Blue Sky Bank took this charcuterie business from side-hustle to brick-and-mortar storefront

Blue Sky Bank took this charcuterie business from side-hustle to brick-and-mortar storefront

When Shiraya Proffitt, owner of Charcuteray, made the leap to quit her job and focus on charcuterie services full-time, she thought her goal of opening a shop was a long-term one. Blue Sky Bank helped her build the cheese shop of her dreams.

Step into Charcuteray, and you’ll be transported from 12th and Lewis in Tulsa to a cheese shop in Spain. 

This is exactly the feeling owner Shiraya Proffitt wanted to curate since she opened the Charcuteray storefront in January 2022. 

“When the train comes through, it really feels like you're in a European cheese shop,” Shiraya says. “The windows rattle and it's very loud, and it's very funny, because the train is just right there, but we joke that those are our most European moments."

In the storefront, Charcuteray sells pre-made cheese boards, wine to pair with said cheese boards, and gifts any dinner party host would love. In the back kitchen, the Charcuteray staff stays busy with catering orders and workshops. 

The space feels so intentional and curated, it’s hard to believe Shiraya never really planned to open a business of her own. Charcuterie boards started as a hobby, then a side hustle.

“People had always told me, ‘You should do this for a living. You could sell these. People would buy them.’ And I just never saw a reason to, and it just was the perfect little creative project,” she explains.

Charcuteray takes off as a full-time business

Then, the pandemic hit, turning the world upside down. In Shiraya’s case, it caused her side hustle to take off. 

“When you get people together around the idea of beautiful food, and the idea that they can create beautiful food, it's just really empowering,” she explains. “It just creates this sense of community that I think people really needed during that time.”

Suddenly, she was working two full-time jobs — her work in public health during the day, and creating charcuterie boards for customers when she could. Shiraya decided to take the big leap and make Charcuteray her full-time job.

The business was going well, but Shiraya thought it would still take years before opening a brick-and-mortar. But the following year, an opportunity landed right in her lap. 

“We kind of had this serendipitous meeting with people who had been customers of mine for a couple of years,” she says, “and they are one of the owners of the building and so, they were like, ‘Hey, we have this perfect spot.’”

The search for the right bank begins

Shiraya and her husband started looking for a bank right away, knowing the space needed to be fully renovated for Charcuteray’s needs.

They knew they wanted to work with a smaller bank with a community focus. It felt like the best option to get the dedicated attention they needed.

“We were worried that a larger bank wouldn't give us that personal care,” Shiraya explains. “[Our store] is probably a smaller commercial project, but this was everything for us. We were putting our whole livelihood into this business, and so we wanted a bank that would recognize that and also respect that and be respectful of our time.”

Shiraya talked to the owners of the business next door, a clothing boutique named Willamina, and found out they were Blue Sky Bank customers. 

Shiraya and her husband met with Matthew Acee at Blue Sky Bank, and right away could tell this bank was different.

‘There was just a level of care and respect there’ with Blue Sky Bank

Shiraya says Matthew took the time to clearly explain her options, unlike other bankers she spoke with. 

This was crucial, because this was her first venture, and she wanted to fully understand where her money would go. 

“I have always been afraid of not understanding what was happening,” Shiraya explains. “We just wanted to make sure that we could work with somebody who would take a little bit more care of our project and also explain in easier terms to understand what was happening with our money and how the process was going to work.”

By the time it was time to sign paperwork for the loan, the holidays were just around the corner — an incredibly busy time for Charcuteray. Shiraya and her team were elbows-deep in cheese.

Matthew drove to the commercial kitchen space they were working in to save Shiraya the trip.

This small gesture was just another reminder to Shiraya that she’d gone with the right bank. 

“Blue Sky Bank really respected what we needed as small business owners, and it wasn't just all about the bank getting their money,” she says. “At the end of the day, it was about how they could support us and what we were trying to do, and it just made it feel really personal, and there was just a level of care and respect there.”

Blue Sky Bank financed Charcuteray’s commercial loan that made it possible to renovate the store. Specifically, Shiraya was able to connect the storefront to the back kitchen facility. It turned out to be “the perfect space.” 

Creating jobs and feeding people good cheese

Today, Shiraya and her husband still talk to Matthew regularly. Not only does he meet with them for their ongoing financial check-ins — he’s a regular at the store.

“Matthew, actually, he shops here, so I see him pretty often, and he has gotten gifts for friends and family here,” Shiraya says. “He's always been super available when we've had questions about things or even just simple things, touching in to check our loan balance or things like that.”

Charcuteray stays pretty busy, but in those rare slow days, Shiraya takes time to reflect on how far she and her business have come.

“It’s really surreal. We have a really great customer base and just community backing for the business,” she says. “Sometimes I'm sitting in here on a slow Sunday and just look around. I'm like, ‘Wow, this is my space. This is where I get to run a business.’" 

Shiraya has always loved feeding people and empowering them to appreciate fine foods. But one of her favorite things about running a business is building a team.

“That has been just really unexpected,” she explains. “Part of the process that I love is getting to have a team and train people to do this and teach people about cheese every day. To bring people onboard, I would say, more than anything, that is what I love the most.”

Looking forward, Shiraya is focused on doubling down on what’s working well for the business.

Charcuteray is planning to expand its catering offerings, including its wine packages. Shiraya also hopes to hold more events and workshops at the store “focused on educating people and teaching people, making this more accessible to people,” she says. 

You can learn more about Charcuteray's hours of operation, their offerings, catering services, and workshops on their website or Instagram.

If you’re looking for a bank that will give your small business the dedicated attention it needs, contact Blue Sky Bank.

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