Sissy Blanchard is the co-owner of Gourmet au Bay Wine Bar and Restaurant in Bodega Bay, CA with her husband Bob. They curate a collection of California, small-production wines and offer wood oven cuisine. But her first startup after corporate life was Sissy Made It, Inc., a handbag and accessories company that she ended up selling after purchasing Gourmet au Bay. Sissy and Bob just sold Gourmet au Bay and are looking for their next venture, somewhere closer to home on the East coast.
In the years I’ve known Sissy, the one thing that has always stood out to me is her willingness to learn new things. She’s an incredible retailer and knows the hospitality industry in and out. But not because she knew it all from day one. No, her collective retail, hospitality and SMB marketing expertise has come from years of hard work and testing to see what works, and what doesn’t. Her curiosity and determination is what I admire most about her.
We asked Sissy to tell the Tribute community a bit more about her, and why she decided to leave the Corporate life behind.
How old are you?
Where were you raised?
Brunswick, GA and Metro Atlanta, GA
What you want to be known for?
I want to be known for my entrepreneurial spirit, superb customer service and for championing main street retail in local markets. Until I find out what I want to be known for next.
What made you decide to start your venture? Tell us about YOUR WHY.
I got laid off from my corporate job. The truth is, I may have never left. The corporate financial shackles are hard to shake. I was put in a position of make it or break it. I was single, had just bought a house, and scared to death….
Did you leave a cozy Corporate job? Or start a side hustle?
I had started a couple of side businesses while I was in the corporate sales job. There was a renaissance happening in small batch products, locally made. I tapped into my creative side and went for it, creating Sissy Made It, Inc. I started small, but was persistent in opening accounts with retail stores, doing retail shows and asking friends to host parties for me.
What inspires you to keep going when the going gets tough?
At the time I started Sissy Made It, I had to focus on getting the next order. I didn’t want my lifestyle to change. I wanted to go out with my friends and have nice things. The best thing I ever did was buy a used BMW. I only spent 9K on the car, but it made me feel like a million dollars when people saw me drive up in it.
And finally, we asked Sissy to answer these three questions.
My favorite self-care routine is...
I’m currently working on developing one. Owning a restaurant isn’t exactly the best way to live a balanced life. I’m a work in progress and getting to the place where I’m okay with that was a process in itself! I do try to work out a few times a week and I am a huge believer in meditation - especially to calm my mind so I can fall asleep!
The last book I read was ….
The Girl With Seven Names - a true story of a North Korean Defector. FASCINATING!
My best advice to fellow female founder is…
Never apologize. Ask for what you want unapologetically.
Sissy is looking to mentor female founders in the Retail and Hospitality industry, but also runs her own consulting business to help SMBs launch their local brands successfully. You can find and friend Sissy on Facebook or contact her via email at email@example.com.