Jaclyn Robinson with Mo'Bay Beignet Company

Jaclyn Robinson with Mo'Bay Beignet Company

This week, we're sitting down with Jaclyn Robinson. Jaclyn is the owner of the newly opened Mo'Bay Beignet Company, a laid back and aesthetic beignet shop, in downtown Mobile. Listen to this week's episode to hear her story and how you should follow your heart when you're inspired to start a business.

Produced by Blue Fish in Mobile, Alabama


Jaclyn Robinson: Hey, this is Jaclyn Robinson, the owner of Mo'Bay Beignet Company.

Marcus Neto: Yay! Welcome to the podcast, Jaclyn.

Jaclyn Robinson: Thanks so much for having me, Marcus.

Marcus Neto: Yeah. We've known each other for a number of years. I know you from a previous life, which I would like you to mention here, when I ask you to tell us the story of Jaclyn.

Marcus Neto: Where are you from, where did you go to high school? Did you go to college? If you did, what did you study? Just give us some background information, as well as talk about your experience before beignets, but don't get into beignets.

Jaclyn Robinson: Okay, awesome. I am a Huntsville, Alabama native, born and raised. I went to college at Cleveland, Tennessee, at Lee University, graduated with a bachelor's degree in communications, with an emphasis in marketing and public relations. Also, studied photography while I was there, just as an elective, something I enjoy doing on the side. Never really saw that as a career path, but it actually ended up becoming-

Marcus Neto: Little did you know ...

Jaclyn Robinson: Little did I know, it actually ended up becoming a really large part of who I am. I've been in professional photography for almost 20 years now.

Jaclyn Robinson: Right out of college, I actually took a marketing position with a hospital, and gradually climbed the ladder in the medical field, as far as marketing's concerned. Ended up moving to Mobile in 2005, I took a VP of marketing and business development position, with a healthcare staffing company down here. The former CFO of the hospital I'd worked for right out of college, he had moved to Mobile and become the CEO of a healthcare staffing company. He called, and asked me to move down. With great hesitancy, I did accept the position, because I prayed about it, and felt really certain, yes, I'm supposed to take this job. I moved down to Mobile, and I've been here ever since, that was about 15 years ago.

Marcus Neto: Wow.

Jaclyn Robinson: Yeah.

Marcus Neto: I don't know, for whatever reason, I didn't know that you were not from this area.

Marcus Neto: Go back to your high school and college days. Would you consider yourself a good student?

Jaclyn Robinson: Yeah, I actually graduated at the top of my class in college. I pushed through, I actually did it in three and a half years instead of four. I averaged anywhere from 18 to 21 hours per semester. I struggle with a little bit of perfectionism, I struggle with a little bit of that over achiever mentality. Yeah, I did really well in college.

Jaclyn Robinson: In high school as well, I was president of my senior class. I can look back now, and see a pattern on my report card. First grade report card, my first grade teacher said, "Jaclyn is an excellent student, but she's a bit of a perfectionist." It's definitely been an ongoing theme, throughout my life, to do the best I can at everything that I put my hands too.

Marcus Neto: Yeah, that's cool. Tell us about your career venture?

Jaclyn Robinson: Okay, Mo'Bay Beignet Company. Well, probably about five years back, the name dropped in me. I was in my kitchen, in the middle of just whipping up some beignets for my family, just for kicks after dinner.

Marcus Neto: I love how you say that, "Just whipping up some beignets," because beignets are not exactly the easiest thing.

Jaclyn Robinson: It's not something you actually just whip up. Yeah, it's not that simple, so absolutely.

Jaclyn Robinson: Yeah, I was making some. For the first time, I actually had made ... I make a really killer buttercream syrup, and cinnamon syrup. But, for the first time ever, I'd paired it and it was incredible. In that moment, I just had this name drop in my mind, from nowhere. I would absolutely say it was from the Lord, it dropped in me, Mo'Bay Beignet Company. I thought, wow, that would be incredible. This was about five years ago.

Jaclyn Robinson: Nowhere in my mind at that time was I thinking, I want to open a beignet company, but it was just this name. Over the past five years, that name has continually been on the back burner of my mind. At the most random times throughout life, it would just pop up. Last year, around April, one of my daughters had expressed an interest in moving to California, to go the college out there.

