Who are you and what is the name of your business?
David and Michele Bernard.
Our businesses are Game Day Foods, LLC, Bernard’s Gourmet Foods, LLC, 1SquareMile, LLC
What inspired you to start your business?
The desire to invest in ourselves and in our community.
What services or products do you offer?
We produce specialty food products, including our award-winning Bernard’s Gourmet Foods line of gourmet roasted salsas. Currently, we also produce pepper sauces and pickled peppers. Coming soon, soups, braising sauces, chili starters and spice rubs.
What is unique about your business?
The individual skills, professional experiences, personal passions and talents we each bring to the table are different and beautifully complementary to each other. We think our individual diversity coupled with our shared common goals is especially well suited to growing a family-owned small business.
How does your business give back to the community?
Giving back to our community through our business is perhaps the thing we are most grateful to be able to do. As life-long McKinney natives, there isn’t enough print space to list all the many ways our community has nourished us over the years. Suffice it to say, we are more than happy and honored to nourish our community in return. We support numerous organizations in their fundraising efforts by providing products and/or services.
Currently, David serves each year as a featured chef at McKinney’s Empty Bowls event benefitting Community Lifeline Center, and Michele serves on the Holy Family School Board. Together, we are the founders of McKinney’s RBFCU Star-Spangled Salsa Fest presented by Bernard’s Gourmet Foods, benefitting the Community Garden Kitchen of Collin County.
Now, in its second year, this family-friendly spicy food festival and contest happens July 4th at Chestnut Square Heritage Village immediately following the Red, White and Boom hometown parade in downtown McKinney. Produced by a rock-star committee of community members with a heart to nourish others, last year’s event saw GOTEXAN spicy food pros, restaurants, and individuals vying for top honors.
Live entertainment, family fun zones, culinary demonstrations, and lots of tasty food made the inaugural holiday community event a wonderful success. But the best part of the day was the ability to gift Community Garden Kitchen with close to $10,000. Once built, Community Garden Kitchen will serve the children of Holy Family School by day, and provide dining with dignity to those in need of a hot meal in the evening.
What challenges have you faced in running your business?
Any time a husband and wife decide to go into business together, lots of conversations need to happen. We were as intentional about entering into our business relationship as we were entering into our marriage! Lots of conversations about what would and would not be, happened well in advance of actually making the decision to open for business. In short, for the sake of our marriage, our sanity, our family, we had to figure out what boundaries were, not to mention what our individual business lanes were going to be, then figure out how to stay in them.
Meanwhile, on the business front, almost immediately, we faced the challenge of production keeping up with demand. The first year was especially challenging. Our feet still hurt, and we have yet to catch up on the sleep we lost that year! Now, in our third year of production, in addition to David’s micro-batch production, we also have a wonderful small batch manufacturer, as well as a larger batch manufacturer helping us supply our customers with our products.
What methods have you used to grow your business?
Relational marketing, sharing with friends, family, neighbors, direct sales through farmers markets, pop-ups and special events, charitable donations, internet sales, catering, private chef gigs, social media, professional networking associations and events, tastings, demonstrations, word-of-mouth, and contests.
What is the secret to keeping happy customers?
A superior, consistent product coupled with excellent customer service is what we believe will put us on the right path to keeping happy customers. Respectfully listening to and responding to customer feedback is also essential to growing our long term relationships.
Who has been your greatest inspiration?
We better say each other! Ha! Actually, our greatest inspiration is our family, friends and customers who so graciously support our efforts, and every “Mom-n-Pop” we’ve known or met along the way.
What is your most/least favorite thing about your business?
Our favorite thing about our business is interacting with others. We especially enjoy interactions that include sharing our products with others. Our least favorite thing about our business is it can get paperwork intensive sometimes.
Where do you see your business going in the future?
From day one, we’ve used a couple of business adages to help guide our decision making: “bloom where you’re planted," and “a rising tide lifts all ships."
In year one, we began our business journey at McKinney Farmers Market. From there, we expanded into other local markets and retail shelves in downtown McKinney via McKinney Wine Merchant and LocoCowpoke Salsa shop. Now in year three, we are so proud and happy to say that as members of H-E-B’s 2018 Quest for Texas Best Class, our products can now be found in 196 H-E-B grocery stores in 91 Texas cities! Our immediate future will see us continuing our fun work in and around McKinney, as well as, traveling Texas, meeting, greeting and sharing yummy salsa with our H-E-B Texas family and friends. We’re having a blast! Eventually, we do see our business expanding beyond Texas to include national distribution.
To what do you attribute your success?
We each have different strengths. We continue to figure out the best way to leverage these strengths to benefit our business.
What is the best advice you would give someone thinking of starting their own small business?
Do your homework. Research, research, research. Write, then work a dynamic business plan. Review it and update it on a regular basis remembering that your business plan is not a static document.