Jill Foucré was born into a family of good cooks, including her grandfather Marcel. With a deep love of cooking and entertaining, she knew her second career should revolve around food.
A former business executive, Foucré wasn’t leaving anything to chance when she opened her business, Marcel’s Culinary Experience. She took all the steps necessary to make sure she had a strong business plan and well-trained employees.
“I needed to know I had a business that would be viable,” she said.
A year later, her business is thriving and still growing, Foucré said. The business just celebrated its first anniversary last week on Sept. 26.
While she had a lot of experience in business, she did not have experience in retail sales, she made sure to hire people with the right experience, she said.
“I’m a big believer in surrounding yourself with great people who fill in your gaps,” Foucré said.
Listening to customers and reviewing class evaluations after programs at the store has helped her to better understand what customers want, she said.
“It’s about keeping it fresh and interesting and listening to customer and what they want and expect,” Foucré said.
Marcel’s is a culinary store, which offers a variety of products from pots and pans to table linens and specialty foods. She tries to source items locally when possible. For example, she purchases handmade table linens from a business owner in St. Charles.
Since the store’s opening, it has offered cooking demonstrations and classes. The store has seven or eight chefs who teach a diverse line-up of classes at Marcel’s, she said.
With her first year now behind her, Foucré said she is working on consciously expanding the business and building exposure.The store is a favorite among locals, but has a growing regional clientelle base.
She hopes to offer more private events and corporate programs at the store. In October, there are nine private events planned.
She also hopes to make the business a source for gift baskets for special occasions and ultimately move into online sales, adding that online business is something she plans to pursue in the future.
Along with its variety of products, some of the top customer draws to the store are the international cooking classes and Midday at Marcel’s demonstrations held on Wednesdays. The next midday demonstration this Wednesday will address soup and sandwich night.
Over the last year, business has gone smoothly and revenue has been better than she anticipated for the first year, Foucré said.
While her business career was beyond her wildest dreams, she travelled extensively for work and put in a lot of hours away from home before opening Marcel’s Culinary Experience.
“Here I work every bit as much, but I get to sleep in my own bed at night,” Foucré said. “The quality of work is incredible. The sense of accomplishment, ownership and pride, there’s a quality to that. I’ve said to others, the sense of accomplishment, getting it, conceiving it [the business] and making it work, there’s nothing in my 31-year-career that stacked up to it.”
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