In order to highlight the amazing local businesses in Florida’s 47th District, the Anna For Florida campaign has launched “47 Means Business,” an ongoing blog series to spotlight local business owners in Lake Eola, Downtown Orlando, Winter Park, and throughout the district.

Our blog digs deeper into local businesses by collaborating with business owners to showcase their success and to identify what the legislature can do to support them. Together, these profiles come together to create a larger picture of the amazing diversity and ingenuity of local business owners that Anna hopes to serve and represent in the Florida House.

Team Anna: How did you become a successful businesswoman?

Chelsie Savage: I received my undergrad in Psychology & Communications from UCF with a minor in Mathematics and I did continuing education to become certified as both a Holistic Nutritionist as well as a Clinical Nutritionist. I was on a path from doing a lot of everything, but headed nowhere specific because no venture I took on lit me up the way I knew I wanted from a career. I am a learner first & foremost that loved the challenges of a big, busy multi-dimensional job, but at the same time I didn’t like the constructs of a 9-5 work schedule and I struggled to find something that really lit me up. I dabbled in so many seemingly unconnected fields – everything from human resources and training & development to running my own nutritional consulting business and teaching yoga.

I was always building a web & connections within the community, but I never really knew what it was for until I was ready to start my own business. The idea of starting a restaurant started as a joke when clients and friends would ask me endlessly “will you just open a restaurant so I can eat your food everyday,” but the more we talked about it, the more it became a reality and the idea began to set in that this might be the perfect way to combine my different strengths and talents in a non-conventional work setting. I could thrive while also fulfilling my entrepreneurial spirit and working to elevate a cause I was passionate about. As the restaurant began to transpire, all the education, training & networking I had done in the past really aided in the success of the restaurant. All the steps before that brought me to this place, and it began to make sense.

TA: What inspired you to start your small business?

CS: There were a lot of things that got me excited about the health & wellness and culinary communities when I visited other more progressive cities that I felt Orlando was missing. I contemplated moving to be a part of “where the action was” but ultimately decided the bigger way to really make an impact was not by going to join a movement that was already in process somewhere else, but to be a part of STARTING a movement right here in the city I know & love.

TA: What is the most exciting part about owning and operating a small businesses?

CS: I love that what we’re doing is really changing people’s lives. The WHY behind the restaurant lights me up – to change the way Orlando think about healthy food – and the WHAT looks a whole heck of a lot like running a restaurant. I also love that I get to be a teacher & leader for the staff and I get the opportunity to coach & develop a staff as they grow. I get the opportunity to not just provide “another job” but to teach everything from basic skills of communication & integrity that will help elevate any person in any facet of their lives, as well as develop upper level leadership skills for aspiring entrepreneurs. Hard work can be so fulfilling and way too often that can be missed when an environment in not cultured where personal development is not only encouraged, but supported & taught.

TA: Describe a perfect day at work.

CS: A perfect day at work is where the guests are happy & the staff is happy. The guests are enjoying their healthy food which is beautifully prepared & timely delivered and their delighted by the creative options on both the regular & special menu. The staff feels valued, supported, challenged and appreciated for the work they do – they are confident in their roles and taking personal responsibility for the business. My leaders are able to exercise their creative gifts & come to me for coaching and feedback and feel supported to make decisions about the business because them & I have worked so hard to build a trusting and in sync relationship. The team and myself are balanced & fulfilled by the work that we do.

TA: Are there any current policy issues impacting your business? If so, how?

CS: The two things that come to mind are health care and liquor laws.

It’s not new news that healthcare is expensive and inaccessible. As a small business, we would love to be able to offer health care to create more stability and benefits for our employees. The way things are set up, this is not a financially feasible option. Even with rates where they are, we would be able to consider it if it was lawful to make benefits eligible to some employees, not others – specifically speaking to our salaried managers. Right now, with the all or none policy, if we can’t afford to do it for all of our full-time employees, we can’t do it at all. However, we would like to be able to at least offer it to our longtime employees who have vested a long-term commitment to the company.
The second policy issue concerns liquor – the laws behind obtaining a liquor license make it incredibly inaccessible for any small business to hold one without having an overwhelming amount of seats. It would be fantastic if a small restaurant like ours had the ability to gain access to a liquor license as it would help our traffic to be able to carry a small amount of liquor  because, let’s face it, sometimes you just want a martini instead of a beer. I know legislation was recently passed making this allowed within certain parameters around Downtown Orlando, but it would be great to get a law passed making it accessible for all small businesses. My business is literally across the street from where the line was drawn (meaning we’re on the northeast corner of the intersection and the line was drawn at the southwest corner of the intersection), and no consideration is even being made to allow me to qualify for this extension.

TA: What could the legislature do better to help you thrive?

CS: On the local level – the regulation of building permits & inspections in the City of Orlando is incredibly ineffective for small business. A permit for a new business routinely sits on someone’s desk for months on end costing the business owner tens of thousands of dollars in waiting time. On top of that, the left hand & the right hand hardly ever know what each other are doing in the City and it’s very common for the right hand to give you the green light all the way through something until it’s passed to the left hand who tells you it’s wrong and you have to go back to the very beginning and start over – which again – is a miscommunication within the system which the business owners pay the cost of the City’s miscommunications. It would be excellent to have some exceptions for the City from the legislatures which would hold them accountable for creating effective systems so that the small business owners & the city could work together vs. against each other to elevate the community.

What’s next for The Sanctum?

CS: What’s next? Another restaurant, baby! What we have built at The Sanctum has brought us so much joy. We have an amazing team that is bursting at the seams of eligible & ready leaders ready to take on the next challenge. We will be opening up a sister restaurant, Proper & Wild, this fall in the heart of downtown Winter Park on Morse Ave. right off of Park Ave. Our hearts are full and we couldn’t be more excited to take on this next challenge. Oh, and we also have our first baby boy on the way – due October 2nd – which we are simply over the moon, excited in anticipation over.