Owner, Ivy's Simply Homemade
Owner, Ivy's Simply Homemade
There is nothing more Ivy Mellow loves than being in the kitchen. A Rhode Island native, Ivy started working at fourteen years old, bussing tables at Wilcox Tavern. She attended a technical high school and was enrolled in the hairdressing program. Her friends kept trying to convince her to make the switch into the culinary program, but she said, “Absolutely not, there is no way I’m going to be stuck in a kitchen for the rest of my life.” Flash forward 25 years later, and she is still in love with being ‘stuck in a kitchen’.
After over a decade of being immersed in the industry, from waitressing to a catering company to the River House in East Haddam learning events and the front of house, Ivy decided to pursue entrepreneurship and launch her own company. “I found myself stopping at different places to pick up food on the way home from work, and realized there weren't a lot of places that served delicious prepared meals to go. I knew there was a need for it.” Ivy’s Catering celebrated their ten year anniversary in May of 2021.
Whether her clients need a quick, healthy bite for lunch or dinner already made for the whole family, Ivy’s offers prepared meal options. From staples like chicken parmesan and meatloaf to fancier dinners like scallop & shrimp stuffed sole with lobster cream sauce, Ivy’s truly caters to the interests of all palates and price points.
While Mellow originally had no intentions of having a catering division of Ivy’s, she said her customers loved the food and her staff, so the requests for private parties were inevitable. By year number two, catering organically blossomed to the point where she had to hire a full time catering coordinator and additional staff. Ivy’s Catering currently serves as a storefront for prepared meals in Waterford, CT and serves as a caterer for private events all over Connecticut and Rhode Island. “I love to create, I love to cook. My favorite is still good old fashioned comfort food, like shepherd's pie… you know, the stuff that fills the air with that can’t beat aroma of a home cooked meal.”
The beginning of the pandemic posed many challenges, but Ivy was able to restore her work-life balance and survive with the help of organizations like the WBDC. While Ivy’s Catering was closed last spring for a month during the height of the pandemic, Mellow invested her time into bettering her business from home. She simply ran a quick Google search on CT Women and Business, and was overwhelmed with joy to find the WBDC website.
She started taking classes, from marketing to quickbooks, to educate herself better on how to run a more efficient business when she reopened. Mellow admired that the organization catered to so many different varying degrees of knowledge and skill sets when it came to being an entrepreneur. “I simply started to educate myself more, and WBDC gave me the resources to do just that.”
One of the components the WBDC helped Ivy navigate was understanding and applying for the PPP loan. She describes the organization as efficient. “The communication is just excellent. If you ask for help, they’ll help you.” Through WBDC, she spoke with a lawyer, who advised and mentored her, free of charge, to help her apply for the PPP loan. When she learned of the opportunity to apply for the EMG grant, she was committed.
“The grant was a lot of work for me, not being great at traditional schooling or book work. It took me a long time, but through the process alone, I learned so much about my business. I relearned my business just by submitting the proposal.” Ivy’s Catering received the EMG grant and allocated the funds to purchase new equipment, including a three door retail freezer in the front that will allow for new items and a longer shelf life on products, as well as a charbroiler for the back, creating a quicker, more streamlined way to cook while reducing the need for added labor. “WBDC helped me survive a challenging year, and I learned more than I could have ever expected. I am forever grateful.”