43-year-old started a ‘kitchen island' side hustle on Facebook Marketplace—now it brings in $379,000 a year

Teyoshe Smith

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Teyoshe Smith's previous job came with hourlong lunch breaks. She spent them personally delivering hand-assembled charcuterie boxes around Richmond, Virginia.

Her side hustle started "organically," Smith says. She and her sister-in-law made table-long charcuterie spreads for family gatherings, and she started selling them to other people on Facebook Marketplace in May 2022.

Her first batch, made at her "kitchen island," was modest compared to her current ones, Smith says. It was enough for 25 boxes full of hand-toasted crostini, cured meat and provolone cheese cut into flower shapes. The boxes sold out within two days on Facebook Marketplace, she says.

Smith built her business, now called Bite by Bite & Co., from her house and a nearby church kitchen while maintaining her full-time job as a project manager at Capital One. The side hustle brought in $84,000 in revenue during its first seven months, according to documents reviewed by CNBC Make It, prompting Smith to leave her job in May 2023.

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Today, Bite by Bite operates in two cities: a storefront in Richmond and a commercial kitchen in Atlanta. Smith's company brought in $379,000 in revenue last year — and her storefront in Richmond was profitable, she says. Bite by Bite plans to open two additional franchise locations later this year, Smith adds.

The 43-year-old attributes the business's fast growth to her own drive to take care of others. "To my core, I love entertaining, I love hosting, I love giving everybody a good experience," says Smith. "That's just me, bottled up. You could just put me on a shelf and sell me. It's what I'm here on this earth to do."

Here, Smith discusses how she grew her side hustle into a full-time job in just one year, the moment she felt like she'd become successful and her best advice for other small-business owners.

CNBC Make It: Do you think your side hustle is replicable?

Smith: Yes, but what makes this hard is: Charcuterie is so trendy. Pretty presentation can only get you so far, and you need something that's going to set you apart.

How did you set yourself apart?

My business has evolved to really provide a more homemade experience — we create our own cheese balls and cheese dips from fresh ingredients.

Bite by Bite & Co. bridal spread
Courtesy of Teyoshe Smith
Bite by Bite & Co. bridal spread

We also reimagined how to present grazing tables. Most charcuterie businesses take two or three hours to set up these long tables at each venue, because you have to unload all your meats, cheeses, coolers, all this drama. We got custom boards, up to 10 feet long, so we can do all the heavy lifting in our own kitchen.

Then, when we come set up, it's only 30 minutes. And we're not hovering over our customers.

Bite by Bite went from side hustle to full-fledged business in one year. Do you have advice for others who want to emulate that?

The feedback I was getting was I was moving a little too fast. I just didn't really listen. Things were happening organically and falling in my lap. If things are working, I'd rather just keep going until I run into a stumbling block.

Courtesy of Teyoshe Smith
"Crafting elaborate charcuterie spreads from exceptional ingredients became my idea of Southern comfort," Smith says.

But you have to research and understand every part of your business. When you get approved for an LLC, no one checks to see if anyone else already has that name. I originally started with the name "Grazing Crazy," and got sued. I had to rebrand and hire a lawyer.

Make sure you have your bank account set up correctly, educate yourself about your taxes and check with accountants and lawyers to make sure you're protected from a legal and financial standpoint.

What was the first moment when you felt like you made it?

Last year, around Thanksgiving, I was in Georgia and we were short-staffed in Virginia. One day, I panicked because there was nobody around to deliver a six-foot grazing table.

I ended up calling a delivery person I'd previously worked with, and asked if he'd be willing to help. Over Google Meet, I walked him through how to do the setup: Move the flowers here, put the riser there, move that board over to the left.

The spread was beautiful.

Before then, I was bending a lot trying to make sure all my employees were happy, to make sure nobody left me. But that's when I realized: I can train and guide anyone, even virtually.

It was just getting that confidence to know that I can run a business no matter where I'm located, and it can be successful. I've created a good blueprint to repeat and share with others.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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