There’s a coffee house on just about every corner in America, so standing out is paramount to small businesses. Cream + Sugar in Cincinnati accomplishes this by offering a warm and welcoming atmosphere paired with a simple but delicious menu. In this episode, hear how owner Taren Kinebrew keeps people in her community coming back for more.
On the Yelp Blog: Being an entrepreneur doesn’t mean spending the journey alone. Hear more from Taren on four ways to build and expand your small business network to reach new heights of success.
EMILY: I’m Emily Washcovick, Yelp’s Small Business Expert. Behind the Review features conversations with business owners and customers who wrote one of their Yelp reviews. In our discussions, we talk about lessons they’ve learned that can be used by other small businesses to improve their own reviews…and their bottom line.
Today I’m talking to Bailey Dixon, one of Yelp’s Community Managers, and Taren Kinebrew, co-owner of Cream + Sugar Coffee House in Cincinnati. Bailey’s job is to highlight and support small businesses in her region and connect them to the local community. She found the coffee house on Montgomery Street through a Yelp blog about Black-owned businesses to watch, and just had to check it out.
Bailey: The first time I came in was, I wanna say, last March. So probably right after I read the blog and I stopped it on a Saturday morning. I was on my way up to Dayton, Ohio. So it was like a very quick grab and go and I was the only person in the shop.
I probably opened the shop with the team, right? I was first in and I was not awake yet. I had not had my coffee, but the people that I interacted with, everybody was so friendly, they were asking me what I was doing with my weekend. Just making me feel so welcome and they were excited that I was there.
The coffee was fabulous, but any place can serve good coffee. I think not any place can make you feel like you’re welcome. Like anybody is invited and can experience this and can be there and enjoy something. So that was my first time coming in. Since then, I like to stop in and work because the wifi is fast and the food is delicious.
I love that Cream and Sugar has a plant-based menu. It’s hard to find good, healthy food in Cincinnati. It’s hard. I have my few go-to businesses, my local spots that I love, but like when I’m sitting and I sit and work at my computer, I need something that I don’t have to worry about if it’s fried or it’s gonna make me feel gross. And so I’m a big fan of everything that you’re doing.
EMILY: “Coffee house” can be a pretty broad description of a place to get coffee, so what makes this one so special? How exactly is the vibe just right?
BAILEY: There’s always free parking, street parking, easy to find. So you really get the full picture as you’re walking up, there’s a big sign on top of the door that says Cream and Sugar Coffee House.
And both of the sides are all windows. And you can see what’s going on inside. It gets you kind of excited to walk in the door. You’re like, oh, there’s a lot of people here. You can see them making coffee. You’re already excited by the time you’re just walking up. When you’re inside, it is very much a cozy, artistic, just kind of inviting place to be. There’s art all over the walls. You have plants. Inviting that free expression, inviting people to be who they wanna be, who they are. And I mean, I love my plants, so I feel right at home when I’m there. The color too, like I said, it’s so bright. It just makes you wanna stick around, stay a while.
EMILY: Taren, you were already a small business owner when you started Cream + Sugar, but what made you decide to take on a coffee house?
TAREN: My business partner, Crystal, she and I have been friends since her ninth grade, me 10th grade. I called her up one day and I just said to her like, we need to start a business together. We need to do something. And so she said to me, I have the perfect thing. Now, mind you, prior to me saying this to her, two of our favorite things to do are drink coffee, go to great coffee shops, and we love food.
So it just made sense for us to figure out a way to make that happen. And Crystal actually used to reside in Evanston, which is where the coffee shop is located. She’s recently moved from Evanston, but that is where her family lives. She’s born and raised. Everybody in the community knows her, knows her family.
I wasn’t too familiar with the coffee shop. I had seen the building before, obviously, because of where we’re located on Montgomery Road. And so she said, we should go take a look at this coffee shop. And so we did.
So 2019, we went inside, fell in love with the space and just really put both of our minds together. Neither one of us knew much about coffee outside of the fact that we love coffee, right? And so we were like, all right, we’re gonna figure it out. And we just put a plan together.
We were supposed to launch in March of 2020, but as you know the world shut down March of 2020, we were able to do our soft opening. And I kid you not literally at our soft opening, people were on their phones and we started hearing about a lot of things shutting down.
