Catersource is part of the Informa Connect Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

What Comfort Zone?

I have had a lot of conversations with clients this past month. Both new and existing clients. It is so exciting to see caterers, design companies and venue operators thinking about new strategies, being busy again and getting back to business.

What has been most interesting is how everyone is mixing it up and trying different things. They may have a new, profitable line of business they created in 2020 they want to continue and expand on. They may have recently hired employees they are excited to train and onboard. They may be having more frequent conversations with their favorite clients and industry partners. They are all thinking about the positive path ahead.

The pandemic forced my clients to seek new opportunities and work in ways they never would have imagined before. 2020 gave them the time to do this. Although way beyond their pre-pandemic comfort zone, they pushed themselves to get where they are today. With hard work, focus and dedication, they survived. Now they have streamlined their businesses to run smarter and be more profitable in the future. Hopefully, it will be more enjoyable as well.

See Jennifer Perna this July at The Special Event + Catersource Conference & Tradeshow in Miami. Learn More.

My business is four years old this month. I cannot believe it. It was such a whirlwind of activity and growth my first three years. I traveled coast-to-coast and developed amazing relationships as I continued to expand my client base. I loved every minute of it. January and February 2020 were insanely busy, pacing to be the best year of my business yet. Then March hit.

It was a few unsettling months wondering what was going to happen and if anyone would be interested in investing in a consultant. As the pandemic continued to worsen, I tried to be optimistic but realized I could not rely on my clients to keep me busy in 2020. It wasn’t even about money. I needed something else to keep me active, relevant and engaged.

In May, 2020, I started to have more frequent conversations with a fellow consultant and friend, Francisco Christian of Taylored Hospitality Solutions. It was great talking to someone like me. We talked about what was needed in the industry and who was asking for help. We started having weekly strategy calls to determine how we could help. We explored new, effective mediums for reaching out to the industry. 

Since this time, we have created an affordable consulting partnership called Rebound with Frank & Jen (, produced over a dozen free webinars for the International Caterers Association, participated in a podcast for Catersource, developed several additional industry-related zoom workshops and most recently, published an educational, written book series called Catering Chronicles ( All this while maintaining our own businesses and client relationships.

I pushed myself out of my comfort zone. I had to try something new to keep myself busy and engaged. It was also great working in tandem with someone I respected and could rely on. I always challenge my clients to think differently, so I had to do the same. I would have never thought at this time last year, I would be calling myself a published author ready to launch our second book next week.


Lead photo courtesy Photo courtesy Elgin Woodman

Jennifer Perna

Jennifer Perna

Owner, Fulton Market Consulting, Chicago, IL
Jennifer Perna started Fulton Market Consulting in May 2017 after developing an event experience and sales management experience portfolio for over 25 years in the downtown Chicago catering and special events industry. Jennifer presently works with owners, managers and all team players at hospitality-related companies on increasing sales and creating business development strategies, streamlining processes for operations and event production and developing best practices for human resources and administrative management. This is especially imperative as we continue to manage a diverse and young talented pool of employees today. Jennifer brings a dynamic, approachable and relatable communication style to all levels and members...