Jaclyn Robinson: We went out there, and while we were there ... This is a really interesting story. While we were there, there was a couple that we spoke with, and they asked if they could pray for me. At this time, keep in mind, nothing with Mo'Bay Beignet Company had happened, or was even on the horizon in my mind, it was still just the same that was in the back of my head. While we were there, this couple asked if they could pray for me, and they did. He said some really interesting things, that left me quite bewildered and going, "What was he talking about?"

Jaclyn Robinson: What he said was, "I feel like you're entering into a new season, and I hear a celebration, and it has a jazzy feel, in terms of music." He said, "I'm hearing the word math, and I'm seeing a lot of numbers, and I'm hearing the words it doesn't add up." He said, "I feel like I'm just really supposed to encourage you strongly to move forward, if something doesn't add up."

Jaclyn Robinson: So, I literally left going, "That was weird, I have no idea what he's talking about." In my own mind, I really tried to reason, and figure it out, because that's what I do, I try to figure things out. I thought, oh, well maybe she's going to get accepted to go to this school, and maybe it's going to be more money than we anticipated, and it's not going to add up for us to do it, but we just need to move forward and get her here.

Marcus Neto: Sure.

Jaclyn Robinson: So I kind of reasoned that away, that was April. In May, I was walking into my house from my mailbox, she had gotten her acceptance that she was going. I had this really, really strong impression that, now. As soon as I heard the word now, I just knew instantly, Mo'Bay Beignet Company. I didn't know what that meant, or what that looked like exactly, but I just knew now is the time.

Jaclyn Robinson: Last May, I decided okay, this is what we're going to do, we're going to do Mo'Bay Beignet Company as a fundraiser. I'm going to bottle up my syrups, and I'm going to bag up my mix, and I'm just going to sell it as a fundraiser. Because of the marketer in me, the promoter in me, all that background, I couldn't do it low key. I've always joked that if I'm the mom at school that got asked to the bake sale, well I probably need a website, I probably need a logo. We probably need to brand this bake sale, it can't ever be simple.

Marcus Neto: Right.

Jaclyn Robinson: It's a blessing and a curse, for sure. This time, it ended up being quite a blessing.

Jaclyn Robinson: I set up this fundraiser, I created my own logo, and I bagged up all of my stuff. Actually, I prayed about it, I was like, "Man, what should my labels look like?" As I was thinking about my labels, I had this image pop in my mind of Jones Soda Company, their bottles. You know, it's pictures?

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Jaclyn Robinson: It clicked in me, my label should be my photos. I've been a photographer for 20 years, I have a lot of amazing pictures from downtown, that really coincided with that jazzy, Mardi Gras kind of a thing, so it just fit perfectly. My labels on all of my products are my pictures.

Jaclyn Robinson: I did it, I put it out as a fundraiser on Facebook. Within 24 hours, Domke Market contacted me and said, "I want Mo'Bay Beignet products on my shelves, people are going to love this." I was like, "Okay, that sounds cool, that can help out with the fundraiser, I'll probably sell some that way."

Jaclyn Robinson: Then, it really snowballed. One store after another just started contacting me, people on Facebook talking about it. By September, I was in Priester's Pecans, on I65.

Marcus Neto: Wow.

Jaclyn Robinson: Yeah, which was a really great account to get, all that traffic coming up and down 65. I actually just hit a wall, and in September I was ready to quit. It didn't make any sense, as far as looking at the cost to produce everything I was producing, and then sell them at wholesale prices, for those people to then sell them at retail prices. It just wasn't making sense.

Jaclyn Robinson: I found myself, standing my in kitchen, and I was looking at receipts laid everywhere, tons of paper laid out, trying to figure out my profit and loss margins, and just how much time I was actually spending on it. In the middle of my kitchen, looking at all of that math, and all of those numbers I literally blurted out the words, "This does not add up." Click, all I could think about instantly, in that moment, I remembered the prayer that man said, back in April when he said, "I see math and numbers, I and hear the words it doesn't add up, and you need to move forward."

Jaclyn Robinson: In that moment, I just knew, well I can't quit, here we go.

