How This Clothing Designer Started a Side Business Creating Customizable Pasture Boards
Charlie Kerbel is a Los Angeles-based children’s clothing designer with over 20 years of experience. During the pandemic, she decided to start her side business making customizable pasture boxes. His company ME’N’U Grazing LA is the sister company of ME’N’U Grazing based in South Africa. The mum-of-three sat down with Jessica Abo to share her journey and her advice to anyone considering starting a side hustle.
Jessica Abo: How did you come up with this idea for your jostling side?
Charlie Kerbel: Having three children, in addition to engaging with the children and their mothers in my day job, I often heard from the mothers about the lack of party boxes and fun food options available. Lots of opportunities often arise when you identify a problem or gap in the market, so I took advantage and used my experience in the creative world and styling to develop a product that kids and moms would love, then I broke into a niche market. We have started to develop a number of children’s candy boxes that can also be personalized and personalized. These have also evolved for all ages as the boxes can also be used as gifts to convey any message in a fun, delicious and creative way.
What was the first step you took to bring your idea to life?
My best friend, Michelle, lives in South Africa and she started a pasture board business. We were once talking about taking pasture boards to the next level, after extensive discussions and so much passion and excitement. We decided to do it. Let’s bring it to LA. And ME’N’U Grazing LA was born.
What made you choose pasture boards?
I am a designer. I love food and I love giving gifts, I also love things that look good. So these things fit together organically. After doing a lot of research and listening to others speak, it was clear that there aren’t many gifts or charcuterie boards that you can personalize or personalize for a fair price. We set out to close that gap and bring something special and unique at an affordable price to a market that is also looking for convenience.
It can be quite overwhelming when you start a scramble to find clients. How did you find yours?
My first clients were my friends who then referred me to their friends. I joined social media, Instagram and TikTok, and met a number of amazing women through this platform who really helped me along the way. Word of mouth, visibility and social media really helped the growth and engagement of the brand.
What obstacles have you encountered along the way?
So much. So I was switching to a completely different industry. I had a lot to learn about food, waste, ordering and also how to be a great photographer, a great videographer. The COVID pandemic and lockdown restrictions also haven’t helped when it comes to suppliers and inventory. Social media was completely new to me – not only that, but also production and customer service. I had to learn all of these things in order to have a successful business, combined with the juggling of taking care of my house and my children as well as my day job.
Based on this, what have you learned from your career?
As important as creativity is, so is production and manufacturing. It is therefore also about all the intermediate steps that allow you to put it in the hands of your consumer, flawlessly and effortlessly. Taking things in your stride, your focus and balance are key.
What advice would you like to share with someone who wants to start a side business?
Start small, especially if you have a full-time career. Believe in yourself, you probably know more than you think. Be open to learning. You will make mistakes. Sometimes better than perfect, but at least get started and take the risk.