How hospitality professional Kenna Wesolka turned her charcuterie board hobby into a flourishing business in just 3 months
NEW YORK, NY. - There’s a saying that hospitality professionals are some of the most resilient people you will ever meet, and Kenna Wesolka is no exception. Since graduating from Boston University, Kenna has worked hard to build her career in hospitality, working for prestigious companies in New York City such as Marriott, Waldorf Astoria, and most recently Major Food Group (MFG).
Her love for hosting and entertaining brought her to MFG in November 2019 where she took on the role of senior event sales manager. Here she could be creative and put her years of event and food/beverage knowledge to work. Kenna was positioned to excel in her new role and would be able to continue to build a name for herself.
However, like so many others, Kenna’s career came to a pause when Covid-19 reached the States. Suddenly, all the high-end restaurants in New York City were temporarily closing and Kenna found herself without a job.
Not knowing if she would be brought back to full-time status from furlough, Kenna knew she would need to take matters into her own hands.
“Not having much tenure with the company, I was very uneasy about, when they do [open] back up, would I make the cut?” Kenna said. “From the get-go, I never really thought I would be going back. I knew I had to mentally close that chapter in my life and try to figure out what to do next so I could stay in this apartment and stay in the city.”
Kenna decided she would start a food blog geared towards entertaining at home and decided to call it Herb Your Enthusiasm.
What she found, however due to Covid-19, was the lack of opportunity to entertain at home, so she quickly switched gears. She recalled a time four years ago when she and her boyfriend created a massive grazing table at her home for upwards of about 90 guests. The reviews from party-goers were that of astonishment and amazement for the “artwork” Kenna had created on her table using various meats, cheeses, vegetables, bread, fruits, and nuts.
Kenna decided three months into her furlough that she would create charcuterie boards to post on Instagram for inspiration and before she knew it, her page was a huge hit. She got over 1,000 followers on Instagram and knew she was onto something.
“I started getting great feedback on Instagram about the boards… so I started thinking about ways I could start making money from it, and now that people are starting to have picnics and small birthday parties, why don’t I start trying to sell them?” Kenna explained.
What started as an online hobby, has grown in the past three months into a highly sought out charcuterie board business. Kenna took that time to set up Herb Your Enthusiasm correctly by going through the proper channels to obtain food permits and licenses. Kenna’s charcuterie boards are available on her website as well as a variety of other products and services including grazing tables and workshops for virtual meetings.
The relationships she’s worked hard to build over the years have given her access to resources and the support she’s needed to successfully launch her business.
“This business has allowed me to reconnect with hundreds of people within my network who are also connecting me to new people! The hospitality industry is obviously known for being hospitable, but it has blown my mind to be on the receiving end of the power of networking within this community,” Kenna said. “My favorite part of this new venture is combining what I love, beautiful food, and my network of relationships!”
Kenna is not putting any restrictions on how grand she can scale her company and is capitalizing on the seasons, holidays, and special events.
“Every two weeks, I will announce limited-time themed boards available for order on my
Instagram. Think Rosh Hashanah, Fall, Halloween, and election night for example,” Kenna explained.
She is also getting ready to launch holiday kits/baskets where you can build your board from home following her step-by-step instructions, or gift to someone, perfect for the fast-approaching winter holidays. According to Kenna, the sky’s the limit to where she can take her new business.
As for others who can’t quite figure out how to get started, Kenna advises grabbing a pen and a paper and start writing down your ideas.
“Make a wish list of accomplishments in the form of a timeline, and look at it every morning when you wake up and plan the course of your day,” Kenna said. “You will be surprised what you are capable of tackling in a short amount of time! Each time you check something off the list, you will feel so empowered to keep going until you have reached a point where you are ‘redefined.’ ”
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