We had the good fortune of connecting with Shay Atkins and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Shay, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
My thought process behind starting my own business was to create streams of income that would allow me to work for myself and build my personal brand as opposed to making my company wealthy. I realized I could control my own income and operate my own business and that would create wealth that would help my family for generations to come and corporate America wasn’t going to get me there.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Currently, I’m super excited about the launch of my house seasoning. Sales have been great, we are shipping it nationwide. Also my upcoming cookbook calendar features some of my favorite recipes and highlights the insight on how each month inspired that particular dish, we already have pre-orders and looking forward to selling out and having our seasonings and calendars in homes across the world! Being a chef happened to me overnight. I’ve been cooking since I was 7 years old. My family loves to cook. I have a professional background In sales and marketing for some of the biggest corporations in the world. My degree is in business management with a concentration in marketing. No one could have told me I would be doing what I’m doing now 10 years ago. I became passionate about being an entrepreneur back in 2005 and planned my exit strategy from Corporate America for 5 years before I was able to leave the corporate scene. I’ve always been passionate about cooking, entertaining family and friends doing gatherings at my home regularly, decorating, plating, all the jazz. I didn’t go to culinary school, I’m self taught. I studied the culinary industry, culinary professionals, celebrity chefs, techniques, YouTube, food truck business, catering, etc. I never called myself a chef, I ran a catering business and the circumstances pushed me to the point that I had to learn how to chef my own brand, I was either going to sink or swim…I chose to swim. I didn’t realize this was something I loved until I realized I would do it for free. It tickles me that I still get excited when I see or hear someone’s positive reaction from a bite of my food and the smiles and sounds that come after that, its truly my favorite part. I worked hard everyday, plenty of sleepless nights and money less days. I made a ton of mistakes that I’ve learned from and now I can help shorten someone else learning curve as my mentors have done for me. This business has been quite a journey but I thank God for the blessings that come out of the peaks and valleys as its brought me to where I am today….humbly and thankfully blessed!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’m an extreme foodie so I love to take my friends to places they can’t try great eats and especially places they can’t find in their home city. I live in the Montrose area so we would definitely have a day walking around Hermann park and checking out the neighborhood, maybe chill by the pool at my apt building and have some wine on the balcony and enjoy the view of the city and the sound of the hi way. During the weekdays I like to hit a good happy hour spot. Gloria’s in midtown, the margaritas are the best!…Max’s Wine Dive in the Heights, I love the amazing Chicken fried lobster tail…Benjy’s in rice village, all the small bites are everything and Relish on Westheimer has great options, good drinks and great service at the bar. I love to do brunch so Sixty Vines, Taste Bar or A’Bouzy on Saturday and Sunday mornings is always a hit. Friday or Saturday’s we would have to go to and Ruggles Black its my go to for my healthy vegetarian focused friends but I find everyone can find something delish at Ruggles. If we wanna kick back and do some upscale hood activity we will hit Almeda in the 3rd ward and stop by 5015 or Turkey Leg Hut if its not too crowded and they also serve hookah so its a win win. Anyone who loves seafood and doesn’t mind dropping a few hundred on a great crab dinner, we’re going to Truluck’s and we gotta do Steak 48 because the food is just amazing, there is nothing you can go wrong with at Steak 48. I like a spot that serves a good hookah so if we are able to find a spot where heir hookah is going to be we are definitely in for a treat. One of the best burgers I’ve ever had is at Chapman & Kirby in the downtown area so if we want burgers that’s where we go. A day of shopping at the galleria. We also gotta stop by EnStyle and Melodrama two of my favorite boutiques owned by woman of color and a visit to Moxie’s for a bite and cocktail are always on the agenda I’d most likely end the week with a party catered by yours truly at my apt with good friends, music, drinks, games and knee slapping fun.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My shoutout is to my older sister Stacey. Since I was a little girl I always looked up to her and idolized her as she was everything I wanted to be. She was my inspiration for the life I live now. I always saw her as a boss lady. She was one of my biggest supporters, an educated, confidant, business driven, loving lady. Always so fly, patient and kind. She showed me that hard work and dedication pays off. She always made me feel so special and loved. I am so blessed that she was a part of my life. May she rest in heaven forever and always.