From Building Boards to Building a Business:
Vanessa Mammoliti is rolling with the punches when it comes to
All A-Board, and it's helping her thrive.
While I've taken on this journey of showcasing others I've realized that I tend to approach these conversations from the angle that we've already lost. There are remnants of the food industry all around me. Signs of foreclosure litter my walks as I see places as old as me no longer with their open signs on. I'm constantly reminded through social media that I actually can't try out that Thai spot because it's not there anymore. Sad. But then I talk to Vanessa Mammoliti, an old friend making magic you can eat with All A-Board, about how she's been handling everything and I'm reminded me that this can also serve as a time for growth. Ya, things aren't great, but not all bad can come from this? Right? She tells me what's up. Read.
I really appreciate you doing this, thanks' girl. Let's get right into it. Who is Vanessa Mammoliti today.
No problem! I’m a York U graduate with a social science background. I was originally on a path to become a lawyer but I changed my field toward the food industry direction about two years ago. It took me a while to realize that a big portion of my happiness relied on pursuing a career that I loved. I struggled to find passion with what I was doing and studying, and it made me really frustrated and angry.
So, who am I today? I think switching paths was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make and I can honestly tell it was the best one so that’s pretty much what I’m doing right now and ya, a little bit about me and how I got here.
They’re in such completely different worlds. Law and food are separate ends of the spectrum.
Exactly, and thinking of becoming a lawyer; ya you like it but you also have to be thinking what you’re making there compared to a different industry.
Now, for as long as I've known you you've been into food. Whether it's you cooking, or trying a new spot, or your actual job, food is your life. Where did this love come from?
So, I’m going to get real honest here. Since I was about 15 my ongoing battle with depression and anxiety took a toll on my happiness. Trying to balance a social life, school, and all the demons in your head all at once at such a young age made it really difficult. My family has always been a bunch of foodies, so I started cooking at a very young age. The reactions I got from people were really warm, and not only was I able to find the happiness in something that puts a smile on my face, it also puts a smile on other peoples faces. I was able to leave that anxious state of mind that I was subconsciously in for so long and just feel free.
I kind of realized that my main goal here was to just be happy and do something that I love versus doing something to make my family or others see me differently. I was getting into law and now I'm getting into food. Oh. Like a bad oh, you know. I don’t want people to think that. Everyone should be able to do what they love and be happy.
Building on that you've turned what you love into your business. I'm seeing you on my socials, I'm seeing you everywhere. Tell me about All-A-Board. How it started, how it's going now. Take me through your timeline.
I really had a love for making charcuterie boards for a long time, but I never saw it as something that I would be able to make money off of because I just didn't think it was a thing. I wasn't a person for entertaining any kind of hobby. I wasn’t into sports, nothing. But for me, this is what it was. My mom had the idea to start a charcuterie company given my knowledge on the quality of products that I use, etc. Not to mention how fun it’s been for to me to artistically create such whimsical and expressive displays. It was something that I could see myself doing for the long haul. So I just stuck with it, continued with it, and that’s pretty much how I got started.
You've been open for two years right? Feels like longer, no?
Honestly it has because I've been doing this for so long on my own versus as an actual business. It was just for fun at first.
As you very well know the food industry is hurting bad right now. You're a member of that industry now, so how has All-A-Board been handling the uncertainty that comes with the times?
Well, fortunately for myself and All-A-Board it's flourished. It really took off in March when this pandemic started. I noticed so many customers, new and old, were sending sympathy thinking-of-you boxes to their loved ones that they couldn't physically be with. Food is love right. That’s literally how it's happened for me. I really don't know if its because we’re in a pandemic and people don't want to go out. It's easy for them to order and I deliver, you know what I mean. I'm very fortunate because I know that restaurants have been hit so hard by this.
I’ve never thought of it that way but that’s really interesting.
Honestly all the little tags on my boxes, its so bad to say but, they're all sympathy, thinking of you because they miss them…
I don’t even think its bad to say. Its the reality of the situation. It is what it is.
It literally is what it is I guess. When you're sad you want to eat.
Is it just a team of one?
Ya, it’s just me. It's difficult being a one man party, but I have so many ideas and it excites me so much to see how many people are as thrilled about a new menu item as I am. Before I didn't really give myself that time. I feel like now I owe it to myself to just sit down and put my ideas on a platter and show the world. You know what I mean? That was kind of like my sandwiches too. At the beginning of the pandemic I had to cancel all my grazing tables and boards because it was the safest choices. That’s when my disposable boxes really took off and are still one of our biggest hits. Even now I have products that are a result of COVID. That's why my main focus now is towards the boxes. They're safety conscious and sanitary. At first it was all about the boards. Now with the pandemic I’ve had to shift a bit.
Is there someone else in your family that’s in the food industry or an entrepreneur themselves? Do you go to anyone for help or is it really you flying solo for everything?
My sister started her business 5-6 years ago. I’ve always observed her business skills, and with her learning how to deal with customers, conduct business, that kind of stuff she definitely paved the way for me. There's no one behind me but if I have any questions I definitely ask my sister. She's been doing this for a lot longer than I have.
Winter is around the corner. New government updates and restrictions are posted on the daily. How do you see the next few months playing out?
I’m just taking it day by day and preparing for the worst. Even though our intentions are 100% pure, I just feel like our days are so unclear that its hard to plan for anything, especially for those that own and operate a business. I'm taking it day by day. I haven't been planning for anything, and I'm operating like I would any other day. I'm preparing for the worst, which is all I can do right now.
I don't think the media is doing a good enough job showcasing businesses that are still trying to make it in this economy. What do you wish people knew about this time that you don't think enough know?
I think its really important for people to understand that operating a business as a one man show is extremely difficult, especially because all the decision making is up to our own discretion. That's why I basically strive to support local small businesses as most of these companies are owned and operated by one person. I feel like they need as much support as they can get. I'm not saying not to order from McDonalds, however I do think some people should be giving smaller food spots a chance. They're not as mainstream, and it might taste better and be healthier for you.
You can follow Vanessa at @lilvanez and check out All A-Board at @allaboardto