Marcus Neto: Right.

Jaclyn Robinson: Okay. Well then, what's next? I felt really, really certain that the next step was a brick and mortar, and I knew in my gut it had to be in downtown Mobile. There was no other place. I did think about West Mobile, I thought about Midtown, I thought about Springhill. At the time, I had my photography studio in the Holiday Place Shopping Center, over off Old Shell. I mean, I looked around in that area.

Jaclyn Robinson: But, in my gut I just knew Mo'Bay Beignet Company belonged downtown Mobile, on Dauphin Street if I could find a spot. Once again, I prayed about it. I was like, "Okay God, you're the one saying keep moving forward, because I'm ready to go this was a fun ride, we're done. What's next?" Came downtown, just looking around thinking, I wonder if there's anything around here? Walked by 451 Dauphin Street, beautiful spot, corner space.

Marcus Neto: Lots of exposure.

Jaclyn Robinson: Looks like something out of the French Quarter, it's just a great spot. There was a for rent sign in the window, just a by owner, for rent, and a number. I called it, and the owner was instantly captivated by the idea of Mo'Bay Beignet Company.

Jaclyn Robinson: We went back and forth a little bit. I went down to the planning department, and told them the address that I was looking at. They explained to me that it was going to be a change of occupancy, it was not set up for a restaurant or café of any kind.

Marcus Neto: It had been a gift previously.

Jaclyn Robinson: It had been a retail store. Yeah, retail boutique style. Due to it being a change of occupancy, that also meant that I was going to have to bring the building up to code. That's never an easy task, and it's never a cheap task.

Marcus Neto: Right.

Jaclyn Robinson: I remember leaving that meeting feeling really discouraged. I was parked right outside of Mardi Gras Park, and I sat in my car, and I prayed. I was like, "Are you sure? Are you sure 451 Dauphin Street is the space for Mo'Bay Beignet Company?" In my head I'm thinking, no, this can't be it, this is going to be way more than I bargained for. My budget to start this business is this, and it's probably going to cost this.

Jaclyn Robinson: I pulled out of my parking spot right after praying that, I pulled up to the light at Government Street, and in front of me sat a car with one sticker on the back, that was very old and peeling off. The only thing on that sticker was 451. It was the quickest confirmation I'd ever received, that I am on the right track.

Marcus Neto: Right.

Jaclyn Robinson: I literally just prayed, "Is 451 Dauphin Street the right spot for Mo'Bay?"

Marcus Neto: How many times do you get a physical manifestation of what it is that you're praying about?

Jaclyn Robinson: Instantly.

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Jaclyn Robinson: Instantly. And of all the cars I could have been behind, of all the seconds in the day, at that exact moment, that we would coincide, and I would be sitting behind that car, at that light, and it would be those exact numbers. In one sticker, old, ready to peel off. Why is it even still on this car?

Marcus Neto: Right.

Jaclyn Robinson: It was just bizarre. I was like, okay, here we go, I'm still moving forward.

Jaclyn Robinson: I talked to the owner, I explained the situation to him. I was like, "Hey, your building, I really want it, I feel like it's the right space. It's not ready. It's not ready for a restaurant, I've got to bring it up to code, here's my budget." His words to me ... His name is Jerry Irwin, he goes by Jan, Jerry Irwin. He actually lives in Atlanta, the space above Mo'Bay Beignet Company is his personal apartment, like a vacation home.

Jaclyn Robinson: His words to me were, "You know what, Jaclyn? I have a lot of people looking at this space, and I could easily sign them up for a one year lease, start taking their monthly rent, and me not have to add a penny, and just start making money." He said, "But, you know what? I don't want to do what's easy, I want to do what's right for the city of Mobile. I believe the city of Mobile would want the Mo'Bay Beignet Company." He said, "You tell me what I need to do to help you, and let's make this happen."

Marcus Neto: That's awesome.

Jaclyn Robinson: Yeah. He actually contributed the funds to purchase the hood that was required, in order for me to be able to fry in that space. Thanks to his contribution, the space became what it needed to be, so Mo'Bay Beignet Company could be in there.

Marcus Neto: Yeah, that's cool.

