Happy 12th Birthday Carolima's!
When I think about the goodness of God and how he has kept our business going for 12 years my heart gets full! November 2nd is our official birthday but we will celebrate at our 3rd Annual Customer Appreciation oyster roast on November 11th. Anyone who has ever attempted to start a business or who currently owns a business will tell you it's no easy feat. People always ask me 2 questions- How did you get the name Carolima's and Why did you start a catering business?
When I decided to start a business I wanted a name that was unique yet easy to remember while paying homage to my Lowcountry roots. My maiden name was Merisier and I knew that would be way too difficult to remember much less pronounce. Besides, I didn't want the business to be named after me per se. I called up my very good friend Suzy who is one of the most creative people I know. I explained to her that I was trying to come up with a name for a catering business and she said she had been holding on to 3. You have to know Suzy to understand that I was not surprised. LOL. When she said Carolima's I immediately said YES! That's the name I want. She said you can have it and we've been named Carolima's ever since. The tag line has changed from Southern Cuisine to Lowcountry Cuisine but our quality and service have never wavered.
Like most business owners it wasn't my dream to own a catering company. Actually I thought I would work in Corporate America and earn a big corner office in a company and rise to the top. I quickly realized that it would never happen in Charleston, SC and I didn't have the resources to relocate. At the time, I was working in a banking environment where I was unhappy. I was dissatisfied with management and the recent merger. It was time for me to leave but I had no idea what I would do next. What I knew for sure was that I didn't want to go back to school. I already had 2 degrees and I was still paying off the loans for both. When I weighted my options on what I could do well cooking was at the top of the list. My sister and I had already catered a few small parties for friends and I enjoyed it. Plus, there weren't many African American owned professional catering companies in Charleston. I called my sister who was living in Charlotte at the time and told her what I was thinking and of course she said I should go for it.
When I gave my notice and told people what my plans were I was surprised at people's reactions. My co-workers were asking how was I going to be able to pay my bills and friends were asking ARE YOU SURE? Needless to say I jumped and developed my wings as I went along. It's been an incredible journey where I've had some good days and I've had some bad days to say the least. Even after 12 years there is never a time when I've coasted. It's always the survival of the fittest. You know, sink or swim. There aren't any guarantees and I have wanted to quit more times than I can count. But through it all I have remained steadfast in the quality and service Carolima's provides and I believe that has been the secret to our longevity.
When my sister 'Emma joined the business 7 years ago she came in like a bolt of lightening and a breath of fresh air. I was working alone with the help of my best friend, Rethmiriam, for the most part. Having her join me gave us the opportunity to expand into desserts, larger events and increase our social media presence. Most people have no idea how much time and effort goes into simply remaining relevant as a business on social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, SnapChat, Tik Tok, LinkedIn and now Threads. We are bombarded with social media everyday and when you're a small business you feel like a small fish in a big pond because we don't have the marketing budgets of our competitors. However, we have managed to organically scale our social media presence to more than 27k on Instagram and 11k on Facebook.
Most importantly we thank you - our loyal customers! Your support and referrals mean the world to us. As a small business we couldn't survive without the support of our community and for that we THANK YOU! Please keep supporting local and we will see you all on Saturday, November 11th for our 3rd Annual Customer Appreciation Oyster Roast!
The Dynamic Duo
Sameka & 'Emma