And so I was like, oh, wow, this is, we are probably gonna get shut down. And so had a wonderful soft opening. So we decided to just sell all of our coffee. We didn’t have a lot of food. We gave all the food and stuff to our staff. And so we were like, we’ll just close. Not open, see what happens.
That’s really all we could do. Right? We just waited to see what was gonna happen. When the governor gave the green light for places to open, we opened up, I wanna say it was like June, like maybe June 2nd, June 3rd, something like that, we opened. What I will say about that day is, it was so hot, it was like August hot. We had a line pretty much from the time we opened, like up Montgomery Road until an hour passed when we said we were gonna close. That is how many people came out to support us.
We actually ended up selling out of all of our food. I was on the register, and Crystal was down the line, so she was making food and we had obviously our team helping as well. And I had to literally make an announcement that, if anybody was in line trying to buy food, literally you guys have bought everything that we have.
So the only thing that we could sell was drinks. And nobody left. They stayed, they bought drinks. So on that day, I know I had every single emotion because for me, I got to touch every single person because I was on the register and it was so beautiful.
And so it just confirmed, or I would say not confirmed, but affirmed, this was the thing that we needed to do.
EMILY: Taren, you gotta tell me, did Bailey nail the atmosphere description you were trying to create when you started Cream + Sugar?
TAREN: We wanted people to feel like they were at peace when they walked in. We did not want it to look like a coffee shop. And so we made sure of that with our furniture. And we wanted to make sure, like our staff for sure, are very customer service oriented because we know how we wanna feel when we visit places, right? Because we’re still customers too. Sometimes you can go to a place and we’ve experienced this, you can go to a place and they may not have the best food or the best whatever, but the environment is wonderful and you love the people. Whatever you’re purchasing, you’re like, I mean, it’s good. So I don’t mind spending my money here.
But we wanted to go over and beyond that. We wanted to make sure with our food, because we do love food, that people felt good about eating what they were eating. We care about women’s health particularly, diabetes, high blood pressure. And specifically for the Black community. We wanted to just let people know, hey, you don’t have to have meat with every single meal. You don’t have to have fried food with every single meal. So we really did think about what we wanted to serve and making sure that it’s consistent every single time.
I know we’ve done a good job at that. We’ve done a good job with our staff and making sure people feel welcome when they walk in there. It’s a family, the community loves us. One, it’s been great cause Crystal’s from the neighborhood, so they’ve embraced obviously her, they’re huge supporters. We make sure that she’s on the Evanston council. So she usually has more flexibility with going to meetings and things like that. For sure they know who we are. We make sure that we give back to the community. That’s important to us. And we have a great relationship with the other two women owned businesses next door to us.
We also have a good relationship with Xavier. I would say we have a ton of children who have graduated from Xavier and are going to graduate. And so all of that, it just speaks volumes to who we are as people cuz we’re both parents.
EMILY: I love that. So let’s dig in a little bit on the food as well as this community service that you’re doing by prioritizing healthy food options. Can you just talk a little bit about how you source your ingredients?
TAREN: We do work with all local vendors. For instance, we get all of our bread, so we have brunch toast and that’s like more of our breakfast item, although, I mean you can get it anytime, but it is our breakfast item.
So we get our bread from, and I’m probably gonna say this wrong, I say I called the bakery Alas Bakery. They have amazing… their stuff is just amazing. Like I will go down there to get a sandwich when I want meat on my bread.
And then this is the thing, we’re a small business and so we do really seek out small businesses like us, like it’s not a franchise, we just wanna keep them going just like they wanna keep us going. And so, we made that connection, a wonderful relationship. We don’t really shop with a vendor, so we primarily shop between Restaurant Depot and Kroger. So those are our two sources because we have to buy in such small quantities that it doesn’t make sense for us to have a purveyor that brings us things in bulk.
There’s nothing cooked in our shop. So everything is either, it’s pretty much cold. So we’re making our own peanut butter in-house. We’re making our own jams. So we make our own sauces in-house, our own hummus, and then we have salads. So all of the things that go on top of the salad have to be really, really fresh.
And then we do use another local business ‘cause we use a lot of microgreens, which is very nutritious. And so we get those from a local vendor and again, husband and wife team, absolutely amazing. Right now the name of their business is escaping my brain, but absolutely amazing. Have loved working with them.
And so we do really try, like anything that we can get and that we can get specifically from a small business owner, we will do that. We really do seek out women in particular. Like all of our artwork in the shop is by one artist and it’s a woman and we know her. And so we’ve sold a lot of her art, so we’re very intentional in that way.
