An Interview: Local Foodie Becomes a Foodie’s Business Advisor

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Interview: Martha Lucius of Cavalletta Solutions

Recently, Martha Lucius was interviewed on how she founded her unique business, Cavalletta, and asked to define the many roles she plays.  Here’s an excerpt:

HOW DID YOU BECOME A BUSINESS ADVISOR?

The real answer? Because I needed a “cavalletta” when I owned my cafe. I could not find a professional to turn to.  Like most owners, I had no formal training to become an owner. There were times I just needed to talk out my plan, and get help with the big picture questions.  Yes, I could find a PR firm/graphic design firm/a social media gal and alot of information on how I COULD improve my business… but the vision to lead a staff with my formula–that is what I needed.

HOW DO YOU HELP OWNERS?  WHAT IS YOUR METHOD?

Cavalletta Media and Cavalletta Solutions supports owners of food-based businesses (farms, restaurants, makers–cheese, jam, granola).  Trainings are done on-line, and/or over-the-phone.  Call it consulting, or business advising or DIY training– depending on clients budgets. We build a language for improvement by focusing on Cavalletta’s Six Pillars of Business:  Vision, Financial Stability, Operations, Product, Distribution and Customer Experience.  I have two different programs that satisfy most of my customers.

Shelves of a local market. Product placement is more than a term. It spurs sales
Shelves of a local market. Product placement is more than a term. It spurs sales

WHAT ARE THOSE TWO DIFFERENT PROGRAMS?

My easiest way to explain them is when I work with soon-to-be owners, and owners of existing restaurants, farms and products.

  • Entrepreneurs Program—people are at different stages of start-up.  My goal is to give them tools to be financially sound, and healthy as a business and as an owner.  What does that look like?  We step into the logistics, complete a mindset training, and set their six pillars of business to support their business. 12 week one-on-one training.
  • Owner Program—owners are in different positions of stability, and different on timeframes depending on how old they business is.  My goal is to remind them of where they are going (vision energizes everything), then reset each pillar of business.  Examples are: is the business financially sound, we address that. Is the owner keen to improve their hospitality/customer experience, we address how best to do that.  The timeline is set between the owner and Martha Lucius—mutual agreement of time and money.

WHAT ARE YOUR QUALIFICATIONS AND WHERE DID YOU GAIN YOUR EXPERIENCE?

My experience comes from owning three separate businesses since I graduated from college in 1985.  The most recent was Boheme Cafe, a fiercely independent cafe in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, for eighteen years.  Our customers appreciated that every day we provided a healthy, tasty, made-from-scratch meal–soups, sandwiches, always with flavors from around the world. My skill as a board member and committee member has given  me gobs of experience and fantastic contacts.  Traveling and living overseas until I was 17 years old, meant eating from markets.  Life before “farm to table” was a term! Together these skills have been my journey and my education.  The result is that I am able to use my life experience and my business acumen to guide clients with branding, messaging and marketing, vision and financial stability, operations and distribution… and last but not least, improving customer experience.

Brewery chooses old mill parts for the beer gardens interior
Brewery chooses old mill parts for the beer gardens interior

IN CLOSING, WHAT IS YOUR MOST IMPORTANT MESSAGE TO OWNERS?

To be willing to change.  I could say it in fifteen different ways but it all comes back to creating new habits that lie in the willingness to change.

If you’re interested in pursuing your food passion through a start-up business, or improving your current business model, contact Martha at 410.963.6431 on the Avenue in Hampden, or be on the lookout for her food truck in the near future!

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