We had the good fortune of connecting with Anne Manassero and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Anne, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
Without a doubt, our hard work. My husband and I work 7 days a week. Obviously, not all day on the weekends but at least a couple of hours every Saturday and Sunday on top of the full work week every week. When it’s your business, the owner is responsible for virtually every aspect of the success or failure of the company. If we don’t show up for a few days, like during this COVID 19 quarantine, our employees will inevitably do something unexpected. Broadly speaking, no employee no matter how great will love and nurture your business like you will. When the owner truly loves what they do and respects the customer, it shows. Our customers know that we stand behind everything we grow and sell 100%. We don’t offer anything for sale that we don’t also use and enjoy. Throughout the years we have built a level of trust that our customers can count on.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Our business is a true team effort! When I was 40 years old, I met and married the love of my life, my husband, Dan. He was already a successful 3rd-generation family farmer whose family had been farming in Orange County since 1922. Dan was farming on his own but like many men needed a little feminine input into his business. After we married I left my job as a senior account executive of a pharmaceutical company to work with my new husband. Dan has always had great ideas for his business. He just didn’t have anyone to help him implement them. Together we built our Irvine Market into a really cool one-of-a-kind hybrid business. We are a working produce farm that also serves as a special event venue, food, gift, & garden store. Our business continually changes over time. Most of the changes are because we are incorporating new ideas and products that we want to introduce. Other changes happen out of necessity because of changing government regulation and policy. The later changes are always the hardest mainly because they are just no fun and generally very expensive and ALWAYS burdensome. We continue to overcome business challenges because there’s no other choice. If you don’t overcome, you will succumb. We are willing to fight for our business and what we know our customers want. I don’t know any successful business people who would say it was easy. Challenges will always arise, we just have to rise with them. I know it sound trite but you really do learn more from challenges and complaints than from smooth waters and complements.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I would definitely take them to our market! It’s really cool and unique. I know it sounds really weird but our restrooms are worth a visit. They are a by product of the fact that of our lease doesn’t allow us to hook up to the local sewer system. So, we built the most unique portable potties on a flatbed trailer. The ceilings have 100 year old barn wood, antique chandeliers, hand painted doors, etc. Although the mens room is awesome, I like to say that I made the perfect women’s room because you can shop and go to the bathroom at the same time! On the market visit we can buy fresh produce and gifts in the same place. We can then hit the kitchen. I love cooking for friends and family. I would pour a glass of wine for my guests and put them to work helping me prepare a family style dinner. Nothing brings people together and encourages conversation like coming together in the kitchen. Cooking together is a great ice breaker and will always provide a vehicle for chatting, laughter and accomplishment. Even if your dinner gets ruined you probably had a good laugh while it was burning. I love taking friends for a Duffy boat ride in Newport Harbor. You can bring your own food and drinks while you putter around the harbor and see how the other half lives. When you are done with your boat ride you can dine and/or shop at any one of the multitudes of restaurants, shops and bars. I also love shopping, and eating, on Balboa Island. It’s a beautiful little touristy area that’s full of walkable fun.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would like for everyone to know about Loaves and Fishes X10. It is a non-profit group founded by Rob Flournoy. They come out and glean our fields throughout the year and help feed local families in need. I also want to dedicate this to my friends. I am so blessed to be surrounded by a group of people who are just amazing. They never shy away from offering help, advice, words of support and mentorship. Whenever I need an honest opinion I know I can call on any one of my friends who aren’t afraid to tell me the good, the bad and the ugly. Everyone needs those people to keep you on track. Sometimes they remind you of who you are even if you might forget for a moment.
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All photos are by Lauren Hillary, @laurenhillary