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I first met Michelle (Shelly) LaFata on Zoom. During the first few minutes of our online meeting, it was clear to me that she is someone who values relationships. Sitting against a serene blue wall, she was relaxed and at ease sharing her journey toward working with the Missouri Women’s Business Center.

When everything shut down, LaFata wondered how her business would survive. Thankfully, she heard about the Missouri Women’s Business Center and scheduled an appointment to meet with a business coach.

Working with her business coach Sarah, LaFata said her first meeting with her coach was difficult. She felt uncomfortable admitting that she did not know how to move forward with her business.

“Sarah is wonderful! I call her Queen Sarah because she has helped me so much,” said LaFata.

As she began working with the Missouri Women’s Business Center, LaFata learned that she could expand her business by adding employees. She also learned how to create and work with e-commerce.

LaFata said, “Since 2020 my sales have gone up 30% thanks to the MoWBC!”

One of the most important skills LaFata has learned in her work with the Missouri Women’s Business Center is that it is ok to ask for help. Because of this, she has been able to expand her business.

Today, Pasta LaFata employs five entrepreneurial women, including owner Michelle LaFata; General manager Moki Hana; Lead Prep Cook Liza Rogers; Baker and Pastry Chef Elizabeth Keach; and Chef Breanna Gun.

Working together, the team creates more than 10 gallons of fresh pasta sauces each week. And, they make and sell a lot of delicious pasta and cookies too!

When asked why she believes her business not only survived the pandemic but is now thriving, Shelly LaFata said, “For someone with BIG dreams like me, it’s hard to ask for help.”

But LaFata acknowledges that asking for help was the best thing she has ever done. She credits her work with the Missouri Women’s Business Center for making her business a growing success.