Welcome to Business Innovators Magazine…Please introduce yourself and a brief thumbnail sketch of your background.
KP: My name is Kim Pezza, and I live in SW Florida. As an author and artist, my work focuses on food and farming, specifically the small homestead, urban farm or backyard farm or garden. Before “reinventing” myself after a barn accident, I ran a small homestead as well, raising chickens, ducks, quail, pigs and goats, as well as mostly heirloom type vegetables and herbs, which is where my background stems from. I did workshops, classes and inner city farm visits with baby and small farm animals.
After my injury, I was unable to do all of the same work, so I began writing books on Backyard Farming for Hatherleigh Press and developing new projects. There are 11 books in the series, to date. I also have done work both in front of the camera and with voice over, again in the food/farm and garden. From there I have worked to develop and grow my work and my brands.
BI: What would you say is the area in business that you are most passionate about and why?
KP: I am most passionate about food, small farming, and food/agricultural history. I love the hands on with producing at least some of my food, as well as the control as to what goes into it and how it is preserved. I enjoy taking the fresh ingredients and turning it into a new recipe or figuring out a 150-year-old recipe for today’s use.
For the history part, I collect vintage and antique kitchen tools and gadgets and enjoy putting those back into use. With food, it so much fun to find out the origins of a food or dish, and for agriculture history itself, the agricultural history of an area is part of the overall history of an area, and we are losing that part of our history, along with much of the livestock, fruit and vegetable varieties that once existed. I want to help keep that in front of people.
BI: How are you different than your competitors?
KP: I think I am different than my competitors because of my approach. I think that I have a greater interest in the history of my field than many. All of my books touch some, even if only for a few pages, on the history of that particular topic. And I am working to bring that facet into the shows that I am working on as well. When you know the history of something, I think it is appreciated much more.
BI: Please tell me about any recent business accomplishments that you are most proud of and why?
KP: Of course, I am proud of the Backyard Farming book series. However, I have also been mentioned in articles in a few Chickens Magazine issues, an article that was in a blog online on Forbes, various radio and podcast interviews, and the sustainable living show episode that I did in the Florida Keys, which I hope to continue. I am also proud of how I have been able to get “The New Century Homesteader” brand out in the public eye, and look forward to doing the same with “Throwback Kitchen”!
BI: What Leadership qualities in Leaders do you most admire and why?
KP: I like leaders who “know their stuff”, but are not afraid to at least listen to the suggestions of colleagues. Doesn’t mean that you have to act on it, but be open to listening. And if you find your idea was wrong, and theirs was the correct direction to take, don’t be afraid to say you were wrong. I also like leaders who don’t come across as “I’m better than you”. You don’t have to be your employee’s friend, but a little respect goes a long way. Finally, I like leaders who are not afraid to compliment people when they deserve it, and when they don’t have the decency to take the person aside and discipline/discuss discretely, not in front of others.
BI: What has been a key element of your success?
KP: I would say that a key element of my success is that I haven’t given up. After I had my barn accident, I reinvented myself to allow me to stay in the same field, but taking it in a little different way. I also ran into other road blocks, but I try to duck around them and figure out how to keep moving, instead of quitting. It hasn’t been easy, and I have learned how to work when even the proverbial “shoestring” doesn’t exist! And although my work has had to change quite a bit since I first started my own little homestead, I am thrilled that I have been able to continue sharing my knowledge in other ways with people.
BI: What are some of the business projects that you are currently working on that you are excited about and why?
KP: New projects include working on developing two shows for my “Throwback Kitchen” brand, as well as looking at licensing both “The New Century Homesteader” and “Throwback Kitchen”. I am working on a series of cookbooks books under “The New Century Homesteader ” brand and “Throwback Kitchen”. Finally, I am working on a southern based, wine history book (which has already been purchased by a publisher), and in early stages of developing a documentary to go along with it (for submission to PBS).
BI: What are 1 or 2 things you would like to say to a prospective client who stumbles across this interview?
KP: To those perspective clients who may be reading this, I believe in what I do, and I have worked hard, through many obstacles to get this far. I thoroughly enjoy my work and am always looking at new projects to work on.
BI: What advice would you give someone who finds that they need to reinvent themselves, such as you did, after an unexpected, physical life-changing situation?