On Fridays, I will be giving away a $25 gift card for local small businesses via a trivia drawing! All correct answers will go into a bucket, and I will draw out a winner. This will be posted on my Instagram and Facebook sites. Thus, I thought it would be interesting to interview the owners of these small businesses.
This week’s drawing will go to Brioche de Paris (see original blog). I had the opportunity to chat with the owner Wissem Kheriji, who opened his doors in September 2019. I asked what inspired him to open a French-style boulangerie? While his cousin, a chef, who had a culinary school in Paris was visiting, Wissem would show him around and they would stop to get coffee and pastries. His cousin was complaining that nothing was good by French standards (and if you have ever been to a Boulangerie in France, you understand why!). He thought Wissem should open a French boulangerie in the East Bay. His suggestion turned into reality. Wissem’s cousin is now his partner and his other cousin – who is also a chef from France – is the chef at Brioche de Paris, with a focus on the quality of the food!
Wissem graduated with a degree in Accounting, did a three-month internship, and found he hated being behind a desk. Thus, deciding to follow his passion, he got certified as a fitness trainer – Kheriji Kat Fitness. One of the hardest things he has ever done was to juggle two business. He eventually gave away his 34 fitness clients to focus on getting this business started and was gradually adding some clients back in when COVID-19 and sheltering in place hit.
Life Lessons/Upside: Working from 4 a.m. – 9 p.m. can put a strain on relationships. The shelter in place has slowed things down and required more time at home and an opportunity to reconnect. It also gave him time to slow down and rethink how to approach the business. His wife was doing all the accounting and also had another job. Now, it is time to hire an outside accountant.
I find it interesting that Wissem’s accounting background actually came into play in starting up a small business. My takeaway from this is that you should follow your passions and you never know how your background and experiences will be useful.
He believes he can weather through this time, and has become very involved with our community, helping first responders and promoting business in Walnut Creek. So let’s give back and frequent Brioche de Paris and any other of your favorite local small businesses. Don’t forget to play in the Trivia Quiz on Friday to win that gift card!