Even some of our tea is by a woman owned business and it actually, it’s a hot seller. It’s called, it’s our Healing Tea. People love this healing tea. When we were thinking about health, because we’re older, we’re in our fifties. And so we wanted to make sure as we are progressing in life, that everybody else is progressing in life.
And if we can show you a way to eat better and it allows you to eliminate some medications, if you are on medication, then that’s our goal. And so not that we really promote that, but we do promote the fact that we are plant-based and that people should eat more fruits and vegetables and things grown from the ground.
We never promote ourselves as vegan because we do serve cheese on some of our salads and then some of our toast. Overall we really do care about what people are putting in their mouth.
Emily: It sounds like part of the drive is obviously fresh, produce based, really healthy ingredients, but also it makes your operation a little less complicated that you’re not cooking it.
Taren: Oh, yes.
Emily: Like it’s awesome.
Taren: Yeah. It’s so uncomplicated. We can avoid certain codes too in the reg, in the restaurant world, if you will, and we can have a little bit more control over our costs too, right? Because we’ve seen, and it’s not to say that lettuce hasn’t gone up or tomatoes or whatever, but not in the way that if we were cooking eggs or having meat as part of our menu. So we’ve been able to really not go crazy with raising our prices. Our prices are pretty reasonable.
Emily: What I like about it too is from the consumer perspective, like Bailey thinks of you as a great coffee shop with tons of food options, but it’s really not like a full-blown kitchen. And I just think for business owners particularly who are in coffee and tea and that sort of thing, it’s like you can delve into food without going full blown, we need an oven and stuff. So I love that. I love that.
Bailey, talk to me a little bit about the menu, like some of the things you gravitate towards when you guys did an event, maybe tell me a little bit about that and then we’ll bring it back to Terran to give her side of some of those experiences.
Bailey: Definitely. So I’ve tried all of the brunch toasts. They’re all amazing. I do have a favorite. And it’s the honey pepper and goat cheese. It’s the best. I tried to recreate it at home, Taren, and it’s just not quite the same. But it’s so good. It’s definitely the combination of all of the ingredients because it does taste so fresh.
That’s the microgreens on top too, that you mentioned. I think that’s the fresh bite that you get, but then it’s the mm-hmm, the sweet from the honey. It’s spicy, from the pepper and then creamy from the goat cheese. And then on top of all that, you have that beautiful piece of bread from, as I’ve heard, allies or alle, I don’t know which it is either. I say it differently every time, but the beautiful crust of bread. Like it is just this perfect snack. I love it like 11:00 AM, noon, it’s just that nice little light lunch where it’s like, okay, I’m working, I’m sending emails, I’m going about my day, sipping on my coffee. I need something to get me by, but I don’t wanna be bogged down. I need energy, but I don’t wanna be like okay, I need to go lie down, you know?
That’s my favorite all around. I’ve tried pretty much everything on the menu. I love the seasonal offerings that y’all have too. I know you mix it up and add some different things every so often.
Bailey: I feel like last when we were doing our event, you had something elote, like Mexican corn or something like that, and that was really good too. Please bring that back cause that was amazing.
We hosted an event last June, to celebrate Cream and Sugar’s second birthday. It was really special for me because obviously I love showing off local businesses. Especially woman owned, especially black woman owned businesses in our community. But even more so because not only are you focused on providing a great service and creating that experience, creating that inviting, welcoming vibe, but you and Crystal are so in touch with the community too.
And so it makes my job as a community manager so much more exciting and just refreshing because you get it. You understand. You know what it’s like to be out there talking to people, to be involved. And for me, you’re exactly the kind of business that it’s no question that’s who we wanna work with every day.
But when we did that event, we had, I think we had 50 people come in over the course of a one week span. They come in during regular business hours. They got to get a cup of coffee and then they got to try Karen’s amazing bread pudding, which that’s from your sweet petite side. I know, but I have to talk about it because I’m not a bread pudding person. I never like it. If I see it on a menu, not my favorite thing. This bread pudding is so special. It is just like the perfect amount of custardy. It’s orangey. I don’t even like raisins, but I eat all the raisins out of that because it is just so balanced and delicious. It’s not too sweet. It’s perfect. It’s the perfect bread pudding.
