Establishing and communicating values, beliefs and goals is paramount to the true success of any business. Practiced and reflected consistently and with intention by business owners and employees alike, they set the tone for all internal and customer-facing activity, promoting passion and commitment, and ultimately becoming the motivating drivers of success. These five business owners share how the things they do and the things they say, down to even the smallest gestures, shape a company culture and lead to greater productivity and prosperity.

 Jennifer Chow, co-founder of Nurture Life, posing in a kitchen with the unboxed meals.
Each Nurture Life meal is dietician-planned and chef-prepared and contains fresh, clean ingredients designed specifically for the developmental needs of babies, toddlers and kids. — Nurture Life

Jennifer Chow, co-founder, Nurture Life

Who we are: Chicago-based kid-friendly meal delivery service with a focus on providing fresh, balanced and healthy nutrition for busy families.

Nurture Life is a mission-driven business. As a provider of fresh, nutritious, ready-to-eat baby, toddler and kid meals, our mission is to deliver a healthier world through better nutrition for kids. When it comes to defining our culture, we believe it starts with clearly defining our mission, our values and what we need to accomplish as a team. We work incredibly hard to ensure our team is aligned, empowered and excited to work on these things every day, starting with proactive communications that continually reinforce them in our actions. We proactively share the positive feedback we receive from our customers as the impact we have on families and their children inspires us; the constructive feedback motivates us to continually improve.

Since the start of the pandemic, we have instituted more frequent team meetings which helps ensure our team feels connected and informed about the happenings and performance of our business. A regularly scheduled forum facilitates collaboration and provides a platform to ask questions and share ideas. We also believe in fostering a team that is not only passionate and driven about the work we're doing but caring and empathetic towards each other, our customers and partners, and we continually encourage and recognize this throughout our team. Follow Nurture Life on Instagram & Facebook.

 Joanne Farrugia & Dean Smith, owners of jaZams
JaZams' Dean Smith and Joanne Farrugia capture the wonder of childhood with a fun and inviting toy-filled environment where the staff has as much fun as the kids who come to shop. — jaZams

Joanne Farrugia & Dean Smith, owners, jaZams

Who we are: An emporium of fun where toys, books and games inspire imaginations and delight customers and staff alike in both Princeton, New Jersey and Lahaska, Pennsylvania.

Our company has maintained the same philosophy since opening 25 years ago: to come to work ready to play, read and have fun. Although there is a time to be serious and hunker down, we realize the work we are engaged in every day is truly selling fun, and so we make it a great experience. We hope that everyone who comes through the doors can forget their worries and remember what it is like to just play — to spin a top, drop a marble down a track, ride a scooter through the shop and hug the life-size giraffe.

Our staff is invited to be a part of the fun in every aspect of our business. All are invited to come with us to toy shows, to circle favorite books and toys in catalogs, to borrow games to play or books to read, and to unbox anything we sell. Staff meetings are experiential, so we can explore new products and ideas. Staff is also encouraged to illustrate chalkboards throughout the store, so there is always a sense of wonder brought to life by the pieces they create. This is a true team effort, and the staff hopefully feels the love and then passes it on to our customers.

Everyone from sales reps to community partners, and ultimately our customers, are met with an eagerness to engage. We are not just selling toys and books, but building relationships that foster a sense of belonging. If we do that well, customers will come back — as they feel they are a part of what we call the “jaZamily.” During the past year, that familial spirit paid dividends as former employees directed viral buying campaigns from around the country and second- and third-generation customers made sure to regularly check in to make sure we were okay and to buy a magic little something for someone who needed it. Follow jaZams on Instagram & Facebook.

 Miles Table restaurant owner and his children inside the restaurant.
Family-owned Miles Table is a neighborhood destination known throughout Philly for its elegantly and creatively prepared homestyle favorites. — Miles Table

Alysia Torres, catering & events manager, Miles Table

Who we are: Philadelphia restaurant with two locations specializing in breakfast, brunch and lunch as well as event catering.

The Miles Table's tagline has always been "where the neighborhood eats" because we opened with the idea that our customers would feel a sense of camaraderie when they dined with us. Our food is homestyle cooking without the pretentious fluff and our company values help us create a comforting atmosphere for our staff and our customers. Our values include generosity, mindfulness and humility, and customer service is a big part of who we are. While these values look good on paper, we live by them every day.

Small businesses struggled due to the pandemic and the restaurant industry was hit hard. We had to change how we operated but our values remained the same. Our customers became our top priority. We raised funds to feed frontline workers, some of whom have been our regular customers for many years. We've catered team lunches for essential workers and we've implemented new no-contact pickup and delivery systems. Miles Table will always strive to be "where the neighborhood eats" even if we have to alter the way we work and change with the times. Our community is important to us and while we enjoy what we do, we have managed to maintain our culture in the midst of this pandemic. We look forward to a future where we can have our customers back at full capacity! Follow Miles Table on Instagram & Facebook.

 "I Said Yes!" sign with bridal earrings and a champagne bottle courtesy of Ellen's Bridal and Dress Shop.
Ellen’s Bridal’s mission is to make the wedding experience both magical and memorable down to every detail of finding the perfect gown, tux and bridal accessory. — Ellen’s Bridal and Dress Shop

Lisa Ellen Downs, owner, Ellen’s Bridal and Dress Shop

Who we are: Specialty boutique located in Wabash, Indiana featuring a curated selection of bridal gowns, tuxedos, bridal party attire, jewelry and accessories.

Ellen’s Bridal’s mission is to deliver a welcoming, elegant and exquisite experience by building intentional, family-like relationships with every client we meet. Experience the warmth of Ellen’s as you walk through the door and meet your individual stylist who will help you find your dream gown. As a mother-daughter bridal boutique, that family-like feeling is carried out in everything we do. We treat each bride as if they were our daughter and we want customers to choose Ellen’s — not just because we believe it’s the perfect dress, but because we cannot imagine anyone else taking the same care and attention as we do.

By helping our brides navigate through our distinguished dresses, we find the perfect gown to match every personality. Our sincere hope is that each bride feels like family before she leaves Ellen’s. This family-like feeling is evident in the Ellen’s Bridal staff, each of whom are carefully and thoughtfully selected to join our team and become a “daughter” or “sister” of owner Lisa Ellen. We work hard as a team to be sure our clients are well cared for. But we also support all our team members in both their personal and professional lives, frequently checking in with each other via text outside boutique hours. Follow Ellen's Bridal and Dress Shop on Instagram & Facebook.

 Interior product shelves of The Spice and Tea Exchange of Haddonfield.
From loose teas and artisan sweeteners to novelty infusers, The Spice and Tea Exchange of Haddonfield is an oasis for tea lovers. — The Spice and Tea Exchange of Haddonfield

Alison Braun, owner, The Spice and Tea Exchange of Haddonfield

Who we are: Haddonfield, New Jersey destination featuring a unique and endless selection of flavorful spices, seasonings and teas.

Our motto here at The Spice and Tea Exchange of Haddonfield is, “To create and share a more flavorful life.” We live up to our mission of creating and sharing a more flavorful life during this pandemic by creating a safe and comforting shopping experience that excites the senses of our guests.

With more and more people cooking at home these days, we offer a wide variety of custom spice blends, salts and peppers to help our guests bring their family meals to the next level, naturally. Our teas offer a sense of comfort and a variety of health benefits which are much needed during this time. Our staff assist guests with answering their questions, educating them about the use of our products and making recommendations to meet their needs. Follow The Spice and Tea Exchange of Haddonfield on Instagram & Facebook.

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