The barbecue that led to a business
"I want to change people’s lives with our brand and with our company. I want to be inspirational and show people that we’re just regular people that had an idea and went for it, and they can do it too."
Monique Wilsondebriano and her husband Chevalo moved from Manhattan to Charleston in 2012. They knew no one in their new city, so Monique decided to host a neighborhood barbecue to meet new people. Monique and Chevalo went to a local farmer’s market and combined a bunch of herbs and spices they thought would add some flavor to hamburgers. In a time crunch to feed their arriving guests, the couple served the mixture without tasting it first—and the Charleston Gourmet Burger marinade was born.
“I could not believe it. We had a line of people across our yard leading to the grill for these hamburgers that we threw together like a hodgepodge.” Neighbors, friends and family couldn’t get enough of the hamburgers, so Monique decided to sell the recipe.
It’s been five years and Charleston Gourmet Burger products are now sold in every state in the US and in 17 countries. “We’re in Costco, Whole Foods, Walmart, Sam’s Club, Lowe’s Home Improvement and we’re going into Kroger stores.”
An entrepreneurial itch
While Charleston Gourmet Burger Company may seem like a business that started by chance, entrepreneurship has always been top of mind for Monique. As a child, she admired her grandmother who owned a hair salon, and always dreamed of being her own boss.
But for Monique, it’s not just about making money and being successful. “I want to change people’s lives with our brand and with our company. I want to be inspirational and show people that we’re just regular people that had an idea and went for it, and they can do it too.”
Backed by support
Pursuing her dream of starting a business came with challenges for Monique. “Sometimes, when you’re a woman in business, men may not always take you seriously, and that’s frustrating.” Monique said there were times in the beginning when she had to bring her husband with her to meetings because she said her voice might not be heard and and her vision for the company could be ignored. “I don’t have that problem as much anymore because now I have the credibility.”
“Don’t be afraid to fail”
Over the years, Monique has come to regard failures as learning opportunities and necessary parts of the journey. “You just have to keep going. As long as you see it, you’re passionate about it and it makes sense, don’t ever quit and keep going no matter what.”
Investing in the future
In the future, Monique hopes to open a Charleston Gourmet Burger Company manufacturing facility and invite aspiring entrepreneurs to work for the company to discover the potential in pursuing a passion. “It just takes exposing people to different opportunities, so I would love to be able to use Charleston Gourmet Burger Company as a vehicle to inspire other people or help them along on their entrepreneurial journey.”
A brand that brings people together
“Our brand is all about love. Food is love and when you have something that’s really flavorful it can transcend everything.” Charleston Gourmet Burger Company has customers from all walks of life, across the country and around the world. “We call it heaven in a bottle because this little bottle just brings people together. It makes people happy, and I love that.”
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