So members of our elite squad that were on the guest list that week, they got to get a cup of coffee and a bread pudding. And that’s a great day right there. That’s all you need. But yes, I have lots of favorites on the menu.
I know you are very intentional with your ingredients, with your flavor. You understand, you know, the, from start to finish. How am I putting this together thoughtfully? And then how does this taste? Because it does make a difference. If you like good food, you know what you like. And I think that’s probably too why I love your business so much is that’s the kind of food that I like to cook when I’m home, is I like to make a little, you know, a nice piece of toast and have like, oh, I’m gonna put this nice topping, or I’m gonna make a hearty salad that, you know, is filling, but not, like I said, gonna weigh me down. So I resonate with the way that you treat food and your ingredients. And I love it.
Emily: That’s so awesome. Taren, I wanna talk a little bit about your team because obviously you and Crystal have such passion and enthusiasm, and I know that’s the driving force behind the business. But you ladies are busy, you both have your own business as well on the side.
How do you find a team that can carry out your same enthusiasm and really bring that Cream and Sugar approach or personality to the customer experience?
Taren: First and foremost, I will say, my husband actually manages the coffee shop. He didn’t initially. We had actually had a manager, that I had known, from a vendor of mine. And we basically stayed connected and caught him up, he wanted to get back into coffee and so he was our store manager and he managed the day-to-day and he really helped too with coffee because he is into coffee. So we did learn a lot from him. And then from another local vendor, Crystal took some classes. I had actually taken a coffee program through them years ago when I opened Sweet Petite. it wasn’t that we didn’t know absolutely nothing. Somebody said to us, how could you open up a coffee shop and you know nothing about coffee?
Because we know food, we know how to run a business, we can learn the coffee business. So he was great when he was there. And Aaron, who’s my husband, he, I asked him to come on to help us.
He came on, I was like, I can actually pay you, so please come help us. And so he has been like the anchor of the coffee shop.
And before we hire anyone, we always have him talk to them. Feel them out to see if he feels like they would mesh with the team, because it is all about camaraderie and making sure that people can pretty much be the essence of who we are. And so we actually have had some really good staff.
We haven’t had a lot of turnover. And we realize this is nobody’s career. So most of the time we can keep people on for a year, which is pretty good. And then if we keep them longer than that is always great. We try to balance it out between making sure we have students from Xavier working there, which we do. We actually have two Xavier students with us now and we will typically have people who either are working part-time, maybe a friend of a friend. Overall we’ve had good staff members, and right now we have a good team.
We make sure we ask those questions in interviews too, right? And try to get a sense of their personality. I wouldn’t say that I’m the best interviewer. Crystal used to be a manager, in business outside, in her other career. I feel like I probably have more of the mother energy, that kind of thing. Because I am very nurturing and motherly. It’s just natural for me to be that way. And so then usually I will meet with them, talk to them, all this, and then I set her up with, this is how I was able to fill this person out. And then she gets in there and digs, asking all the questions.
And so it works out really well, pretty much. But it is important to us. We are people, we love people. We feel like everybody should be respected no matter who you are. And it’s working, and so the environment there, even with our staff, you have to really like to talk to people. And love on people and be sincere about how your day is going, because we can feel that, if someone’s being genuine. And so that means a lot to us. Because we have quite a few seniors that come into our coffee shop and we hold them to the highest regard.
We take care of them. If they couldn’t pay or forgot their money, we’re not gonna not feed them. And we know that they’ll be good for it. We wanna make sure that we are really caring about the people that walk through the door.
EMILY: I love that. And I think a lot of it does come from asking the right questions and finding the right personality, but then just that aura that you have about you when you’re there and you know, it trickles through everyone. I love to hear that you got your husband wrangled to work for you too, because I’ve heard tons of stories from the pandemic where these incredible women get these businesses up and then they’re like, all right, I got enough money to pay you. And then they bring their husband into the business. I love how they are flipping the script on that.
I want to talk about reviews for a little bit. We all know reviews can be frustrating. They can be challenging and wonderful and rewarding and all of the emotions in between. Bailey, let’s start with why you review.
Bailey: It’s funny because it is part of my job, right? But I think there’s so much more than that. I write reviews because I know that it makes a difference. I like to know that if I’m spending 5 to 10 minutes every morning writing a review about my experience, then somebody is going to read that review. Whether that’s somebody who’s looking to go to that business, whether that’s the business owner, whoever that may be. I’m writing that review for somebody else.
