Lucia Merino and Johan Villafane are the epitome of resilience leading to success.
Based in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the couple had a vision to create a local patisserie where Lucia could share her passion for delicious baked goods with their community. As a pastry chef, Lucia has over ten years of experience in culinary arts and Johan’s background in customer service, business administration and photography compliments their dream greatly.
Lucia and Johan decided to go for it and opened up their patisserie. Shortly after, our team stepped in to mentor them on the tax and accounting side of their business. However, not long after opening, Puerto Rico was hit by Hurricane Irma. The hurricane was devastating and annihilated their shop. The brave couple had to face this major setback right out of the gate.
Did Lucia and Johan give up on their business?
Absolutely not. This wasn’t even an option.
Moving Through Obstacles
The couple decided they had to keep moving forward. Johan sent Lucia back to the United States where she worked in a patisserie in Miami while he began rebuilding the life they had known. Puerto Rico didn’t even have electricity at this point.
Over time they were able to begin reestablishing themselves as a patisserie. Tembo helped them restart their business with very little credit and advised them to keep their personal expenses astronomically low so as not to drain their business resources.
Slowly things began to come together. The kitchen was rebuilt, display cases were rejuvenated, new coolers and refrigerators were installed and our team set up point of sales and accounting systems to optimize their business. We wanted to make sure they clearly understood their costs and break even point. By doing so, they were able to stay extremely focused on their goal.
Another important factor we wanted to help them understand was to figure out where their margins were so they could evaluate whether it would be more profitable to do wholesale sales, such as selling bread to hotels, or whether retail sales made more sense.
Our team helped the couple discover that the margins were much higher when it came to retail sales, which led to another stream of revenue. We were able to assist them to minimize taxation and manage cash flow in a way where they’re now repaying initial invested capital. The next steps are to start putting money away and thinking about future expansion. Not a bad place to be when it comes to business, huh?
Resilience Pays Off
Lucia and Johan overcame a very unfortunate situation and now have an incredibly successful business to show for it. Every day when they open there is a line out the door that wraps around the corner. The couple is doing what Tembo does best: they’re crushing it!
Helping Lucia and Johan rebuild and restructure after the hurricane has been a rewarding experience for our team.
Seeing businesses like Lucia Patisserie thrive and overcome hardships and knowing we were a part of that process is why Tembo works so hard to help clients succeed and carry out their visions.