Redmond Harris has always had a passion for cooking. Twenty years ago, he first started trying to make his dreams of being an entrepreneur come true by cooking barbeque locally in St. Louis and selling his delicious creations out of the back of a trailer. He experienced some success with this business, and started to become well known locally in the St. Louis area for his good natured personality, and more importantly, his amazing barbeque.
Unfortunately, Red fell on hard times. He was incarcerated in 2013 after he was found guilty for involuntary manslaughter. After serving 3 years, he was finally released in August of 2016. It was then that he knew he had to make some serious changes to improve his life and the lives of his three children. Red came to Justine PETERSEN just four months later, in October of 2016, to begin the process of securing a loan to start his own restaurant and store front in Ferguson, Missouri. He participated in the Aspire Entrepreneurship Initiative, designed to assist parents of young children who are re-entering society after incarceration and are interested in starting, formalizing, or growing a small business. The program is designed to help transitioning parents to achieve greater economic security, move out of poverty, and strengthen their family.
Red was in the first Aspire cohort that JP hosted. He completed 14 weeks of classes in which he learned and applied business skills, had an opportunity to interview other relatable entrepreneurs, and presented his own business plan for constructive criticism from the other entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs. After working closely with JP’s credit building and small business loan counselors, Red started working on his restaurant, preparing everything he would need to be a successful small business owner.
Justine PETERSEN helped Red find the building that he could rent and which would eventually become the store front for his restaurant business. Additionally, JP helped him to pay off his collections on his credit report that were holding him back from pursuing his dreams. Once he had rebuilt his credit, Red secured a micro loan from Justine PETERSEN. He used this loan as working capital to start his restaurant. With the business loan Red completely rehabbed the building Justine PETERSEN helped him find, and turned it into a gorgeous space for the community to gather in and enjoy his food. He also purchased necessary restaurant equipment such as coolers, POS systems, as well as supplies like meat, sauce, and other culinary items. Red also used this loan to help finance his payroll, which has allowed him to employ an additional 15 employees. JP not only helped to make a difference in the lives of Red and his family, but the community and his employees.
Finally, in November of 2017, Red’s dreams of small business ownership became a reality and Red’s BBQ had their opening day. A line of people gathered and excitement filled the air as the doors opened and Red and his crew started serving up his scrumptious creations. A big smile was on his face as Red greeted each patron and happily saw how his hard work was going to pay off and make a difference in the community he loved. Justine PETERSEN saw Red through every step of the process, and multiple staff members were there on his opening day to congratulate him and continue to encourage and support him. With the help of the Aspire program, and a micro loan from JP, Red finally was able to make his dreams come true after 20 long years of trying to get there.