Small Business Q&A: Meg Barnhart, Zen of Slow Cooking in Lake Forest
Q: Describe your business. What do you do?
A: We craft globally inspired spice blends for recipes used in a slow cooker and/or Instant Pot. We are also a Certified B Corporation and partner with a social enterprise to provide employment for adults with disabilities.
Q: What made you start your business?
A: When I was a young mother, I was overwhelmed by the daily demands of my family and struggled to create a family dinner like the meal I enjoyed each evening as a child. I called my best friend for advice and she said 1) Stop Crying, and 2) Get off the phone and buy a Crock-Pot. My slow cooker (aka Crock-Pot) transformed my home as I was able to find the time early in the day to prepare a delicious, home cooked meal The other part of the story was my middle child. He had a complex speech and language disorder and didn't develop functional language until he was 4. So, I wanted to create a business that could help adults who have employment barriers.
Q: What has been the most difficult obstacle in running or starting a small business?
A: It is difficult to fund and scale an emerging brand.
Q: What's new in your business or industry?
A: The Instant Pot has brought a new generation of home cooks into the kitchen!
Q: What do you enjoy most about operating your business?
A: Everything! I truly enjoy helping bring people back to the table over the shared meal and creating a business that provides opportunities for those in need. I especially love working with young parents to help them figure out how to embrace their new journey.
Q: Is this what you pictured yourself doing when you were young? When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A: Honestly, when I was very young, I wanted to be a lawyer like my grandfather. After college, I was interested in the arts and eventually moved into event management. But looking back, I can see that I was an entrepreneur at a very young age -- starting my first lemonade stand when I was only 5 years old.
Q: What keeps you up at night?
A: I would say, as we grow, supply chain management is one of our greatest challenges -- maintaining the right amount of inventory is critical.
Q: If you could give one tip to a rookie business owner, what would it be?
A: To truly embrace and lean into the places where you stumble -- it's usually where you find the most growth.
Q: Who is your main influencer?
A: As a the co-creator of a Certified B Corp, I admire the philosophy of Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia. He blazed a trail for all of us to follow.
Q: Name one or two people you follow on social media, and why.
A: Brene Brown -- I really enjoy her wisdom, insight and courage.
• We're looking for suburban small business owners (fewer than 100 employees) to feature in the Business section. Contact Rich Klicki at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
1 West Onwentsia RoadLake Forest, IL 60045(847) 340-8414thezenofslowcooking.comOwners: Meg Barnhart, Lake Forest and Jane McKay, who lives in the U.K.
Year business started: 2012
Number of employees: 3 full-time and 4 part-time