As part of the Morning Lazziness series spotlighting couple entrepreneurs who have built businesses together, we have the pleasure of interviewing Ronda Brittian and Steve Davis.
Ronda’s Fine Foods is a woman, minority, and family-owned company that creates delicious and versatile specialty food products, featuring family recipes, inspired by flavors of the world.
Ronda’s first two SKUs, Ronda’s sofí award-winning Original Romesco and Ronda’s Spicy Romesco are dip/sauce/spreads that are new options for charcuterie and cheese pairings, grilled/roasted seafood, meat, poultry, eggs, vegetables, over pasta or as a sandwich spread.
Both are created with the California almond, roasted red peppers, garlic, tomatoes, spices, and olive oil.
These all-natural, low-carb, gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian products are designed for those that seek the highest quality in taste and versatility along with the convenience of a ready to use dip/sauce/spread.
Ronda’s Specialty Food Products are crafted with meticulous attention to both flavor and quality reflecting the company’s passion for excellence.
Co-Founders, Ronda Brittian and Steve Davis joined forces in 2018, driven by their love for each other, Ronda’s lifelong passion for the culinary arts and Steve’s extensive 35+ year career in the specialty food industry. Their serendipitous alliance gave birth to Ronda’s Fine Foods, a testament to their shared dream of crafting exceptional, small-batch, gourmet delights.
Ronda Brittian, a retired Neuro-Trauma RN, draws culinary inspiration from her beloved Grandmothers, where the seeds of culinary creativity were sown along with her love of helping others to experience the beauty of delicious food.
Steve Davis’ multifaceted career spans product development, manufacturing, sales, retailer and distributor relationships, operations, finance, logistics, and marketing, where the challenge and intricacies of launching a start-up brand fuel his professional fire.
Together, they’ve curated a line of delectable offerings designed to elevate your culinary experience. With a commitment to quality and a vision to inspire the discerning home chef, Ronda and Steve invite you to savor their creations.
What inspired both of you to venture into entrepreneurship together?
Steve and I met in early 2018, and from the start we shared a natural compatibility and connection. In those early days, my longstanding dream of starting a specialty food company, based on my most cherished family recipes, found a natural harmony with Steve’s vision of launching a specialty food brand of his very own. I didn’t know how to take my ideas to market, and Steve didn’t have the actual product to take to market.
Driven by our love for each other, and the fortuitous alignment of our long-held dreams, the stage was set for us to create our brand, Ronda’s Fine Foods.
How do your individual strengths complement each other in your business?
Steve and I are fortunate to have different areas of strengths and interests. In our dynamic, small-business setting, we have defined primary oversight in certain areas, related to our strengths, which optimizes our efficiency in managing the day-to-day running of the company. Our roles extend beyond operational functions, and we actively engage in both the routine operations and the strategic development of the company. We take a very collaborative approach and are flexible to what we both have on our plates. This balanced approach ensures a holistic and effective management of our business endeavors.
Can you share a memorable moment or achievement that you both cherish in your entrepreneurial journey?
Our entrepreneurial journey has been marked by remarkable achievements that hold a profound sense of significance for us both. There is a great sense of accomplishment when a new product resonates with, and is embraced by, our customers. A moment that is etched in our memories is when, after picking up our inaugural pallet of products, we stopped at new retailers to deliver samples and the orders started coming in right on the spot. The realization that our first SKU, Ronda’s Original Romesco, was not only exceptional in our eyes, but also resonated with our retailers, marked a transformative moment in our journey.
I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention that Ronda’s Fine Foods Original Romesco Dip/Sauce/Spread won the new product award in the Salsa & Dips Category as part of the Specialty Food Association’s (SFA) 2022 sofi™ Awards, a top honor in the $170.4 billion specialty food industry.
Ronda’s Original Romesco was one of 102 winners selected by a panel of specialty food experts from nearly 2,000 entries across 53 product categories. Products are judged on taste, including flavor, appearance, texture and aroma, ingredient quality, and innovation. All tastings are anonymous and are held at the prestigious Rutgers Food Innovation Center. Winning this coveted award at the beginning of our journey, that was voted upon by such a prestigious panel, is a moment that we will never forget!
How do you navigate the balance between your personal and professional lives as a couple in business?
Steve and I always remember that we fell in love first and cultivating our relationship with each other and our families is a top priority. Maintaining a balance between our personal and professional lives is crucial to our happiness. Communication is at the root of us setting clear boundaries, designating specific work hours, and carving out personal time for us as a couple and individually is important. During our overly busy season, we take a divide and conquer approach!
In challenging times, how do you support and motivate each other to keep pushing forward?
The landscape of our business is characterized by constant activity, adaptability. and evolution. We don’t take the highs too high, or the lows too low. My Nearly decade-long experience working as a Neuro-Trauma nurse has given me a unique perspective on life, especially during challenging times. Dealing with critical medical situations shaped my understanding of adversity and strengthened my ability to face challenges that arise in our business and life. In Steve’s 35+ years in the industry, he has been through high highs and low lows. Together we can bring balance to most things that arise for the business. We rely on tenacity to keep going, and resilience in the belief that everything is figure-out-able.
What’s the division of roles and responsibilities like in your business partnership?
Steve and I have different areas of strengths and interests and thankfully these areas translate into the division of roles within our company. Even though there are only two of us, we have a formal org chart and each of us oversees that specific area, though we collaboratively work together most days. In addition, we have an advisory board and a wonderful mentor, Dom Bigi, the CEO of Beaverton Foods, whose grandmother started their condiment company during the great depression. Our roles are fluid, depending on the day and circumstance as well.
Have you encountered any significant challenges as a couple in business, and how did you overcome them?
Yes! Challenge is part of running a small business! Managing a self-funded company presents the challenge of strategically allocating resources in a rapidly growing environment. It involves navigating priorities to address pressing needs, balancing short-term necessities with long-term goals. We prioritize our investments that fuel our growth, product production for example, while we may have to wait on allocating funds for things like advertising or social media help. We communicate regularly to reassess and adapt our resource allocations to align with the evolving demands of Ronda’s Fine Foods. Our focus is to build a strong foundation for the company and that takes more time when there are limited resources. Our goal is to retain 100% control of our business for as long as possible.
What role does effective communication play in your entrepreneurial relationship?
Effective communication is the cornerstone of any successful romantic and entrepreneurial partnership. We strongly believe that clear communication helps in navigating challenges, celebrating successes, and maintaining a strong collaborative bond, which is essential for the growth and sustainability of our business. Steve and I have the same vision for our brand, and we rely upon each other to leverage our individual strengths, capitalize on our unique skill sets, and collectively work to drive the strategic growth of our brand. Effective communication is essential to this process.
How do you celebrate successes, both big and small, within your business and personal life?
We celebrate our successes with family and friends usually around the table with delicious food. The kitchen is the heart of our home, where we gather to share, not just meals, but also moments of joy and achievement. Daily gratitude is also essential to us as it serves to ground us in appreciation for the positive aspects of our lives. Our gratitude practice fosters resilience during challenging moments and strengthens our connection to the present as life can come hard and fast at times.
Can you share any advice for other couples considering entrepreneurship together?
We love to spend time together and have always had a natural compatibility, so teaming up professionally wasn’t a stretch for us. Working together requires open communication, clearly defined roles and responsibilities, a mutual understanding of each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and a commitment to maintaining a healthy work-life balance. We believe a strong foundation of love, trust, patience, and resilience is incredibly important to navigate the challenges that may arise. Fostering a supportive environment for both our personal and professional growth, separate from each other and the business, keeps things fresh and dynamic.