Jaclyn Robinson: Yeah, that was incredible. Thanks to a lot of people, my grandfather, my parents. My grandfather was an amazing man, a Proverbs 13:22 man, who left an inheritance for his children's children. My parents were gracious and generous enough to share their portion with me, part of their portion with me, to help me get this off of the ground. There's been a lot of amazing people, generous people, how have helped bring this to pass.

Jaclyn Robinson: Yeah, I began the process of moving forward, and instantly, when I announced on Facebook that I was opening it, it was like the whole city went, "What?" Like, perked up.

Marcus Neto: Well, when I saw it I was like, "It's absolutely ridiculous that we don't have a beignet place."

Jaclyn Robinson: Yeah, a good one.

Marcus Neto: Yeah, there are a few places where you can go, on certain days.

Jaclyn Robinson: And maybe have it on their dessert menu.

Marcus Neto: Yeah, or something like that, but there's not a beignet place in all of Mobile, that just seems ridiculous. Maybe there is, and I just don't know about it.

Jaclyn Robinson: There's actually not yeah, in Mobile, or Baldwin County, that I'm aware of.

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Jaclyn Robinson: A true, authentic, handmade, fresh made beignets.

Marcus Neto: Right.

Jaclyn Robinson: I like to think that maybe the Lord was just hiding the idea from me all along.

Marcus Neto: There you go.

Jaclyn Robinson: I truly believe we're doing it right, and people are loving it. Yeah, we moved forward, I signed the lease in October, began all of the hard, hard work. I'd hoped to open before Christmas, but there were just so many hoops and things to jump through, when it comes to the health department, and the planning department, and getting everything up to code.

Marcus Neto: The fact that you were able to get it done in such a short period of time is amazing.

Jaclyn Robinson: In all honesty, the fact that I signed the lease in October, and February 2nd was my soft opening, February 6th was grand opening, it truly is incredible. I think the timing actually ended up being quite perfect.

Jaclyn Robinson: On February 6th was the first time the tree in Mardi Gras Park was converted from the Christmas Tree, it was left up, and then it was turned into a Mardi Gras Tree. The lighting of the Mardi Gras Tree was the same night as my grand opening, which was a fabulous event. We had the Excelsior Band down, and I have a very large portrait of them on my wall. You know, the wallpaper of the Excelsior Band. It was really neat to bring them in to perform, and then sneak them to the back and go, "Hey, look," and then see themselves up on my wall. That was a pretty special moment.

Jaclyn Robinson: It's been quite a ride. Lynn Oldshoe, the writer of Our Southern Souls, she came in to interview me the week of opening. In my conversation with her, I told her about the 451 story, and she included that in her article that she posted on Facebook. The Monday of my grand opening, a lady commented on that, and I got some further understanding about the whole 451 sticker. She commented on Lynn's story and she said, "The 451 sticker that you saw on the back of that car was fallen officer Steven Green's police number."

Marcus Neto: Oh, jeez.

Jaclyn Robinson: Yeah. She said, "God used a fallen officer's number on the back of a car to communicate to you that you needed to open this place up for the city of Mobile." It's even more special to me because I've been the photographer that's been called for the past two fallen officers, to photograph their funerals.

Marcus Neto: Wow.

Jaclyn Robinson: I photographed Officer Avila, I photographed Officer Tudor's. So it made it even more special to me, that was used, that Officer Green's number was used. Now, here I am in a building, 451 Dauphin. In some ways, I like to think that maybe Officer Green is standing on duty for me.

Marcus Neto: Yeah, that's awesome.

Jaclyn Robinson: Yeah.

Marcus Neto: Gosh, pull ourselves together.

Jaclyn Robinson: I know, I'm kind of like that, I'm getting some tears here.

Marcus Neto: No, that awesome. I love it when things like that happen.

Jaclyn Robinson: It's been incredible.

Marcus Neto: We're recording this, what's today? The 17th or something like that?

Jaclyn Robinson: The 20th?

Marcus Neto: 20th.

Jaclyn Robinson: I wish it was the 17th, time is getting away from us quickly, Mardi Gras is upon us.

Marcus Neto: So you've been open for, what? Two and a half, three weeks?

