Paninis and persistence: Teen launches own business
The Ham Solo panini has ham and mayo, the Avo-Ca-Dabra has tomato, mayo, and Mary Baril’s favorite, avocado.
And then there’s the paninis with provolone and tomatoes…because who doesn’t love provolone and tomatoes?
Visitors to Mary’s booth at the Freight House Farmers Market on Saturdays and Sundays will find all sorts of delicious, made-to-order paninis. Last weekend, Mary launched her business, Mixtape Panini, to rave reviews and accolades for her homemade sandwiches.
This 16-year-old entrepreneur has the marketing skills, the moxy, and the amazing-tasting food to make it happen (including a gluten-free option!).
“I’m loving every second of it,” said Mary, who will be a junior next year at Davenport West High School. “I love meeting new people.”
The plan started several months ago when she asked for a panini maker for Christmas. The name of her business comes from a conversation she heard in biology class about mixtapes, the homemade playlists recorded on cassette tapes (for those of us who are a bit older) or MP3 players (for those of us who are a bit hipper).
She knew she wanted to start a business, so she started building a team of supporters. Her dad helped her brainstorm names for sandwiches, her mom helped her with business details and promotion (nothing like a proud momma for good word-of-mouth advertising), her brother pitched in, too. She signed a contract in April for a booth at the market, launched a Facebook page, created signs, got the tables, tents, and an additional panini maker for her booth, determined pricing and supply chain needs, and held a taste-testing party to get honest feedback about her paninis.
“This is a good learning experience for me,” said Mary, who plans to run the business until she is almost done with college. Then she has plans to possible sell – indicating her dad might be interested in continuing the family business.