La Belle Vie Bakery & Fine Foods
Moving Forward During COVID-19
La Belle Vie Bakery and Fine Foods is a home-based bakery business, owned and operated by Nathas Kraus, that sells fresh-baked French pastries at different farmers markets in Arizona. When COVID-19 hit the United States in early 2020, farmers markets had to institute safety guidelines that made it almost impossible for Nathas to sell his fresh unpackaged pastries at the markets. My wife and I have been long- time customers of La Belle Vie and we reached out to Nathas as we heard he might have to shut his business down given the circumstances. Not having good pastries for the duration of this pandemic would have been a real drag.
October 2, 2019. Phoenix Arizona. Uptown Market. // © Olivier Touron / Divergence
Shawn and his wife Keri reached out to me at the very beginning of COVID-19 to offer their help. We had decided to close the bakery to take some time to think about how to adapt to this new situation and also because we didn’t want to take the risk of contaminating anyone. It was in the very first days and nobody knew anything about the magnitude of the virus yet.
I am glad I didn’t turn their help down.
Like most small business owners, Nathas likes to do everything himself so that he feels more secure about what is happening with all aspects of his business. I could see the incredible amount of stress he was under and I offered to help him in any way I could to get him moving forward with his business again. We knew that market vendors who had online sales options were doing fairly well, so we decided that La Belle Vie Bakery needed an online web store. He could pre-sell and bag orders to be picked up at the markets fulfilling the safety requirements.
Usually, I like to do things by myself. I am always extremely cautious, but Shawn approached me and I could feel that he really cared about what we were bringing to the food scene. He wanted us to get through this, “You keep baking, I’ll take care of this!”
I understood where Nathas was coming from as I have been operating my own small business for 20 years. I have worked with several small companies, developing solutions for many different challenges. My goal is to remove barriers so that others can succeed. We had a big barrier to overcome for Nathas and La Belle Vie.
I felt right away that Shawn had very valuable expertise, not only in putting a nice website together, but also the right approach. He is a good listener, has the right curiosity and an understanding of all the logistics that come with offering your products to sell online.
The goal we had was to get the La Belle Vie Bakery Online store up as soon as possible so that Nathas would have as little down time as possible. As with all new projects, when you launch, it’s not the end of the story. There are always things that need to be tested and modified so that the final solution is as error free and effective as possible.
There are so many unexpected events that will arise the minute you put your products for sale online and you go live…you can’t imagine.
Shawn might have not seen them all, but I can tell you he has seen plenty of these situations and even more now that he has dealt with us, eheheh!
He will help you ask yourself the right questions before you go live unprepared, making your customers unhappy…nobody needs this.
Within two days in March 2020, we were able to do some revamping of his current web site and go live with the brand new La Belle Vie Bakery online store. Once we were live, Nathas started testing out how to handle online sales. Over the following two months we continued working together to monitor and improve the online sales and order fulfillment process.
Not only did Shawn provide the website and online store but he also helped us to put a routine together where we can run our online store independently and successfully with the flexibility we need.
We are done having to react to the multiple order requests we were receiving from all over the place such as, Facebook Messages, Instagram Direct Messages, Emails, Phone Calls, Text Messages, and so on. With so many requests from different points of contact, staying organized was impossible. We had pre-orders that would not get fulfilled because someone would not show for their order. We now have a strong system in place and Shawn was here at every step to help find a solution for every challenge that was put in front of us as we were going live with our products.
Expect the unexpected to happen, but know that you have a strong ally with Shawn that will be available and react extremely fast to find a solution every time this happens.