Your Name: Ramona Fantini

Business Name: Pino Gelato, an Italian gelato and dessert shop

Type of Business: Food & Beverage

Business Location: Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, United States

Twitter @Pino_Gelato
Facebook Pino Gelato

Reason for starting
My formal education and training was in the field of Microbiology and my career prior to becoming a small business owner was primarily with Fortune 500 pharmaceutical companies, in the areas of manufacturing and supply chain logistics. I discovered gelato while visiting Italy in 2002 where I became enamored with the taste and quality of the product. It was disappointing to not be able to find the same quality of product in the United States. With some encouragement, I made the decision to invest and grow the concept in the United States. I left the corporate world and brought my education and business expertise to the gelato world. With one full time employee, one part time employee, and my vision, I began Pino Gelato’s story.

Biggest Success
I have been the recipient of many successes in the past few years, of which makes me very proud. We have received many awards on the local, state and national level, but the most memorable award we received was the “best ice cream / frozen dessert” in our community. This award was received from the votes of people in my home town. In the start up phase of a small business, the focus is primarily on the bottom line. After a few years, I decided the focus needed to be expanded to include becoming a pay it forward, give back company. We became an active member of our community, donate a portion of monthly profits to selected charities and became involved with local children in many venues on the island. It has become part of the Pino Gelato story and it was one of my greatest achievements to be the “go to” ice cream store on the island.

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
The Company has faced many challenges since inception almost 8 years ago. All challenges have been viewed as opportunities to make Pino Gelato a great company. The company’s flexible, low cost licensing model attracted many different types of potential new business owners. A large percentage of the licensees visited the Hilton Head Island location and wanted to become a part of “the family”. This large percentage of clients that signed agreements are also new to owning a small business. As a result, the company has realized the necessity for a lot of individualized attention to each licensee, which has become a resource and capital drain. Starting in 2012, the licensing fee and terms of agreement were changed with the intent to attract entrepreneurs that are familiar with owing and growing a small business.

Who is your most important role model?
I have had the good fortune to have many role models and mentors over the course of my career, both in the corporate world and in my current role. However, the most influential “person” that has touched my life has to be my parents. They gave me the love, support and encouragement from the beginning which has shaped the person I am today. They are responsible for instilling within me the need to constantly challenge myself and raise my bar, all the time remembering to give thanks.