Women’s Small Business Month Series – Ashley Grier of the Board and Box Charcuterie
Q&A Featuring Ashley Grier of the Board and Box Charcuterie
October celebrates Women’s Small Business month in the U.S. In partnership with Cherokee By Choice investor Georgia Power, COED is honoring Cherokee County’s numerous female entrepreneurs by sitting down with some of the county’s female business owners.
This week we’ll hear from Ashley Grier. Ashley grew up in Canton and has chosen to raise her family here. She loves being creative and creating within the community. She lives with her husband, Justin, and her three boys Caden, Oliver, Elliott, their Great Pyrenees Scout and their hairless cat Stella.
What inspired you to start your business?
I actually didn’t start the Board and Box Charcuterie. I purchased the business from someone else. Previously I had started a luxury picnic business. I would purchase charcuterie for my picnics.
I had a large event in Buckhead for Mother’s Day that I needed charcuterie for, and I reached out to the Board & Box to try to place an order. The owner said charcuterie was just supposed to be a hobby for her; she had a full-time job. She was ready to sell it and asked if I knew anybody that wanted to buy it.
At first, I wasn’t interested – I had never done charcuterie before. I asked around, and after a few days my husband and I decided to try our hand at the Board & Box and here we are. I had never done charcuterie before, but I knew I was really creative and that I could figure it out.
Charcuterie is – this sounds silly, but it’s kind of like adult Lunchables. It’s meat, cheese, crackers – things like that. I take it and I style it really artfully and make it beautifully decorated.
I do a lot of catering events, grazing tables, and even boards and boxes for pickup. I offer classes and teach other people how to make charcuterie boards, too.
How has being in Cherokee County helped grow your business?
I’m from Canton, so I have lived here my entire life – with the exception of a little five-year gap. I’ve loved seeing the growth in this community.
The Board & Box storefront is very quirky, and I have a lot of weird different items in there. My dad is retired from the railroad; my store faces the railroad tracks, so I get to see the train go by. As a kid I grew up riding the train and waving and blowing the horn and all of that with my dad. So, inside my store in the window, I have a little train for my dad.
I’m also in COED’s free North Atlanta Venture Mentoring Service (NAV); I love my NAV mentors so much.
It’s been great because I’ve owned my own business before, but it was by myself. I was a hair stylist for many years, and I would have to retain clients and things like that, but the Board & Box is a whole different beast. Having their guidance, suggestions and encouragement is just amazing.
What can we as a community do to continue to support you?
I live on referrals. If I’ve ever done any work or you’ve ever seen my work, referrals are amazing. Reviews are amazing. Those are huge for small business owners, so I would just encourage the community to take time to write reviews. That really makes a huge difference.
Another way that you could support us is just sharing the Board and Box Charcuterie posts and helping spread the word.
I myself am trying to create a niche community in Cherokee. I have a son with special needs; he has high functioning autism. I do a lot of work with Limitless Disabilities and Circle of Friends. Limitless brings me two adults with disabilities a week to volunteer for the Board & Box.
I am really trying to create a community for people with special needs here. In my workshops, I always talk about Circle of Friends and Limitless because you never know who also needs that community.
What advice would you give to other small business owners in Cherokee County?
Don’t be afraid. Even if you hear ‘no’ over and over again, just continue. Something that I’ve learned is your friends and fans are going to be your biggest supporters.
Don’t let the negativity affect what you’re doing. Don’t be afraid to go outside of your comfort zone.
Fun fact: I got to do 2 different scenes in one of the movies that have filmed in Cherokee County because I got out of my comfort zone. It was just released Sep. 15 with some close-ups of my charcuterie.
I was parked doing a delivery to someone else, and I was like, “I’m just going to see if they want some lunch or a snack or whatever.” So, I waited until they broke, and I went up to somebody that looked friendly – not realizing I was going up to the first director!
I said, “Hi, I own a charcuterie company here in Woodstock.” She said “Charcuterie? Show me, walk with me.” I pulled out my Instagram and started showing her what I did. She was like, “This is stunning. Would you be interested in being a part of the movie next week for our gala scene? We have a big spread.” So, they hired me on the spot and that was really cool.
The following week, I got to do two different days of filming for two different scenes. If you look really hard, there’s a cameo of me walking. It was really fun, and it just goes to show if you take a risk and go outside of your comfort zone great things can happen.
October celebrates Women’s Small Business Month. How has being a woman impacted your decisions and experiences with your business?
It’s been good and bad. I think being a woman business owner sometimes can be challenging because you don’t get looked at the same. Sometimes it’s a little harder to get your foot in the door, but when you find your community, I think that propels you. I find that my community seems to be very woman based for the Board & Box.
It does come with its challenges, but when you find the right community, it sets you apart.