Check her out: Shelley Fasulko of Brewnuts

What exactly is your business?
Brewnuts is Cleveland’s one and only donut bar. We combine the hospitality of the corner donut shop with the comfort of your favorite watering hole.

How did you come up with your business idea?
It was the culmination of several factors for my husband and I: the food renaissance happening in Cleveland met with the brewery boom our City was experiencing colliding with a sense of being disenchanted with our corporate gigs. Brewnuts started out as a hobby business that was meant to be a fun, creative outlet that we nurtured in to our full time profession.

How did you find out about Aviatra?
A friend who had gone through the program as a finalist recommended it to me.

What is your inspiration?
The pursuit of creativity inspires me. I love dreaming up new creations and themed days at the shop that surprise and delight people. Seeing the joy people derive from something simple – like a well conceived treat – brings me a lot of joy.

What has been your biggest accomplishment with your business so far?
I’m most proud of our innovation and toughness. Coming up with an original idea and not letting any obstacle or fear – no matter how big or small – keep you from taking the next step is not a comfortable space to operate in day in and day out. I’m proud that we always step up to bat and give our best version of who we are today.

What was the most valuable thing you gained from your experience with Aviatra?
One of the guest speakers said something that has become a personal mantra for me and how I think about business (and how I explain it to others who ask for advice): “as an entrepreneur you need to be both the jockey and the horse.” I remember how this analogy connected the dots for me – you have to be willing and able to not only steer the business and make executive decisions but also be that work horse who gets it done. If that means stepping in the kitchen to work a 12 hour baking shift or running around to five different meetings to work on partnerships with other businesses, you have to be nimble and able to toggle between those demands.

What was the biggest challenge you faced when starting your business?
The biggest challenge was managing the sheer volume of challenges that were coming. Whether it was dealing with unresponsive contractors not delivering on their work, working with a landlord you struggled to see eye to eye with, navigating the archaic maze that was the City permitting process… you really just suit up and commit to learning something new everyday and realize you are going to be frustrated on a daily basis. It’s an uncomfortable process of immense learning, growing and realizing you need to advocate for yourself and your business in every way because no one else is going to do that work.

Where do you hope to be in 5 years?
Turning my attention to writing and speaking as a major component of my career. I’d like to use the experience of building the business and Brewnuts brand as a launch pad to help others pursue their own business dreams. I think honesty and approachability are needed in droves in entrepreneurship and it is often portrayed as a perfectly curated Instagram feed. I want to change that and put a more realistic and every woman spin on the information that exists in the entrepreneurial community.

Any advice for future Aviatras?
You have to be willing to be bad at something before you can be mediocre at it, good at it and eventually great at it. I see so many people afraid to put their idea or their first version of their business/creation out there, and it’s understandable to be anxious and fearful, but you can’t get anywhere without putting it out there. Be proud of those first versions because they are the best you can do at that point in time and being brave enough to put it out there is the biggest step.