We had the good fortune of connecting with Prisca Sisa and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Prisca, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
My family has always had the spirit of entrepreneurship, but as immigrants to the United States of America – they never really had the tools to start a business. My father has always been a restaurant manager and my mother always dreamed of operating a small boutique of African clothing, foreign beauty products and ethnic food. As a natural born leader I am taking the initiative to make this dream come true. In January 2019, I joined the Entrepreneurial Launch program at the Community College of Aurora. I was 2 semesters away from completing my Associates degree and I had learned that I could dual-enroll into a certificate program. With the uncertainty of getting financial help to move onto a 4-year business degree, I decided to take advantage of the entrepreneurship program that would help me start my business. The original plan was to open a small market with an afro-Caribbean café inside of it. After doing the feasibility study with one of my professors, I learned that it would take a lot of little steps to reach that big goal. That is when my current business venture, The A-CO Cart, was born! The term “A-CO” stands for Aurora, Colorado; which is home to our business. We started off by selling snacks at pop-up events in August, 2019 and in February, 2020; we introduced our Afro-soul menu. The Afro-soul concept is unique to The A-CO Cart because it is a mixture of central African food and soul food. From our fresh mikate (deep fried African doughnuts) to our savory baked macaroni & cheese, The A-CO Cart is bringing a new twist to the metro area! We offer catering services and are featured at local pop-up markets as well. We are planning for phase two which will be a small retail/restaurant space in a marketplace. One day I hope to turn ‘The A-CO Cart’ into ‘The A-CO Mart’, a supermarket with an afro-Caribbean café!
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
The A-CO Cart, LLC is an Afro-soul cuisine/snack & beverage vendor new to the Denver Metro food scene. We have been in business for one year and it has came with many celebrations and challenges. Once our Afro-soul menu started circulating on social media this year, our business began to grow. You can except fresh, quality and authentic food from The A-CO Cart. Customers love our well seasoned steak skewers, tomato fried rice, savory southern-style collard greens and our deep fried African doughnuts. We also have other shareables like bacon wrapped jalapeno poppers. It has been rewarding to see that people love our food and recommend us to others, but it can also hard work preparing such complex food. As we grow, we start to learn more about forecasting food costs. For example, at pop-up markets it is hard to tell how much food we will sell. Regardless, we always show up with positive attitudes and the satisfaction of being a part of the community. We reflect on each event we go to and plan to improve for future gigs. In order for The A-CO Cart to continue to grow, we are looking to access more capital for our business. This is one of our biggest challenges the business faces today. With rising food costs, increasing demand and other factors, The A-CO Cart will begin seeking investors to assist in a retail/restaurant space for an enhanced cultural experience, operational & payroll costs and starting inventory costs.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
The first place we would visit would be Red Rocks. It is 45 minutes away from the city and they have awesome hiking trails. The mountain views are immaculate and everyone who visits Colorado should check that out. I love riding the RTD light rails and commuter rails, so I would take my friend to a park and ride and catch the train into the Downtown area. The A line is fast, convenient and has power outlets (which comes in handy because my phone is always dying). The park and rides are uniquely designed and have lots of artwork from local artists. Once we hit the downtown area, we will ride the FreeMall ride up and down the 16th Street Mall. The 16th Street mall is cultural, vibrant and sees thousands of pedestrians in one day. After we get bored on the 16th Street Mall, we can head to LoDo to visit the Denver Selfie Museum. For nightlife and drinks, LoDo will probably be our go-to spot as well. There are multiple bars like Hayters and Purple Martini that give us the hip-hop vibe in Denver. Before my friend leaves Denver, we must visit the historical five points neighborhood. The five-points near downtown Denver is a historically black neighborhood and carries the most culture in the city. We would have lunch at Welton Street Cafe, which has some of the best honey hot wings in Denver. There is also an African-American research library in the five points area, which is good for us to learn about black culture in Colorado. The Gaylord Rockies would be the last thing on our itinerary. The resort is great for a staycation and we would take advantage of the swimming pools, lazy rivers, spa and multiple dining options inside the hotel. Plus, who doesn’t wanna stay at a resort? DIA hosts events in their open-space area according to the season. If my friend is visiting in the spring/summer, we would go mini-golfing before they got on the plane. If it is during the winter time, the Denver Airport turns that open space into an ice arena for travelers (and community members) to ice skate for free!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d like to first give a shout out to God because he’s been guiding me through my journey. My family has always been here to support me! My mom, dad, and sisters all help me achieve my goals. My daughter, nieces and nephews give me a reason to keep going! My friends and colleagues always keep me motivated and support my goals. Special shout out to Dario and Kyng for always being hands on with The A-CO Cart! The Community College of Aurora – School of Business. Special shout out to Dr. Clarke who has believed in me since day one and still supports me today as a mentor. The community. If it wasn’t for you all I would have no purpose in this world!
Instagram:@thlphotography_ and Diamond Fierro