Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy
Chelsea Eaton, a Southeast alum and owner of Lemonade House Grille in Cape Girardeau, talked to students about her journey as an entrepreneur as part of the Entrepreneurship Speaker Series held at the Catapult Creative House on March 27.
The Speaker Series is in collaboration with the Redhawk CEOs. This allows men and women in the business community to inform and inspire students with their personal stories.
Eaton began her journey with entrepreneurship while at Southeast in 2007. Around this time she also had her first daughter. She wanted to get professional pictures done of her daughter but realized they were expensive.
She then thought she could learn how to use a camera and take the portraits herself.
“I’m like, ‘There is no way I can’t do that,’” she said. “I can learn how to do this.”
Photography became Eaton’s first business in 2007. This experience led her to the idea of pursuing entrepreneurship as a career. Following photography, Eaton started her own insurance company in Jackson.
She explained to the students how she started the company from scratch and how it became a stepping stone in her career.
Eaton ate her first cake pop in 2013, then thought they would be a good money-maker at a fair in her hometown.
“We made 500 cake pops and sold out,” she said. “The next year we made 1,000 and sold out, and that’s where I met the owner of the Lemonade House Grille.”
Eaton said she was excited when, at one point in the conversation the owner talked to her about putting cake pops into his restaurants in Perryville and Donovan, Missouri.
Eaton then purchased the franchise, the Lemonade House Grille in Cape Girardeau in 2017.
She said she chose the franchise because it had brand recognition, with roots in Southeast, Missouri and gave her creative freedom.
“The restaurant had brand recognition,” she said. “But it was so small starting that I could have all this freedom in design, freedom in marketing, freedom in our menu.”
In the middle of June, Eaton created a Facebook page for her new business. With 2,500 likes within an hour, she called that the planning stage.
She anticipated on serving about 300 people a day come their opening date, April 27, 2018.
“Instead of serving 300 people a day, we served 1,000,” Eaton said.
Eaton has learned hard lessons in her industry, as well.
“”People are very supportive on Facebook, but when they come into the restaurant, they just want their food,” she said.
Eaton also stressed the importance of treating people the right way.
“My nature is to make people happy, make them feel welcome,” she said. “I feel like one of the best ways to do that is with food. Most people bond over food, so I love the idea of being able to be a part of that.”
She mainly focused on entrepreneurship but also stressed the importance of taking risks. Eaton explained how her journey in simple terms would be “ignorance is bliss.”
“Nothing is going to go right, nothing is going to go easy, you know, and if you quit in the middle of something going wrong, then you’re never going to accomplish anything,” she said.