Image via FastCoexist
Growing up in a low-income family, Sabrina Mutuskina’s parents worked a dry cleaning business around the clock. Mutuskina spent most weekends there as a child, helping out by scrubbing collars, greeting customers and sending out mail.
Childhood experiences at her parents’ dry cleaners instilled in her a strong work ethic and a love for entrepreneurship. At university, Mutuskina realized that working from a young age had shaped much of her identity and made her passionate about connecting youth from financially needy families with jobs that valued their potential.
And thus, The Town Kitchen, a community-driven food company that employs low-income youth in Oakland, California, was born.
“I created The Town Kitchen to combine all of my passions: youth employment, small business and my love of food,” Mutuskina said.
The Bay Area-based company makes and delivers locally-sourced boxed lunches to consumers. But offering employment at a fair wage isn’t the only way the youth benefit; they’re also given social justice and entrepreneurial training through education partnerships.
Roger Dvalos, who The Town Kitchen named ‘employee of the month’ in October, joined the company in May 2015. Soon, Dvalos will be starting college at San Francisco State University.
“The Town Kitchen is a job where I constantly feel myself learning. I take the work seriously, but it’s more than a job, we all take care of one another inside and outside of the kitchen,” said Dvalos. “I have love for everybody at The Town Kitchen, it’s like a family to me.”
Mutuskina’s passion for inspiring an entrepreneurial spirit in youth stands loud and clear.
“Youth employment is important,” said Mutuskina. “We know that hiring low income, high potential youth means they are less likely to be incarcerated and more likely to graduate from high school.”
“We believe that building youth entrepreneurs means we’ll be bettering our community for years to come.”