It’s not for me. I love to write, I love to express myself. My favorite thing is writing, but I’m keeping my audience in mind. And so I always like to think about, when I was describing Cream and Sugar, I said, okay, the parking right in front. I always think about parking when it comes to reviews.
That’s why I read reviews. Because I don’t know about you, when I’m going to a new place, I get nervous if I’m like, I don’t know where I’m gonna park. I might have to parallel park. That is a whole thing, you have to be prepared for it. Thank goodness my husband is an expert level parallel parker. So if I know that that is going to be a requirement, I just make sure to bring him along. All that to say, I keep that audience in mind and there are certain things that I touch on.
I like to mention in reviews, parking, like I said, definitely one of them. The ambiance, the vibe when I’m in there. Emily, asked you to describe your vibe Tarin. I always try to say oh, this was a chill vibe. Oh, this was a little bit more busy, whatever that may be. So you know what you’re getting into and you’re not okay if you’re looking for something specific, maybe stay away from this place or maybe this is exactly what you’re looking for.
I always talk about the food. I appreciate and love good food. I love cooking good food, but I love also being treated to a nice meal and sitting down and getting that service. And, when it’s a delicious meal, I wanna talk about it. And I’m the kind of person that if I have a good meal, I call my parents and say, “oh my gosh, you will never get what I just ate. This was amazing.”
So that to me is like, a review is an extension of that. I’m just sharing that experience with other people. The service is a huge thing too. I think good service – when it’s good, it’s really good. When it’s bad, it’s bad. And that can make or break a business.
And those are my three things, or four things with parking, that I touch on. At the end of the day, it’s about keeping in mind what your audience is, who you’re sharing that review for. If I do get a bad experience, and I definitely have had those bad experiences, I try to find something good, something positive from the experience. Because I know, I work with business owners every day. And so I have heard the stories, have heard the tales of, oh, I got a one-star review.
Somebody said they didn’t like this, or whatever. And I tell business owners every day, look at all these positive reviews. Look at all these amazing examples of what you’re doing and the people that you touched with your products and your services and your food and your story.
Who cares? Who cares what that guy said? Who cares? But I do know that we are people. We have emotions, we have feelings, and it’s like, okay. If I didn’t have an A+ experience, I’m still gonna mention, well, I liked this, or this was good, or the location was good, or something like that.
Because I do not have the opinion that an experience is so negative that there was nothing good to come out of it. If you were to look at my Yelp profile, right now, I have only one, one-star review and only one, two-star review. I don’t write negative reviews. I focus on the positive because I want to show off the exciting businesses, the great businesses that are doing these amazing things.
EMILY: OK Taren, it’s your turn. Do you and Crystal have a policy or a take on when and why you read reviews?
EMILY: Yeah. You know what? Funny thing, so we used to get a lot of reviews when we had Square as our POS system. And that was always really nice because most of the time they were talking about the customers. Not the customers, but the staff. And so we would send that to our staff members because we felt like that is part of showing our appreciation and people can say they don’t care. I don’t care what people think of me. Yes, you do. We all do! We all like when someone gives us any type of compliment, right? Now you may not be seeking out these compliments, but you do care if somebody thinks of you negatively. So it was just a way for us to always share that with them.
And, it made us smile too because it’s like, man, we’re doing a good job at our customer service. And I feel like that was always number one. Like the customer service was always number one. And then right under that would be, I don’t know if it was a tie between the food or the drinks, but people love that their drink is gonna be, and their food is gonna be the same way it tasted the time before. Like consistency for us is key. And that’s what I look for when I go out and have to review a place. That’s why I keep going back because it’s nostalgic. It tastes like what I remember and I need that same feeling again. So lately, now that we’ve switched over, we don’t see the reviews cuz we switched to a totally different POS.
Unless somebody emails us, honestly, I don’t even think to go and read reviews. I know that sounds weird. And part of that is because we’re so busy working.
Emily: Totally. And it gives a little grace and space to the business owners who are harping on themselves for not doing it. But I think what you said about some of the positives of sharing those automated ones through your Square with your staff, like that’s a great tip for people. You guys have a fabulous Yelp Page. So obviously if you ever wanted to feel good about yourself
Taren: …and that, yes. And I check, I have gone on Yelp a few times and looked at our reviews.
