How the Bava Brothers Got Their Groove
Steve and Eric Bava remember one of their family’s earliest Christmas traditions: Making salumi in their grandfather’s Chicago basement with a recipe he brought with him from Calabria in 1921.
Five years ago, the brothers decided to celebrate the traditions and culture of the Southern Italian region their family came from with what they called a “passion project,” producing that salumi and offering it to the marketplace.
They quickly followed up with a second product, a salumi-based spread, and found a packer who could produce both for them.
“Still,” Steve said, “we were never in the food business. We’re not manufacturers or producers. We were having fun, but we were sort of lost on an island.”
Earlier this year, a childhood friend put the brothers in touch with Julie Pryor, FMI Director of Emerging Brands, who told them about the FMI Emerge community, designed to provide entrepreneurs like themselves with information and, most importantly in their case, mentors.
After a phone call with Pryor and Ed Hoffman, one of the 40+ FMI Emerge mentors, Steve said, “I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, this is the break we need.’”
That first call led them quickly to a lead on a fulfillment partner.
“This is somebody whose business is centered around small producers,” he said. “He’s quoted us a price and his warehouse is in the perfect spot. It’s almost too good to be true.”
The brothers got help creating a business plan and, Steve said, “I’ve a got a call with somebody this afternoon about inventory and supply management.”
With the fulfillment partner in place, the Bava Brothers will soon launch a third product and their long-awaited e-commerce platform. That should be followed by a stronger retail presence and additional fresh Italian products rooted in the Calabrese culture of Southern Italy.
“Life suddenly seems simpler,” Steve said, “a little less overwhelming, to get to that next big step in our business.” Steve goes on to share, “There are so many connections we’ve been able to make in the FMI Emerge Community. I feel like, one, we’re part of a community and, two, we get access to the expertise we need in a very short amount of time.”
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