Jaclyn Robinson: Two weeks, today. My grand opening was two weeks ago today.

Marcus Neto: How many beignets are you going to sell?

Jaclyn Robinson: We are quickly approaching 25,000.

Marcus Neto: 25,000 beignets.

Jaclyn Robinson: The last check was right around 22,000 this morning. I should probably hit 25 by morning, mid-afternoon tomorrow, unless we get a major rush tonight. It's been incredible.

Marcus Neto: I'll give you some grace. Within two weeks, you've sold almost 25,000 beignets?

Jaclyn Robinson: Yes.

Marcus Neto: Yeah. I mean, that's just absolutely incredible.

Jaclyn Robinson: The entire city of Mobile is in love with sugar. Powdered sugar, everybody's just going crazy.

Marcus Neto: I'm not going to lie, there. We've eaten there a couple of times, and it is absolutely ... I'll go on record as saying I liked it better than any other beignet that I've ever had, including the more well known ones, and I won't name them by name, over in New Orleans.

Jaclyn Robinson: Actually, the thing is, taking nothing away from them, they've always been considered the standard. They've been around since, I believe, 1892?

Marcus Neto: Right.

Jaclyn Robinson: It's something you do, when you go there, that's where you go.

Marcus Neto: Yeah, it's an experience.

Jaclyn Robinson: But, I'd actually not been in there in years. Last October, before I signed my lease, I drove myself to New Orleans, I went, I ordered me some beignets, and I sat down. I took people with me. I said, "I want everyone's honest opinion." Everyone, in unison, was just like, "Oh no, you've got this, you've got this beat."

Jaclyn Robinson: That's when I was like, "Yeah, we're doing it. We're doing this."

Marcus Neto: Right.

Jaclyn Robinson: I've been really, really thrilled with the response that I've gotten from everybody whose tried them, people are really happy.

Jaclyn Robinson: You know, I'm a smaller operation, I can really keep focus on quality, and quality control. We're not mass production.

Marcus Neto: I've got to say, that has to be an issue for them, because they're probably seeing that number that you just talked about in two weeks, they're probably seeing that-

Jaclyn Robinson: In a day.

Marcus Neto: In a couple of days, if not less?

Jaclyn Robinson: Probably so. They have no choice but to mass produce, and with mass production always, almost always comes a loss of the ability to really control the quality, and maintain that. They're in a position where they don't have to worry about it so much, because people are just going to keep coming.

Marcus Neto: Yeah. It's not to slight them, the beignets are good. When I had yours, there's a very good difference between the two.

Marcus Neto: Let's get into some of the other questions.

Jaclyn Robinson: Okay.

Marcus Neto: Do you remember your first job? And, were there any lessons that you still remember from that?

Jaclyn Robinson: Wow. My very first job? I believe I worked at a little video store, it was a little Mom-and-Pop video store that had a tanning bed in the back. I'm going to reveal my age, there were some DVDs, but it was also some of the VHS tapes. My job was they'd check them in, and I'd have to make sure they were rewound, and put them back up on the shelves.

Marcus Neto: Extra fee if they don't rewind, yeah.

Jaclyn Robinson: Extra fee if they didn't return them, or they returned it late. I'd check people into the tanning bed, do their tanning memberships.

Jaclyn Robinson: Honestly, the biggest thing was just interacting with people, talking to the customers as they came in. That was probably the biggest thing from that. Yeah, I went on, throughout college I was a ... I was blessed, and fortunate enough in college to not really have to work. My dad was one of these that, "Hey, you keep your grades up, and you really show me that you're committed to doing well, I've got you." I didn't really work during college, but on my summer breaks, I was a hostess at Chili's, and would seat people at their tables, and that kind of thing.

Jaclyn Robinson: Yeah, then right out of college, ... I actually had done an internship the summer before I graduated at Sony Music, up in Nashville. My original intention was to go into public relations and marketing for the music industry, and I was going to moving back up to Nashville after college. Because when I was Sony, I just had a lot of promising potential opportunities. But, three weeks after graduating from college, my brother who was living in the Cayman Islands at the time, was in a really bad accident on his 23rd birthday. Ended up losing his right leg, we had to have him flown on a medical Lear jet from the Cayman's to Huntsville. He flat lined on the plane twice, he was in ICU for a week, it was a pretty major ordeal.

