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Teaching The Next Generation

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Jamie Butler, owner of Escalon, CA-based The Butler’s Pantry, never dreamed that she would own her own business. The gourmet housewares retailer — who began her business via truck — went to college to be a teacher, as it seemed that was one of the professions most emphasized by her high school. However, now she’s turning the tables. The retailer recently participated in a career day at her local high school to discuss owning her own business.

“I actually did it because I went to that high school and I remember growing up, no one really talked to us about more out-of-the-box professions. There was a lot of focus on being a teacher or a nurse. I wanted to show the kids that there are other professions out there and I really wanted to share that small business is an option for them,” she said.

Butler said that during her time with the students, she tried to ensure she put an emphasis on what owning a small business looks like. She discussed everything from basic business information to social media marketing.

“I really wanted the kids to feel like they could be or do whatever they wanted. I spent a lot of time talking about hard work, dedication and passion and I tried to explain to them that if they had a passion for something, there are avenues they can go down to make it into their life,” she said.

Butler explained that getting the next generation interested in small business ownership, whether they head into the independent gourmet industry or another segment, is important.

“I was excited because a lot of the kids were really interested in my business. They asked really great questions like ‘how did you get started,’ and wanted to really know what inside my business looks like,” she said.

And although she was there to teach the kids about her business, the gourmet housewares retailer ended up learning a thing or two herself.

“A lot of the kids are already entrepreneurs themselves through social media, especially Instagram,” she said. “So, we ended up talking a lot about social media and how important that’s become when it comes to marketing a small business and expanding its reach. It allowed us to have a deeper conversation about what small business looks like beyond the brick and mortar,” she said.


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