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Emmy Rener grew up making cheeseboards for family parties. Now, she charges up to US$25,000 a board to her customers. Photo: Instagram/@emmyrener

TikTok made her charcuterie boards famous – now student has fans in Jessica Alba, Sofia Vergara and delivers to celebrities on the regular

  • Emmy Rener was at high school when she turned her passion for charcuterie into a business, and now has a star following including Jessica Alba and Sofia Vergara
  • The 20-year-old charges clients up to US$25,000 for her signature spreads, which consist of high-quality products such as cheeses from artisan creameries

Emmy Rener said she can pinpoint the moment she believed her charcuterie passion could become a fully fledged career.

The 20-year-old University of Southern California student grew up making cheeseboards for family parties. But it wasn’t until March 2020 when a friend’s father offered to pay to fly her to Miami, in Florida on the opposite side of the United States, to help cater his 60th birthday party that she began to see her childhood hobby as a business.

Arriving at the venue, Rener – then a high-school student – said she remembered meeting a private chef who’d also been flown into town to supply food. When she tried to ask him about the use of a nearby table, she said he told her: “Oh yeah, don’t touch that. The charcuterie artist is coming in to do a display there.”

Emmy Rener founded Sophisticated Spreads before going to university.

Rener grew up making cheeseboards for family parties. Photo: Instagram/@emmyrener

When he saw her begin to assemble a spread, Rener said, he promptly made his way over to apologise. And not only that – he said she should consider starting a business. “It was such serendipitous timing,” Rener said. “He planted that seed in my head.”

Fast-forward two years and Rener is the proud owner of Sophisticated Spreads, a charcuterie business she said brings in over US$100,000 per year.

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Her clients went from neighbours to celebrities like Sofia Vergara

While Rener said she now charges up to US$25,000 for charcuterie spreads, her business had humble origins. When the coronavirus pandemic began, Rener said, she put her education on hold to pursue Sophisticated Spreads by herself.

Over that first year, Rener employed a few students who she paid in cash to deliver boxes of charcuterie. Most of them are still involved with the business today, she added.

Emmy Rener founded Sophisticated Spreads before going to university. Photo: Instagram/@emmyrener

The next big leap was going from delivering to neighbours to targeting Los Angeles-based influencers with a large following. “It was all pro bono. I was just like, ‘Hey if you wanna support me and if you wanna post about it, great. If not, no worries,’” she said. “That took off like wildfire. I mean, people were so excited to post about it.”

Another way Rener got her name out there was through creating her @sophisticatedspreads TikTok page in December 2020. The page has over 240,000 followers as of August 16, and includes videos of Rener critiquing store-bought cheeseboards and sharing client stories – like the time she says she accidentally catered a wedding with 100 guests.

The page has helped Rener develop more interest in her business, she said. In a TikTok video from August 4, in which she explains how her business “blew up”, Rener said she got a shout-out from actress Jessica Alba, delivered charcuterie to actress Sofia Vergara, and now “casually” delivers to “celebrities on the regular”.

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How Rener stands out in a ‘saturated’ market

For Rener, carving out a niche in the world of charcuterie was a process.

“When you’re in the cheese world, you know that there’s competition,” she said. “It’s definitely a saturated market.”
Sophisticated Spreads brings in over US$100,000 per year. Photo: Instagram/@emmyrener

To distinguish herself, she focused on the quality of the products she was sourcing for her spreads. “A lot of the people who are making these boxes are getting literally everything from Costco or Sam’s Club or Trader Joe’s,” she said.

Instead, Rener contacted cheesemongers throughout California to discover more about the process and educate herself in the food group she said she considers the star of any charcuterie board.

Doing the outreach has meant all of the cheese used in a Sophisticated Spreads board comes from artisan creameries, whose owners she now knows well.

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“It’s all about sourcing and what you put on the board,” she said. “If you’re using the right ingredients, you’re 90 per cent of the way there.”

Rener says she still isn’t motivated by money

After taking a year to start Sophisticated Spreads, Rener said she enrolled in university as a business major minoring in public relations with an emphasis in entrepreneurship.

To get her degree and keep her business going simultaneously, she said she’s relied a lot on her father, who is her “sounding board for everything”.

Rener “casually” delivers to “celebrities on the regular”. Photo: Instagram/@emmyrener

“I’m the creative person. And he’s definitely the more organised person,” she said.

With Sophisticated Spreads in safe hands, Rener said there are a few things she’s considering to help take her career to the next level, including possibly opening up a storefront in the future and studying abroad in France to learn more about the art of charcuterie.

Whatever she decides, one thing is for sure – Rener won’t be motivated purely by money.

“I have never really been driven by finances for this business,” she said. “It’s always been more of a labour of love.”

Read the original article on Insider