1. Tell us your story of how your company got to where it is today?
My name is Daniela Williams and I am the founder of Cucinamore, LLC. I was born and raised in the Italian city of Treviso, 25 miles north of Venice, in the North-Eastern part of the Country.
In 2008, I moved to the United States and have made a home here with my husband Vince, today a US Navy veteran, and our sons, Jason and Nicholas. I recently became an American citizen, in September 2017. We live in Leesburg, VA, where our business is based.
Despite arriving to the USA late in life, I have found here work and training opportunities that have allowed me to achieve my dream: turning my main passion for the food & wine world into a rather unique business that provides a true taste of Italy to my customers.
It took a combination of creativity, determination, study, hard work, and lots of espresso, but I did it: at the beginning of 2014, after moving to Northern Virginia, I finally started my own business, CUCINAMORE, LLC – Italian Cooking Parties in Your Kitchen, which has been growing and thriving since.
2. What would it mean to you and your company to win a Small Business Award?
It would be a great honor for myself and my family, but it would also show that recognition of strong ideas, high standard of services, work integrity, and actual results are attainable by microbusinesses like ours, a category where very often the amount of work, the struggles, and the headaches are not proportional to the size of the company and the annual revenue produced.
3. If you weren’t running your own business/working at this business, what would you be doing?
This is the dream of a lifetime, please don’t wake me up! I could not honestly think of anything else I would rather be doing right now.
4. What book are you reading right now? / What is your favorite book?
On my bedside table there are presently two books: a book in Italian that is putting a smile on my face at every page, with the author’s intelligent sense of humor (“Grazie per quella volta” by Serena Dandini), and “Radical Acceptance” by Tara Brach, PH.D, a guide to learn to be kinder to ourselves, and live fully every precious moment of our life. As you can probably tell, between laughs and life coaching, I can use all the help that I can get from my books!
5. If you have 24-hours off, and your family was out of town, what would you do?
Spend half of it by myself, enjoying the precious “me time” in total relax, maybe walking, reading, listening to music; for the remaining half, I would very likely reach out to one of my best friends, talking her ears off, because I rarely can keep silent for 12 whole hours, so I would probably need to balance that out, somehow.
6. What is the smallest thing that has made the largest impact on your business?
There are many so-called “small things” that are huge in my world, and make a difference in my business on a daily basis. Most of them are related to the constant interaction with people that comes with doing what I do.
Trying to answer this question from a more practical and pragmatic perspective, though, I would say that probably choosing to create and apply SOPs to my work, whenever possible, might be one of those small game-changer elements: my job in the kitchen, during my parties, is all about being creative, passionate, and spontaneous, but I rely on systems, order, and structure for my “behind the scenes” type of work. Identifying repetitive processes, and putting them into simple templates and checklists to guide my workflow is a tremendous help both for improving the standards of the services that I offer, and to alleviate my load of work, saving me time, errors, money, and frustration.
7. What did you want to be when you grew up as a child? / What was a childhood dream that you had?
I wanted to be…A CHEF! It took me 25 years to finally make this childhood dream come true, but I can now say I did!
8. Who is the one person that has influenced you the most in your career?
I have two, and I cannot pick between them so I am going to mention them both: the late Chef Michele Organte, executive chef at “Parco Etnografico” Rubano, Italy, and Chef Benedetta Cano’, owner and chef at “Agriturismo Poggio Al Sole” in Cortona, Tuscany, Italy. Great mentors and awesome friends, who helped me believe in me, my ideas, my skills, and in my business.
9. What is your favorite thing about running a business in Loudoun County?
Knowing to be a part of a culturally rich and diverse, fast growing, energetic business community, with lots of opportunities and plenty of resources available to grow and thrive.
10. If you’re not in the office where can we find you?
At my (or someone else’s) stove, cooking up something good.
11. What is your favorite weekend activity in Loudoun County?
Weekends are the busiest part of the week for my business, so I work most of them, and I love it! When I am not, I attend my son’s basketball games and spend time with my family and our friends.