Our ChiBuys program supports minority and women-owned food vendors in the Chicagoland area and reflects 1871’s wider efforts to promote greater diversity and inclusion in the community. We thought we'd interview some of our participating vendors to hear their stories and preview their delicious dishes. Today, we chat with Andrea Herrera, Founder of Amazing Edibles, about why a strong community is the key to a strong business.
Andrea Herrera shares a variety of her dishes at 1871's ChiBuys Winter Tasting
- What was your mission when you founded your company?
Our mission is to foster relationship-building at bread-breaking events.
- What makes Chicago a great place to build a business?
Chicago is a foodie city and very entrepreneurial. People in Chicago are willing to take a risk to try new food, and everyone wants to try the latest restaurants -- I think you can benefit from that as a caterer in this city.
- What or who are your influences?
I am inspired by all the people who create opportunities to connect with others and who help those that need a hand. I am inspired by Oprah Winfrey -- a former client of mine -- who had big dreams and worked hard to achieve them. It's very inspiring to see how she has changed the national conversation around important issues like sexual abuse, domestic violence, fairness in the workplace, as well as promoting a life focused on gratitude, philanthropy, and mindfulness.
- How does community play a role in your business?
Connection in community is everything. We serve many universities, business incubators, nonprofits, and traditional companies. My style is to connect with senior leadership and learn how we can be the best partner to them. They know we are in for the long haul -- Amazing Edibles is 24 years old, and I have clients that have been with us over 20 years. They know we care about them, their organization, their people, and their needs; they know that we will put a strong relationship above mere profits.
- When was your greatest moment of doubt, and how did you push through?
I spent 12 years renting a kitchen, and then I finally took the leap and bought -- and built out -- a 5000 square foot kitchen. It took all of my energy, money, and time, and then my contractor ended up in jail for identity theft before we finished the build the entire kitchen out. It was a very difficult week, but I reached out to my community of friends, family, and staff, and they came together and in just two weeks, we finished building our kitchen. After that, we passed the inspection and opened up -- but at the time, I was afraid that I was going to lose everything. Even to this day, I credit my community for saving my company.
- What's one thing on your menu we have to try?
I would say that the one thing you'd have to try is our Autumn White Mac and Cheese. It was the winner of the Chicago Mac and Cheese Festival in 2016.
- If you had once piece of advice for an entrepreneur just starting out, what would it be?
Find your tribe. Your tribe is the group of people that inspires, exhilarates, and motivates you to be your best version of yourself -- everything else will come from that. My tribe is EO, The Entrepreneurs Organization. Its 13,000 Chicago and global members have changed my life and business for the better, and I will be forever grateful to them.
- Can you sum up your approach to hospitality in one sentence?
I strive to take great care of my team and in turn, my team takes great care of our clients.
Through the ChiBuys initiative, we put our money where our mouth is – literally! Over the past year, we have developed relationships with dozens of local, minority and woman-owned caterers throughout the city in an effort to direct our purchasing power with intention and thoughtfulness.
Learn more about ChiBuys at www.1871.com/chibuys.