Episode One Hundred – Dawn Archer, Dawn To Dusk Catering

This episode is a cause for celebration as we have reached number 100! 100 Small business owners sharing their marketing journeys as they have built their businesses.  We are incredibly excited to share small business owner one hundred with you.

Dawn Archer has been on her own journey, personally ad professionally.  From teaching friends to cook, she took her passion for cooking and created her own catering business, Dawn To Dusk Catering, in Jacksonville, Florida.

She discusses her businesses beginnings while sharing her passion for food, good nutrition and wonderful experiences.  She also shares some of her many talents, which include being an award winning dancer and choreographer and a recent pageant champion, naming her Jacksonville Senior Diva for 2023.

To learn more about Dawn and her thriving catering business, please click www.dawntoduskcater.com.

Welcome to Small Business Marketing Then and Now a conversation with small business owners on how they marketed the launch of their business the evolution since then and how they have pivoted during this COVID-19. Brought to you by Profit Master Business Solutions more leads more sales and more revenue for your smaller medium sized business click find newrevenue.com to learn more now here’s your host Howard Wolpoff welcome back to small business marketing then and now I’m Howard Wolpoff your host and again this is brought to you by Profit Master Business Solutions and today our conversation is going to be about catering now catering is a major part of any events that you’re planning food is important to many people for nutrition it’s important for keeping people healthy but it’s also part of the ambiance of an event and having the right person to create that ambience to create that menu and to present it for your guests is extremely important for having that right person really knows what people like and provide you with options of what opportunities there are to put onto the table and to serve your guests it’s very key part to the success of the event that you’re planning and I’m very excited about the guests that we have on today uh she is a caterer here in the Jacksonville FL area her name is Dawn Archer from Dawn To Dusk Catering and Dawn welcome to our conversation today hi Howard I’m so excited to be here today well I’m again very excited to have you on and to learn a lot more about you and your journey as a business owner and as a caterer because catering really is a again when you’re planning an events food is important people come to weddings and large scale events and the food is something that going to be talking about afterwards and something they’re going to enjoy during the event itself and something about the it’s about that presentation that the event is making so your role is very important in the all the different planning stages but the success of any type of event yeah absolutely so it’s exciting to learn about the behind the scenes part from someone who does these events who plans these events and I’m also really excited to share your journey with the audience that we have and why don’t we start there at the beginning so what was it that made you decide to go in and create a catering business in 2013 I relocated to Jacksonville so I’ve been always have a passion about food and cooking I’m such a foodie but now I finally have the opportunity to cook so I did a lot of cooking for my family for my kids and I love to share food my neighbors my friend they all love my food so much so I started to help them do their parties and one day my neighbor asked me ohh I have a friend she wants to learn how to cook can you teach her I said ohh I loved you so I started to teach cooking teach cooking class them my students they appreciate my personality so much so they suggest hey why don’t you start a catering business I said ohh I don’t know a lot about catering but you know what I just Google I learn and I made a plan I did it I started I finally started my catering business I really I’m so glad I did that well it’s key that you have that excitement and passion about your business and a lot of energy into all that you do to put into creating the food for creating these events so you definitely found and it’s fun to hear someone talk about someone finding their passion and being able to create into a business that that that brings them joy on a daily basis yes because catering or cooking it’s a is labor intensive work but I love it because I’ve been always a very creative person I think cooking doing the presentation it’s a kind of art it’s a way I express myself and you you’re really correct in saying that because the way food represents it on a plate really can be very artistic then I guess the science and thought process into the ingredients you’re using to create a dish every chef has their own creative style that goes into the ingredients and I’m sure you have your own personal touches that go along with that as well right exactly it really show your personality so I always try to use the best ingredients I always test the recipe try to make it better and I think that my food is my clients always just describe my food is so awesome it’s like it’s not like OK after you eat the food you forget the flavor and they always remember that so Chris memorable special moment for them well that’s very important to create that memorable experience because that also is part of your branding that goes along with growing your business and getting the notoriety that you want to get your name out there to make sure that your business keeps on growing now when you started this business so you again you had not had an experience being a chef and really care business before what were you doing is to start letting people know that you were open for business and looking for clients in the first year I started my business I did some very traditional marketing advertising for my business I build a website then I invest some advertising in different kinds of platforms pay advertising to some wedding wear the knots or some service platforms then after that I started to build my the base of my clients after a while I started to see the conversion rate I think it’s pretty low but at that time I have to because I know nobody in the market I I’m still I’m I was still in the beginning to establish my business but then at 2020 COVID hit so that’s that give me the reason to change my strategy because all the when news all the big events shut down that I had to think about what I should do what I what I’m going to continue this business so during the COVID because of the I remember in the first half year all the restaurants shut down people has to stay at home so I started to do family meal then I put Facebook ads