If we were to ask you to recommend an establishment where we could grab a great coffee chiller, tasty donut or a “bess” sandwich, we’re sure two main options would fly off your lips.
But, believe it or not, there are other businesses that offer similar, or if not better options for your dollar.
Well, we’re here to tell you about one fantastic home-styled option called So Chill Café.
A practical newborn to the scene at just over three months old, So Chill Café is a family run business, located in Duranta Gardens, Sangre Grande.
Izzso recently chatted with founding member Rachel Balcon, to get the scoop on this budding business.
According to the 34-year-old wife and mother, “The idea for So Chill Café came about in the midst of Covid, when my mom, sister and I were actually looking at starting individual businesses.”
“After some consideration and hiccups we would have had along the way, we decided to merge our ideas together and form one business,” she said.
Prior to opening So Chill Café, Balcon worked as an administrative assistant while running another small business venture part-time and pursuing an MBA as a full time student.
So she clearly knows what it means to work hard for what she wants.
Balcon said the switch from their individual plan to a joint venture, “felt natural for us, since we already ran another small business together.”
“One of my sisters actually came up with the name for the business. We actually have a great laugh every time this comes up, because my mom originally wanted to name the business ‘Sweet Mouth’ and we were like ‘NO WAY’ and this is when my sister came up with the name ‘So Chill’ which we all agreed to.
Getting the business started was no easy feat.
Balcon told us that apart from financial limitations, some of the major challenges they faced in getting this business off the ground would have been getting their products cleared by customs in a timely manner, given the entire Covid situation.
She said another issue they encountered was the business registration process.
Balcon said “This would have been one of our greatest startup challenges, as appointments were extremely difficult to get. We even had to, on two occasions, travel to Tobago to make our registration payments and collect our certificates.”
Thankfully, once those hurdles were jumped, and the business got started, word of mouth spread very quickly as to the tastiness of their products, the variety and the fantastic customer service.
“We offer a wide assortment of sugar flavours, ice cream, candy, desserts, pastries, fast food options from bake and shark to pizza, and we also sell toys and foil balloons for as many occasions that you can possibly think about,” said Balcon.
“The main thing that set us apart is our impeccable customer service, the quality and variation of our product offering and the family environment that So Chill Café creates for its customers.”
Yes, what they offer may not seem unique to many, as chains like Rituals and Starbucks seem to get all the glory in this particular market. But, Balcon said they are not at all worried about what the others are doing, “We have found a niche to what is being offered within our current market. We are constantly interacting with our customers, listening to our customers and just generally looking for areas where we can constantly keep growing and improving to better serve our customers.”
“In terms of diversity, I would say we are quite diverse in our product offering for a new business and our prices are quite flexible to suit anyone’s pocket.”
But being just over three months old in an economy heavily affected by Covid, we had to ask…how is the bottom line?
Business is going great, but Balcon added “Covid really placed a temporary hold on us seeing the true day to day running of what our business would look like. It hasn’t really given us the opportunity to give our customers that full in-house dining experience, due to the Covid restrictions. So we are definitely looking forward to seeing what’s the full potential and the full picture of what we envisioned, once these restrictions are lifted.”
The products are quite the hit, with comments from citizens outside of the Sangre Grande area asking that they take the business into Port of Spain.
But Balcon noted they’re still at a pretty young stage in the business, so expansion is not at the forefront of their agenda at this point.
She said “Currently we just want to establish ourselves in the business community.”
“We recently launched four specialty flavours for the Christmas season and this has sparked a lot of interest, not just in-house, but also social media wise, so this is something we are very excited about.
“We are taking it all in stride and are committed to enduring.”
Balcon wished nothing but success, prosperity, long life and health for her family this Christmas and wished that others in the small business sector, continued endurance and tenacity to fight that good fight towards achieving their business goals.
For more on So Chill Café: