Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Ellen Skeete, Owner of Island Spice Bar & Grill, located in Houston, TX, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Island Spice Bar & Grill is a vibrant hub that seamlessly blends culinary artistry with lively nightlife. This address is more than a physical location; it's an experience that captivates the senses. With its enticing offerings, Island Spice not only satisfies cravings but also ignites the spirit of entertainment. From exquisite dining to pulsating weekend nights, this venue embodies a convergence of flavors and beats, making it a standout destination in the Houston scene.

Tell us about yourself

My journey into entrepreneurship was driven by an innate desire to establish something of my own. The seeds of this venture were sown with the intention of providing the Caribbean community in Houston with a genuine source of authentic groceries and cuisine. The initial support was encouraging, though its momentum waned over time. Adapting to the changing tides, I made a significant pivot – transforming the grocery store into a vibrant restaurant and bar. This shift wasn't initially part of my plan, yet it's become an integral part of who I am, especially during weekends when I step into the role of a bar and club owner. While this path has demanded much from me and offered relatively little in return, my tenacity prevails. Every day, I draw motivation from within, reminding myself that the vision I hold isn't just a dream; it's a potential reality waiting to unfold. This unwavering determination keeps me going, propelling me forward toward the day when that vision transforms into tangible success.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Undoubtedly, my most notable achievement as a business owner is the endurance of my establishment's doors for over 12 years in the demanding restaurant industry. As a female black entrepreneur, this accomplishment holds profound significance, considering the hurdles and obstacles I've faced along the way. Overcoming these formidable challenges stands as a testament to my perseverance and determination. This accomplishment not only reflects my resilience but also serves as an inspiration for others, demonstrating that with unwavering dedication, barriers can be overcome, and dreams can endure.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

One of the most formidable challenges of being a business owner is navigating the realm of staffing. While I invest significant effort in motivating and inspiring my team, the reality often hits hard: despite my best intentions, many employees are primarily driven by the paycheck rather than a genuine desire to learn and grow. Balancing the diverse personalities and motivations within the workforce can be an intricate puzzle, requiring constant adaptability and management finesse. This challenge underscores the complexity of fostering a unified and motivated team that aligns with the business's vision and values.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

Acquire knowledge about business finances, allocate a budget for effective business promotion, and commence your promotional efforts well in advance of engaging your initial customers. Additionally, it's advisable not to depend solely on family or friends for assistance with your business endeavors.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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