154: Ernisha Randolph (Sweet Butter Hospitality Group)

Ernisha Randolph on Innovation City

“I just have a belief that there’s always something that we can do. Most of the time when we fail it’s because we give up. We give up way too soon.” – Ernisha Randolph

Welcome to Season 3 of Innovation City, a podcast featuring innovators, creators, and disruptors to discover how business is changing in the modern world.

Created and produced by SLAM! Agency in cooperation with Venture Cafe St. Louis and Venture Cafe Miami, Innovation City gives you an inside look at how rapidly business and culture are changing thanks to increasing diversity and inclusion, heightened creativity, and a stronger and better-connected business community. Venture Cafe is the largest combined gathering of entrepreneurs and innovators anywhere in the world. Events are held every Thursday in St. Louis, Miami, and other leading innovation cities around the globe.

Today’s guest is Ernisha Randolph, Owner and CEO of Sweet Butter Hospitality Group, a firm that manages a number of culinary brands and experiences including, among others, a catering company, soul food restaurants, and specialty food product lines. In this episode, Ernisha sits down with the team to discuss business insights, the non-traditional ways she raised funds for her restaurant, mentoring other entrepreneurs through the coronavirus pandemic, and much more!

They discuss:

  • How she got started
  • Innovation in the food and beverage industry
    • The pop-up dinner shows were a way for Ernisha to control her own future
    • They allowed her to promote, as well as, fund the opening of her restaurant
  • Business insights
    • Learned from customer feedback
    • Used guest surveys to improve future pop-ups and to develop the restaurant
  • Developing business systems
    • She took her time creating plans and operations manuals
    • These help her businesses maintain consistency and make them easy to run
  • Access to capital
    • Difficulty in obtaining loans to start her businesses made her the “queen of bootstrapping”
    • She mastered non-traditional ways of funding
      • Ernisha raised capital to open her restaurant by hosting pop-up dinner shows
      • 17 sold-out dinner shows with over 1,000 guests each
  • In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Ernisha volunteered to mentor other struggling entrepreneurs
    • Pivot when necessary
    • There’s always something we can do
    • First group of entrepreneurs was so successful she is now embarking on her second round of mentoring
  • Contact Ernisha on social media @WeShuckin, @mrs.sweetbutter or email [email protected]

Lightning Round:

  1. What does success look like to you?
    • Healthy and wealthy family, friends and associates, all having access to capital, resources and opportunity I and others had.
  2. What are you working towards that you could use help with?
    • Right now I’m raising funds for entrepreneurs to be able to reinvest in their businesses to ensure their success.
  3. What challenge do you want to overcome?
    • OCD. I have it really bad. That’s why I always preach, done is better than perfect.
  4. What would you do if you were not afraid?
    • There’s a lot I would probably do. I would finally do that reality show they’ve been trying to recruit us for forever.
  5. What random act of kindness could you perform right now?
    • I could donate a new wardrobe to a family.