to my neighborhood to the groups or doing Facebook personal last personalized ads so the people leave close to me they come to my place pick up your dinner your lunch so I was very happy I did that for the community a lot of people order food for their neighbors has COVID patients or they pick up the food for the college kids uh for once you started to get back to normal so I thought I thought about my strategy again so I think the key for a small business is you evaluate your strategy all the time and make the adjustment like an old saying say small boat it’s easy to turn around compared to The Titanic it does make a lot of sense and you started a business in a time where you had to make lots of different types of evaluations because you and everyone else was not expecting what 2020 became with COVID and the shutdowns and you were did a very good pivot in trying to do these personalized meals for individuals or families but how sustainable was that as a as a business model as you were viewing it during that time was that something you could have easily continued on doing or was important to for any number of reasons to focus more on event yeah pivot is a very interesting word because you know I love dancing there is a dance move called pivot is I just step forward at your turn around so I did a lot of that in my business I remember in the end of twenty 20s things started to open up so people can now they can go out to eat restaurants most restaurants have the curbside deliver I remember yeah so I don’t think people really need me to do that much home meals then I started to do smaller size events at people’s home at their backyard at their big kitchen because it’s so much easier for both for me and my clients at that time the venue they still need you some vaccine certificate or you have to fill out a bunch of forms of information so we just do the events at people’s house people’s home that is so much easier and then I continued this this model until now and I love to do the intimate smaller gatherings I think it’s more high end more profitable and easy to for me to operate my business but yeah the same time I still to the bigger events too but that’s not like in the beginning of my business OK I try to do 100 people event 200 people event so yeah it just you have the different emphasize and I have to sense that planning on your end for a 200 person event is very different than planning on a 70 person event yes so much to you know caring the biggest challenge is it’s not like you cook for four people six people for 10 people that’s 200 people how can you make the schedule keep all the food ready keep them safe keep them fresh keep them warm that’s a really big challenge and it’s really can be the difference in a successful event or a non-successful event if the food is not kept the right way you want everything to be warm when it’s being brought out to each and everyone’s plate so it’s it really takes a lot of business management in addition to the knowledge of the ingredients and what tastes right and how to create a recipe and implement a recipe when putting together any size of that whether it’s 70 or 200 to make sure that the client is getting what they’re asking for so true yeah talking about the marketing and I did a lot of we said organic marketing on the traditional yeah I made a lot of media appearance magazine interviews so that’s helped me to promote my business too for example I was I’ve been in the local TV shows four or five times actually this morning I just came I just came back from another live show and also I sponsored some local events I have some loyal clients all my social media like Facebook I keep doing I tried to make my contents interesting because I actually I noticed some business our Facebook page they post and nobody likes or one or two but I think some of my post is really people really love the content of what I put over there and that’s one of the challenges with Facebook really has they had its moments for businesses where you’re getting the likes and people following but it’s very hard for business to get people to really interact with their content so it really does say a lot about you with the relationship you’ve created with those following you and your business that that you’re getting a response so it’s part of the challenges of social media where people have their favorite places that they go Facebook definitely has faded in comparison to the instagrams of the tick tocks and how people absorb their social media and what places that they’re spending more time on so it’s good that you’re getting some results and obviously business from its them from the work you’ve been putting in yeah I think I’m doing pretty good on Facebook but Instagram I’m going to do more on my Instagram the reason was my targeted audience I outer group of people because most of my clients are retired the families or people celebrate their special day special moments but most of most of my clients are in the older age group that’s why Facebook because Instagram and more generation I think yeah it’s definitely evolved and yes older people are probably more on Facebook than others but they are finding their way to some other platforms but it’s good that you’re having that as a as a resource for you now obviously your business has grown since that COVID. And the things you learned from it and the what type of events are you mostly catering these days yeah all kinds of special moment all the milestones in their life anniversary party small weddings retirement party birthday party yeah I feel I’m always celebrating something so I feel I feel so lucky I can be part of it and make their special moment even more memorable and that’s very important to be that people have the right people to hire to make these moments special and obviously finding you to be part of these celebrations is been a big part of them enjoying marking that accomplishment and bringing friends in to celebrate with them so when you are developing this type of business like for example you were on TV this morning what kind of responses are you getting and how are people responding to you when they’ve seen you on a TV set we’re like that cooking with the with the with the show hosts I think they feel more excited when they work with me the ohh this is a celebrity shape shift uh so I think that that’s as some interesting thing to my profile you know I also joined like you know the miss senior Jacksonville pageant yeah it’s July 29th and I will the be senior diva yeah that’s interesting title I kind of like diva yeah and I’m glad you brought that up I wanted to jump into that as well having a relationship with the community seems to be a major part of how you’re marketing your business and that type of local networking so getting involved