Celine Zhou the owner of Delight Patisserie had only been in America a couple of years when she decided to start a business, and the inspiration for her company began with a vacation to France. It was there she fell in love with their tea cakes. While back in America, she searched for a similar pastry yet found none in comparison. She returned to France to study under Chef Jacques Dantas; together they developed their own recipes.
Celine first turned to the SBDC for support in January 2019. She was looking for knowledge, industry contacts, and direction. She was introduced to Larry Johnson, an advisor at the El Camino College SBDC and a veteran of the food industry. Larry provided Celine with a fast track education, covering everything from industry vehicular to how to negotiate contracts with manufacturers.
Larry introduced Celine to SBDC clients who also had food-related companies. In this, Celine found a support group that provided her with information and supply chain contacts. Larry made an introduction to the bakery buyer for Lazy Acres Market, a division of Bristol Farms. He helped her prepare for and attended the meeting. In response, the buyer has requested several documents, which Larry is helping Celine prepare.
To assist with the marketing Celine was introduced to Deborah Deras, an advisor at the El Camino SBDC who specializes in social media. She helped Celine put together a digital media strategy, hinged on an Instagram campaign. Celine learned how to create hashtags and communicate with followers. She quickly obtained over 1000 followers. She also began following bloggers, distributors, and other experts in the desert space. She introduced her new line, cookies with a personalized message, and after posting her first pictures, orders immediately flooded in.
The social media campaign also provided access to key customers, such as wedding planners, companies that sold gift baskets and corporations. She now has a steady flow of orders from these relationships. One of the party planners asked her to create a cookie with a specialized message to appear on a BRAVO TV show. Celine also started attending various pop-up markets, allowing her to reach more direct customers.
Through the advice gained from the El Camino SBDC, Celine’s company has doubled sales and hired two part-time employees. She openly praises the SBDC for their assistance in making her dream a reality. Celine says, “The SBDC is wonderful for people just starting a business. They provide knowledge, support, and connections.”