Italian food is a recipe for success for Chiara Di-Ponio Horne, who founded mobile catering business Mezzaluna.
Q. How and why did you start in business?
My family have always been in business. I grew up in a household which encouraged a strong work ethic and this has been key to achieving my aspirations.
I’ve always wanted to be my own boss, but I also knew I wanted to spend time doing something I loved and that happened to be Italian cooking.
How did you get where you are today?
My Grandad taught me how to make pasta and I quickly realised there was no better feeling than cooking for your family.
Before starting the business, my main motivation was being able to get that enjoyment from cooking every day.
To get Mezzaluna off the ground, I bought a second-hand trailer – which needed a lot of work – and I contacted event organisers, venues and people in the industry with the hope of getting some bookings.
My persistence paid off and I managed to get some big events booked quite quickly.
Who has helped you along the way?
Many amazing local business owners reached out at the beginning.
Individuals who genuinely wanted to help me avoid the pitfalls they encountered on their journeys and I am so grateful for their friendship, support and invaluable advice.
I also have an incredible family. My husband has encouraged me every step of the way.
When I was initially thinking of taking my product to market, Business Gateway connected me to some experienced advisers and great resources. It helped me think through the whole process from start to finish.
What was your biggest mistake?
Underestimating the power of social media.
For our first ever event, I advertised as much as I could because I was afraid that no one would turn up.
I went with 60 portions of pasta – which I thought would be more than enough – and we sold out within the first hour.
We were overwhelmed by the demand. I felt completely unprepared and that I had failed.
What is your greatest achievement to date?
To be honest, we are still at a relatively early stage in our development.
There have certainly been plenty of days when I’ve been proud of how smoothly we have catered for an event and ultimately that is what is most important to our clients.
My biggest achievement is that my calendar is full.
I never imaged that in my first year of business I would be so busy that I needed to hire employees.
I am forever grateful to the customers and event organisers who keep me working hard and striving to get better.
Hopes for the future?
I would also love to see our pasta in local shops and further down the line maybe our own shop where people can come to have their lunch or buy pasta to take home
What is the hardest thing about running your own business?
Having so many ideas and not enough time to get them up and running.
Any advice to wannabe entrepreneurs?
I think that you can be more successful by being kind and supporting other local businesses and take time to listen to other people’s advice.