ENTREPRENEUR: Kathy Mangham
Company: Gourmet Girls
What they do: A boutique caterer dedicated to scratch-made food with all natural ingredients specializing in desserts, pastries, lunches and dinners for any occasion
Address: 3025 Perkins Road
Next goals: Developing a lunch menu with made-to-order to-go items sold from her kitchen door.
A FINE ART
With a degree in fine arts but a passion for food, Kathy Mangham has successfully developed an open-ended business model catered to what she does best: gourmet food, made fresh from scratch every day. After selling her 23-year-old business, The Silver Spoon in Bocage Village, in 2008, Mangham opened her boutique catering company in 2010 with a different idea in mind. “I kind of get to do my thing,” Mangham says. “I spend the day doing what I want—what I enjoy doing, which is cooking and baking and exploring that.” Her kitchen space, while small, handles an enormous amount of volume. “I’m not working with a major operation, but I think that is also why things are under the quality control that they are,” Mangham says. “I am pretty much touching everything that comes out of there.”
The best way to keep up with Mangham’s adventures in food is through Instagram, which she says has done a great deal for her business. “While my food is good and it has to carry through from the plate to your taste buds,” Mangham says, “I’m all about making it pretty … and Instagram is such a good vehicle for that.” However, not just any picture will do. It takes time to stage the food to get the perfect shot, and her phone is filled with photos that didn’t make the cut. Her Instagram marketing, combined with word-of-mouth referrals, keeps her kitchen busy and customers’ bellies full. “I’ve really not advertised,” Mangham says. ”Baton Rouge, while it has grown, it is still a big, little town … so word of mouth is not that hard to come by.”
Mangham says what sets her business apart is her scratch-made model with ever-changing items that mirror her inspirations from other recipes or new trends in her craft. “I am not mass producing anything.” Mangham says. “It is as close as you’ll get to something homemade.” Incorporating aesthetic touches like edible gold leaf and glitter, fresh orchids and hand-painted cookies, Mangham invests not only time into her creations but artistic talent as well. “Each [cookie] is like its own little painting,” Mangham says. But it’s the challenge and her drive for perfection that keeps her business buzzing. “I find that competition keeps you on your toes, and it is a very healthy thing to have, but I can’t say it is what drives me, ” Mangham says. “What drives me is my desire to excel in what I do.”
WORK HARD, PLAY HARD
For Mangham, her work is playing in her kitchen; however, loving what you do comes with its challenges. “I think the biggest challenge is keeping up with the demand while still having some life balance,” Mangham says. “I’m a workaholic and that has served me well, but it is because I love what I’m doing.” In her spare time, she submerges herself in books, blogs, magazines and Instagram to soak up ideas and keep up with a constantly evolving art. Lately, Mangham has focused on teaching herself more about pastries—her favorite item to cook. In addition to sweet treats for celebrations, Mangham caters entrées for corporate lunches, weddings and other events with only two ovens, one full-time employee, a part-time events coordinator and a list of on-call servers. “It is amazing what comes out of this kitchen,” Mangham says.