It was with a simple hobby that 20-year-old college student Emmy Rener found an opportunity to open her own business. Since childhood, the young woman prepared boards with cheese and other ingredients at family gatherings. But it was in March 2020, after a friend’s father invited her to take care of his party’s buffett, that she saw an opportunity to profit from the activity.
At the party, a chef, who had been hired, was impressed to see her set up the charcuterie table – and promptly suggested that she start a business. “It was such a fortuitous moment. He planted that seed in my head,” said Rener in an interview with Insider.
After two years, Rener founded Sophisticated Spreads, a delicatessen company that she says has six-figure annual sales. However, she points out that the beginning of the business took place in a humble way. During the first year, the entrepreneur employed some high school students to deliver her products. Most continue to work for the company.
To grow, one strategy was to bet on publicity through social networks, sending boxes of charcuterie to influencers. “I was like, ‘Hey, if you want to support me and if you want to post about it, great. If not, don’t worry’. It took off like wildfire. People were excited to publish it”, recalls Rener. Furthermore, the young woman created a page called sofisticatedspreads on TikTok in December 2020. Currently, the profile has over 239k followers and shares funny customer stories.
With the use of digital media, some videos went viral and attracted the attention of famous personalities, such as Jessica Alba and Sofía Vergara, who received some of the boards. Rener said he charges up to $25,000 per order.
Seeking to stand out in a saturated market, she says she focused on the quality of the products purchased. “A lot of the people who are getting these boxes are literally getting food from Costco or Sam’s Club or Trader Joe’s,” she said. Rene also contacted producers to find out which artisanal cheeses to include on charcuterie boards. “It’s all about research. If you’re using the right ingredient, you’re already 90% of the way there.”
After taking more than a year to start Sophisticated Spreads, Rener said he joined the University of Southern California in a specialization with an emphasis on entrepreneurship. To get her degree and keep her business running, she says she had help from her father. “I’m the creative person. And he’s definitely the most organized person,” says Rener.
For the future, the entrepreneur is considering some possibilities to elevate her career. One of them is opening a physical store and studying in France to learn more about the art of charcuterie. “I was never really driven by money in this business. It was always more of a labor of love,” she says.