Amber: Hey I’m Amber Ambrose and this is the BusinessMakers Show. Today my guest is Rachael Volz of A Fare Extraordinaire, she’s CEO today but it wasn’t always that way. Rachael we’re really excited to hear your story.
Rachael: Thank you for having me.
Amber: Thanks for joining us. First of all what is A Fare Extraordinaire?
Rachael: Well we are a catering event planning company. We do event production from glassware, china, flatware, beautiful flowers and décor. We have amazing chefs and we do fun mocktails and cocktails; so the whole gamut when it comes to party planning.
Amber: So how big or how small? Do you have a certain niche that you fill?
Rachael: We are definitely in the luxury market so we’re kind of a high end catering company. We do events for as small as 8 – so we do board lunches for 8 in the medical center all the time – up to events of like 1,500 – 2,000.
Amber: Wow. I guess because you’ve been established for such a long time you have a lot of repeat customers.
Rachael: We do.
Amber: But how do you get the 1,500 people events? How do those usually come to be?
Rachael: So those are typically corporate events. When you’re looking at that 500 – 600 range that’s going to be a nonprofit event but that size, 1,000 – 1,500, is a corporate event; we are going to get those through some of our top venues that we work at here in Houston. So Museum of Natural Science, Museum of Fine Arts; we are on so many preferred caterer list so we get those opportunities that way. We love our creative partners we love being on these vendor lists; we’ve been around for a really long time. I don’t know if you know but we’ve been around since 1985. So 32 years, we’ve been around a long time with a great reputation.
Amber: So 1985, I’m just making some conjecture that you probably weren’t running in 1985.
Rachael: I was not, no.
Amber: I know you have an interesting story that started in 2005; what was sort of the first step?
Rachael: Well in 2005 I had graduate from college at Loyola University in New Orleans and I landed a job.
Amber: The Green Wave.
Rachael: Yeah. I landed a job at A Fare Extraordinare, I was actually the receptionist and worked my way up. I moved myself by working really hard and just kind of going after it to a sales position and then managing the sales department and pushing my way into the operations of the business until I approached the two owners one day and said I’d like to own a piece of this company. And they looked at each other and said okay, how are we going to make this happen? So one thing lead to the next and I had bought 50% of the business in 2010.
Amber: So you went from just requesting hey I’d like to own some of the company to purchasing 50%; half of it.
Rachael: Let’s say that there was a lot of things that happened in between there. So there were two partners and one bought out the other one so now we have 100% owner. I had been working with her for a really long time, her name is Karen Lerner and she is the Founder of the company, and I ended up becoming 50/50 partners with her. That happened in 2010, I was 27 years old.
Amber: But you knew what you wanted.
Rachael: Yes. Full of energy, full of excitement; a risk taker at the time and really had never experienced failure or not much adversity in my life. It was just like everything was go after it and that was the attitude I had.
Amber: Speaking of risk you took another really large risk recently, but obviously high risk, high reward; would love to know more about that project.
Rachael: We launched a new venture, it’s called The Revere. It’s a building that we purchased; it’s on Old Katy Road. It’s going to house our commissary, our warehouse and this amazing new 25,000 square foot venue.
Amber: 25,000 square feet which means that you can fit some of those 1,500 parties in one building comfortably.
Rachael: Yeah so we can house anywhere from 150 to 1,500. It is absolutely beautiful; I really fell in love with it. It was a 1942 munitions factory that we have just refurbished; beautiful concrete floors and a steel bow truss ceiling, 30 foot ceilings, no columns, just beautiful.
Rachael: Perfect to really kind of decorate the event however you wish.
Amber: Almost like a blank canvas which you’re used to doing at other venues, but getting to know it from the inside out I’m sure is going to be a totally different experience for y’all, so what are you most excited about?
Rachael: I’m excited for the growth. I’ve taken a pretty big risk purchasing this property and moving our current company and then opening up an additional business while we’re moving. It’s a lot happening at the same time but I have the most amazing team and we’re so confident in ourselves and we care so much about our customers and their special moments. And this will really allow us to be a part of more moments in Houston, whether it’s a wedding or a special corporate event or a nonprofit event, we want to be a part of it.
Amber: That’s great. So you launched but it’s not actually going to be open for events until when?
Rachael: We’re in construction right now so we’re still – all the planning’s been done but we’re in construction right now and it’s going to be open late spring 2018. We’re already taking booking business but that’s when our first event will be.
Amber: It’ll be here before you know it.
Rachael: I can’t wait.
Amber: Except you can go without the hardhat this time.
Amber: So I know that this newest project has just launched so it’s probably hard to think a little bit past it, but what do you envision for the next 5 years?
Rachael: This business, I’ve been working on it for about 2 years trying to get the venue launched and get our company moved into a new home that is the right space for us, and I think it will probably take a couple of years just to mature and get to where I see the potential of the business, but in 5 years I hope I’m travelling a lot with my family. I have two beautiful children, Oliver who is 5 and George who is 2 and although I spend a lot of time with them I always crave more. And so I’m trying to knock it out of the park hopefully in the next couple of years so that I can take a backseat and enjoy my family.
Amber: And speaking of, just because we do have a lot of parents that also work that watch the show or that are entrepreneurs themselves, on your bio on the website it says you’ve really worked hard at striking that work/life balance. What are some tips or advice that you have to people trying to do the same thing?
Rachael: I have a lot of amazing women around me and I have an amazing husband and I have supportive people around me and so I am not scared to delegate. I don’t delegate things that I think only a mother should do like I love going to the doctor with the babies. I love talking to the teachers at school. But there are a lot of things that other people can help you with and so don’t be afraid to have someone make dinner for your family or do grocery shopping for you or send an email or make a phone call. So I delegate and I have a pretty strict schedule; we eat dinner together as a family every single night at 5:30pm. So that is now not even something that we try, it’s just an automatic.
Amber: It’s a ritual.
Rachael: It is a ritual, but the only way that happens is it takes like 15 people for that to happen. I walk in like a mad woman, I take off a silk blouse so that the kids don’t like put their greasy fingers all over me. I have a nanny that makes dinner. I have a husband that walks in the door. We sit down, we eat for 30 minutes together and I might have to go back to work and he might have to get back on the computer or we might go for a family walk, but that 5:30 to 6:00 is our little heaven and we don’t ever miss that.
Amber: Well thank you for the advice and good luck on the new project.
Rachael: Thank you.
Amber: We’ll check in maybe after you’ve had the venue open for a little while.
Rachael: I would love that.
Amber: Thanks for joining us today Rachael.
Rachael: You’re welcome.
Amber: Once again this is Rachael Volz of A Fare Extraordinaire and now The Revere.
Rachael: That’s right.
Amber: And I’m Amber Ambrose and this is The BusinessMakers Show, thanks for watching.
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