Today we’d like to introduce you to Crystal Nguyen.
Crystal, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
How it all started? Friendsgiving about three years ago. It was a group of me and my girlfriends and everyone was stating what they were bringing. I am not the greatest cook, I’ll admit, but I can put together a mean charcuterie board – so naturally, I said I’d bring a “light” charcuterie board as an appetizer. I’d always been fascinated with these boards. Any time I saw them on menus, I had to order one just to admire the beauty. My friends always joked that I should turn this into a business. For years, I was just ‘the girl who always brought the cheese to parties’. Recently, I went on a trip with a couple of friends to Canada and this topic popped up in conversation during dinner. When I got home to Houston, I sat down one night and thought seriously about what is now “Cultured”. I thought about how I would market it, how I would price it, who I would target and so on. Within days, I had social media pages up, business cards on the way, an email address and orders were coming in. In the beginning, it was mainly friends and family placing orders to be supportive. But as time went on I started seeing unfamiliar names and when asked how they heard about Cultured – they’d respond “someone referred you in my FB group” or “I saw you on Instagram”. I am so humbled that this tiny idea in my head has bloomed into this small business. I am so very grateful!
Has it been a smooth road?
There have definitely been some learning curves. I am just one person. 1 tiny person. And while I have the vision of what I want Cultured to be, I am only able to do so much by myself. I’ve been asked to sponsor pop up events, which give me great exposure but setting up, being present and breaking down entire table setups is a HUGE task. After the first couple of events, I realized I needed a few more hands on my team so I reached out to some loyal friends, my sister and my mom to help me and they have made it a lot smoother. I’ve had to figure out scheduling orders around my other jobs. I’m thankful for everyone that has offered to help me along the way because without them I wouldn’t have been able to build some of the spreads that I have.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Cultured Boards story. Tell us more about the business.
I own a small food service company and I specialize in custom-built charcuterie boards. I’ve spent hours researching cheeses, meats, olives, fruits, vegetables, you name it. I’m most known for my elaborate board setups. Imagine huge circular boards overflowing with delicious salami, prosciutto, manchego cheese, brie, fresh local honey topped with figs ready to dig into! I cater to small home events, like a girls night in all the way up to business grand openings with full table setups.
What I’m most proud of, getting this small idea in the back of my brain off the ground. I started this business when I lived in a 600 sq foot 1 bedroom apartment. If I had an 8am delivery, I would wake up at 6am, build in my tiny kitchen and not an inch of my counter was visible because I had food everywhere. I am so proud of what I’ve built in just the matter of months. I think people are really gravitating towards this idea. It’s something new and I’m happy with how far I’ve come so far. Especially in this Instagrammy world that we live in, what I do photographs well so naturally social media makes sense for Cultured.
What sets me apart? I think my drive and my passion come through in my work. If you talk to most of my friends, they’ll tell you that when I have a goal I try my hardest to achieve it. When it comes to Cultured, it’s no different. When I talk to customers, I genuinely care about their event and try to achieve exactly what they are looking for. I hope to exceed their expectations so that they are proud to showcase my work at their event. Anything that I get involved in I choose to care and go the extra mile.
How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
5-10 years – oh the things I could do in that amount of time!
Well as it stands right now, I operate out of my home kitchen in my house in Sugar Land, TX. In the next five years, I would love to have a commercial kitchen with a small staff that shares my passion and vision for Cultured. I have dreams of doing corporate events, weddings, large holiday parties. I’d love to be known as THE charcuterie business in Houston. Right now, Cultured is a side hustle of mine but I would love more than anything for it to be my full-time job.
Farther down the road, I’d love to create a Cultured line of wooden boards, cheese knives, bowls, kitchen goods, etc.
As you can see, I have huge aspirations for Cultured but for now I am so happy with how far we’ve come in just five short months!
- Smallest Charcuterie Board starts at $125 (+ a small delivery fee) – there is a discount when you order more than 1
- Full Grazing Tables start at $300 and go upward
- Phone: 8323031756
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/culturedboards/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CulturedBoards713
https://www.facebook.com/Ecfilmsweddings/; Photographer: Kay Campusano