Any entrepreneur can tell you that the formula for success includes hard work, determination, and resilience. But what about faith? What about that thing inside of you that urges you along new paths in life?
Rachel Basile, owner of Switchin’ Kitchens in South Charlotte, knows a thing or two about those new paths, “We moved to Charlotte from New Jersey in 1997 in a corporate relocation with a textile company. It was a great opportunity, and I loved the work. But over the years I fell out of love with it. My heart just wasn’t in it anymore.”
Between 2001-2002, Rachel lost both her parents, and her second son was born. “It was a life-changing time, to say the least. And it helped me to reevaluate my priorities,” she says. “One way I did this was by switching to a new church. I was a lifelong Catholic, and had a colleague who played drums in a church band. He was one of the happiest people I’d ever met, and I knew that I wanted what he had. So I gave his church a try and from the first visit I felt at home.”
With her faith restored, she set out to change the trajectory of her life. Her goals were to make people happy, serve others, and empower people to do things they didn’t think they could. Soon after, Rachel had her entrepreneurial epiphany,
“I learned about a franchise company that specialized in prepackaged dinners for families. I looked at my husband and he knew. We were always the kind of family that prepped meals on Sunday for the entire week. It was something we really enjoyed. When I thought about opening a business to do this for other people, it kept me up at night.”
In 2005, Rachel took another leap of faith and left her job with the textile company to go out on her own. Nine months later she launched Switchin’ Kitchens, a company that makes fresh, gourmet dinners a reality for families. Over the years she built a reputable brand with a loyal following. “We continued to grow and had our processes down to a science. Life was good.”
And things remained good until 2016, when Basile was diagnosed with breast cancer. “Clearly, it was a turning point. I had to give all my energy to beat this. What I discovered was that no one gets through it alone—the support of the community meant everything to me.”
Overcoming breast cancer strengthened her faith and fueled her desire to continue to make people happy, serve others, and empower people to do things they didn’t think they could.
Like with everyone, when COVID-19 emerged Rachel didn’t know what to expect. But what happened with her business was different than with most other businesses. “No one was going out to dinner,” she says. “As such, people were stocking up on food. We were working more than ever—seven day a week. We had to bring extra people on.”
But then the food supply broke down causing her to do the unthinkable, “We had to pass on the rising costs to our customers. At one point I thought that this might be it, and that our customers would leave. But they didn’t. They hung in there and over time things normalized. Thankfully.”
A recipient of the Access to Capital Small Business Recovery Grant Program from the city of Charlotte, Rachel funneled that money back to her employees. “We had an employee contract COVID-19 and had to shut our doors for a couple of weeks. During that time I was able to use the grant to help keep our staff paid. We are a different kind of food source company in that our people get to go home at night and spend time with their families. A lot of people in the food business have to work nights and weekends sacrificing their family time for the job. We don’t. So when I was able to help our employees stay afloat with the grant while we were closed, it was a wonderful feeling. That grant was a gift from God.”
Since March, her business model has shifted. Whereas at one time the best part of her job was engaging with customers who would come into her shop, now everything is done digitally and the company provides curbside pickup. The most enjoyable part of her job these days is providing dinners for the adult community of Sun City Carolina Lakes.
“Once a week we prepare and deliver between 30-45 orders to the community. And they’re so grateful. It just gives you a warm feeling knowing you’re doing something good for people. I feel immensely blessed.”
As for other entrepreneurs struggling to find their footing during this unprecedented time, Rachel says, “Once you find your passion, you must follow it. And that means pushing through tough times like these. You have to have faith in your passion, and you must remain resilient. Use your resources. Lean on your community. Trust your passion.”
Great advice from someone who knows how to keep the faith.