Tell us about you!
Abi is a Nigerian born and raised who is inspired to expose her kids to the food and culture that shaped her life. Abi was raised by a single mother of 7. Growing up, she watched her mother explored different small business avenues to support the family. Abi relocated to Chicago from Nigeria 17 years ago. She obtained a Master’s degree in Public Health, and works as a Public Health program manager. She is married with two kids. Abi is a goal-getter with a vibrant personality.
How did you start Triple A Gourmet?
The journey of our budding snack started when my kids asked the simplest question after multiple failed commitments to a homemade cookie request. It was about 7 am when the tiny voice of my 5-year-old son whispered, “Mommy, why don’t you ever make cookies you promised?” Without thinking twice, I replied, “Baby, I don’t know how to make cookies but I do know how to make CHIN CHIN.”
That day, my husband and the kids gathered around the kitchen counter and followed my mother’s recipe step by step. The day brought so much childhood memory, laughter, and joy to my family. I searched the market space for CHIN CHIN and I was disappointed by the limited brands available. I knew I had to do something about it, so I did a little research, shared some samples of my recipe and the rest was history.
Chin Chin is one of the ways to welcome new people into our life. It signifies celebration, sharing, unity. Everybody has a CHIN CHIN story. Whether it was your college roommate who gave you your first bite, or you tasted it first at your first West African party. CHIN CHIN snacks always proclaim a sense of sharing which resonates with Abi’s upbringing. She believed in the power of sharing and holds childhood survival to her siblings for sharing EVERYTHING they had with her while growing.
What motivated you to launch your own business?
I got my motivation from my husband and kids. They are my tasters, my encouragers, and my cheerleaders. Running a business is no joke, but can’t just quit now. It is part of their story too.
What is your favorite thing about being a business owner?
My favorite part about being a business owner is how it has helped me grow as an individual. It taught me discipline, accountability, creativity, and the courage to keep pushing even when the door is shut in my face. I also enjoyed meeting other small business owners and hearing their stories, it makes me feel like I am not alone.
How has Covid-19 impacted your business?
Our brand had five major markets/events canceled within a week of the pandemic which was a big revenue generator for the year. Our brand is a sampling-based product that relied on in-store sampling but COVID quickly took that away. Our major ingredient, flour, was usually purchased through Sam’s club wholesale, and with everyone stuck at home making “banana bread”, we immediately felt the pain of flour shortage. Additionally, running a business combined with homeschooling a 1st and 4th grader isn’t exactly the most stress-free situation but we make it work.
COVID redefined the way we do business, we had to reimagine our relationship with the customers and find a way to connect with them virtually.
What do you love about the food community in Chicago?
Chicago is a diverse city that allows people to try a taste of the world. But what I love most about the food community is the support for local small brands. Being a part of the community has been phenomenal.