From connecting to their family’s heritage to creating a personalized customer experience, local entrepreneurs told LINK nky they all found different ways to feel fulfilled while running their small businesses.
During National Small Business Week last week, LINK asked three Northern Kentucky small business owners what they appreciated most about operating a small business.
Nationally, small businesses account for 44% of total US economic activity, according to a 2019 US Small Business Administration report.
With nearly 40 cities across three counties, each varying in size and population, Northern Kentucky’s small businesses serve as the cultural pillars of their respective cities. Eighty-five percent of all businesses registered with the NKY Chamber of Commerce are small businesses, with 10 or fewer employees.
From April 30 to May 6, the US Small Business Administration, or SBA, recognizes the contributions of small business owners to the country’s economy through National Small Business Week.
“National Small Business Week celebrates the resilience, innovation, and economic power of America’s small businesses and innovative startups,” said SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman.
Within the past six months, all three small businesses have received money from Cincinnati-based entrepreneurial support non-profit Main Street Ventures in order to scale and sustain their business.
Mansi Shah, founder of Down the Road Spice Company in Newport, started her own small business so she could share her Indian heritage with her community. Down the Road blends organic, small-batch masalas for cooking at home.
“Food has always been a really important connection point for me back to my heritage,” Shah told LINK nky. “As I moved away from home and as I’ve grown older, being able to recreate the Indian types of Indian food that I grew up eating is really difficult.”
After working in Procter & Gamble’s marketing division for nearly 10 years, Shah said she decided to take a chance on herself. For Shah, the work provided her with a great sense of satisfaction.
“We set out to solve that problem, which is that Indian food can be complex and intimidating,” Shah said. “We were trying to figure out the best way to make home cooked food that really tastes like it was made from scratch but do it in a way that’s simple. We found that a dry spice base like what we have with these masalas was the best way to do it.”
Jeffrey Miller, founder of Parts & Labor, a barbeque catering startup based in Newport, said he values giving his customers a “unique experience.” Miller has years of entrepreneurial experience in the food industry.
“We want to be able to create a more customized or unique experience with our customers,” Miller said. “I like that relationship I can develop with them and make it a real personalized experience.”
Deborah Rudisell, founder of Cork N Crust, a pizza and wine restaurant in Bellevue, told LINK nky that one of the most rewarding aspects of running a small business was how they felt embraced by their community upon opening.
“We immediately were so welcomed by the Bellevue community,” Rudisell said. “They really have embraced us and not only the people and business owners and our customers, but the Mayor, the city council – everybody.”
Rudisell opened Cork N Crust in November of 2021 — still amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Community support was crucial to the restaurant’s survival in the beginning.
“We did take all the right precautions so we have definitely experienced what it was like to open a business in the middle of COVID,” Rudisell said. “By the time we opened, we had a lot of people that are now very regular customers that we hadn’t known six months before. We have so many regulars at our restaurant now, it’s just amazing.”