Jaclyn Robinson: Both of my parents had full-time jobs, so I actually didn't make that jump to Nashville, I stayed home to try to help take care of him. Then, it was one of those things where there was a job opportunity that came open, Crestwood Medical Center in Huntsville, for a marketing coordinator. Because I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself, I thought well, this is a good opportunity, I'll interview for it, the pay was good. Who doesn't want to make $32 grand, right out of college?

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Jaclyn Robinson: So, I took it, and bye bye went the whole plan to go to Nashville. I suddenly became a full-time marketing coordinator for a hospital. Then, it just evolved from there. Yeah, it was-

Marcus Neto: Well, going back to your lesson, the ability to talk to people, relate to people, because I experienced you in a photography setting a number of times. I think one of the things that sets mediocre photographers apart from good photographers is that ability to connect with somebody very quickly. I think you obviously have that, and just knowing you personally, I know that you have that as well.

Marcus Neto: I think one of the things that I've always tried to impress on my boys is, to the effect that they have the ability to talk to people, or even influence the decision making of people through either educating them, or selling them on an idea, or something along those lines, that will help them be more successful.

Jaclyn Robinson: Absolutely.

Marcus Neto: In everything that they do, whether they take a position, a salaried position with somebody, or whether they're in sales, or start their own business, or whatever it is. I think that ability to create a connection with somebody very quickly is not something that everybody has. If you have that, if you possess that, it's pretty phenomenal.

Jaclyn Robinson: Absolutely, I 100% agree. Everything we do is about people. Connecting with people, relating to people, communicating with them, letting them know that they're heard.

Marcus Neto: Yeah, absolutely.

Jaclyn Robinson: It's all very important.

Marcus Neto: If you were talking to someone that wanted to get started in running their own business, what's the one bit of wisdom that you would impart to them?

Jaclyn Robinson: Research, talk to people who are smarter than you, people who've done it before. Ask questions. There are no easy paths, it's going to be hard.

Marcus Neto: Have some grit, and stick with it.

Jaclyn Robinson: Grit, you've got to have grit, a no quit mentality. You're going to hit walls. When you hit the wall, you look for the way to get over it, or through it.

Marcus Neto: Yeah, absolutely.

Jaclyn Robinson: You just don't quit.

Marcus Neto: When you look to the larger business world, I'm thinking national, international business world, who's one person that motivates you?

Jaclyn Robinson: That's a hard one, because there's so many names that actually come to my mind.

Marcus Neto: Simon Sinek?

Jaclyn Robinson: Simon Sinek.

Marcus Neto: All right. I'll ask the question again, and then we'll cut out ...

Jaclyn Robinson: Okay, sorry about that.

Marcus Neto: No, that's totally fine, I just wanted to make sure.

Marcus Neto: When you look to the larger business world, so I'm thinking nationally, internationally, who's the one person that motivates you?

Jaclyn Robinson: Simon Sinek would be the first person that comes to my mind. I mean, there are plenty. You know, Gary V is phenomenal. But, there's something about the cool, laid back, rational, just shoot straight of Simon Sinek, that he just brings so much clarity to leadership, and to business. He would be the first person that would come to my mind.

Marcus Neto: Yeah, that's really cool. Are there any books, podcasts, people, or organizations that have been helpful in moving you forward?

Jaclyn Robinson: Of course, the Bluefish podcast. How many people do you have say that, when they're sitting here?

Marcus Neto: None.

Jaclyn Robinson: I love listening to yours. Then, there's the one that is actually completely about new startup businesses. I'm horrible with names, if you haven't gathered that, with my memory. I'm remember content, but not the actual title. It's called How This Started?

Marcus Neto: How I Built This.

Jaclyn Robinson: How I Built This, thank you so much.

Marcus Neto: Literally, if you aren't listening to that podcast by now, because it's been mentioned on this podcast at least two dozen times ...

Jaclyn Robinson: How I Built This.

