@LA_SMB is an occasional series showcasing some of the coolest small and medium-sized businesses from around the Los Angeles area.
Who: Table One Marketing – Carrie Kommers, President
What: A one woman culinary marketing consultancy
Where: Los Angeles
When: Founded in 2011
Clients: The Culinary Agency, Visit California, ChefsInsight.com
Carrie Kommers wanted to have her cake and eat it too.
“I love the food world in a big way and wanted to be a part of it without working nights and weekends,” she said.
A former pastry chef and caterer, Kommers set off on a marketing, brand management and PR path early in her career. In 2007 she became the founding Director for the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board’s dineLA program, where she stayed until she opened Table One Marketing in 2011.
These days, Kommers enjoys a healthy stream of referral business while always prospecting for new opportunities.
“Over the last few years I’ve been able to better target initiatives and companies that intrigue me, and pitch my value in a way that allows me to do the work that I’m most interested in,” she said. “I think the universe has an idea of what I love and just keeps it coming.”
The following interview was conducted via email. Some responses have been edited.
@LA_SMB: Why is Table One Marketing a perfect fit for Los Angeles?
Carrie Kommers: Los Angeles is a food city. It’s one of the things we do best. And the culture is deepening beyond just restaurants and events. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of this growth? It’s thrilling.
@LA_SMB: What is the most unique thing about your business?
C.K.: The “culinary marketing” space is slowly becoming more crowded, but I feel like I was at the front of it in LA. My business is me – my relationships, my perspective, my creativity. There may be others wanting to serve the same needs, but there’s only one of me. It’s up to the client to decide if that’s valuable or not.
@LA_SMB: Who are your partners?
C.K.: Great question. Collaboration is huge in what I do and “clients” often end up being other agencies or freelancers who need to diversify and add fire-power to their deliverables. My most valuable partners are those who are curious to see what else is possible and like to try new things.
@LA_SMB: What is the most gratifying thing about being a small business owner
C.K.: Spending most of my time in jeans and sneakers. That and being able to make choices about the nature of work I want to do and the people I want to do it with. At the end of the day I’m ultimately responsible for my own happiness and that’s pretty cool.
@LA_SMB: What is the hardest thing about being a small business owner?
C.K.: Always cultivating new prospects, regardless of how slammed you are.
@LA_SMB: Where will Table One Marketing be 5 years from now?
C.K.: In five years there will be more structure to the Table One brand. There will be one, possibly two, internal business entities that Table One will develop and own on a b2b platform.
@LA_SMB: What challenges is your industry facing?
C.K.: Too many options. Restaurants, food festivals, you name it. LA is saturated in culinary culture right now. It’s great for consumers, but tough for operators and promoters who need to capture and HOLD attention. In LA many diners consider themselves “regulars” at a restaurant they may only actually patronize a few times a year. There are just so many choices. I feel like the evolution of local restaurant concepts have shifted to address this – smaller, more accessible and more tied to a neighborhood than a city. Hyper local. On a different note, the state’s drought is killing operators when it comes to food costs. Profit margins have always been slim in this business, but it’s going to be interesting to see how most adjust to stay afloat.
@LA_SMB: What’s next for you?
C.K.: A b2b initiative that I’ve had in my heart since I left dineLA in 2011. It’s the reason I went out on my own and it’s been a bear to build. I’m not giving up though.
Previous @LA_SMB post: Ed Donnelly – Aderra Inc.
Steve Coulter is a marketing guy, writer and drummer living in Los Angeles.
If you have suggestions for future @LA_SMB features, please send Steve a message on LinkedIn. Include the name of the business, a short description and a link to their website. Steve is a one man band, please keep it brief and expect a slow response.
Full disclosure: Steve is friends with and/or has worked with many of the businesses featured, at least for now. Thank you for reading to the bottom of the page.