As an introverted child growing up in Brazil, food became a love language for Vanessa Silva, and by the time she was 10 years old she was quite fluent, preparing special dishes for family gatherings. In 2016 she launched Culinary Artistas in a 2,400-square-foot space in San Francisco’s Ghirardelli Square, across the street from the beach. Vanessa’s 2020 was off to a fantastic start. Culinary Artistas had 27 employees and she was considering opening a second location. She was even flirting with the idea of starting a subscription-model business aimed at parents and children wanting ingredients and recipes to prepare healthy food at home.
Then March came, and the COVID-19 pandemic made Vanessa rethink everything. She wasn’t just stunned, she was scared. She was initially resistant to the idea of shifting her business online, given that cooking had always been something that she enjoyed doing in-person with others. However, after seeing how happy her daughter was taking an online dance class, Vanessa gave her team the greenlight to move forward with online classes. It was an immediate success!
Culinary Artistas’ online cooking classes are attracting between 30 and 50 kids per class, and over the summer Vanessa and her team even hosted a 12-week, in-person camp for over 100 students. Culinary Artistas has sold almost 500 cooking kits through the pandemic, giving Vanessa an opportunity to get her nascent subscription business off the ground. Thanks to her and the teams’ hard work through the pandemic, their revenue is up 25 percent compared to 2019. We wish you the best Vanessa!
While this Women’s History Month marks one year from the first COVID pandemic lockdowns across the country, PCV is celebrating the strength and endurance of the almost 1,000 women small business owners we’ve worked with over 20+ years. Business owners like Vanessa.
Whether they’re business owners or working people, we know now that the COVID pandemic has hit women — and especially women of color — harder than anyone. Since February 2020, women have lost 5.4 million jobs, and are leaving the workforce at four times the rate of men. Women of color specifically accounted for most of that job loss, according to the National Women’s Law Center in December. They also disproportionately hold low-quality, yet high-risk essential jobs (53% of workers in the food service industry and 80% of workers in the health and social assistance field), therefore being ineligible for benefits and more susceptible to layoffs.
At the same time, women of color also account for 89% of the new businesses opened every day in 2019. Black women are 300% more likely to launch a new business than a white person, and Latinas are 180% more likely.
That’s why we at PCV are laser-focused on centering women of color in all of work. We can’t build forward better if we don’t prioritize women-owned businesses, centering the needs of women of color especially, and creating good jobs for women in the workforce, through our Good Jobs, Good Business framework, capital, and mentorship strategies. Please join us in supporting and shopping from our women-owned businesses all month and year!
President & CEO, Pacific Community Ventures