And especially after one, after we’ve done an event or something like that because we do wanna see what that feedback is. And I tell you when, so when Bailey mentioned about the bread pudding, cause I only make it in the summer months and just to get the feedback from that, cause that makes your heart happy. Cause at the end of the day, I’m a baker, I’m passionate about what I’m baking and if I’m making you feel good eating a dessert, I have done my job. I am just like beaming for joy. And to be able to convert people who—and Bailey, I have a confession. I didn’t like bread pudding either till before I made it.
And I actually started making it because one of my vendors had me make it for them. And so when I started making it, I figured out my little spin on it and I’m like bread pudding now. Because it was always a texture thing. It can just be very squishy tasting. And I’m like, I don’t like stuff that feels like that in my mouth, but as I digress. So yeah, I think reviews are important. They can make or break a business.
I have experienced a bad review with Sweet Petite, but I knew where that was coming from that person. Some people are just miserable and you can’t focus on that. And at the end of the day, if you are a person that reads reviews, because I do sometimes read reviews depending on what it is. If I see one or like a one or two-star, the number is very minimum. I don’t even read those because I’m like, oh, two people wrote a bad review, but you got a hundred good reviews.
EMILY: Okay, let’s close out with talking a little bit about being women-owned. I see you’re super focused on empowering other women, which I think is really cool. And Black-owned! Talk to me a little bit about your identity and how it comes through as a business owner, how it plays a role in your business’s connection to the community.
TAREN: For me it is all about elevating. As a Black woman, I know that for sure. Oh, specifically for black women owned entrepreneurs, it is so hard to sometimes break into the market. Get capital, get funding, get support.
So there’s all these barriers that we can face. And so part of what I do, and I do this by teaching, so I do lend my talent to teaching entrepreneurship, facilitating for organizations here locally, so that other black women can see somebody that looks like them and can tell them the truth and be very transparent and say, you may face this, you know these things, but you have a community or you have somebody now that you can go to.
I always say that for me, I wish I had a me when I started Sweet Petite in 2009. I didn’t have a me. However, I believed in myself enough and I had a lot of things going on for myself that I was able to, in fact, start my business out on the right foot. Like I knew all the parts. A lot of people don’t have that.
And I know that for me, that was a I don’t wanna say a luxury, but I was fortunate to have all these skills. To have a degree in business. I had a lot of things that really helped me. But having that one-on-one conversation with another woman owned business and specifically a black woman owner, or I didn’t have that.
I knew one other woman when I started my business. I knew one other woman and she was in fashion. So she did help me as far as like, pointing me in the right direction from a legal standpoint. But she couldn’t really help me in my industry. So I really, really, really had to do my research. And I actually didn’t even go through an incubator until I was three years into my business.
And what was amazing about that was I didn’t really know what to expect, but when I showed up and I saw women like me there, I was so excited and I was able to hold onto those relationships, cultivate them, and we’re still connected to this day. But when I went in, it was so crazy. I did not think that what I was doing was that fantastic. I’m like, this is my passion. I love to do it. This is why I’m doing it. And I was fine with that. I had a lot of joy in that.
So I went through, I didn’t even say the name of the organization, so the organization is Bad Girl Ventures, which is now Aviara Accelerators. So I went through that program and I had a lot going on. I was impressed with myself. Like it did show me like, okay, you did put in the work, you do know what you’re doing.
But it also helped me streamline and focus more. But I was very determined too, like when my mind is set on something, I’m honed in. And so I do share that a lot with, black women owned business owners or those entrepreneurs that are looking to do a business, because it’s just a world we live in.
It’s a fact. It is just reality. We’re going to have these barriers. And so we have to find a way to navigate. And most of the time, in order to navigate those, it’s really about your network. It’s really about what relationships have you built, what relationships can you cultivate? Because it’s all relational. What I use as an example is this:
When you’re dating a guy, when you first meet him on the first date, you’re like, oh, I’m excited about him. He made me feel all warm and fuzzy. But then the next date, you don’t ask him to marry you. It’s the same way with any business relationship. People gotta get, you have to get to know them. They need to get to know you before you start asking them for something or before they start offering something of you.
And so it may take a year or two or whatever, but you have to give it time. And once you do that, depending on the right relationship, who that person is and how much leverage they have, can open so many doors.
So you just have to be patient with yourself, go through the process and all at the same time, build up your network and make sure you’re making those connections.