Fairy tales are all about happy endings. Thanks to SCORE, Ariane Smith is writing a happy beginning to her dream of building a business that blends her experience as a children’s entertainer and storyteller with her fascination with fairy tales and culinary arts.
While attending an SBA seminar in Manhattan in early 2007, Ariane learned about SCORE and its free small business mentoring services. She began meeting with New York City SCORE Mentor Abe Silverstein, a veteran of developing successful small businesses.
Ariane’s idea was simple, yet innovative—encourage healthy attitudes toward food among children by creating fun interactive stories called Enchanted Thyme, capped with healthy recipes that families could prepare together. After exploring different avenues to develop her idea, she decided to bring Enchanted Thyme to life as a series of children’s novels.
Despite the uniqueness of Ariane’s idea, Enchanted Thyme still faced the formidable challenge of achieving visibility in a highly competitive book market. Rather than rely solely on bookstores, Ariane decided to market the book through grocery stores where she would also offer interactive shows and culinary workshops.
Because her first Enchanted Thyme book had not yet been published, Ariane followed SCORE Mentor Abe Silverstein advice and, with book proofs in hand, began approaching nearby ShopRite grocery stores. “Three of them gave me the chance to do performances, which were very successful,” Ariane says.
ShopRite customers weren’t the only ones who were impressed. The chain’s regional management agreed to sponsor Ariane at the FoodNetwork New York City Wine and Food Festival, enabling her to add high production value to her show at a high-profile venue. ShopRite is also considering having Ariane perform at other stores in metropolitan New York and beyond.
As word of Enchanted Thyme has spread, Ariane is busy giving more performances at stores and libraries in New York City and the surrounding area. She’s also at work on her second book, and working on animated shorts featuring Enchanted Thyme characters that kids can download to their iPods or cell phones. “They can watch the short with their parents while grocery shopping, and pick up the ingredients for the recipe,” she says.
“Abe was a perfect fit for me,” Ariane says. “He calibrated my approach, telling me when I was thinking too big, and when I needed to think bigger.”
In assessing start-up financing options, Abe recommended that Ariane pursue a small business loan rather than seeking out investors. “That allowed me to follow my own vision starting out, rather than having to answer to other people,” Ariane says. “Abe helped me with my business plan, which led to an incredible loan with a great interest rate.”
Ariane continues to work with Abe, who frequently checks on her progress and provide a sounding board for ideas. “That he calls so regularly means the world to me,” she says. “Starting and running a small business is not easy, especially these days. It’s nice to have someone like Abe there to be a mentor and a friend.”