Thursday, August 27, 2015

Q&A with Tom's Tiny Kitchen

1. What is the name of the business? Where can we find info about your family business online? What is the city/state?
Tom’s Tiny Kitchen Pimento Cheese based in Memphis, Tennessee. Our website is

2. What makes your business a family business? (w/ spouse and/or
children, siblings…)
It is run by the husband-and-wife duo of Tom and Jill Flournoy. Their son Ross Flournoy is also very involved with the business.

3. How did you come into the business? (transferred, hired by parents? Founder?)
In 2009, Tom was suddenly laid off. At age 61 – and at the height of the recession – finding a new job proved impossible. Never content to sit still, Tom developed a passion for cooking, and started tinkering with his mother's pimento cheese recipe. He began making it and sharing with friends, who were bowled over by its flavor.
Encouraged by the response and in need of an income, he started making small batches and selling at a Memphis farmers' market in May 2011. Word spread fast, and by July 2011 he was selling out every week. Tom’s Tiny Kitchen (TTK) was born.
TTK has since developed a rabid following. It’s now available at Whole Foods in Memphis, at most Kroger Grocery stores in Memphis and DeSoto County and at several local specialty grocery stores. TTK is currently expanding into more Kroger stores in Arkansas and Mississippi and plans to be available in these areas in winter 2014-2015.

4. What makes your family business experience unique? How is it different from running a "typical" small business?
The closeness and intimacy of family make running a family business quite different from running a ‘typical’ small business. The trust, bonds and affection of family make it a more intense — and, ultimately, a more rewarding — experience.

5. What do you love about family business?
Tom says, “Being able to go to work every day with my wife and kids is a privilege — I’m very grateful for all the time we get to spend together. “

6. What do you hate about family business?
On the other hand, Tom says, “Being able to go to work every day with my wife and kids can be a challenge! That’s a LOT of time spent together. “

7. What's a myth about family business you'd like to debunk?
I’m not aware of any widespread myths about family businesses, so not sure if I can debunk any!

8. What three things have been key to your success?
1. Persistence — Don’t take no for an answer.
2. Hard work— Be willing, able and excited to start earlier and stay later than your competition.
3. Treat those around you with respect — Be kind to and respectful of all those you encounter, whether they are employees, suppliers, customers, etc.

9. Would you advice others to go into family business?
If you have a warm, close, trusting relationship with your family, then I would certainly advise going into business with them if it were an option. There are no better partners to be found than family!

10. What difference has being a family business made in your sales?
I don’t think the fact that we’re a family business has had a huge impact on our sales — our success mostly stems from the fact that we have an exceptional product. But, I think that people do appreciate and respond positively to our story — that is, that we are a small, tight-knit family operation.

11. What difference has your family business made in your community?
In addition to providing the community with the ultimate pimento cheese, we support several local events by supplying them with product — Rock & Romp, Indie Memphis Film Festival, Best Memphis Burger Fest and Leadership Collierville.

12. Would you advise a couple to start a business together? Why or why not?
So long as they have an open, trusting relationship, I would. With all the stress that goes along with owning your own business, you definitely have to be able to communicate openly with your spouse and be able to talk things through.

13. Do you incorporate your children in your family business? Why or why not? How old are they? What are their roles and responsibilities?
Yes! Both of our kids are involved in the business. Our daughter, McKenzie (27), works for us on occasion. And our son, Ross (35) is heavily involved in the company.

14. What's a day in the life of a family business (share a rough outline of your family and business daily life)?
We’re usually at the office by 7:30 a.m. Tom is involved in production and delivery of the product to the grocery stores, which takes up much of the day. Jill stays at the office handling accounts, dealing with vendors and social media.

15. Do you think family business should be a priority for others (lawmakers, service providers, college students...)? Why or why not?
As much as I love our family business, I don’t think family businesses per se should be privileged above any other kind of business in terms of legislation.

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