For Vitina Feo, her razor-sharp focus on her company can be traced back to one thing: a bike.
Feo is the CEO of Papa Vince, a small business based out of Gulf Shores, Alabama, that sells extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) harvested and produced on her family’s farm in Sicily.
“My Dad himself was an entrepreneur,” Feo explained. “He instilled in me much of what has made Papa Vince possible today.”
Papa Vince was born from the desire to help people eat healthier and it has evolved a lot over the years. Feo began selling the product at food festivals, and now it can be found prominently placed on Amazon due to its high customer ratings.
When asked about the most important lesson she’s learned about running a small business, Feo points to her first bicycle.
“I still remember vividly the day my Dad brought home my first bike. My emotions went from super excited to total deflation,” Feo said. “The bike he bought was bigger and taller than me. All I could think was, ‘Doesn’t he know that I am small?’”
Feo recalled how her father explained that she must take good care of this bike because he wouldn’t buy her another one. Additionally, he told her not to fear it, because she would be riding it with no problems in a matter of time. He encouraged her to get help from her brother and some stairs to give her a lift.
“Without thinking twice, I took his advice. In about three hours, my little brother and I were riding that tall bike like pros, but not without getting plenty of bruises,” Feo said.
How does this relate to her work? Feo said the challenges that come with running a small business can be taken on just like the challenge of getting on that bike.
“When asked by my family to bring their precious EVOO into the USA, I was baffled, clueless, and afraid of failing them. I did not have the qualifications to do this,” Feo said. “Then, I remembered the tall bike. I remembered my Dad’s words. I remembered how much fun I had riding that big tall bike. And I thought, who else was going to preserve our family tradition?”
Feo launched the business along with her husband Stefano and has grown it from there.
Don’t let the size of the bike intimidate you. Believe me, the ride is fantastic, and it belongs to anyone who refuses to be afraid of bruises.
“I am just as common as can be. All I have is an undeterred commitment to my family and the preservation of the real extra virgin olive oil,” Feo said. “My advice: Don’t let the size of the bike intimidate you. Believe me, the ride is fantastic, and it belongs to anyone who refuses to be afraid of bruises.”
That fearlessness is just one of the elements that has helped with Feo’s success. And it began with the bike.
“You know what’s funny? That tall bike led me right into my destiny – the joy of adding health and delight to many when sitting around the table.”