Sunday Series - Part Six: Juniper Green
This Sunday morning we’re bringing you a new vendor; Molly from Juniper Green. They handle everything from corporate events or small gatherings to weddings and everything in between!
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your business:
Juniper Green is a culinary events company. We provide creative, highly seasonal food and custom menus for everything from weddings to private chef experiences to brand activations. At Juniper Green, we believe community and connection are formed around the table. That starts with our relationships with local farms and other small businesses and translates to how we treat our team and our clients!
How has the COVID19 pandemic changed your life? How has it changed your business?
In every way imaginable, though not all negative. Luckily, Juniper Green was already a fairly small team. This means we have managed to keep everyone working in spite of the shut down of gatherings. It’s given us a chance to reset and focus on streamlining and reorganizing some of our systems and processes in ways that I’ve wanted to for years but never had the bandwidth.
I have twin 16-month-old boys who are home with me full time now, which has of course been a major challenge. But it is also a beautiful opportunity to be present with them in a time when they are changing daily; I’ve gotten to watch them both learn to walk. Beyond that, it’s a pretty fascinating time to be a business owner. We’re being extremely creative and flexible and thinking outside the box of how we “always did things.” I think this will make us a stronger company on the other side!
It’s scary and hard of course. But it’s also a chance to build real, lasting trust in relationships with my team and our clients. People always remember how you make them feel, and we’ve been sending out lots of care packages. Juniper Green is trying to always start from a place of empathy, helping people navigate this time with humor and hospitality.
How have you been able to adapt your business to the new “way of life?”
Juniper Green has been offering a lot of care packages. Our clients have sent them to families with new babies or care workers who just need a break – and some delicious, nourishing food. We’ve been partnering with some of our corporate clients on “workplace re-entry” programming. This means finding ways to set a positive, caring tone as their teams come back to the office. And we have been developing innovative service models to provide a safe event environment without sacrificing a beautiful presentation and a celebratory vibe.
Will you start doing business differently, once all of this is a distant memory?
Absolutely. Most small businesses don’t invest enough in themselves or set aside a nest egg for a worst-case scenario like this. They are constantly investing profits to GROW, but they rarely have an emergency fund that will give them the runway they need if the worst happens. We’ve completely overhauled how we handle deposits and our financial picture going forward. But this has also given us a lot of clarity about the kind of company we want to be. Your core values are rarely put to the test in the way they have been in this experience. We’ve made a conscious decision not to operate from a defensive, reactive place. But instead to trust in our values and our clients to guide our decisions. Every time we’ve done that, even if it’s meant walking away from a potential opportunity – it’s felt like the right decision.
Have you felt your community rally around and support your business or similar businesses?
100%. The empathy and collaboration within our event vendor network and the concern from our clients has been a beautiful thing.
What are your biggest takeaways from dealing with COVID19 as a business owner? What about as a human in general?
There’s an interesting dichotomy I’ve been paying attention to. In a time when technology was constantly making it easier for people to solve problems without human interaction, this experience has shown people just how essential we are to each other. Physical contact, sharing space, showing affection, gathering in mourning, or in celebration. These are all things we took for granted and now yearn for in a deep way.
Simultaneously, every industry is using all its resources to pivot and double down on how to serve people in isolation. Even when things are lifted, it will make it easier than ever to replace a human connection with an app or a delivery or an online service. What drives our company (and me as a human and an extreme extrovert) is the deeply rooted knowledge that we need each other! We need the energy and the care and the touch that humans put into the things they make.
Phrases like “farm to table,” “local and seasonal,” “artisan,” & “maker,” have all been kind of co-opted for marketing purposes. They can now sometimes be seen as bougie, when I think that’s actually the natural order of things. When I get a CSA box from Lauren at Bloomsbury Farm; I marvel at the beauty of her work and the passion and commitment she puts into it. I’m thinking of her daughter running around in the tomato plants and helping her pack boxes; I remember amazing nights and dinners on that farm with her family. When I buy bread from Village Bakery; I know that Sam has dedicated his entire career pursuing his craft with the humility and steadfastness of a monk. And it shows in the quality of his product!
It makes it all more meaningful to me. People crave human connection, but forget that it takes more time and more money. When we forget that we all lose something crucial. I just hope we can take those lessons from this moment and find a way to remember.