Chantell Kennedy-Shehan

Chantell Kennedy-Shehan

How did you get the idea for your business?

Initially, it was a childhood dream sort of thing. I just always said I would do (run a bakery). Many of my big projects in college were framed as If you owned a business questions, so the business mindset was always there.

I came up with the name Simply Pure Sweets in college and I just knew that’s what it would be.

After college, I was working in hospitals. My parents gave me a call one day and said that they could tell that I wasn’t fully satisfied, creatively, with what I was doing. They told me that Murfreesboro didn’t really have anything like what I wanted Simply Pure Sweets to be. I packed up, came here, and made it happen.

How old were you when you decided you wanted to be a baker?

I was always in the kitchen, Mom always had us doing stuff in there. I started decorating cakes when I was 8, and I was 11 when I told my parents that I wanted to go to culinary school. I ended up graduating from high school in Lebanon because that was the school that made the most sense driving-wise that also had a vocational culinary program.

How did you make your first sale?

It was painful. The opening was much harder than anticipated. We had a game plan and probably not as much money as we needed. What we lacked in funds we made up for in hard work and dedication.

Our landlord was very helpful with getting us through the city codes, and we were fortunate enough to receive a lot of press from the local newspapers.

About a month before we opened, we participated in the Art Crawl, where I just gave away a bunch of stuff in order to get the name out there.

What’s unique about owning and running a business in Murfreesboro?

For me, it is that we are here all day, every day, and our customers are not just customers anymore. Some of them were at our wedding, some of them were at our baby shower recently. They become a part of your family, so to speak.

Murfreesboro is at the perfect size where you still get the small-town tight-knit feel but is large enough that new people are still actively looking for your business.

How do you advertise your business?

I have cookies. In all seriousness, I do a lot on social media mostly. It’s the best in terms of time spent. Every once in a while, we’ll donate some products to community events, because nothing talks louder than product.

Chantell Kennedy with Best of Murfreesboro

As a business owner, what keeps you up at night?

Right now, it’s a genuine fear of growth. We moved a while back, and we took care of everything before we even considered the move, but after the move, we have, expectedly, encountered more things to think about. Now we have to make sure that we’re covering that while still making a profit.

How do we grow, feel like we can afford to grow, and not go broke doing it?

If you could wave a magic wand and get rid of one problem in your business, what would it be?

Finding employees has been pretty difficult. Finding employees that care is even more difficult. I’m not saying you have to care a lot, but you do need to care a little.

The availability of applicants has also been a major issue to find and work with.

What is something, from a marketing perspective, that you’re doing to gain customers?

At the beginning of the pandemic, we did some pop-up-type strategies. Including items we never had before, pizza was a wild one, and we found there was a need for bread, so we had a special for loaves of sandwich bread. We had those sales to get people in, and they would also spend money on other things.

What’s a business lesson you’ve learned that you’d be willing to tell others?

We had a kid’s summer business camp organizer come and ask us that same question and I told him, “There will never be enough money. No matter how much you have, there will always be things you can’t plan for.” We could never plan that our opening would be delayed. How do you plan for a global pandemic?

What do you use for a to-do list?

There is a lot I do that is just a mental checklist. The shop has a planner, I think we only have that because of the school system. I can’t type it into a phone, I have to write it down. My husband has a notepad and a running to-do list.

Do you use any social media tools?

I use some basic font editors and random photo editing apps. Matthew does some videos on Instagram sometimes.

Willa Jane

As of writing this article, Chantell has had her baby, Willa Jane. We at Boro Business Lab wanted to say congratulations!

Learn more about Chantell and Simply Pure Sweets here.

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