Pia Maffei worked for twenty-five years as technology specialist visiting New York City for a food/hospitality event right after hurricane Sandy and right before the blizzard. As she sat waiting to get her gear to setup her company’s tradeshow booth, she continued to hear the horrible stories from the victims of Sandy. Two days passed as she waited for her gear and continued to hear heartbreaking stories. She called this ‘her moment of clarity’. She sat alone in the Javits center waiting for gear that was impossible to deliver due to the gas shortages and traffic issues in the city and she asked herself what she was doing. She realized she was working very hard for a company that didn’t really care about her or her efforts. Pia said, “I simply did not want to be a part of that any longer!” One woman from New Jersey told Pia, ‘I lost almost everything and I’m staying with friends now.’ She continued, ‘I’m not sure what I’m going to do next, but I can bake a really great Rum Cake’. Pia stood talking to this woman, who lost everything, except abundant optimism, which struck a chord with Pia. She realized she needed to change her life in order to change things! Pia took the woman’s card and said, ‘I plan on opening a specialty food market in Temecula, California and I would love to carry your product’. Pia called her husband and said, “I’m ready for a change!”
Pia Maffei is now owner of a, soon to be open, Artisan’s Palate, a specialty food market in Temecula that will connect shoppers with local food artisans through the use of tablets. The majority of pre-packaged food items offerings will be hand-crafted by local food artisans within a 100 mile radius.
Pia came to a split in the road, left a successful and established career in high-tech, despite uncertain economic times, to open a specialty retail shop that supports local food artisans. Before she made the final leap, she wanted to be certain that she possessed business and marketing acumen needed to make the venture feasible and profitable.
When Pia returned to Temecula she sought the local business resources. Pia contact the City’s economic development department which introduced her to the Temecula Chamber of Commerce and the Inland Empire Small Business Development Center (IESBDC) which resides at the Temecula Valley Entrepreneurs Exchange (TVE2).
Pia met with Paul Nolta, Business Consultant for the Small Business Development, to review her plan. Paul walked Pia through the feasibility plan for her new venture; which covered business topics including, legal, financial, budgeting, and location.
Pia chose a location in a Kimco Realty owned shopping center. Kimco Realty has partnered with the IESBDC to help first-time business owners via the KEYS program. KEYS (Kimco Entrepreneurs Year Start) places qualified applicants into shopping centers with one year of free rent and other benefits. SBDC & Kimco provide operational and financial support through the critical startup incubation years, to better ensure the success of first-time business owners. With the help of the IESBDC, Pia was approved for a lease with Kimco.
Pia keeps weekly meetings with Paul Nolta, regarding the marketing and strategic plan of her business and feels the ongoing consulting is instrumental. Pia said,”knowing that I have the support from him and that he believes in my business brings an extra level of confidence that is invaluable, informative, and truly appreciated.”
While her venture is mostly self-funded, she recognized the need to raise additional money to cover initial costs. She embarked on a quest for money via Kickstarter, an online crowd-funding source. Artisan’s Palate is now seeking local support via her Kickstarter campaign and social media network. To learn more about how a kickstarter campaign works or could help your business visit :