MRM Talking With: National Boss Day Special with Carvel Franchisee Kirsten Palmiero

Three years ago, Kirsten Palmiero left an advertising career to pursue her dream of owning the Carvel in West Caldwell, NJ, where she worked at as a college student. On this National Boss Day, Modern Restaurant Management magazine spoke with Palmiero about her dreams, motivations and the joy of being your own boss.

What was it about this particular Carvel that enchanted you so much you wanted to own it?

I worked at this particular Carvel while in college. I enjoyed the friendly atmosphere, the customers, and the creative aspect of decorating custom cakes. I was inspired to take over the business by my father, who is self-employed and who has always encouraged me to take risks and to keep reaching outside of my comfort zone within my professional life. Becoming a franchisee was a risk, but the rewards had the potential to be plentiful if I was willing to put in the time and the work. I have never enjoyed a workday more than I enjoy each day here.
Kirsten Palmiero and her father, Walter Rakow
 Was it always your goal to own a Carvel?
I had always dreamed of owning this particular shoppe since I worked here in college back in 1995. I was not looking to open a new store or interested in any other franchise.
What attracted you to the franchise environment?
The idea of controlling my professional success (both financial and creative goals) was very appealing to me.  A chance to grow a business by infusing it with hard work and creativity seemed like a recipe for a career I would love.
What attracted you to advertising and why did you leave it? Do you feel the skills you acquired will help you in your store?
I have never enjoyed a workday more than I enjoy each day here.

My career began in advertising as I was a Fine Arts and Computer Graphics major in college. Advertising was a natural and very creative career choice.  During my 16 years as an Art Director I learned a significant amount about product branding, client service and project management.  Project management was beneficial as a franchise owner since it can translate to any business endeavor and the being in the client service industry previously gave me valuable insights into building customer relationships.

I loved my career in advertising, but I wanted more control over my financial success and my schedule. As a mother of two young children, I knew that I would be able to be there for important milestones as a shoppe owner if I trained and scheduled people correctly. Having a dedicated and talented staff is key for being able to take time away to reboot and spend time with my family.
What challenges do you face as a franchisee?
The biggest challenge I face is being able to spend time away from the shoppe with confidence that all is going smoothly while I am gone. Anyone who has a family at home needs to be able to cultivate a staff that can run the store at high standards while you take time to recharge. Since this is an ice-cream shop, we have many high school and college kids looking for seasonal work or on a very limited schedule. I always try to have two employees on staff who are very responsible and driven to manage the store. This is challenging as younger employees move on more frequently as they go away to school or seek out jobs in their field of study. Being a franchise owner demands a lot of time and is a career that needs the proper support from a good staff and support on the home front. I am lucky to have both right now.
What are your future plans?
I plan to continue to grow this business. Very simply put, I want to keep doing what I am doing and make even more people happy.  I see areas of growth in continuing to create beautiful custom cakes. People want what they see online and on pinterest. We love when people bring in inspirational pictures of cakes they have seen and ask can we do something like this out of ice cream. We always love to try new things!
What does National Boss Day mean to you?
It makes me appreciate having the ability to be my own boss, especially after entering the franchising world from another industry.
Palmiero, her father and staff.
Palmiero, her father and staff.