Marcus Neto: Quite honestly, it's funny, I always laugh because the format of this show is very similar to How I Built This, but we started it first. We're more focused on our local economy, and the people that are influencing Mobile, versus the larger economy, where he's getting people from ... I think, in the last episode, mentioned Whole Foods, and we've mentioned the lady that runs Spanx, and all these. He's getting these very large name CEOs. But, we wanted to focus in on the smaller, more impactful, because I think the small businesses located here in Mobile impact Mobile more than some of these larger.

Marcus Neto: But yeah, How I Built This is a phenomenal podcast.

Jaclyn Robinson: It's the best, I love it. It's just so encouraging. The Chicken Salad chick one was fantastic, and I was really interested in that because I was actually hired to photograph the first Chicken Salad chick, here in Mobile. I got to meet here, and just hear a lot of the story.

Marcus Neto: Oh, cool.

Jaclyn Robinson: It was really neat.

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Jaclyn Robinson: Then, of course, the Five Guys episode. Yeah, super motivational, highly recommend How I Built This.

Marcus Neto: What is the most important thing that you have learned about running a business?

Jaclyn Robinson: Staffing is hard.

Marcus Neto: Yeah. Yeah, it's that whole people thing.

Jaclyn Robinson: I actually have been really blessed, I've got a lot of great people working for me right now. I need more, so if you're listening to this, and you're interested in coming and working for a beignet company, give me a call.

Jaclyn Robinson: Staffing is the challenge of wanting to communicate clearly the culture, the feel, the atmosphere that you want to just permeate throughout your business, and having your staff carry that. You want them to carry it with the same kind of pride that they would if it was theirs. So, showing them they're valued, showing them they're appreciated, and that's something that I actually feel I'm good at because I love people. I value people. So, that part hasn't been difficult, but it's finding those people who want to come on board and say, "You know what? Yeah, I want to be a part of this."

Jaclyn Robinson: Thankfully, I am, they're coming along. But, it's happened so quick. Like I said, I signed the lease back in October, so it's happening really quick. Finding more staff is probably the biggest challenge that I'm facing right now. A lot of people that run businesses, that's what I hear from them, it's staff.

Marcus Neto: It was the number one, for a long time, and it may still be, I haven't gone back and looked. But, it was the number one thing that, I think, most people mentioned, was people. Whether it's staffing for their own companies, or just dealing with HR, people just in general, it is the most difficult thing about running a business.

Jaclyn Robinson: Yeah. But, I do have to give a shout out to the people who are working for me right now, they are busting their tails right now, especially in Mardi Gras season, to do their best for me. I do my best, every day, to show them just how much I appreciate and value them.

Marcus Neto: Yeah, that's awesome. How do you like to unwind?

Jaclyn Robinson: Oh, man. What's that? I do suffer from a chronic inability to unwind the best way. But, if I can get away for a little bit, read, listen to a podcast, make a trip to the Battle House Spa.

Marcus Neto: There you go.

Jaclyn Robinson: It hasn't happened in a long time, but it's going down Ash Wednesday.

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Jaclyn Robinson: Yeah, reading, podcasts, listening to music, that's it. Just try to unplug for a minute, but I can't stay unplugged long. Again, back to that blessing and curse, I just can't stay unplugged very long.

Marcus Neto: I feel you. Tell people where they can find out more information about Mo'Bay Beignet?

Jaclyn Robinson: Okay.

Marcus Neto: And, where you're located? I mean, 451 Dauphin Street, we've already said it 15 ...

Jaclyn Robinson: People will never forget the address now.

Marcus Neto: No.

Jaclyn Robinson: 451 Dauphin Street.

Marcus Neto: For those of you that are friends of Bluefish, have been to any of our networking events, or know our old location on Dauphin Street, closer to downtown, she's caddy cornered, so she's on the West corner of Dauphin Street from where we used to be.

Jaclyn Robinson: Yeah, right there at the corner of Dauphin and Hamilton, two doors down from the new restaurant SOCU. Fabulous spot to eat, if you haven't been there as well, Erica's fabulous.

Jaclyn Robinson: Yeah, 451 Dauphin Street. Www.MoBayBeignetCo.com is the website, and of course we're on Facebook and Instagram.

