedding Event (2015, 2014, 2013 and 2012), Best Off-premise Catering (2011) and Best Food Presentation (2011). In 2008, Hollyberry was named “Top Caterer” by the St. Louis Small Business Monthly. Holly is currently a member of the well-respected Les Dames d’Escoffier, a worldwide philanthropic society of professional women leaders in the fields of food, fine beverage and hospitality. She has also been named to the St. Louis Business Journal’s prestigious “40 Under 40” list, as well as its “30 Under 30” list. Hollyberry was featured in Paula Deen’s Holiday Baking collector’s edition, on The Rachael Ray Show as the “Snack of the Day,” and named “best” by St. Louis Magazine.
Photo courtesy of Heather Roth Fine Art Photography