Jackie Mendive learned to bake empanadas by watching her mother as a young girl in Argentina. After starting a family in the United States, empanadas became a way to help her children connect to their roots. She had long imagined selling homestyle batches of frozen empanadas for busy people to easily prepare in 20 minutes, but she first put her idea into action as a fundraiser for CONIN Pilar, an organization in Argentina that helps prevent childhood malnutrition.
After the fundraiser was over, she offered the empanadas to friends who not only loved them, but called to suggest different types of fillings. “When other people started calling I knew I had 'something going' and decided to turn it into a business after six weeks. I found a great kitchen for rent and some lovely ladies that helped me do them. Word of mouth, social media and farmers’ markets helped the company grow, and that is where we are today,” Mendive says.
Mendive went to SCORE to understand how to put a business together. SCORE mentor Brian Jarvis helped Mendive with everything from the legal framework to creating the LLC to bookkeeping. Most importantly, says Mendive, he helped her with branding and marketing. “Brian Jarvis was instrumental in helping me set up shop,” she says.
Less than a year after it opened, Empanadas On the Go has grown significantly. Mendive partly measures this growth in how often she goes into the commercial kitchen: She started out going in every other week and now, she says, she’s there every week with her three staff members.