in the local organization and being a contestant in a in a beauty pageant really catering to your target audience at the moment was a great decision on your end and obviously even more so where you were you won you were named the miss Jacksonville diva it’s on the uh the age bracket that that that you were contested in and you got some nice notoriety on the local media and obviously as a great accolades from people that that follow you on Facebook as well to celebrate with you yeah I was on the Morning News because uh I my platform for this pageant is promote home cooking nutritional eating habits I think that’s really a combined and bound with the food industry the catering and I actually I want to share my resource share some of my cooking skills with the community and us so two years ago I actually sponsored the local dancing with the stars I was one of the cater to provide the food for the whole event that that’s a charity fundraising event too so I tried to be get more involved with the community giving back to our community to which Is a great way for business to market itself but also connecting with types of events that connect with you so obviously you mentioned before as a passion you also have is dance and that’s a connector for you do what to appreciate the talents of others in in in dancing and get your name out for your business in that community yes Peter several dance events in the ballroom dance competition dance a show you know because as a dancer myself I tried to keep you know good shape so I know how dancers they what kind of diet is good for dancers for athletic people and yeah that’s why I try to promote the nutritional eating habits for me it took me several years to get better understanding about nutrition all the eating habits really affect your overall lifestyle yeah everything and that has more defined you as an expert in this industry because you are able to relate to different people and the needs that they have because yes food is not just fuel it’s either that or some people eating as a hobby but it’s really there there’s nutritional needs that your body has that you want to make sure that you’re feeding it the right ingredients for what you’re trying to accomplish runners need the different types of nutrition then weight lifters do and dancers with that with that cardio focus of what they’re doing and the specific needs of the movement of their body and the and the forms that they are creating in in doing so it’s important for them to have the right physical shape to be able to make that that lasting impression with every move yeah exactly also there is a trend for people adapting different diets you know vegan vegetarian gluten free keto in my house I have two sons still stay with me one is a meat eater another one is vegan I cook for those two kids all the time they have the completely opposite diet so I really know I learned a lot and how to cater different diet restrictions yeah I think that’s very important for the catering business it’s it really is and really I think as you brand yourself in different ways and make sure that your name is getting out there having those types of knowledge and experience to get out there because I’m sure that you’ll have some set menu for what you’re creating for an event and then they’ll come back saying well we have these two people that are vegetarian and this person that has this special diet so I’m sure that you are fielding questions on a regular basis of how to adjust and adapt for individuals as opposed to the large scale number that you were contracted to create for yes yeah totally agree how challenging is that in the in the master planning for an event I think my uh there’s one unique uniqueness of uh my catering cooking is I can cook everything so I 100% customize your menu there’s no limit so just let me know what’s your name what’s your diet restriction what you want and I will customize the menu for you so a lot of my clients are really impressed because a lot of caterers or restaurants they only has a set menu a fixed one OK you can just choose 123 but I have a general menu too but because of my background I can cook Asian food I can cook western food I can cook Latin American food anything and I’ve combined them to like word cuisine so that’s very interesting and I try to have something that is not easy to find in a restaurant if people can order in a restaurant why they come to me it’s a very good point it’s good vision for what you see the your business to be and what you want it to be so within that thought where do you see your business going over the next few years and actually I I’m I’ve been thinking about this question in the past several months it’s like what we call it how you scale your business I think the challenge or difficulty for small business is expand your business how can you expand to this I’m still thinking about that so my goal is I’m trying to develop some special food product that’s because I can only cook for one event one day sure that makes sense yeah I winna do something like more like I can serve more people and there are lots of grand and I can put something in the white space in the market but that’s my secret I cannot share clear enough so if people have an events if they have a nutritional needs that they’re trying to address if they have any questions for a chef and they want to get in contact with you what’s the best way for people to find you they can go to my website dontyouthatscatter.com and send me a message or e-mail me even contact me on Facebook Instagram yeah I think my website will be the best way to contact well I sense that people will definitely have an interest in learning more about the opportunities you offer within catering and for their events and really just don’t I appreciate you coming on and sharing your story and sharing your journey on building your business and sharing your passions of dance and cooking and I’m very excited to see where your path goes in the future so thank you so much for joining us oh it’s such a pleasure chatting with you thank you and thank you all for joining us as well it’s great when someone finds their passion and goes after it and creates a business that brings joy to people bring is a major part of people celebrations and that’s what dawn has done in creating her business and the way it’s grown she’s been able to connect with even more people and bring more happiness to them and some really great food in the process so definitely click on her website to learn more about dawn and her catering opportunities go out have a great rest of today and we will see you next time this has been small business marketing then and now brought to you by profit master business solutions marketing strategy for the small business owner to learn more