In the span of three months, Rachel Booth made two life-changing decisions. The first: She decided to go back to school at the U of M to finish the undergraduate degree she’d started 13 years before. The second: She and a business partner signed the lease for a restaurant space and set about opening a crepe and ice cream shop.
“People always say shoulda, coulda, woulda. I told myself to jump on these opportunities now, then next year the conversation would be different,” says Booth, who is now a handful of credits away from finishing her degree through the Multidisciplinary Studies (MdS) program. “I’m really glad I did that, even though it has been a lot to take on all at once.”
Finishing What She Started
Booth’s first major decision, to return to school, came at a time when she had reached a crossroads in her professional life. She’d dropped out of college in
Oregon and had moved to the Twin Cities with her partner, who had been offered a job in Minneapolis. In her new Midwest home, Booth found work in the food industry. Over the span of four years, she got really good at managing other people’s restaurants, but she felt that this trajectory was pulling her away from charting a path of her own. She regretted not finishing her degree, and decided to start there.
“I wanted to transfer the credits I’d already earned and finish my degree as fast as possible,” Booth says. “My previous credits were in linguistics and anthropology, but I was getting good experience in management and business, and I wanted to build that into my major, too.”
Booth found the perfect fit in the MdS program, with its individualized degrees. She was able to transfer her credits and enroll in applied and technical coursework that allowed her to expand her interest in business. Booth’s advisor helped her plot a road map for each semester, recommending specific courses along the way. Says Booth, “Just having an advisor to talk to, someone to keep me on track, was mind-boggling and amazing for me. I can’t believe that every school doesn’t have that. It’s so effective!”
She adds, “I’m extremely grateful for a program like MdS, to be very honest. I didn’t know something like this existed, and it’s so perfect.”
Building a Business
At the same time that Booth was returning to school to finish her degree, she was busy setting the foundation for Crepe & Spoon. The new eatery is located in Northeast Minneapolis, right across the street from a popular new restaurant called Hai Hai. Based on the popularity of Hai Hai alone, Booth and her business partner knew that their shop would do all right.
Having kicked off an ice cream-making endeavor at the previous restaurant she’d helped to open, Booth had ice cream on the brain. She knew that Northeast Minneapolis was full of people who would support a nondairy, vegan ice cream product, and the market was missing this super-specialized niche. So Booth filled it, creating 10 new nondairy, plant-based ice cream flavors for customers to try (and two traditional dairy ice creams, as well). Her business partner was in charge of inventing delicious vegetarian recipes for the crepes. Together, they advanced step-by-step to prepare Crepe & Spoon for its grand opening in November, five months after they’d signed the lease.
“Our business model was really solid. Every step was calculated on our end,” she says. “We opened in November, and we had a line out the door for our soft open.”
“I think starting something and completing it is really important, no matter how long that gap may be. Learning is much different when you’re an adult. So going back to finish my degree, that feels great. It’s all working out much better than I could’ve asked for.”
Today her business is still going strong. People come in for a light snack or dessert, and Booth gets to work for the business she dreamed up herself.
“Things touched me in a way that I hadn’t quite expected,” Booth says. “You work it out on paper and then when you actually see it in-person, it’s an incredible feeling.”
Booth is on track to graduate with her undergraduate degree within the year. She’s staggering her classes in the MdS program so that she’ll be able to manage Crepe & Spoon while exploring graduate school options. (She plans to get her MBA next.) At the same time, Booth is now spearheading a second business to distribute her nondairy ice creams to local grocery stores and other purveyors. If you ask Booth, she’ll say that it’s all a matter of figuring out what you want and making the jump to go after it.
“I think starting something and completing it is really important, no matter how long that gap may be,” Booth says. “Learning is much different when you’re an adult. So going back to finish my degree, that feels great. It’s all working out much better than I could’ve asked for.”
Rachel Booth is a recipient of the Ingrid Lenz Harrison Scholarship.