Tawnya Clark, Founder of The Batata Shop, illustrates how perseverance and patience can help Detroiters, both young and old, grow their business slowly and successfully–a recipe for long-term success. You can read her full story here.
In chatting with IAYD, Clark shared what she’s learned during the past 2.5 years since she was inspired by The Cooking Channel to launch The Batata Shop.
Confused about the best training program? Don’t worry. Clark recommends them all. She entered Hatch Detroit, participated in entrepreneurial training at Bizdom U, Food Lab, and TechTown, tapped resources at Midtown Detroit Inc. and Vanguard CDC and assists with Open City. ”I used all these opportunities to network and connect with people. While I may have learned something in an earlier training, sometimes it helps to get a refresher.”
Clark recommends the pop-up model for those considering a startup, especially a food-based business. She’s taken The Batata Shop on the road and popped up at Anthology Coffee and the Hub of Detroit progressive dinner. “Pop-up, as compared to a permanent location from the very beginning, helped me to start slow enough to identify my target market and to learn what it takes to serve people. More importantly, it helped me control costs.”
Clark learned her products compliment coffee very well. So, she did what any smart businesswoman would do, created partnership with local coffee shops. These partnership allows for to be in established businesses with high foot traffic that allow her to grow her customer base without high operating costs. After all, who wouldn’t love a homemade waffle with a double latte before rushing to work?
Known for her signature ‘fro and easy-going demeanor, Clark discovered her personality was a plus during her pop-ups. She learned foodies were her target market and began incorporating cooking demonstrations into her routine. “I learned I have a great rapport with my customers. Now, I take my griddle and cook the waffles in front of people. It helps me share my vision and connect with people who understand and agree with it.”
Clark’s advisors include the who’s who of restaurateurs and entrepreneurs in Detroit. They provide a sounding board for her plans, furter develop her concept and help to strengthen any weaknesses in her business plan. She shared, “I’ve found people in Detroit to be extremely helpful. They won’t do the work for you, but they will definitely guide you in the right direction and help you grow.”