When Chelsea Tatola and her husband first started their food truck, they were told they’d never succeed. But as Boba-lovers, they were undeterred. In 2018, they launched Kiss My Boba, the San Francisco Bay Area’s first-ever Boba food truck.
Now the Tatola’s have two babies: their boba truck and their baby boy, who’s just as much a part of the business as the rest of the family.
Since launching, the business has taken off for both Chelsea and her family. Their Instagram has amassed more than 5,000 Boba fans, and they’re also the 2022 winners of the Raydiant “Rising Entrepreneur”100K Real Estate Contest.
In addition to Boba, they serve coffee, tea, and non-caffeinated drinks, as well as mochi donuts. They’re also committed to helping other vendors make their start in the food space, featuring snacks like strawberry ube cookies from Ube Area.
Chelsea and her husband said they could have never imagined this when they first started. We caught up with Chelsea to ask how she got started and what advice she has for other moms who dream of starting their own food truck business.
How Kiss My Boba grew up so fast
How did you get started?
I started as a child, watching my grandmother run several restaurants. I loved the small community restaurant vibe and the food truck scene. Initially, I started on a different career path, but the food industry was always in the back of my mind. My husband and I both love Boba. We bought an old U-Haul one day, and he renovated it into our Boba truck!
What’s your food philosophy?
For us, it’s about community. We actively engage with the community on Instagram, asking followers what types of drinks or flavors they want to see. We even have a weekly drink feature because we want to be able to offer them something unique. Our customer community is very tight knit. They even text us!
How did the pandemic impact your business?
It was hard. In one week, all our events were canceled. We actually put the truck up for sale, but thankfully, it never went through.
What’s your favorite drink at the truck?
My favorite drink is the Tongan Mango Otai. Traditionally, you would only see it served at parties, weddings, or other special celebrations. It’s my husband’s family’s recipe.
Who’s your inspiration?
100% my grandma. She came from nothing. She ran five businesses while raising seven children. I don’t know how she did it.
What were some of the biggest challenges you faced in getting started?
Getting started was hard because we knew nothing about food trucks, how to get the word out, or where to park. We even took a class, and the instructor said, “you’re never going to make it just selling drinks.” Now, we’re booked for at least four events a week and with long lines of customers.
What’s your advice to other moms wanting to get into the food truck business?
One of the best pieces of advice I can give is to turn it into a family event. It’s hard to find work/life balance with kids working in any job. So, we turn it into an event for the whole family. We bring our son, and he’ll sit on our lap and take orders with us. Plus, people like seeing our family and getting to know us and where we come from.
If you could have dinner with anyone, who would it be?
Gary Vaynerchuk. I feel he kills it at business. He started from nothing, and he encourages people to follow their passion, not just money. I read several of his books when I first started my food truck business.