The idea came to Jackie Hingsen at lunchtime in Los Angeles, when the half-American woman visited a restaurant with colleagues during a business trip. Time was of the essence; the lunch break was short; and despite the long line, she quickly received what she wanted: A salad that offered more than just lettuce and a few tomatoes.
Visiting the restaurant in California was the moment I decided to quit my office job.Jackie Hingsen
The concept of fresh, individually prepared and healthy food really thrilled her. ‘That's when I decided to quit my office job’, says Jackie. At that time, she worked in the fashion industry and was involved in financial planning and merchandising. She studied business administration. After she returned to Germany from her brief visit, she attended the College of Business and Management (WHU) and, parallel to her MBA studies, she started to work on her gastro concept. She wanted it to reflect the feeling of the California sun, palm trees, the beach, and healthy food.
The feeling of home in Bowls
She succeeded. Not only does the restaurant incorporate the first 4 letters of ‘California’ in its name, it also makes Cali Eats visitors feel like they are in Palm Springs or Santa Barbara. Palm trees provide a green flair, a surfboard adorns the wall, and tables and chairs smell pleasantly like wood – and somehow also like the sea. She serves smoothies and bagels, but her speciality is bowls and salads.
She helps out every day, whether in front of or behind the counter. And she is a business woman. Her business background is noticeable when she talks about her ideas and concepts and admits to keep an eye on the account balance every day.
The road to independent business
She managed to develop her restaurant without bank financing. ‘Looking back, it wasn’t easy’, she says. The bank did not want to finance her concept. Why? Because she had no gastronomic training. From then on her mantra was to never give up. The search for a suitable location proved to be difficult. ‘I was lucky that an old friend helped me out.’ But again, it took a lot of effort. From construction management to interior and kitchen design with all its finesse, she oversaw everything. Now she is an expert in these matters.
Now she wants to pass on the expertise she accumulated over time as well as her path to independence. She also wants to talk about all the things that did not go well - all the stumbling blocks she had to overcome. ‘This usually helps people looking to start their own business more than any success story’, she proclaims. Therefore, she plans to give presentations. Especially for women. So she can encourage others to follow into her footsteps. She feels that in Germany far too few people dare to take a leap into independence by starting their own business. She does not know whether this is due to a lack of risk-taking or fear, but she knows: ‘In America we basically already get taught in school that entrepreneurship is something great. The American dream.’
She considers networking important. She exchanges ideas with like-minded people, takes part in discussions and Meetups and is networked in the Düsseldorf start-up scene. Jackie Hingsen also maintains open and transparent communication with her team. "Not only do they take the salads out to the tables, they also know what the balance sheet is like and what is planned for the future," she says.
Again and again she reviews her concept, changes it, and adapts it. ‘That's how eventually the bowls were added’, she explains, because in winter, when salads do not adequately warm up the guests’ stomachs, the salad concept affects the sale negatively. But due to the swift adaptation of the concept, it was quickly uphill again.
The entrepreneur is awakened
She has plenty of new ideas. She envisions a to-go concept, meaning that the food is ordered via an app and then picked up. In general, she can be considered a ‘digital native’ with all her ideas that she wants to implement, such as a prepaid credit app and the avoidance of change. It goes without saying that she keeps her guests up to date on Facebook and shares her latest creations on Instagram. Indispensable marketing.
No money in the world can make her go back to her office job. The freedom and flexibility she achieved through independence is unbeatable. And her success proves her right. ‘I don’t want to be without all that anymore.’ Besides, she has big plans. She already offers catering and business luncheon events, but she is already planning on offering yoga for guests and staff – and another restaurant. The entrepreneur in her is now awakened.
Every female entrepreneur is unique – but what do they all have in common?
In its representative International Own Business Study conducted in 10 countries, METRO found that 40% of all women surveyed would like to work for themselves. However, only 3% believe that they will one day realise this wish. One of the greatest challenges lies in obtaining the necessary financing. The majority of those who ventured into entrepreneurship (54%) want to earn a living doing something that makes them happy.