Marcus Neto: Just search for Mo'Bay Beignet?

Jaclyn Robinson: Yeah, search for Mo'Bay Beignet Company.

Marcus Neto: Well, I want to thank you again for coming on the podcast. To wrap up, any final thoughts or comments you'd like to share?

Jaclyn Robinson: No, that's about it. I'm just super thankful, super excited to be in downtown Mobile. It's been incredible to see how the city has embraced Mo'Bay Beignet Company, and how excited they all are. It makes me incredibly happy that there is now a place in Mobile, in downtown, for all people, of all ages, of all races. Babies, kids, small families.

Marcus Neto: Who doesn't like fried dough?

Jaclyn Robinson: Yeah, with powdered sugar, and buttercream and cinnamon syrup.

Marcus Neto: Give me a break.

Jaclyn Robinson: And café Au laits.

Marcus Neto: Shove it in my mouth.

Jaclyn Robinson: Pecan praline coffee, and coffee and chicory. It's phenomenal. I've got people coming in, in their 70s and their 80s, coming in for some morning coffee and a beignet. I've got people coming in for date nights, you've got your college kids coming in sitting at my bar, looking out the window and studying, while they sip on coffee. Moms bringing in their babies during the day.

Marcus Neto: Well, that begs a question. What are your hours?

Jaclyn Robinson: Okay. Monday through Friday, we're open 7:30 AM to 8:30 PM. Friday, we actually kick it until about 11. Then, on Saturdays we open 9:30 to 11, Sundays 9:30 to eight.

Marcus Neto: Okay.

Jaclyn Robinson: So, Mardi Gras is-

Marcus Neto: So, seven days a week?

Jaclyn Robinson: Yeah, right now we're seven days a week. Post Mardi Gras, we may kick back. I'm going to need a day to sleep.

Marcus Neto: Find somebody to watch the shop.

Jaclyn Robinson: Find somebody just to run it.

Marcus Neto: Don't do it. One of the biggest things that I have, and I'm not pointing at anybody because I know a lot of restaurateurs in downtown ... one of the things that's most difficult, think about Mondays in downtown Mobile. There's two places to go and eat.

Jaclyn Robinson: Yeah.

Marcus Neto: I get it, everybody needs a break but, at the same time, it's like that doesn't mean that people don't still need to eat on those days.

Jaclyn Robinson: Yeah, absolutely.

Marcus Neto: It's just so frustrating, when you want to go. There's a lot of restaurants that aren't open for lunch, which I also think is ... I'm getting on my soap box, but just bear with me.

Jaclyn Robinson: You're totally fine, I get it. That's one of the reasons I'm having trouble with saying that I'm going to be closed one day. Everybody keeps saying, "You need a break, you need to sleep."

Marcus Neto: No, don't.

Jaclyn Robinson: I'm like, "Yeah?"

Marcus Neto: Don't do it. You run a business, the business needs to stay open seven days a week. For that kind of business? It needs to be open seven days a week.

Marcus Neto: Then, the other thing is the fact that you're open in the morning through evening it's like, some of these restaurateurs, I get it, staffing is difficult. But, people's introduction to your food may be through lunch. I fell in love with some of the restaurants downtown because I went there for lunch, and now some of them ... He knows who I'm talking about, damn it.

Jaclyn Robinson: You're going to get a call or a text after this.

Marcus Neto: I'm going to get a call or something like, "Quit calling me out, man." It's not just one person, there's a bunch of restaurants down there that just aren't open during lunch. It's like, you can find a way to offer a lunch menu that's enticing to people, because then when they have a date night, or they have somebody come to town, or they have something that's happening in their lives that they want to go out to a nice dinner, they're going to remember your lunch. Your dinner menu may be different, it may be more expensive, it may be more eclectic or something like that, and they're going to remember that, and they're going to come out.

Marcus Neto: Stepping down off the soap box.

Jaclyn Robinson: I got you, though. I got you.

Marcus Neto: Figure it out, figure a way to do it.

Marcus Neto: Well Jaclyn, I appreciate your willingness to sit with me, and share your journey as a business owner and entrepreneur, it has been great talking with you.

Jaclyn Robinson: Thank you so much, Marcus.

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