Marine Turned Chef Joanne Thomas Shares About Her Cooking Career and Business

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Hi, Joanne! Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business:

Hi! I’m Chef Joanne Thomas, a world-renowned culinary artist known for exceptional skills, creative flair, and dedication to the art of cooking. With a career spanning decades, I’ve curated a collection of custom-blended spices, gourmet butters, and other culinary delights that cater to food enthusiasts and home chefs alike. My commitment to excellence is evident in every product and experience I offers, from virtual cooking classes to private chef dinners around the world. I was born and raised on the west side of Chicago and always loved entertaining, something I inherited from my mom as a child.

What excites you about being an Entreprenista League member?

I am excited to be a part of like-minded individuals who all want success and are willing to help each other achieve it as well.

Our members thrive on supporting each other and our businesses! What made you take the leap to start your own business?

I initially did my business as a hobby while I worked for everyone else. In the 2020 pandemic, I lost my Executive Chef Job and decided to rebrand and launch my business as a full-time corporation. It was the best decision I could have made.

What was your background prior to starting your own business?

I’m a Marine Veteran who went to culinary school after the Corps because I love entertaining so much that I decided to get the papers to back me. I’ve worked both FOH and BOH for restaurants, banquet halls, school districts, hospitals and a university.

Thank you for your service, Joanne! Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

I didn’t always want to be one, but it was always something that I should’ve been doing.

Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?

Marketing was word of mouth from family and friends. Because I did it as a hobby, it was OK. Once I relaunched, I did social media marketing, ads, events, etc. to help expand my brand.

What is the biggest challenge you have encountered along the way and what did you learn from it?

Business capital has been a challenge. I’ve learned to make smart money decisions and ensure contracts are in place before making any purchases.

That’s a common Founder challenge and we’re looking forward to helping you navigate it! What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?

Relaunching my brand in the midst of a pandemic and doubling my sales within the second year.

An amazing feat! Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?

ABSOLUTELY! I go to yoga every Wednesday morning. I normally work out three days a week, but if life/business gets busy and I don’t make Monday and Friday, I am not canceling yoga. I take “me time” and “self-care” seriously, whether it’s a spa day, massage, or facial or just baking my favorite cookie recipe to an hour bubble bath when needed.

Self-care is a must! What’s a piece of advice you can share that you wish you’d known when you first started your Entreprenista journey?

Do research. Visit places and get feedback. Ask questions from those who did it first or can give you sound advice. Luckily, I haven’t had any major challenges, but it’s always better to go in knowing something versus nothing at all. I know food, so my brand was easy for me because it’s natural. But the marketing part of it was a learning curve.

What have you achieved recently that you’d like to celebrate with our community?

My appearances on WGN TV Chicago. I’ve been blessed to have three opportunities to do a segment and I’m so happy about that.

Congrats! What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?

As a travel chef, you can expect to see me in more areas, traveling and cooking wherever I go. My ultimate culinary goal is to have my own cooking show, so hopefully, that will be happening soon. I also would love to be on Good Morning America doing a cooking segment, so I’m speaking that into the atmosphere. Product placement in retail stores and opening my own brick-and-mortar production space instead of renting as I currently am.

Learn more about the Entreprenista League and join today!

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