“The SBDC helped with me with my new business start,” shares small business Conchitas owner Jennifer Lowry, “all from where to go to apply for licenses and taxes, and things that were scary for me. But this military mompreneur pushes through to the other side.
“My Consultant Christa went above and beyond to research questions for me and held my hand step by step to fill out forms and everything. I felt confident and a sense of security that helped me focus on just creating delicious and beautiful food displays. It’s a journey! And SBDC is right alongside you and ready to help you.”
Jennifer’s husband serves in the Marines, they have children, plus she’s a talented chef, entrepreneur at heart, and possesses a gentle, fun spirit.
In March of 2020 Jennifer’s husband received orders to a Florida military base, then the pandemic hit.
“We got to really enjoy our house,” she says laughing. “I was working medical jobs, stitching up people, catching babies, all sorts of stuff.
“I didn’t have the best of luck with bosses treating me very well, especially during COVID. This was full panic mode unfortunately, and so one day my kids get sick, and I’m not allowed to be there with them to care for them. So I quit and became a stay-at-home mom.”
Jennifer and her husband were caring for their daughter and Jennifer’s brother, and she was also expecting a baby boy. She describes how she became worried and wanted to add to their income. Cooking had always brought her joy and peace, her always making elaborate course meals for the family. So she started a little side gig, she says.
“I started Love Through Food by Jenn when I was 8-9 months pregnant, making birria tacos and desserts and aguas frescas; using my 32-inch Blackstone griddle. Had the family in on it serving drinks and all. I did meals by donation only and as a pay-it-forward method.”
She explains how her baby had surprising plans, so on May 29 baby Kenny was born. She took a break and then started up again.
“I started seeing already established restaurants pick up on the trend and serving these tacos, and it made me stop doing what I was doing because I was putting myself down that I didn’t have that,” she shares. “Then Hurricane Sally hit. I live in a neighborhood where there are elderly folks and they were flooded, or no power, or both — so I cooked for them breakfast, lunch, and dinner every single day for about six days straight until I knew they were OK. No food was wasted. A neighbor lent us a generator and had extra propane and just made magic happen.”
Fast forward and Jennifer became surprised once more when she found out she was expecting again. In September 2021 baby Olivia was born.
“I was out of work for so long, I couldn’t just be at home. I definitely didn’t want to go back to any hospital anytime soon. So I thought, I love cooking. Working two jobs my whole life in the restaurant industry and medical field, I learned many things. And it helps to also be in a multicultural family. So I started planning.”
She created her logo and applied for her LLC in the same night. She became an official business owner last March as a personal chef and caterer.
“I have full control and full liberty to be creative,” she says.
“I’ve fed over 3,000 people for different events since I started to this day. By the hundreds and smaller parties or classes. I’ve done dinner parties, appetizer displays, grazes, food art, sushi displays. Anything that had to do with food I could do it. The ideal dream is to do educational food TV, creating food art for kids and education on multicultural cuisines plus food styling for commercials and such. Until then, I’m enjoying the journey and have had opportunities with amazing nonprofits, commercial kitchens, community classes, Pensacola Energy Coast Bites TV, plus the PBS/WSRE TV stations which have continuously hired me and done commercials to help my business.
“Through the advice of SBDC, I’ve met so many people through networking and it’s a whole dominoes effect.”
Jennifer says she lives by doing good, and good things will come; be the good in the world.
“And so far, it’s been real good,” she shares. “I want to show my kids to follow their dreams like I did. And anyone out there who wants to pursue their dreams, to go for it. I’m a mother of three and guardian for one. I’m a military spouse. No family or friends to depend on. Started a business during COVID. Just kept pushing. I have a strong passion to do this. I will prove that no matter what, a mother entrepreneur can and will make it happen.”
Jennifer describes how comparison, or self-doubt, is her own worst enemy — like many of us.
“I give myself pep talks,” Jennifer says. “And I have SBDC holding my hand through the whole process — no matter where I go — with all kinds of great tips and resources to take advantage of which will help … SBDC is for small business. They genuinely want to see you succeed. They will do everything in their power to help you. If you have a passion for something or a vision, they are a great guide to make it happen. It’s a big step, but it’s so worth it. I felt so much more at ease to seek help with not only a free service but a professional one that gets you.”