Hello Dear Friends and Newcomers!
For those of you unfamiliar with me and my undertaking, allow me to introduce myself: My name is Amy Isabella Chalker and I've resided in idealic Santa Barbara, CA for the past 7 years since moving here from Chatham on Cape Cod, MA (by way of Boston and New York City). For 5 of those 7 years, I've owned and operated my business, Isabella Massage & Nutrition Services, as a Registered Dietitian and Licensed Massage Therapist.
Isabella Massage & Nutrition Services
I'm now entering into a brand new chapter and bringing to life Isabella Gourmet Foods, my goal and passion for more than 10 years. Isabella Gourmet Foods is a boutique grocery in downtown Santa Barbara highlighting the local food community by offering artisan and organic speciality food items from farms and kitchens in the Santa Barbara/Central Coast area and supplementing with similar foods from the Napa/Sonoma reagion, Cape Cod/New England, and select cities abroad.
Isabella Gourmet Foods represents not only a culmination of everything I believe in with respect to food, health, and the community, but also serves as a composite of my itinerant life thus far, from the general stores, fish shops, and epicures of Cape Cod to the corner stores, boutiques, and delis of NYC to the Farmer's Markets, CSAs, and farm-to-table restaurants of Santa Barbara. With this venture, it is vital to give back to the communities that have raised and molded me, each in their own unique, coastal ways.
Isabella Gourmet Foods is not only a neighborhood grocery where locals and tourists can swing by to pick up specialty items for a dinner party, to-go soups and sandwiches over lunch hour, or fond, savory rememberances of a vacation for friends and family, but it is also a meeting place for people to partake in workshops, seminars, food demos, and guest lectures on timely and creative food and nutrition topics. As a Registered Dietitian, I will continue to bring my expertise to my customer base in a brand new and innovative setting.
With your contribution comes a realization of my passion and an opportunity to show just how far one girl from Cape Cod can go with a unique niche gourmet grocery never before realized in Santa Barbara.
Crunching the Numbers
Anyone who has operated a retail shop knows the golden rule that you should take your budget and double or triple it for a more realistic idea of what it will cost to open and operate in the first year of business. $35,000 is merely the base number that I will need to open my shop this winter (anticipating January 2013). My location is secured in downtown Santa Barbara, at 5 E Figueroa St in La Arcada Court, but it will sit an empty shell without the means to breathe life into it. The money raised will go toward many aspects of prepping the shop for business including:
-Health department and city permits
-Buildout of electric, plumbing, and flooring elements
-Equipment purchase of refrigerator, freezer, display cases, and shelving
-Initial inventory purchases
-Hiring of first employees
La Arcada Court, home to Isabella Gourmet Foods
In return for your generosity and support, I've created what I believe to be an enticing series of thoughtly chosen gifts, from my famous Queen Isabella Cake to intimate Farm-to-Table catered dinners to Destination Vacations to Santa Barbara or Cape Cod, depending on your home locale.
As someone who has met every venture I've undertaken with unbridled drive and resolve, I'm optimistic about reaching my fundraising goal but please understand that, were I to fall short, THIS IS HAPPENING. Every penny of your donations will still go toward the opening of Isabella Gourmet Foods and I will supplement the difference via other means. And if I surpass my goal, you may also rest assured that additional funds will not be spent frivolously; they will also, in their entirety, go toward the operation expenses ($108,000 for the first 6 months) that govern retail life.
I've chosen Indiegogo as the fundraising infrastructure for this campaign for several reasons; many of you may be familiar with Kickstarter, a similar "crowdfunding" platform utilized by many for creative endeavors and product launches. Kickstarter does not smile upon projects such as mine because they have no end, no tangible result. To me, Isabella Gourmet Foods is as tangible an end-goal as a CD or a novel and the resulting experience of shopping here will be on par with the experience of viewing a documentary, theater piece, or other creative project funded on such a platform. In fact, a number of similar projects funded on platforms like this one, including Atwater Village Farm: A Local Market in LA; Nourish Kitchen & Table in NYC; and Plenty: A Grocery Store for the Neighborhood in Chicago have all exceeded their funding goals.
Other Ways You Can Help
In this and any economy, asking for a donation (for anything) is bold, and expecting something for nothing, as they say, even bolder. I hope I have illustrated that you are receiving something far more valuable than any of the tangible gifts I can offer you; the legacy of Isabella Gourmet Foods in Santa Barbara as a community supporter of local, sustainable business and agriculture and the possibility of expansion to other cities and towns to support their economies, farmers, and artisan producers as well. If you are not able to donate, you still have a voice and can post, share, shout, and send word by carrier pigeon that Isabella Gourmet Foods is coming and I want you on board!
Less than 3 weeks may seem like a short time-frame to reach a relatively lofty monetary goal but I've seen it done in less than half that time with far less resources, planning, and gumption. I set this time-frame because I want to bring Isabella Gourmet Foods to the community as rapidly as possible; there is a gap in Santa Barbara for this type of enterprise and it needs to be filled asap! With my solid business plan, training in Women's Economic Ventures, and experience as an entrepeneur Dietitian, I have the means and the blueprints to make Isabella Gourmet Foods a rousing success with the proper funding.
For now, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your time, your contribution, and your unfaltering support in me and in my business. Please look for updates in the coming weeks!
Amy Isabella Chalker, RD, LMT
Amy Isabella Chalker