Owner of Heirloom Catering
Michelle Garcia owns Heirloom Catering, a vegetable-forward catering company & marketplace located in Denver, CO. Born and raised in Colorado, Michelle’s company specializes in farm-to-table produce and artisanal products sourced from local vendors. She focuses on local goods not only for the sake of the local economy but also to ensure top-notch quality.
“We choose local first because if we don’t do something really well, then we know people that do it well,” she says.
Starting a Small Business & Growing Quickly
Michelle started her entrepreneurial journey through a hobby. While studying nutrition, Michelle started cooking three-course meals with wine pairings for friends. Word quickly spread about Michelle’s delicious creations.
“It got to a point where so many people knew about what I was doing that I had to get legitimate or quit,” she said.
Luckily, Michelle’s wife went to high school with Benjamin Weeda, one of the four original founders of RMMFI. Benjamin encouraged Michelle to join an upcoming Business Launch Boot Camp and the rest is history.
How Community Outlasts Business Challenges
When Michelle started Boot Camp in 2013, she was initially skeptical about the “community” that RMMFI claimed to create. Now, she cites the people she met through RMMFI as the biggest advocates for her success.
“Running a business is a marathon, not a sprint, and the people at RMMFI are the friends and family who are cheering at the sidelines, bringing you water, and carrying you across the finish line,” she says.
In early 2021, RMMFI’s community support shined during a time of serious need for Michelle and her business. When Michelle found out she had a brain tumor, she tried to continue running her business. Finally, life caught up with her and she was forced to shut down operations for four months.
Luckily, she’d already built a team of supporters behind her. For example, Beth Parish, a previous RMMFI mentor, showed up to watch her dogs while she was in the ICU. The self-built family members from RMMFI urged her continuously onward by reminding her that she was great at what she does: creating inclusive dining experiences.
What is Inclusive Food and Dining?
Inclusivity is an important value in society, but what does it mean in the kitchen? To Michelle, dining inclusivity means building a menu that is accessible to all.
Heirloom Catering accommodates folks with restrictive diets, allergies, or auto-immune disorders. The company’s mission is to first serve the people that are used to disappointment – the ones that show up to an event with a fanny pack of snacks because they’re afraid of not being able to eat the food served.
“It’s easy to build accessible menus when you’re thoughtful and creative,” she points out.
Michelle doesn’t just plan her menus with accessibility in mind, she runs her whole business with inclusivity at the forefront such as offering frequent family meals for staff and kitchen mates which allows Michelle to bring everyone to the table.
“I have a dialogue with employees on how to do things differently. Everyone should be engaged in the creative process!”