NASE in the News

Stay tuned! Check out our latest videos, television appearances and podcasts.

Cooking Self-Employment

Brooke Kinsey
is the Co-Owner and Chef at Bleu & Fig located in Columbus, Ohio.  Brooke has long loved food and attended Johnson and Wales University in Virginia where she got her degree in culinary arts.  Brooke met her business partner and Co-Owner Regina (a horticulturalist by trade) and together they started Bleu & Fig where they combined their expertise in catering and floral displays.  When starting Bleu & Fig, they had the mindset that food should be entertainment unto itself.  Brooke applied for an NASE Growth Grant so they could take their traveling business and set up a brick and mortar store front.

What inspired you to enter the field you are in?
A love of food led me to pursue a degree in culinary arts. I learned comfort food from an early age. Pan fried steak from my grandmother fueled me to produce beef tenderloin with fig and bleu cheese preserves. Mashed potatoes gave way to fingerlings with crème fresche and caviar. At Bleu & Fig, we create Modern American comfort food. The idea of food without love doesn’t make sense to us.

When and why did you start your business?
Bleu & Fig started in 2000 with the goal of a holistic and modern approach to entertaining.  By combining the food and floral display areas, we feel we have the unique ability to succeed in our approach to entertaining.

What challenges have you faced in your business?
Marketing is always a challenge! Determining the best way to reach potential clients is a learning process. As we’ve grown, staffing is a constant concern. As you grow, putting your faith in employees, rather than being responsible for every aspect of the business is tough! Keeping good employees is also a challenge, as we aren’t able to provide a set, full time schedule.

Speaking of marketing, how do you market your business?
Social media has been useful to us as a marketing tool to promote events being held at our new event space, located at 4622 North High Street. Marketing is always a challenge and hard to measure. We’ve truly found that existing clients and good referrals have been fundamental in the growth of our business. We often consider paid marketing and advertising but word of mouth has worked so far for us.

What's your schedule like, what's a typical day for you?
As you and your readers likely know, every single day is different for a small business owner. I wear many hats, some days I may be in the kitchen all day preparing food.  Other days may be in the office, or meeting with clients. I’ve found that flexibility is the key to survival.

Do you have any employees?
We have one full time staff member, our Operations Director, which has been instrumental in our success. We also have part time servers that are utilized for our larger events. We try to have some consistency with the part time employees that we hire because we don’t need to train and provide instruction as much but it is difficult as schedules don’t always allow it.  We are currently looking for a full time Salesperson if anyone knows someone in or around Columbus!

What’s the best thing about being self-employed?
The ability to be creative in what we do every day is the best part of being self-employed. It is a pleasure to create amazing celebrations for our guests and to see it come together in our own vision under our terms.  If I had to sum it up in two words, I would say creativity and freedom.

What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received from a client?
A recent bride & groom told us “they could never have imagined in their wildest dreams that their wedding day would have been such a fabulous celebration!”  It was very gratifying to hear this but it also made me think back to when we started the business and our mission to create “holistic and modern entertaining” and how impactful we could be in client’s lives.

What’s the most important piece of advice you would give to someone starting their own business?
Absolute dedication to your business is imperative to being an entrepreneur. Know that some failures will happen, but being able to persevere is essential for success.  A belief in yourself and your business that is unbreakable and able to weather the storms and carry you to sunny days.

The Latest News from the NASE

Our RSS feed service allows you to retrieve instant updates from the NASE website. est articles, news, and other helpful information, all delivered directly to you!

Courtesy of