CAO Stories: Meet Sis Linda Muhammad
A True Entrepreneurial Spirit
One of the keys to a thriving community is entrepreneurs who are willing to make the investment in themselves and their crafts to serve their customers and make the most of every opportunity.. And that’s exactly what Sis Linda Muhammad has done throughout her entire career, turning obstacles into enterprises.
Linda originally opened Main Street Deli at 5546 Main Street in the heart of Williamsville with her husband, Bro Robert Muhammad. From the start, Linda knew that she wanted to eventually turn the deli into a bean pie café, but she first wanted to give customers a chance to accept their different offerings — especially their speciality Yummy2theTummy Bean Pies. Eventually, she changed the name of the business to Linda’s Bean Pie Café, named after the little white Navy bean that was included in so many recipes, such as bean pies, bean smoothies, bean soup, and even bean ice cream. Her goal was to give customers nutritious and delicious meals to choose from.
However, Linda eventually wanted to move her business into the City on the East Side. She and her husband found a location at 301 East Utica Street and planned to move Linda’s Bean Pie Café there, as well as include an event room. They hosted a grand opening event to celebrate, but unfortunately, things didn’t work out as planned. At the end of 2019, Linda had a terrible fall which took her off her feet. She planned to have surgery in April 2020 and open up the cafe at a different location after, but that all changed when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Because of her injury, Linda wasn’t able to leave the house — so she started making 3D masks with nose bridges and gave them away for free. Strangely, when the masks were free, she didn’t get many orders, but when she began asking for $5 donations to help pay for materials, she started getting so many orders that she struggled to keep up. Eventually, she started adding different crafts to her arsenal and created Linda’s Hands Creations — she had always had a knack for crafting, having built two similar businesses in the past, including Express Yourself Enterprise graphic design and Sand Art Decor, Boutique & More which sold items created with different colors of sand. In fact, Linda was a vendor in the Broadway Market until December 2013 when she was in a car accident.
“No matter what stumbling blocks came my way, I never gave up on being an entrepreneur,” Linda said. In fact, she has owned several other businesses as well, including Small World Daycare and Linda at Home Secretary Service Inc.
In 2019, Pamela James, CAO’s Business Development Director, invited Linda to take some of their business development classes, where Linda learned how to create a business plan, utilize different business strategies, and implement marketing techniques. After taking the courses, Linda joined Stylist Solutions Group out of Atlanta, GA, and started an online beauty supply business, called Linda’s Unisex Beauty Supplies, in September 2020. And just this April, Linda and her husband rented a space at the Fillmore Express Flea Market, where she sells her beauty supplies and crafts.
However, Linda is still hoping to find a location on Buffalo’s East Side to reopen Linda’s Bean Pie Café so she can truly attain her vision of providing healthy, delicious meals to her community based on this staple ingredient in Muslim cooking.
“Part of what we teach in the Business Development Series is taking advantage of opportunities,” said Pamela James, CAO’s Business Development Director. “That’s what Linda is doing — no matter the setbacks she has encountered, she has found a way to utilize her capabilities to start her own enterprises and provide goods for her community. We need more people like her helping to foster an entrepreneurial spirit in our community, where people are excited to work with and for each other.”
CAO continues to work with entrepreneurs looking to make a difference in their communities by providing a variety of educational programs.
“Our neighborhoods can thrive when people support each other,” said Thomas Kim, President and CEO of CAO. “That means supporting small businesses who are looking to bring jobs and resources to the community. It means bringing entrepreneurs together to turn opportunities into success. It’s about investing in the community at the ground level, and that’s what Linda has done with all of her businesses. We’re proud to work with her.”