Meet Benjamin & Carol Schuster, from Got Paella
We had the chance to get to know who is behind GOT PAELLA and a little about how it all started. The inspiring story of how they started and the opticals they overcame.
Follow @danvillesocial on social media to see more about this delicious product!
How did it all start?
In 2015 my husband and I started as a catering business which was very successful in Los Angeles L.A. Paella Catering and expanded to Santa Barbara SB Paella Catering. We launched a food truck Got Paella but only used it for wineries and festivals. During the closures, we saw an opportunity to sell individual meals via our Got Paella Food truck which proved to be a win, selling over 3k meals in 45 days. We had been working on a product for the future but as we were forced to shut down, we decided to utilize direct feedback from our clients and ultimately came up with a skillet ready frozen meal, which not only tastes delicious but by having been frozen, it allows for the consumer to complete the cooking process within 10 minutes and the end result is a delicious paella. The frozen food market is changing to reflect new food trends and is the way of the future due to very little waste and the demand for quick meals that taste homemade.
What inspired you to start your own business?
When I was pregnant with our first, I knew I wanted to be a full-time mom, so I left my career and focused on parenting. Benjamin was passionate about making paella and always dreamed of making it into a business and what started out as a side fun gig, turned into a successful catering business. Having 25+ yrs in sales and management, I took over the sales aspect and help grow our company. Our product Got Paella is our pandemic pivot but it is now the new direction of our company. The pandemic taught is that a service can quickly end but a product can continue on. We want to bring paella to every home in America.
What is your background and how did you develop the skills to start your business?
My parents migrated to the US in the early ’70s from Central America. They worked very hard and always emphasized how important it was to be a successful woman and to have a strong work ethic. I worked very hard in Sales Management for several stores and became the manager of the top Nordstrom, MAC Cosmetics location. I sent myself back to school and graduated from CalState Fullerton in Communications with a minor in Public Admin. I was a regional sales manager for salons and ended my sales career working for a reputable pharmaceutical company selling Cardiovascular medicine. Ben was raised in Spain since he was 1 month old due to his father playing and coaching bg soccer teams in Spain. He learned to make paellas in Spain at a very young age and was the designated paella chef of the home. He was sent to the U.S.A for college where he graduated with a BA in Finance from the University of Missouri. He finished his career working as a Global Financial Analyst for a top Law firm in Los Angeles. Both our experiences and passion to succeed for our family have pushed us beyond the skills we learned in corporate America to learn every aspect of the Grocery Business. Not without challenges but failing is not an option.
What’s the one thing your business is known for, over your competitors?
Aside from winning several Paella competitions, we are the first and only manufacturers of a frozen skillet-ready Paella. We offer a Vegan option as well. When we wanted to launch our Vegan we were told it is not paella, but we know that there is a need for variety in Vegan dishes when it comes to groceries. Not to mention this is the best Vegan paella ever!
Which small businesses are you inspired by?
We are inspired by family-owned businesses. When you hear the power of unity and trust when running a business with your family or partner and what it took to succeed, it makes you feel like you can win if you work together. Ben and I are very different. He is the Chef and artist and I am the sales and marketing part of our business. We stay in our own lanes and allow each other to take the lead in what we are experienced in. Small Family businesses that succeed always recognize the strength each person brings to the business and fosters its’ individual efforts and creativity.
What is your favorite part about living/working in Danville (or your business city)?
We relocated to Santa Barbara at the beginning o the pandemic to focus on the Santa Barbara location and for our kids to go to a small local school. Being part of the central coast community has allowed us the opportunity to launch our product, meet amazing supportive small business owners and be able to introduce our product to an amazing store like Draeger’s Blackhawk. They were one of the firsts to give us a shot and we are so excited to finally have their customers and the community of Danville taste our Paellas.
Tell us the most interesting and fun tidbit about your business (e.g., your company has a mascot or office pet, a fun outing your company held, the unorthodox way your leadership team brainstorms, the unusual ways your team communicates, etc.)
Well, we are a husband and wife team, parents of 2 girls, 3 and 7 yrs of age. We work from home mainly when Ben is not in the commercial kitchen. We juggle conversations about work and kids and family all in one thought. It is a madhouse and we are definitely a fun circus. Our kids are a part of everything we do. When we need a break we take an RV up the coast and camp with our kids. A lot of brainstorming happens when we are on the road as a family.