The Wicked Sister

After receiving critical support to help it reach new customers, Sault Ste. Marie’s The Wicked Sister is proud to remain a people-first company.

Running a small business takes a lot more effort than just what meets the eye. Behind the scenes, there is a dedicated and driven team that works as one to build a successful company. While hard work plays a major part in the overall outcome of a business, company cohesiveness and innovative thinking is something that can make or break small businesses in today's world. Owner of The Wicked Sister, Cathy Howell, is aware of how to use these different business- related aspects to help her grow and maintain the name of The Wicked Sister.

Cathy’s small business is a “full-service restaurant and catering company that is expanding into food production and co-packaging.” Located in Sault Ste. Marie, where Cathy is originally from, Cathy states that she “loves the Soo and I am happy to be a part of the community, so it was a no brainer.” When starting her business, Cathy reached out to the Small Business Development Center – as a key partner of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation – to give The Wicked Sister an edge when it came to marketing and interacting effectively with the media. Cathy notes that “the SBDC operated the stop gaps and were especially helpful in digital marketing and social media.” With a location that Cathy loves and resources to support her business growth, The Wicked Sister has a great support system that is helping them achieve their goals.

With goals in place, Cathy saw the opportunity for substantial growth. Cathy recognizes that diversifying what they offer can help them expand and put The Wicked Sister name out there. Cathy explains that The Wicked Sister “will focus a lot more on off premises dining including meal kits whether it’s subscription based or more of a grab and go type of opportunity.” Along with that, Cathy is brainstorming ideas regarding digital and online sales that will help her business “create more of a cohesive brand.” So far, The Wicked Sister can attribute their growth to the individuals working for the company itself. “I definitely think it is the hard work of myself and my staff. It definitely comes down to great staff and work culture.”

Image courtesy of The Wicked Sister

Not only does culture play a role in daily activities, but The Wicked Sister has cultivated a solid identity in the community that adds to what their small business has to offer Michigan. When asked how critical culture was to The Wicked Sister, Cathy states that “culture is 100% important. We always want customers to feel like they are valued. More importantly is that my staff is valued and heard. I want to make sure everyone has what they need and are happy here. If I have people that love their jobs, it does not matter if it is someone that is working in the back or a bartender, it helps create this giant lift in our business and helps bring our community together. So, culture is something that we definitely take very seriously.”

Cathy is feeling overwhelmed with positive emotions after the announcement that The Wicked Sister was selected as a 2021 Michigan 50 Company to Watch. “It is definitely a huge honor because there are thousands of wonderful small businesses that put their heart and soul into everything they do, just like me, so to be recognized out of that large group of people, it is a great accomplishment and I think it is important for my employees to see the impact they are making on others.” Overall, Cathy is grateful for this experience and promises to always be a people first company, no matter what the future has in store for The Wicked Sister.