Vietnamese pork meatballs, chicken apple sausage puffs and wild mushroom tarts. The menu sounds more like that of your favorite restaurant than it does your weekly lunch in the conference room. Kim Pearson of Pearson’s Catering is bringing the comforts of home to corporate in the best way she knows — through good food and a lot of heart. Blending the classic with the creative for a unique menu that has garnered an impressive following, Pearson does it all with care: “We were making things from scratch from the very start. It is the only way.”
After earning an associate of arts from the University of Central Florida and a bachelor’s in clothing and textiles from Florida State University with a business minor, she followed her heart in a new direction, enrolling in Johnson and Wales University to pursue a culinary career. She catered her first event in 2008. Now she serves up to 500 guests a day at family gatherings, working lunches, cocktail parties, workshops, special presentations and holiday cocktail parties.
Even after years of steady growth, Pearson knew there was more to learn. She applied for the ATHENAPowerLink program, designed to help women-owned businesses prosper, and was accepted in 2018. The program put together a panel of local volunteer experts who could help in specific areas of guidance Pearson’s Catering was seeking.
“We needed a strong infrastructure to build the business on,” Pearson said. “We did projections for the year 2018, and they also helped me meet my goals to put in processes and procedures that were not in place prior. When we would meet, we would take a look and see if we had met our financial goals. The truth of our company is in the numbers.”
And with a growth rate of 35% in the year since Pearson began working with ATHENA, those numbers are promising. She also obtained certification as a woman-owned business through the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council.
Besides investing in her business, she explained, she is investing in herself and her community. The ATHENAPowerLink program helped her stay accountable.
“The month between meetings, I had a list of things I needed to accomplish before the next meeting. My thought was, ‘If they are spending their precious time to help me, the least I can do is follow through with the action necessary.”
That collaboration has been integral in changes that continue to set Pearson’s apart, including the newest introduction of cooking classes for corporate team building and events. “I finally had the guidance and belief in myself that was needed to make things happen.”