Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Ikeena Hardman, Founder of Keena's Kitchen, located in Oakland, CA, USA.

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

Keena's Kitchen creates one-of-a-kind, community-centered dining experiences. Our signature, California Soul Cuisine, is a blissful union between Southern Creole-styled cooking and the best locally sourced fare California has to offer. We provide private dining services, cooking skills classes, and a host of options for special community events. Our services are perfect for Bay Area couples, small family or friend groups, and businesses looking for a fun and unique way to enjoy a meal!

Tell us about yourself

Raised in Oakland, CA, I grew up in the Bay Area. I have a passion for the city and its rich cultural legacy–Art, Social Activism, and Food Justice. I learned to cook by watching my mom and other family adults. Everyone had their specialties, and cooking was a natural part of family life. "Food was always such an integral part of our family gatherings. So much time was spent on shopping, preparing, and eating meals made with so much love!" The team at Keena's Kitchen is motivated to bring that kind of experience to their clients--we want them to feel satiated in every way after dining with us.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Our biggest accomplishment, I believe, is managing to stay in business for 10+ years, even through the pandemic. It's been tough since the start of mandates and closures, shortages, and supply chain price hikes. We're very blessed to still be here and able to provide our service to community members who like us and want us to stick around. We really couldn't have survived without them.

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

I think one of the toughest things for us is watching our vendors close down. Some of our favorite ingredients come from local small-batch vendors, and the COVID pandemic has really changed how we have to think about sourcing some of those ingredients. We've really had to be flexible and creative.

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

My advice to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today is to ask yourself the tough questions and really look at the long-term cost of doing business. Do you have enough support? How can you build a system of support in the beginning? Where can you find community around what you are doing? These are the things that will get you through tough times.

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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