Cassi Gregory’s passion? Bringing people together through food. The Houston, Texas-based chef caters weddings, events and dinner parties, while selling her signature Cognac Butter Pecan Syrup to home cooks by way of Houston’s top gourmet grocery stores. It’s a big win following a big shake-up – several years back, Gregory suffered a heart attack that landed her in a medically-induced coma. She says she rebounded by being “driven and passionate enough to work my way back to good health.” Today, Cassi is grateful for those who have supported her through the trials and tribulations of life – and entrepreneurship.
Here’s our lightly edited Q&A, from The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project.
How is your business different from others in your industry?
I am a chef and caterer by trade, but was able to take my career to the next level by creating packaged products that are available for purchase through wholesale partnerships with nearby grocery stores.
Tell us about your biggest success so far.
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
Scaling up. I was able to accomplish this by getting my business financially ready for the scale ahead of time. I also enrolled myself in several SBA Events and Chamber of Commerce Meet-Ups, to take advantage of the top-tier networking opportunities.
Have you experienced any significant personal situations that have affected your business decisions?
Recovering from being in a coma and having to learn how to live life with a pacemaker and defibrillator has been a huge struggle. I now know how to take a step back and allocate responsibilities to others, so that I am not overwhelmed. Anxiety and stress are the top contributors to my heart condition, Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndrome. I never thought I would walk away from being hands on in my business, until I had to – but now, I feel good about these changes.
What is your biggest tip for other startup entrepreneurs?
Network with individuals both in and outside of your industry. There are so many tips and tricks I have learned along the way from people who have nothing to do with food. Surround yourself with people who will gladly – and willingly – invest in your journey.
How do you find inspiration on your darkest days?
I think about how I laid helpless in a coma, and was given the opportunity to live again – to do amazing work and help so many people in my community.
What is your go-to song to get motivated on tough days?
“Moment For Life” by Nikki Minaj. That song really speaks to what I have gone through, both in life and in business.
Who is your most important role model?
My father is one of the most amazing people I know. He has done everything to support me. We talk every single day, and he is for sure my best friend. I would not be Chef Cassi today if it were not for him. ◼