Hi, I'm Abby, and I’m the owner of Trini Plate. I’m originally from Trinidad, but I’ve lived in various parts of the US, before eventually settling in Tacoma, Washington, where I’m currently based. I started cooking and baking before I even had permanent teeth in my mouth. I love sharing the multi-cultural cuisine of my home country, and seeing people fall in love with flavors and dishes I’ve known all my life. Trini Plate was born out of that love of sharing and wanting to make people happy with the food I make.
Starting Trini Plate has been a dream of mine for a long time, but I need a little help to really get it off the ground.
The reality is that starting a food business is ridiculously costly. It's made even harder when you're doing it all on your own, as I am, with no funding of any sort. After chatting with other food creators recently, I realized I'm not alone in this struggle. Yet it's something that no one seems to talk openly about.
Over the next couple of paragraphs, I'll try to break down two of my biggest operational challenges, and why I'm reaching out to ask for the support of my community to fund some startup costs.
Health department challenges :-)
I gotta be honest: the fees the health department charges for permits are prohibitively expensive and anti-micro business. To sell the type of food that I actually want to sell, it costs around $250 per permit, per event. Factoring in the cost of supplies, packaging, and whatever venues decide to charge, there's no guarantee I'll make that back in a single event.
If I wanted to do catering, that also requires a permit and a lengthy application process, and costs around $1,400. A catering permit needs to be renewed yearly.
Despite all of this, you're expected to pay these fees, or you can't operate. And if you can't operate, that means you can't make money to afford the fees and to keep your business running.
Commercial/commissary kitchen fees
One of the biggest challenges I've faced is finding an affordable, licensed kitchen to use. There are some local companies who specialize in kitchen rentals, but their fees are, quite frankly, exorbitant. The lowest price I've seen in Tacoma from such a company is around $425 for nighttime hours. All of these companies require first, last, and a security deposit, because reasons. You also have to pay extra for storage as required by the health department (upwards of $200 per month). So, you need thousands of dollars to get your foot in the door at an "approved" kitchen.
How I'll use the money
1. I plan to find a kitchen I can use long-term - one that has the proper setup for the type of food I'd like to sell. I'll pay a month or two of rent in advance, which will allow me time to focus on growing the business and doing events.
2. I'd like to apply for my catering permit. I believe there's a future for me in catering. I've already received several offers from people wanting me to cater their events.
3. Some of the money will go towards new equipment. I have a wishlist of items I'd like to purchase to upgrade the business and improve my setup for events.
If you made it this far and you're still wondering why I deserve your hard-earned coins, here's a couple more reasons:
This is just a tiny sampling of what I make and would be able to serve in the future if this fundraiser is successful. My food has brought people together in a way that I never expected. I'd like to continue doing that, but I need a little help.
Other ways you can help
If you're someone who has experience navigating the food industry or business in general, I welcome advice, tips, feedback - anything that might help me navigate these startup hurdles. You can contact me through Instagram DMs (@triniplate), or email: [email redacted]
Thanks for reading!