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Exploring Life & Business with Richelle Porter of Porter Boards and Such

Today we’d like to introduce you to Richelle Porter.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
My name is Richelle Porter and I am the owner of Porterboards and Such LLC. During the Covid pandemic in 2020, my mother randomly sent me a YouTube video demonstrating how to make a beautiful charcuterie board. It was love at first sight! After that, I searched YouTube, Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram for different ideas. I was determined to make my first board to help bring in the New Year and do something fun and different since we were quarantined.

Our family would usually get together and have small appetizers and I wanted to keep the tradition going despite the pandemic. I ordered my first charcuterie board from Amazon and my mother bought me a new set of Wolfgang Puck knives for Christmas. My daughter and I were so excited and the board came out great! We had so much fun arranging the board and when I sent the pictures to my family and friends, they couldn’t believe it. Fast forward to Mother’s Day 2021 and I created another board for my mother and aunt to celebrate our first in-person gathering since March 2020.

The excitement I felt to be reunited with my family again and to see the joy on their faces as we gathered around the board was priceless. I posted the pictures on my social media accounts and my extended family; also known as my “framily” (friends I’ve known for 20+ years), loved them. I was asked to make boards for graduation and birthday parties and for informal gatherings we had with one another.

My “framily” loved my boards so much that they encouraged me to start my own business. My first thought was absolutely not! I didn’t know anything about starting or running a business and I wanted to keep the joy in it.

Creating the boards provided a creative outlet for me and I enjoyed researching different techniques and ideas. I didn’t want to turn it into something negative or stressful for my already busy lifestyle. So, I decided to speak to my mother about it and prayed to see where the Lord would lead me. I also spoke to my daughter and once she said that she would be so proud to see me open my own business, I decided to go for it.

Since I work full-time as a Lead Support Services Specialist with the Federal government, I decided to create “to-go” charcuterie boxes for the holidays to keep things manageable. My debut charcuterie box was for Valentine’s Day 2022. I sold 15 boxes and knew then that I was on to something. Here I am now, still doing boxes for the holidays and creating boxes for special occasions by request. I’m so grateful for the support I have received thus far.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I believe that anything worth having definitely doesn’t come easy. So, no it has not been a smooth road. It was very difficult to learn about the state laws and regulations regarding food sales. I felt like I was starting a new career. I had to take training and conduct so much research, that I almost gave up. However, I was determined and once I set my mind on something, I do what needs to be done. Coming up with a business name was the fun part and actually registering my business in the state of Maryland also wasn’t too bad.

But once I got into the weeds of sales tax, permits, commercial kitchens, and insurance it was a whole other ball game. So, I would definitely encourage any other small business owners to research, research, research! Starting with your County Health Department is the best move. Outside of the state rules and regulations, I also find pricing challenging. It’s not as simple as just adding all of your expenses and dividing. Trying to come up with pricing to include my time and labor is something that I still struggle with to this day.

I’m saving up now to take additional training to help with the pricing structure, especially before I start diving into grazing tables. I’m definitely still taking baby steps but I’m learning more and more every day. And may I add that my “charcuterie sisters” help me so much? It is truly a wonderful community.

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
Porter Boards and Such is a woman-owned, small business specializing in charcuterie arrangements for holidays, special occasions, and gifts. We are based in Columbia, MD, and service DC, MD, and VA. We offer different size charcuterie boxes to go that can be taken for small gatherings and picnics.

We are proud to offer quality meats and cheeses and produce from local farmers’ markets. We top every box with a special treat like gourmet chocolate, or homemade baked goods. Our boxes are known for hidden gems beneath the layers and we take pride in the quality of items we choose.

We’d love to hear what you think about risk-taking.
Jumping out on faith and starting Porterboards and Such is the biggest risk I’ve ever taken. I’m usually very by-the-book with decision-making and want my endeavors to be very straightforward. Any business that deals with the public will definitely encounter risks.

Will my customers like my product? Is the food I purchase from local farmers’ markets and/or grocery stores safe?

Will one of my boxes ever make anyone sick? I ask myself questions like this all the time. There are all kinds of risks when dealing with food which was definitely a major reason why I was hesitant to do this. But when you believe in something and actually enjoy what you’re doing, isn’t it worth the risk? Absolutely!

The first time my daughter sat down and told me that she was proud of me and that I am an example that women can do anything it became very clear. It’s worth it and even when I run into obstacles and deal with hard times, at the end of the day, I know that my village loves and supports me.

I know that I have worked hard and stayed true to myself. I know that I have put my faith in God. Therefore, any risk, whether financial or operational, is worth the sacrifice if you believe in what you are doing.

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