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Navigating through the pandemic

Updated: Nov 1, 2022

by Paula Anderson

Like most small businesses - the aftermath of the pandemic left many small business owners wondering about their next move.

Lenore Ebule, founder of Bailan Spices, had to rethink her business model during the height of the pandemic.

The ‘shutdown’ caused Ebule to pivot, but it did not stop her from persevering and moving forward despite the challenges.

“We were in 1 to 2 stores before the pandemic,” said Ebule. “It had a massive impact on our sales because we could not do face-to-face education with samples and tastings.”

Lenora Ebule|Courtesy Photo

This challenge forced Ebule to develop an online presence to get the word out with social media and blog posts.

The nature of her business consists of talking to potential customers to buy spices.

“In-person product demos give us an opportunity to share the products with customers in the stores with product placement,” said Ebule.

Her role as a business owner was redefined. Ebule was working a full-time job, but realized her purpose.

“The Covid pandemic was a reset for me. I enjoy running the business full-time,” said Ebule. “I found my purpose.”

Although the pandemic shifted her focus, she relies on her children for motivation.

“I want to build a business that they are proud of and I want to show the international food experience in the African culture,” said Ebule.

Learning how to be a better business owner is something that Ebule does routinely.

She said, “I read books and attend webinars with SCORE.”

According to the website, “SCORE is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and a resource partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).”

Ebule has worked with Gary Robinson, Tennessee district director. In this role, he serves chapters in Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville and Chattanooga in addition to mentoring.

“Lenora has turned a side gig into a growing business through perseverance, intelligence and a desire to succeed. We have met many times over the past few years, and I always come away impressed with the steps she's taken to further her business,” said Robinson.

“At first, I would give her homework -- things to research or think about -- and she always came back with a clear understanding. Now, I tend to be more of a sounding board for her. We'll chat about her successes and upcoming decisions. I can come up with some crazy ideas sometimes, but at the end of the discussion, we usually have a clear path based on the brainstorming we've done.”

Now that Ebule is working her business full-time, she has products in 30 stores such as Kroger, The Farmer’s Market, The Collierville Farmer's Market, Miss Cordelia's mMarket, Superlo Foods, Memphis Cash Saver and High Point Grocey.

Her advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to learn 'how to grow a business and let people know about your business.'

To watch the original interview with Ebule in 2019, click here.

To purchase products online, visit the website Bailans.

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